Moving cross-country taught this West Coast family to embrace East Coast living.
Alanna Shevak and her family took a breath anddecided to make the movefrom Seattle to New Jersey, where her husband had recently accepted a new job. With two kids, a pet and decades worth of stuff to get cross-country—and, not to mention, a house to sell—Alanna tapped her incredible organizational skills to get the job done…and, maybe, a little help from the pros.
Within a few weeks the family was ready to wrap up the school year and tackle the next big to do on their list: pack up and make this 3,000+ mile move to the new adventures that awaited them in Ridgewood. Here’s what Alanna did first—and, maybe, why she wishes she kept the kayak…
Getting ready to sell (and why I should’ve kept the kayak—maybe…)
I enjoy being an organized person—I even enjoy trying to add a little control to the typical chaos that comes with two kids, a full-time job and household to run. So, for me, our move from Seattle to New Jersey was no exception.
Once I accepted we were really making The Move I knew I had to tap into every last bit of organizational skills to make this a successful, (relatively) seamless reality.
But with my head swirling—the details, the dates, the must-dos—I instantly became overwhelmed and grumpy. To combat this dark cloud I started writing everything down. If I thought of something move-related I would jot it down on a post-it or tack it onto my fast-growing list. Within a few days I had so many sticky notes and lists that they needed organizing. Sure I was an organized person, but these logistics were freaking me out!
I took a breath and decided to segment everything into three buckets: 1) Selling the house in Seattle, 2) the physical moving—AKA the stuff, people and animals—who all needed to get cross-country, and 3) buying a house in New Jersey. My husband and I decided I would focus on #1, he would focus on #3—he’d already started the new job in New Jersey and was in corporate housing—and sometime during the next six months, we would figure out #2.
With a plan in action, I started to prepare our Seattle home to go on the market—I even enlisted the help of a professional organizer to get the house where I knew it needed to be. You can never have enough organizational know-how in my mind!
Together we worked for days to purge my house of all the stuff we’d accumulated over the years. Through our many past moves, we’d learned the hard way that pressboard furniture never travels well and, likewise, that stunning furniture from one house might look completely out of place in another. So if it was from Ikea or Target and if I didn’t love it, it was donated to charity. And, maybe in the process I also passive-aggressively purged some of my husband’s clothes (those shirts needed to go), the camping gear we’d used once, the grill, and his kayak. Yes, I was still feeling resentful about leaving Seattle but, REALLY, when would we ever need a kayak in New Jersey? Off to Goodwill it went!
Our organizer also staged our remaining items perfectly and I moved any ugly items—the cat tree and electric piano, for starters—to a storage unit. I also packed up all our framed photos so potential buyers could envision themselves in our house, and not be distracted by family portraits. As luck would have it I also stumbled upon a wonderful contractor who helped me spruce up the landscaping and touch up handprints and scratches on the walls. The final flourish was washing the windows inside and out so the sun would stream through for the photographs.
And, yes, the sun does shine in Seattle. Seriously!
I had gotten so much done in such a short period of time that, when I finally took a minute to appreciate the work, I was hit with another surprising emotion: with all of the sprucing and staging, our house looked spectacular, making it even harder for me to see it go. In those moments I had to keep telling myself over and over to keep going and moving forward towards the next exciting chapter in our lives.
In almost no time I sold the house for full asking price and, even, got the rent-back I needed to keep the kids there until the end of the school year. Mission #1accomplished.
Fast forward a few months and we’re settling into our new lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey—but, being a Seattle family, decided to tap into our outdoorsy Pacific Northwest spirit and venture out to Ringwood State Park. We thought it might be nice to take in the fall air, see the foliage, and get some exercise—and maybe, just maybe, we’d start loving New Jersey a little more. But, of course, as we looked out over the peaceful and serene lake, my first thought was, “Oh I wish we had a kayak…” A slight organizational fail but, hands down, a moving success!
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