I’ve just relocated to Bend, Ore., realizing that since I work out of my home, my office can be anyplace I want it to be. I wanted it to be where there is plenty of water and little or no traffic, since San Jose had too little water and way too much traffic. We also downsized as there are only two of us and a 4,000 sq. ft. home was a tad much for two people, two cats and two dogs.
Given that a lot of you will have to relocate as part of your job or because you changed jobs this year, I figured I’d share what helped me and what I’d do differently.
Picking a House
I’ve learned three rules when it comes to picking a house. First is that if the housing market is down, buy as big a house as you can afford; if the housing market is up buy as small a house as you can tolerate. The first it to maximize your gain when the market recovers and the second is to minimize your loss when the market falls.
Location is important, but it is also relative. Drive the commute, check the crime statistics via City-Data, and talk to the neighbors. I suggest you spend a couple of days renting or staying in the area so you can try the commute and get to know some of the folks. A neighbor from hell can destroy your peace of mind, and some of the best locations for schools often have the worst commutes. You need to think through the tradeoffs. Often, folks find they can get a nice condo closer to work, and then they have more time to spend with friends and family and have a happier life. Also, remember, if you aren’t sure, you can typically rent a home for a while (put a lot of your stuff in temporary storage) and get a feel for the area before committing to a new house.
Prioritize what is important. For me, it was a view, because I like to be able to see something other than my neighbor’s walls or the street from my windows. Also, if you have a prioritized list of what is important to you and your significant other, then you are able avoid the regrets associated with buying the wrong house.
Preparing for the Move
Three tools were incredibly helpful to me when getting ready for the move. The first was Updater, an online service that on one page notified all of the magazines and car companies of the address change. This service was created by a guy who was annoyed by his own move and it is the highest rated service (as of this writing) of its type.
The next tool is Ooma, which is a VoIP phone service. If you transfer your phone number(s) to Ooma, then when you move, unplug the Ooma switch, pack it, and plug it in when you get to your new house. All of your numbers will be right there with you. The home version is fine if you have only one phone number, but you’ll need the business version if you have more than one.
It was also surprising how helpful TiVo was. Not only could I take all my programing with me, but after getting cable service turned on, it was relatively simple to get my shows recording again and I didn’t have to learn a new interface. If you record a lot of TV shows and are using a typical cable company-supplied box, you can kiss your recordings goodbye when you move.
1-800-Got –Junk? is a junk removal service that is widely available, but if it isn’t available near you, you can also just rent a dumpster to get rid of your crap before the move. Just remember the term “when in doubt, throw it out.” You can also give a lot of your stuff to charity and often they will come and pick it up. Paying someone to move stuff you are never going to use (no, you’re not going to fit into those jeans ever again and the 70s/80s/90s styles aren’t coming back) is a bad idea. The less you have to move, the less it costs, and you’ll have a lot less aggravation at both ends. (We had three truck runs of stuff for dump, 15 or so runs to the Goodwill and we still we had stuff to get rid of when we arrived, so be aggressive with your purging.) By the way, as it turns out, a house with tons of storage isn’t a great idea, because if you are like us, you’ll fill that storage up and then when you move, you have to deal with it all at once.
If you can do a container or PODS move, take that option (it wasn’t available for us in Bend, but we did do a partial trailer move, which had some of the benefits). They basically drop off a large container at your house, you fill it up and pack it, and then they move the entire thing and leave it at your new place for you to unpack at your leisure. If you have a deferred move, you can also leave your stuff stored in the container. I also suggest that, unless you are really good at packing, you hire some folks to pack for you. Otherwise, a lot of your things may get crushed or broken.
If you ship your valuable cars, be aware that if you use a quote service like uShip, you’ll be getting emails from lots of brokers for months. It is fun to drive, don’t get me wrong, and if you can turn it into a vacation rather than a mad dash between locations, you can save money. But a shipping company will move your vehicle more safely and if the car is damaged in route, typically their insurance covers it, not yours. We drove our cars up and we have a lot of new dings as a result. By factoring in the damage, we decided shipping them would have been cheaper.
Consider selling your house furnished if you have a lot of very nicely matched furniture. We sold our house furnished, as did the buyers of our old house. The furniture you have is often purchased for the house you are in and often it doesn’t transfer well to a new house with different dimensions, colors and styles. Not taking the furniture makes the move far less expensive, allows you to buy new when you arrive, and gives you the option of buying a house that is also furnished. However, if your furniture is not well matched, and you have already been moving it around, leaving it may work against you.
This was not an easy move, even with all of these tools and no furniture, largely because we’d filled up the massive storage we had at the old house and hadn’t been aggressive enough at getting rid of all of our junk. When I first started out, I moved a lot and rented my furniture. My moves back then consisted of one or two boxes of pots and pans and several suitcases of clothing and personal effects—all of which would fit into my vehicle. I’ve found that over the years, the closer you can get to this type of move, the less stressful relocating is, and the more willing you’ll be to take on that next opportunity in a new city.
I’m down to unpacking the last few boxes on this move, and I truly hope to never, ever move again. I hope that with my tips, your next move is a stress-free one.
Rob Enderle is President and Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, a forward-looking emerging technology advisory firm. With over 30 years’ experience in emerging technologies, he has provided regional and global companies with guidance in how to better target customer needs; create new business opportunities; anticipate technology changes; select vendors and products; and present their products in the best possible light. Rob covers the technology industry broadly. Before founding the Enderle Group, Rob was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group, and held senior positions at IBM and ROLM. Follow Rob on Twitter @enderle, on Facebook and on Google+