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11 Smart Decisions (and 8 Mistakes) We Made When Moving

This goes back a bit, but we never covered what we learned during the moving process.  We’ve heard from several folks who are planning a transition to Hawaii, so this is for you!

In the final blitz of our move to Hawaii, we had to make a lot of quick decisions about shipping, preparation, and how to go about our first days here.  Some of them went well.  Others, not so much. . .

Some things we did right:

  1. Packed 12-14 days of clothes.  It’s a lot for a regular trip, but as it turns out, we didn’t get our boxes for 5 weeks so this ensured we had a good amount of clothes to wear before doing laundry (especially since we didn’t have a house yet, and didn’t know when we’d get one.
  2. Decided about keep/sell on most of the stuff in the house about 3 months in advance.
  3. Got  a 90 day supply of my medicine before we left so I didn’t run out.
  4. Brought only small items with us, not large items requiring expensive shipping.
  5. Gave each kid a shipping box, in which they could pack anything they wanted.
  6. Shipped mostly essentials, but made sure to bring a few comfort items of our own (such as our favorite coffee mugs).  It’s nice to have a few familiar, loved items.
  7. Looked for long term rental listings online so we had appointments for house viewings ready before we arrived.
  8. Used U-Haul moving helpers.  They packed everything left in our house into a truck I rented and unloaded it all at the storage unit.   For about $300 we saved our sanity, our bodies, and 2-3 days of time.  Easily the best money I spent during the entire move.
  9. Had grandma and grandpa help watch the kids while we did the final storage and shipping.  That also freed us up to spend a few minutes having some farewell champagne with our good friends and take a final sentimental tour of the house without kids competing for attention.
  10. Chuck took the first week here off of work to focus on the transition.
  11. We brought our sense of humor because we were expecting change, upheaval and life to be unsettled for a while.


Some things we did wrong:

  1. Not creating a decision moratorium.  We were undecided about what to do with our minivan until the final days before the move, spurring a frenzy to list and sell the car while we were trying to pack and move.  Madness!
  2. Shipped the kid’s birth certificates and passports.  I knew to take them with us but somehow in the frenzy to pack and ship things, they got shipped.  Wrong because I needed them to register the kids for school and had to wait 5 weeks for our boxes to arrive.  AND wrong because if they had been lost or stolen, I would’ve had a big headache to deal with trying to get them replaced before school.
  3. Not getting copies of the kids immunization & medical health records before I left.  I also should’ve seen if their pediatrician in VA would have filled out the Hawaii Health Forms for me.
  4. Packing my 90 day supply of medicine.  I had enough for the initial amount of time but didn’t count on running out of it before my current supply ran out.
  5. Didn’t move into a short term rental sooner.  We only booked 3 nights in the hotel, because every day we kept thinking we might find a place and move then every day we’d have to go to the front desk of the hotel right before check-out time and ask to extend.  We should have just committed to a short term rental for a week and if we found a place to move into sooner, great.
  6. Underestimated the time it would take for us to buy a car.  We should have known better since our initial focus was  on finding a place to live.  Since we were buying used, it took a lot of running around and checking out cars before we found what we wanted.  It would have been easier to do the initial car rental for longer instead of having to return the car and re-rent another 4 times (!)

Overall, many of the stressful and stupid things came from trying to save a few bucks.  We didn’t want to waste rental days on a car or nights in a hotel.  At a certain point, you have to preserve sanity and just recognize that you might waste a few dollars here and there.  Big deal – just need to build that into the plan.