Life changes continually and especially in 2020. We announced in March that we were moving across the country from the Seattle Area to Saint Augustine Florida. Well, we did it successfully and now we’re all settled. What a strange life experience it all was though. We’ve received lots of questions via Instagram and Facebook about the why and how of it all, so we decided that having an open conversation about our whole process would be the best way to share the details.
If you’re thinking about relocating and aren’t sure how to move across the country, give a listen and hear how we did it and what we learning about doing a cross country move. There were some face-palm moments, for sure.
Be sure to check out our complete article all about our life decisions and goals get to know us better!
Listen to our Moving Across the Country Podcast
Deciding to Move Across the Country
In this episode Chris and I discuss all aspects of moving from Seattle to Saint Augustine. Deciding to move across the country is a huge life change and it’s not to be entered into lightly, especially when kids are involved. We talked for many months about if and how to make this decision, as when the opportunity presented itself, we committed.
As you listen, remember that everybody has different life goals, assets, and flexibility. If hearing our thoughts on deciding to move across the country is inspiring to you, awesome! But please don’t think for a moment that our exact thought process or steps will work for everyone. If you think we left out some crucial information about how we came to our decision to relocate, send us a note or leave a comment. We’re happy to talk and support others!
Choosing a New Hometown
Why did we move to Florida? It’s the question everyone asked us when we told friends and family that we were going to move across the country. Immediately people brought up how Red the area is and asked us if we intended on becoming “Florida-man,” to which we found it as an opportunity to educate them on the awesomeness of our new home. NE Florida, and specifically Saint Augustine, is absolutely beautiful and unique.
After several trips we learned that Florida’s beaches, both the Gulf Coast beaches and the Atlantic beaches of Saint Augustine, were completely different from California beaches. We discovered that moving across the country gave us the possibility of a beach life that we could afford and that would be better than what we might find in California.
Navigating Politics in a New City
People told us that moving across the country would bring us a new insight into the views and reality of Red states and those who support Trump. I’ll tell you, before actually living here, even in our many visits, I never saw just how Republican or just blindly following Trump the area is. It was really a wake up call.
I’ve talked about this on social media and a lot of people have said “Have you taken the time to ask why people have their political views?” and the answer is yes. I’ve talked with some of the people on the way to the beach. They don’t want to talk about their views or why they’re flying Trump flags. They just want to do it without question. It’s sad and frustrating. And there were a lot of them here, particularly in our neighborhood of Butler Beach / Crescent Beach.
Being progressive, different, minorities here in Saint Augustine gives us a chance to be visible and show this community that there are people different from them who are good people. We have the opportunity to influence the region through our presence, our friendships, our work, and of course our votes.
Moving Across the Country for a Cost of Living Decrease
Moving to Florida has been tough for many of our friends and family to understand… until we talk about the cost of living. Friends suggested to us “Why don’t you move to the beach in California?” Um, have you seen the prices of homes even a tiny bit close to the beach in California?
Selling our Washington house, especially after having made many improvements on it AND the housing market really going up, gave us the ability to purchase our dream home in Florida with cash. Here in Saint Augustine we can live VERY close to the beach and have a house that is just perfect for our family, and not have to worry about a mortgage. Being debt free brings us much closer to early retirement, it prevents us from having to stress about finances, and it gives us more time together because we’re not living just to work.
Moving for Our Dream House
Getting to own a home is a huge life goal for many and we’ve been so fortunate with how the market has gone and the timing in our lives. With moving across the country for such a lesser cost of living, we were able to be very choosy in finding a new home. We actually were able to find our dream house:
- single story
- has a courtyard
- close to the beach
- enough space for our family and guests
- no HOA or CCD to worry about
Moving across the country for both a better financial life and a dream home has been so good for our family. We’ve been able to enjoy each other and where we live much more and we don’t regret making the decision to relocate thousands of miles from home.
Purchasing a Home Across the Country Virtually
Doesn’t that sound so scary? Purchasing a home virtually? Yes, we bought our house here in Florida sight-unseen. We got connected with a real estate agent, Julie Thompson, who did an amazing job for us. Despite not being comfortable initially with selling us a house virtually, she video called us and went over every inch of the house, making sure that we saw EVERYTHING. It was also great seeing her go from being skeptical of us getting this house to reaffirming what high quality of a home it was.
Once our offer was accepted, we then booked flights and we were here on site within two days. Our real estate agent was able to coordinate every necessary inspection for when we arrived. With just a short weekend visit we were able to feel very solid about buying a house virtually, to explore our new neighborhood, and to get excited about moving across the country.
Accelerating the Home Buying Process due to COVID-19
Because Coronavirus was gaining strength and starting to impact more and more of the country, we had to move up our closing dates and process as much as we could. Thank goodness both of our agents, both in Washington and Florida were working hard for us. They were quick with communication, they both actively asked the other agents to move things quickly, and we were able to get processes done before there was a complete pause on selling homes.
Our house in Washington had an open house weekend on the last weekend that the NW MLS allowed them. Hooray that the right family saw the house and fell in love that weekend. While we were able to move up our closing date on the Florida house by several weeks, our Washington house still took a full 30 days, which was less that the original closing. But it all worked out and we successfully wrapped up all things without a corona-failure.
Tips for Selling a Home Quickly
We used our neighbor across the street for listing our Washington house. Jim was a great choice for us because he lives in the neighborhood and knew the market really well. Using an agent that’s personally invested in making sure the right buyers got in. He connected us with somebody to help clean up the yard, and he was always available to talk and walk through concerns with us.
The best thing about working with an agent who has a personal stake in the neighborhood was that he wanted to be sure that the full value of our home was realized in the sale. From clear feedback about fixes in the house to calming us down about things we didn’t need to worry about.
Our top tips to sell a house quickly, especially if you’re moving across the country:
- fix anything cosmetic that causes you to do a double-take
- if you know there is any sort of underlying problem, fix it. Don’t hope a buyer will overlook or miss it
- in addition to comp sales your real estate agent provides you, do your own pricing research so you know what else is available
- get your financial ducks in a row. If you’re buying a house at the same time as selling one, be sure that you have EVERYTHING sorted and easily accessible to make both ends of processing move quickly.
Purging and Packing to Move Across the Country
Even though we aren’t hoarders and we try very hard to live a green, plastic free life, living in one home for seven years brought us a lot of accumulation. In addition to time passing, since moving into our old house our family also grew. The biggest action we had to take for moving across the country was getting rid of stuff we didn’t want to bring.
We took advantage of our community Buy Nothing group on Facebook to help our our neighbors. We were able to get rid of everything from kids clothing to gym equipment, from furniture to yard tools. It was great to not have to contribute to a landfill or take things to Goodwill.
Getting the kids onboard with getting rid of things for the move was more difficult. We talked through a lot of moments with the boys, explaining the joy other people will feel by getting some of our old things. We also talked about what value some things, both toys and heirlooms, hold for us and whether or not we should bring things with us. We had to be careful to not get rid of things they felt were genuinely important because nobody wants to scar their child and help them develop hoarder tendencies later.
Hiring Movers for a Cross Country Relocation
We hired movers to relocate us from Washington to Florida. Never again. We’d used movers before and had a horrible experience, from damaged property to delays. After our first experience we said we’d never use movers again. Well, it seemed like the right thing to do for moving across the country, but it wasn’t.
I did a lot of research and got a lot of bids, and I really thought I’d found the right movers, but it was a disaster. From getting an inaccurate estimate over the phone to getting a nearly double updated quote when the movers showed up (very late in the day of moving), the experience with pricing was terrible. And then they only showed up with two people for moving a four bedroom house, so was should’ve been a smooth day ended up taking nearly ten hours. It took so long that we had to put the kids to bed in our camper and then we fell asleep before they finished.
When we woke up the next morning we discovered that they’d loaded things onto the truck they weren’t supposed to, that they’d left things behind they should’ve loaded, and that they caused damage in and outside of our house. We scrambled to clean up scratches, gouges and stains at 6:00 am so we could get on the road. We took photos of everything because we could tell this wasn’t going to be a great experience.
Once we were finally done cleaning up, we got on the road, a day late, and started our journey.
Read all about Buying a Camper Trailer!
Fast forward to four weeks later when the movers finally made it to Saint Augustine… and they wouldn’t drive the moving truck down our street. They quoted a city ordinance that is posted about commercial vehicles, which when we researched it, the ordinance didn’t apply to our moving truck. Before then and since then we’ve seen moving and container trucks of the same size in our neighborhood, moving people is and making large deliveries. Why is this important?
When the movers arrived it was late at night, our street was dark. They wouldn’t drive up our street and said that it would be an additional $800 for them to move our stuff via small moving truck the next day. This was unnecessary; they just didn’t want to do it. After arguing with the movers who were holding our things hostage and then arguing with the dispatch and claims services, we eventually caved and paid them the $800 to complete the move.
Unloading our things took all day because they were shuttling back and forth from wherever they parked the big truck the prior night. Around 9:00 pm while they were still onloading and putting together furniture, we were told that we had to have everything unpacked before they left or we couldn’t make any claims. So, that same night we had to FULLY UNPACK our entire house so we could make a claim for anything broken or missing… Which we had lots that was broken/missing, including a large flat screen television. Anyways, they finished just before midnight.
After several calls and emails, we finally went through a claims process and were refunded nearly $3000, but that should never have had to happen.
Long story short: even when you’re moving across the country DO NOT EVER HIRE MOVERS. Do it yourself and save yourself unimaginable stress and pain. It may sound like a terrible idea to drive a moving truck cross-country and then move all your own boxes and all that, but in the long run you’ll save thousands of dollars and you’ll be much, much happier.
PS: in our moving contract is expressly states that we cannot write a bad review or blog post about our experience with the intent of hurting the company. So yes, this is our review of Los Angeles Transfer and Storage, not with the purpose of harming them as a company, but with the purpose of informing others who may be considering using this or another moving company in the future. It’s not meant to hurt their business, but to inform the public of our honest and accurate experience.
Biggest Adjustments to Moving Across the Country
Coming from Washington State we needed to adjust to living in the South. Yes, we talked about the politics and cost of living being so different, but also the heat. We love the heat, but when 90 degrees and up is the norm, it’s tough to adjust to. We now have to teach the kids to not cool the outdoors… which in Washington was always “Close the door! We’re not heating the outdoors!”
Another thing we have gotten to adjust to is having a swimmable beach. In Washington you don’t actually get to swim in the Puget Sound 99% of the year. We live at Butler Beach in Saint Augustine and it’s the most beautiful spot. Sugar white sand, perfect waves and usually a sandbar, it’s been so wonderful to have a new appreciation for living by the water.
We have a very new life since moving across the country. Working fully remote, living by the beach and genuinely enjoying sunshine is a dream life for us. We have even been able to invest and buy a vacation rental nearby to run as both a business and to have a place for family to stay when they visit. We’re very thankful we got to make the move and don’t regret it for a moment.
Thanks for hanging out with us. I hope you enjoyed hearing about our experience moving across the country, and that you you don’t replicate aspects of our situation. It’s been a challenge, but Please let us know if you have any questions!
What do you want to hear about from us on our podcast? Please leave us a comment below or send us a note with your questions and what you’d like to hear. We are excited to share!
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[…] captivating city we’ve been to in Florida, and maybe the most fascinating city in the USA, and now we live here! St. Augustine (founded in 1565) is the oldest city in the USA, and includes an 18th century […]
Friday 6th of May 2022
So glad I came across this, as we are getting ready to make the exact opt move, going from FL to Washington. Was on the phone today with several moving companies, none of which filled me with confidence, so we will heed your advice and move things ourselves. Such a great write up, hope you and your family love FL!!
Saturday 7th of May 2022
I'm sorry you'll have to do it yourself, but in the long run you really will be grateful. Allow yourself plenty of time to make stops, rest when needed, and take joy in the comfort of there being no mystery about your possessions being lost, destroyed or epically delayed. It really is the best way to go.
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Thursday 16th of December 2021
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Sunday 12th of December 2021
What's the weather like now that it's "winter"? How far away are you from anywhere with seasons / snow? (contemplating a move from L.A.)
Sunday 9th of January 2022
@2td-admin, we got to visit St. Aug last week -- sure is beautiful! Loved using your blog for recommendations! Thank you!
P.S. How are the schools in the area?
Sunday 19th of December 2021
Well, yesterday (Dec 18) it was 80 degrees and perfect. Today we're going to the beach, even if we don't swim... If we want snow, we can get to it in 4-6 hours, or flying out of JAX we can get to serious snow even faster, but that's not something we do. Having warmth and happiness year round is amazing.
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