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New Chapter – Solo move across country (or maybe Hawaii)
Old 12-28-2013, 07:42 AM   #1
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New Chapter – Solo move across country (or maybe Hawaii)

Yes, I know that “retirement moves” have been discussed quite frequently on this site. I think my situation might be a little different, however… and honestly, I feel a little like a deer in the headlights of an approaching car.

Brief Background…
I’m a single guy in his 50’s (barely ) with a pair of dogs and an owned home in the southeast.

During the years both before and after my retirement; 2.5 years ago, I opened my house to a succession of couples (all close friends) who needed a place to stay for a long-term temporary basis (1-2 years). This benefited both parties… my friends with rent-free living; me with companionship & helping hands around the house. My long-term plan, however was to move to the California coast or Hawaii; somewhere between Aptos & Santa Cruz, CA… or on Kauai, HI.

In the first half of 2014, my latest guests are planning to move up north. Giving me the freedom to ready my house for sale; and also putting me on a tight(er) schedule to enlist their help with home sale and move prep.

Honestly, the whole prospect of moving solo across the country is VERY intimidating to me (I tend to be an introvert & homebody). Furthermore, the task itself is daunting – there’s so much for one person to manage. Broken down into “projects” I know I need to do the following (each with the care & wellbeing of two beloved dogs to consider)…

- Ready the house for selling
- Sort through my furniture/belongings and PURGE as much as I can
- Figure out where to move (Ha!)… kind of a biggie
- Orchestrate the old home sale/new home purchase (or rental)
- Actually move

You might see why I’m a little frozen with indecision?

Can anyone offer advice to a solo cross-country mover…
(I haven't felt this much looming stress since I held a J*B!)
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:00 AM   #2
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I will put a vote in for making your new place a rental, at least initially. Don't lock yourself in to a location by buying although two dogs might limit your choices, especially if they are large dogs. I think starting with a rental will be a stress reducer because you don't have to worry as much about making the "right" decision with respect to purchasing a property.

When we moved from OH to Tampa Bay, I used the internet to find our current apartment. Using google maps, I could virtually check out the local area and online reviews helped me find the apartment community in the first place. We enjoy living here but it's nice to know we can move anytime by paying a penalty of 2 month's rent or waiting until our annual lease expires.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:18 AM   #3
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I didn't really move cross country, but bought and set up our vacation condo in Arizona. So I only did half of what you're doing. I found that the best way to attack it was to create several sub-projects out of the overall project. Your list is good first step. Take the process one step at a time. But I agree with Buckeye - find a place to rent first. That will give you a good place from which you can find the best place to buy, while experiencing the culture of the area.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:24 AM   #4
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Renting is a good idea.

If I were going to move that far(I'm single too), I would sell all furniture and just start over. For me, I wouldn't be looking for a big house or condo so buying new furniture would be the way to go vs lugging everything across the country. Of course if you have some sentimental items handed down from parents or grandparents, that might make it tough to get rid of everything.

Make the move as simple as possible.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:47 AM   #5
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Our situations are somewhat similar with a bit of a twist relating to relocation plans. I am single, 57 yrs old, have a dog, owned a home in the southeast, and decided it was time for a change/relocation.

I sold my house in September but also sold or donated all furniture and most other possessions except for clothes and a few personal items, keeping only what would fit in my SUV. My plan is to rent furnished in a few locations until I decide where I want to live. My first stop is Ponce Inlet, FL, where I am currently. I plan to head west in a couple of months with some initial ideas of possible locations to explore - I have lived in Oregon and traveled much of the West for both work and play.

I think the key for me was to start downsizing possessions as soon as I decided to make a change. I actually felt some relief after selling the house and reducing possessions to what I could easily manage. I am looking forward to moving around some to explore options for a new home base. I think it helps to keep in mind that you have a list of things to do (sell house, downsize for move, find new home) and just work down the list. Being single, it can seem more daunting as you have to do everything yourself but it helps to keep your goal in mind. My experience (selling/downsizing/moving/renting) has been much easier than I imagined. Good luck!
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:05 AM   #6
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Renting is a very good idea. A few years ago my parents rather impulsively moved to New Mexico and discovered that the weather was pretty rough on older southern Californians. It was an expensive lesson.

That being said, the central coast is wonderful. I only lived in Santa Cruz for a few years before DH's job moved us away, but I would happily move back. DH, however, thought it was too small and had his heart set on San Diego. You might also want to look at Monterey, San Luis Obispo and Half Moon Bay. Real estate prices every where along the coast are eye watering.
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Old 12-28-2013, 09:45 AM   #7
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I moved cross country and spent about a month on an extended trip in the area I intended to move to a few months before the actual move. It was a good opportunity to explore neighborhoods, get a better feel for the place than I had as a non-resident, and gave me confidence to know what areas I would consider for a permanent home.
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:23 AM   #8
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I strongly second the above suggestions to donate or sell all of your furniture, move with as little as possible, and rent at the new location.

Since moving solo across country is very intimidating to you, I would also suggest not moving to Hawaii this time. Just a thought!

Good luck on your adventure! Remember that this is going to be exciting and fun, and don't let yourself get any more stressed out than necessary. Just take it one step at a time.
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:09 PM   #9
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You sound like you are about to embark on an exciting adventure. Perhaps if you were to share some details on why you want to move, and what you hope to accomplish, the members here might be able to give some more specific suggestions or insights to address your concerns.
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Old 12-28-2013, 12:45 PM   #10
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I moved from the midwest to Hawaii. It wasn't solo, but neither did I have pets. Here's what we did that seemed to help the process.

1. Already have a place to go. IOW, find your place first. Then move there. I agree that you should rent although that's not what we did.

2. We stored stuff at the old location, but it could be better to sell/give away. You have to know yourself on this one.

3. Move in 2 suitcases and a carry on.

4. Moving pets to Hawaii is much less cumbersome than it used to be, BUT you have to do it EXACTLY right with all of the required "proofs" and documentation. Otherwise, your pets could spend months in detention at your expense upon arrival.

Free advice - Unless you know Kauai very well (as in you have visited 6 or more times and looked around a LOT) I would pick Oahu to start my Hawaii adventure. Oahu will not seem as "foreign" as Kauai. Kauai tends to be much more expensive than Oahu because everything is shipped there from Oahu. It would be nearly impossible to live on Kauai without a car, but easy to do so on Oahu. You can fill a one BR unfurnished apartment with the needed living "stuff" (bed, table/chairs/TV/kitchen stuff/etc.) for $1000 by shopping around on Oahu. There is a constant turn-over, especially of military folks. "Stuff" is cheap on Oahu if you buy all used. That's what we did.

Good luck and never forget that YMMV.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:16 PM   #11
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A big “Thanks” to all who have offered advice. I really appreciate it. Sometimes just talking (writing) these issues/thoughts out is helpful.

First to answer “Ready” & why I want to move & what my goals are…
While I’ve enjoyed living in my current home of 15 years, I came here as a result of a j*b transfer. Throughout the years following retirement, my social ties here have become less strong. I’m tired of the home/yard upkeep and am, in a nutshell, looking for a simpler life in a small but nice coastal town that has a year-round temperate climate and plenty of sun.

As most have suggested, renting would certainly be my first option wherever I choose to relocate. Having two 60lb dogs might make that a challenge; nonetheless, renting should provide me both time and peace of mind, so it will be the goal.

Still… I need to decide between California or Hawaii. On this point I’ve spent many hours deliberating. California would certainly be easier… but with the prices of coastal/near-coastal homes between Avila Beach & Santa Cruz, it’s almost as affordable to settle in Hawaii.

“Koolau” makes some very good (and appreciated) points. Choosing an Island in Hawaii on which to settle would be difficult, as I don’t have much “living” experience among them. Making matters worse, traveling there to do more scouting is difficult and costly. Still, I’m not quite ready to scratch that option off of the list. In fact, I think about it more with every California home listing I see.

I’ve given thought to doing something similar to “Lakedog,” but instead of getting rid of everything to travel west in a SUV; I’d throw my most meaningful belongings into a local storage unit and then purchase an 18' – 20‘ Airstream (or similar) trailer to travel and live in. I’m just worried about my 47 year old Land Rover’s ability to make the journey towing it... as well as my ability to live, for any extended length of time, in an 18’ camper with two dogs and a toilet that needs emptying.

As the saying goes… all journeys begin with a single step, and I suppose that step will be for me to whittle my belongings down to only those things that I REALLY care about (while concurrently giving much more thought to an ultimate location).

Any more great advice you might have is always welcome…
Updates should follow in the coming months…
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:53 PM   #12
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Thanks for sharing. I live in Southern California, but if I were to leave, the only other place I've ever wanted to live is Hawaii. I like the Big Island, because it's less crowded than Oahu and Maui. I remember real estate prices being somewhat reasonable there the last time I looked about two years ago. And they have a Costco on the island, so you won't need to overpay for groceries.

I think you'll likely be happy in either location. California gives you access to more resources, and puts you much closer to the rest of the US when you want to visit people. But Hawaii is as close to paradise as any place I've ever visited.

Good luck with your journey, and keep us informed as you move forward!
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Old 01-11-2014, 03:21 PM   #13
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Still… I need to decide between California or Hawaii. On this point I’ve spent many hours deliberating. California would certainly be easier… but with the prices of coastal/near-coastal homes between Avila Beach & Santa Cruz, it’s almost as affordable to settle in Hawaii.
Any more great advice you might have is always welcome…
Updates should follow in the coming months…
Pfffft. Let's focus your deliberations on the most important question: do you want to surf with a wetsuit or without one?

As many others have said, cut your possessions down to a storage locker and then start renting at your desired locations for 6-12 months. Pay particular attention to Ko'olau's advice on bringing dogs to Hawaii, and keep in mind that many airlines won't fly your pets here during the hotter summer months.
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Old 01-11-2014, 04:23 PM   #14
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When I moved to Hawaii (solo), I put most of my possession in storage. I took basically a couple of suitcases and a computer and rented for 6 months. I waited more than about 3 years before buying a place and eventhough it cost me money, I don't regret the decision to rent first.

There is a significant number of people who move to Hawaii and decided they don't like it. Kauai is really isolated (to be fair my least favorite island) very local and it rains a lot. I am sure most of the 65K who live there love it, and lack of high paying jobs is a big reason people move away. (Hawaii's unemployment is 4.4% near the lowest of the nation.). But you really don't want to move directly to the mainland buy a condo in Princeville without living there for several months. Playing tourist is different.
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:52 PM   #15
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Hi,

I wasn't sure from your posts whether you have lived on the Northern Cal coast. From someone who is used to much warmer water - the surf temperature is a huge disappointment culture shock. For other reasons including j*b, kid proximity, I am resigned to settling for NorCal coastal water, but would far prefer Hawaii water temperature... and sunshine :-)

I second/third? the advice: if possible, to settle where your destination arrangements before you cut all current ties.

If you decide to land in reach of Silicon valley, I'd be happy to do whatever I can to welcome you to the area.... coffee? dinner? mebe can recommend a solid real estate agent, contractor.
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Old 01-11-2014, 11:40 PM   #16
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Hmmm...for me, if I was debating between N CA and HI, having no significant ties to keep me on the mainland, HI it would be, hands down. I would, however, spend some time in Kauai before moving there. I have spent enough time on Oahu to believe I would enjoy it most if not all the time. In fact, my wife and I often debate about buying a condo on Oahu and some day, we may really end up doing it. However, we do have significant ties to the mainland, so I imagine we would not live there full time. If we did, we would probably go for a larger condo or SFU, perhaps North Shore Oahu.

The advice about purging worldly possessions is a good one. When/if we ever leave here that is exactly what we'll do.

Good luck with the decision making process.

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Old 01-12-2014, 02:05 AM   #17
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I moved to Hawaii. Although my move is temporary unless I can make something else work out here. Lots of transients who come and go in Hawaii for many different reasons so less of a "long-term" thing for the majority might be a norm here. There are plenty who come and stay though also. I feel the jobs /local economies are what causes the transients.
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Old 01-12-2014, 08:58 AM   #18
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I moved to Hawaii. Although my move is temporary unless I can make something else work out here. Lots of transients who come and go in Hawaii for many different reasons so less of a "long-term" thing for the majority might be a norm here. There are plenty who come and stay though also. I feel the jobs /local economies are what causes the transients.
Congrats on the move! I sure hope it works out for you and I would be very interested to hear how/why things either work or don't work (we have been "planning" a similar move for 2.5 years and we still haven't done squat......).

Cheers,

jb
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Old 01-17-2014, 02:41 PM   #19
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Congrats on the move! I sure hope it works out for you and I would be very interested to hear how/why things either work or don't work (we have been "planning" a similar move for 2.5 years and we still haven't done squat......).

Cheers,

jb

It is very transient and I have a semi-permanent "end date" already. It's hard to sustain out here in certain industries.
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Old 01-17-2014, 06:20 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by JBmadera View Post
Congrats on the move! I sure hope it works out for you and I would be very interested to hear how/why things either work or don't work (we have been "planning" a similar move for 2.5 years and we still haven't done squat......).

Cheers,

jb
A good book to read about moving to the Islands is one I have mentioned several times in the past:

So You Want to Live in Hawaii: Toni Polancy: 9780966625301: Amazon.com: Books

In the book, she reveals some reasons why those who move here tend to be so transient. One of the big reasons is j*bs in general and their availability to malihini (new arrivals to the Islands) specifically. Quite bluntly, malinini tend to be discriminated against. It may or may not be subtle. The reasoning has much less to do with "heritage" as such (although somewhat, maybe) but more to do with past experience of empl*yers. Far too many malihini come over, and then leave within a few weeks, months or years. They are not cut out for Island life. So, finding a j*b is difficult for milihini, even when overall unempl*yment is low. If this sounds like a "vicious circle" or "Catch 22", you are right. Just a fact of Island life that folks shrug off as "That's just the way it is." Ms Polancy suggests bringing your own j*b. You'll have to read it to see what she suggests, but it makes sense. As always, YMMV.
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