Mount Rainier by Anupam_ts

Washington

Every few years, it seems, I’ve taken to moving. In 2008, I moved from Syracuse to Buffalo. In 2012, I started trying to move to San Francisco, and wound up back in Syracuse (long story). Then in 2013, I wound up in Buffalo again. Just before 2014 started, I switched over to Brooklyn to work for DramaFever. And now here it is, the start of 2015, and I’m making plans to take my fiancé and our puppy and head out to Washington when our lease ends in December, 2015. Yes, as in Washington State, across the country. No, not Washington D.C.

And I haven’t blogged in a while, so I figured I’d write down some thoughts about it and what we’re looking for, our goals, and our rationale. Partially so I can think through it, and partially so I can point people here when they start asking me questions about it.

The Prologue

It took us only a few months (maybe six months, give or take?) to figure out we didn’t want to live in Brooklyn for years. I brought it up with DramaFever, and got approval to work fully remote, pretty much from anywhere. Which, hooray for forward-thinking employers. Our problems with Brooklyn are a subject for another post, but suffice to say:

  • We don’t think Brooklyn is a bad place to live, we just think it’s the wrong place to live for us.
  • We want a place that will let us have a backyard, a dishwasher, and laundry in-unit. Additionally, I’m finally willing to use a car to get around.
  • I’d like to keep some of the money I earn instead of giving it to my landlord (though, to be clear, my landlord is amazing and we really lucked out). Brooklyn charges a premium for a certain set of value that it delivers, but we don’t want or take advantage of that value, so it’s not the right place for us.

So, we want to move. Now what?

Narrow the Search: Region

We know we want to move, but we don’t know where. I promised this move to Ethan; he got the final say in where we go, because I dragged us to Brooklyn, and fair is fair. Ethan is notoriously terrible at making plans or making Major Life Decisions like this, so I had to help. We began with a process of elimination:

  • Do we want to leave the country? We have nothing against it, but we don’t want to take the amount of time we’d need to arrange work visas and all the headaches that go along with trying to live in a country you don’t have citizenship in. So we focused on the States. I think, ideally, we’d both enjoy holding dual-citizenship somewhere else, eventually. Not today.
  • Where are we considered people? To narrow down the States, we crossed off every state that wouldn’t allow us to marry or adopt children.
  • Fuck snow. We’re kind of over the whole “get buried under snow every year” routine. He grew up in the fourth snowiest city in America, I grew up in the first. No snow, please.
  • Not a desert. Ethan doesn’t like being overly, uncomfortably hot, and we kind of prefer green things and life. I have a little bit of a romanticised crush on the southwest, because I like everything with bright colours, but I suspect the novelty would wear off pretty quickly, so I didn’t object.

This process of elimination basically cut out the northeast, southeast, and southwest for us. We were left with what amounts to the Pacific Northwest. Which is okay by us; we’re both suckers for the trees. We also really like the range you can get: desert, mountains, forests, beaches. A little bit of everything, all within reasonable distance of each other. That’s a big plus.

Narrow the Search: State

The Pacific Northwest, or the part we’re looking at, basically amounts to Oregon and Washington. So we started figuring out where, between those two, we wanted to go.

  • Taxes. Washington State, has no state income tax. Which, coming from New York, is a magical, magical thing. Oregon, on the other hand, has no sales tax. Which is also very nice. We hope to make more money than we spend, however, so it seems like the lack of income tax would be more beneficial than the lack of sales tax.
  • Parks and Environment. I’m marrying an animal nerd, so I guess this is important. Also, we probably should also go outside more, and it helps if you have somewhere to go outside to. Oregon has Mount Hood and the national park surrounding it, the Lewis and Clark national wildlife refuge, and Tillamook State Forest. Washington has Mount Rainier and the national park surrounding it, and the Olympic national park. Washington also gets points for the Puget sound. Either way, though, I don’t think we’ll be at a loss for nature to explore.
  • Infrastructure. From our brief and unscientific examination of Google Maps, it seems like it’s easier to get around Washington than Oregon. Oregon seems to have one main north/south highway (Route 5) that branches off to the east/west. Washington has ferries, and a forked highway system that means we can get from Port Angeles to Seattle in under three hours, or from Seattle to Richland in about three hours. So we felt that Washington was a little easier to get from place to place and take advantage of the whole state.
  • &yet. Some of my favourite people in the world, &yet are based out of Richland, WA, which tips the scale ever-so-slightly towards being within driving distance of them. Because c’mon.

Neither state has a really strong advantage over the other, but it looks like we slightly prefer Washington over Oregon, for entirely unscientific reasons.

Narrow the Search: Locale

This is still an ongoing process, and we’re currently consulting Twitter. We know the following:

  • We want a backyard. We have a herding breed puppy. She likes to run. We would like to let her run.
  • We would like to have a little bit of space. Ethan describes this as “I’d like to be able to look out my window without looking into my neighbour’s window.” I think it unlikely we’re going to be able to rent a place that fills that criteria within our budget, so that’s more of a vector than a hard requirement.
  • We want to live within our means. We set our budget at $1500 a month in rent, which is a significant decrease in our current cost of living. If we can include utilities at that price range, that’s even better. Our projected budget shows that staying within that budget will allow us to build our savings. While that may seem like a lot, we’re looking at places with three or more rooms; one for a master bedroom, one for a home office, and one for visiting family and friends. We will be far from both our families, so we’d like to have a place for them to stay when they come visit.

We’re currently examining in the area of Puyallup, somewhere on the Olympic peninsula, or somewhere within a couple hours of driving distance of Seattle. Which means we’ve narrowed it down to “somewhere within 75% of the state.”

We have figured out we don’t want to live on the eastern side of Mount Rainier National Park, which is sad. That’s where &yet is, but that’s also quite a drive from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which we’d like to be relatively close to, because it’s the cheapest way to fly across the country, and I get the feeling we’ll be doing that with some regularity.

Other than that, though, we’re open to suggestions. Feel free to shoot me an email or ping me on Twitter if you have a suggestion on where we should move.

Getting Scared About the Weather

Part of my research for any move is Googling what people hate about wherever I’m moving. It gives me a pretty good indicator about what I might hate and what I should be concerned about, which is generally a useful thing to know.

For Washington, the resounding answer is the weather.

From our research, it appears that rain is to Washington as snow is to New York: we should prepare to spend most our days with wet, gray weather. Which, to be perfectly honest, I’m not exactly pumped for. I’m a little worried that S.A.D. will make other issues even worse. But I’m also a little suspicious that the rain is a bit overstated, from looking at some figures.

To get more accurate data on this, we sent a hunting camera out to my friend who lives on the Olympic peninsula, which is reportedly the worst area for the weather. She agreed to put it up outside, program it to take pictures every six hours or so, and send us the results every now and then. (She’s also working on a crowd-funded game right now, so you should probably check that out.)

That being said, we are used to spending six months out of the year in bitter cold, under snow, and generally miserable, so… we’re not exactly pampered, when it comes to winter. Maybe it won’t be so bad. We’ll be examining the data throughout the year to make a determination.

Planning the Move

With a bit more to go on, we can begin planning. We narrowed down what we need to do: determine what possessions are worth dragging across the country behind us, determine how to get ourselves across the country, figure out how we’re going to get the pets (puppy, bearded dragon, pacman frog) across the country safely and without being assholes to the animals, and the schedule for the move.

After some searching and math, we came up with the following, tentative plan:

  • Ship what we can. We can’t get a price quote from PODS without calling them, and that’s a recipe for disaster. By going through U-Box, which is the U-Haul version of PODS, we got a quote for the move, and it seems to be the most reasonable approach. So we’re going to pack what we can into one of those, ship it across the country, and unpack it when we get there.
  • Abandon the dream of a cross-country drive. Let’s be serious, who doesn’t want to drive across the country with their fiancé and their puppy, with all their possessions in tow? But when you factor in the fact that we can’t pull a trailer behind a rental car, the fact that we aren’t willing to destroy a brand new vehicle by towing a trailer cross-country with it, and the frankly horrifying prospect of driving a moving truck across the country… it’s just not feasible. Which is sad, because I wanted to hang out with Sacha while stressed out and exhausted, because let’s face it, what could possibly go wrong.
  • Pretend the reptiles are bills and junk mail. We’re just going to pack the reptiles up in carriers, toss in some heat packs, and have a friend overnight them once we get there. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Hope airlines care more about dogs than guitars. We’re going to fly across the country and send the puppy on her first flight. She’s going to hate us so much. But look, Roxy, a yard!
  • Mooch horribly off family. Our lease is supposed to end December 1st. Our internet service is supposed to end December 12th or something. Obviously, one of these is more important than the other. So we’re working with our landlord to extend our lease by a couple weeks, then ship our crap and head upstate, where we’ll spend the holidays with our families (honestly, they may murder us violently in our sleep if we move right before Christmas again). We’ll spend a couple weeks with our families, then fly out to Washington in the first days of 2016.

Clearly, this is a comprehensive, sensible plan that has been thought out and well-researched.

Obviously, we will end up doing pretty much anything but this.

Visiting the Area

We decided that we wanted to do three visits, mainly because Ethan gets two weeks of vacation time. So we’ll do two four-day trips to hang out and see this place we’re trying to move to. It’s a novel approach for me, but what the hell, right?

We’ll visit once in February, because according to Twitter, that’s when Washington sucks the hardest. And I figure if we don’t get scared away then, we’re probably safe.

We’ll also visit once in July, because according to Twitter, that’s when Washington is pretty great. And I figure we should probably really enjoy one of these trips, right?

Finally, we’ll take a week in early December to find a place to live.

Or that’s the plan at least. Let’s see how this works out. The areas to visit are still to be determined. Hopefully it will be less than “75% of the state.”

After the Move

That’s the plan. This ended up being way more self-indulgent than I had thought at the start, but that’s ok, I think everyone that reads my blog is kind of used to that from me by this point.

This is, I hope, my last major move. While we may move within the state when we get to Washington, trying out different areas, I’d like moving to start consisting of “rent a truck, put your crap in it, and unload it in a couple hours” instead of the months-long planning extravaganza it has been for the last few years. And yes, I think we’ll end up buying a house in Washington at some point in the future. So that is also something to look forward to.

Then we just need to plan our wedding. So, you know, nothing going on in our household for the next few years.