We want to move it move it
October 4, 2011 4:12 PM   Subscribe

Walk me through moving from one state to another (homeowner edition).

My wife and I are entertaining a move from Seattle to the greater Boston area to be closer to her family. We currently own a home in Seattle, and we have two kids (ages 3 and < 1). I'm a work-from-home freelancer with a WA S-Corp for my business, so I can work wherever.

I've moved several times in my life, but at most I've only had a U-Haul of stuff and no commitments. With a family and a home it's a very different animal. Complicating things is that we haven't decided in what part of Boston we'd want to live. Also complicating things is that we're looking at a loss on the home (not sure if we're underwater or not, but no way are we getting our whole deposit back*). Additionally my wife's parents don't have room to put us up while we look for a place.

I have no idea how this works. So give me your best step-by-step guide to selling a home and relocating a family. I'm interested in your experiences (good and bad) as well as your ideas. I'm ESPECIALLY interested in how to make things as easy as possible for the kids.

* and I thought landlords were bad about giving back your deposit!
posted by rouftop to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Set a certain time period for "stuff I haven't used in X" and a price limit you consider falls at the border of "replaceable without much of a hassle." Everything replaceable from before that time period and below that price is not going with you. Even if it is brand new, barely used, whatever, it's not coming along for the ride.
posted by griphus at 4:31 PM on October 4, 2011

-Put your house on the market, find a realtor you trust. Get rid of as much stuff as possible and put the rest of it in a Pod that will be delivered to your new place. Mail a few boxes of essentials to your in-laws' home.

-Rent an apartment near your in-laws until your house is sold and you figure out where you want to live. Would you trust your in-laws to check out apartments you find online? Do they have any friends with rental places in the area? Do you have any friends in Boston you would trust to check any apartments you find? Or stay at some weekly hotel sort of place when you get there and find a place fast.

-Unless you have especially wonderful cars that would work well in a snowy climate, sell them. Your children are too young to appreciate an endless cross-country trip. Fly. Rent a car when you get there. If you keep a car have someone drive it east for you.
posted by mareli at 4:38 PM on October 4, 2011

Best answer: - Go around your house and take care of ALL visible repairs. ALL. Patch, paint, clean like crazy.
- Stage your house. Put all clutter, personal items (family photos, etc), and 50% of the kids toys in storage. Closets should be 50% full. The house MUST look like a show home. This SUCKS with kids -- I know. Done it 4 times.
- Interview 3 realtors. Pick 1
- Put your house on the market.
- Research schools, daycares, neighborhoods in Boston. Be sure to research schools. You'll be surprised how soon you will need a good school.
- Make a fact-finding trip out to Boston for 4 days. Visit neighborhoods.
- Once your house is under contract (it is much harder to sell a house that is empty), find a good moving company and make a house-buying trip OR rent an apartment/condo. If you are moving to Boston, I really liked Castine as a mover. One of the best i have worked with.
- If you are renting, put your stuff in storage in Boston, If you are moving into a new home, move.

Good Luck! If you have any questions about any of these steps, feel free to PM me.
posted by LittleMy at 5:05 PM on October 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd probably plan on renting for a year in Boston. It will give you time to get your bearings and figure out what part of town you do want to live in.
posted by COD at 5:28 PM on October 4, 2011

- Unless you know for sure where in Boston you want to live, consider renting for a year.
- See the comments on moving companies here.
- if your house needs a new X (stove, window, whatever) to conform to current styles, do that now rather than offer it as a part of closing. The house sells better with "new stove!" than with "$500 allowance for a stove of your choice!". This seems counter-intuitive as you'd think the buyer would want what they can choose, but if the item is dated then it detracts from the house as a whole.
- get rid of as much crap as you can rather than pay for it to move. If you can't/won't get rid of it, rent a storage locker nearby and move as much as you can into it.
posted by Runes at 7:14 PM on October 4, 2011

Definitely agree that you should sell your place first, then plan to rent in Boston, and look for a house once you get there. It will allow you to focus on one stressful life change at a time instead of all at once, and it will help you get a better deal on your house and the house you move to (Boston has an expensive cost of living and the decisions you make about where to live for both rental and permanent homes can really impact your finances, meaning that it's extra-important to make these decisions slowly and carefully - don't forget to check on any relevant association fees and how they compare to what's available in the area, what the association is like if possible by asking residents, and what the availability/cost is of parking/rental parking). If possible, use space that your in-laws may have to store any furniture or excess stuff until you make the final move to your new house, so that you aren't unpacking and repacking everything x2. You could include anything fragile or decorative in storage since it's not essential for living, and this way you only have to carefully pack it once.

Label boxes as well as you possibly can with the room the stuff came from and what specifically is in it. Then when you arrive at your next temporary or permanent home, you can put the boxes in the proper rooms immediately and unpack them as needed.

Keep your cars registered elsewhere as long as you can legally get away with it... MA has an excise tax! :-)
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:20 PM on October 4, 2011

p.s. depending on your style and the way you live, Craigslist and FreeCycle can be your good friends when you are moving... both to get rid of stuff and to accumulate it!
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:21 PM on October 4, 2011

Your plan was largely like our plan, except I took the job 3 weeks before my start date and left my husband behind to deal with alllll my shit (much of which he threw or gave away).

Also, the house didn't sell. We didn't put it on the market until he and the three dogs left, but he took fantastic fancy photos once the house was empty and we still didn't get one single viewing in a month. So we had our realtor list it for rental and it was gone in 10 days. We didn't want to be landlords, but it's okay. We're renting for less than the mortgage; it costs us about $350/month for the privilege of owning real estate in Texas, but we had no illusions of being able to afford to buy in California with one of us being a brand new freelancer anyway, so I got the keys to our rent house the day I flew back to Texas to meet him on the road to drive back with him and the dogs.

My best tips are: ditch as much of your crap as you can stand and use a POD instead of movers, because movers scam. Be flexible with what you're going to do with the house; be prepared to rent it out if necessary. Know what you can afford to do and be willing to do those things; if you need to leave your wife and kids where they are for a few months and live with your family, do it. Plan to rent for at least a year until you know you've found the right neighborhood and schools.

We kind of did this by the seat of our pants, but I don't think it could have worked out better than it has.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:41 PM on October 4, 2011

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