The Move Out West

The Move Out West

Back in what seems like a decade ago I wrote a post about why we decided to move from our comfortable familiar lives in suburban Pittsburgh to Colorado, and more specifically Longmont. As we have been here for 18 months now, I thought this a good a time as any to look back on our first year out here. Instead I started looking back on our move across the country and what led up to it. Here we go…

The Move

In late July of 2020, I was laid off. It wasn’t a surprise; I worked in software development in the live events industry, which wasn’t really existent once the pandemic hit. They had laid off 30% of the company in late March and it was actually a surprise that they laid off another 40% in July. At any rate, my wife and I decided that that was a good a time as any to make a clean break and move out to Colorado.

I looked for jobs around Boulder county and pursued some of them over the next few weeks. We went on some nice camping trips as a family and I got to do an awesome trip to the Finger Lakes with just my sons.

As luck would have it, a former employer of mine, who I had very much enjoyed working for, gave me a call a few days after I was laid off and expressed interest in bringing me back to work on a new project. The prospect of going back to a familiar environment, with folks that I knew well, in as close to a pandemic-proof industry (podcasting) as possible eventually won the day. Just one question remained:

– “Is it Ok if I work remotely from Colorado?”

— “Of course, we assumed you were already there”

With that sorted out, we started looking for a rental in Longmont, which we managed to acquire via some networking. It was in what remains probably our favorite neighborhood in Longmont and we managed to negotiate a six month lease. We did this knowing that the housing market is insane along the Front Range and we wanted to take advantage of buying during the winter.

We put our house in Pittsburgh on the market and started sorting out our moving situation. We could save a lot of money by just driving a Uhaul across the country and towing our electric car behind it. But that would mean one person driving the truck and the other driving a van, towing our camper behind it. Paying for movers to load all of our stuff, drive it, and unload all of our things in Colorado was going to be ridiculously expensive.

So we decided on a compromise. We rented a 28’ trailer from UPack – they would leave the trailer on the street and we had a few days to load it. Then they would pick it up and haul it across the country for us, drop it off, give us a few days to unload it and then pick it up again. We tetris-ed the heck of that trailer, all 28’ of it and we still had to rent two more “ReloCubes” for things like tools, bike and sports equipment.

It just goes to show that no matter how many times we feel like we have decluttered and purged our belongings, we always have more than we think.

Things expand to fill the space that we give them.

We spent our last week in Pittsburgh working / remote schooling from my dad’s house and running back and forth to our house, cleaning and grabbing our last few belongings.

The Drive

One last view of our house in PA

We left Pittsburgh on a Friday morning, Honda Odyssey with a roof carrier, towing our Viking SP-235. What ended up being the last time I saw my dad for five months, was him asking me why I was swearing so much as I hitched up our camper to our van (he has never hitched up a camper before obviously, swearing is part of the process 😛 )

Once we cleared the city limits and eyes dried up, the first day of driving was pretty easy. We drove straight from Pittsburgh to Toledo before stopping for gas, then continuing on to Indiana Dunes National Park, where we tried to park unsuccessfully (I am not sure how a national park doesn’t have trailer parking) and then we just drove around part of the park. To be honest, I was pretty underwhelmed by Indiana Dunes as a national park, but to be fair we didn’t get out of our car – maybe I need to give it another shot the next time we are in the region ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Next, we broke one of the cardinal rules of traveling with kids – we took them into a giant candy store after being in the car for 7 hours. We thought the Albanese Candy Factory in Merrillville IN would be more of a factory with a tour, but no it was a giant candy store.

Meltdowns ensued, but eventually candy was purchased and we continued on our way to our hotel just outside of Chicago. We unhitched the trailer, parked the car, checked into our hotel and ordered some deep dish from Giordano’s.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, I had never really had deep dish, and I have to say for what it is it was pretty darn good.

Day 2 was our longest drive of the whole trip start to finish, and we made it longer by building in some tourist stops in Iowa. After driving across Illinois and most of Iowa (which had some gorgeous fall colors before the trees gave way to the plains) we stopped at a few roadside attractions to keep our sanity.

As we finished our trek across Iowa and into Nebraska, I was amazed at how quickly civilization dropped off once we got past Omaha and Lincoln. We stopped for the night at a hotel in Hastings Nebraska, worn out from a long day on the road with four kids. Despite the hotel being fairly new, they apparently did not wire it very well so that was fun.

Our last day of driving was the shortest and thus, we didn’t stop very often. Shortly after we crossed the state line into Colorado, we encountered tumbleweeds the size of our car, grey and yellow skies and 50 mph winds. Our minivan and popup were getting buffeted at every mile. Colorful Colorado indeed.

Eventually we made it to our hotel in Longmont, unpacked only what we needed for the evening, then picked up our other car (a Nissan LEAF that was not making it across the country on its own) from the tow truck driver, and met up with our landlord at our rental house. The next morning we frantically gathered up the kids (who had to be online for remote schooling at 8 AM), drove over to the house and awaited the moving truck.

That was it, we had arrived. I was tired and weary from the road but buzzing with adrenaline about being in a new place, looking forward to starting a new chapter in our lives in a new place.

The Costs

As this blog is also about finances, I would be remiss not to mention what we spent on the move out.

UPack Trailer Transport$4,181the bulk of our stuff
2 ReloCubes$2,894everything that didn’t fit into the Trailer
Car Shipping$1,095Nissan LEAF
Fuel$259.41Gas was around $2 per gallon then 🙂
Hotels$230.86Three nights, we used some points in here
Take Out Food$266.49While on the road and the first few days in our house while we unpacked the kitchen
Grand Total$8,926.76

Could we have done this cheaper? Definitely. But we could have spent a lot more as well.

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