It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post. A lot has happened in the last few months. We moved back to Michigan from California, which makes this our third cross-country move.
I got a new job. I was applying for jobs in my second year as postdoc, as I felt my project was coming to an end. Plus, I also wanted to move on and get a more permanent role. During my postdoc, I got really tired and disenchanted with the idea of academia, so I started looking for industry roles.
I applied to my current job in Michigan in April and was interviewed in May. I got the offer in June, which I gladly accepted after some negotiations. But, I was still waiting for my employment authorization document (EAD) as we applied for the green card this year under EB2-NIW. So, we were in a limbo for a few months. I did tell my manager and PI that I’ve received and accepted the offer.
The EAD wasn’t approved until August. After I received it, I turned in my notice to HR, and started preparing for the move back to Michigan. We decided to move at the end of September, which gave us enough time to sell some furniture, finish packing, and other logistics. I found free boxes and packing materials on the local Buy Nothing group (which is amazing and available almost everywhere, by the way). We started packing about 6 weeks before we moved. It’s amazing to see how much crap one can accumulate in a few years time.
It wasn’t cheap to move our stuff from California to Michigan. The cheapest option I found was Relocube. I checked for quotes on upack.com in incognito mode and found a $60 off coupon online. We ordered the Relocube in mid-August for about $3400. But, when I checked the quote again two weeks later, I was able to find a Relocube for $3187. So I ordered it again and canceled the first one, since cancellations are free if you do it early enough. Overall, our experience with Relocube was great, and our friends helped us pack the cube to the brim on a very hot California day. We thanked them with pizza and soda.
We flew with Delta. Tickets weren’t cheap, and with the pet-in-cabin fee of $95, we spent about $1800 to move back to Michigan. We did choose to fly first class for the extra legroom for our pet carrier, the free checked bags, and the dinner. Not a bad experience, but I’m not sure if it’s worth it. I’ll just stick to economy in the future, unless we have enough airmiles to upgrade.
I also shipped my car back to Michigan. We used Ship a Car Direct as we had a good experience with them in the past when shipping my husband’s car to from California to Michigan the first time. We also packed some stuff into the car that we couldn’t pack in the relocube. The quoted price was $1350, but the driver wanted an extra $50 for the stuff in the car. I didn’t want to bother with selling my car and buying a new one in Michigan, especially with the shortage of cars these days.
Our lease in California was renewed in June and wouldn’t expire until April. To get out of the lease, the apartment manager gave us two options. One was to pay two months of rent. The other was to have them put our apartment on the market and rent it out at our current rate. We would only have to pay the pro-rated rent for the time that the apartment is unoccupied, plus a re-lease fee. In the end, this cost $2129.13, which also included cleaning fee, a defleeing fee (our pet has never had any flees), fee to replace a single broken blind, and other maintenance fee. They really nickel-and-dimed all they could to keep all our security deposit. We could’ve opted for the month-to-month lease, and actually we should have, but at the time we didn’t know when we were going to get the EAD. This may have saved us about $1000. Lesson learned.
Finally, our new place in Ann Arbor required a pet and security deposit of $250 and $400, and a non-refundable pet fee of $150. They also wanted an administration fee of $75, and rent plus utilities would cost $1825. This is much better than paying $2350 for our place in California, but I really wished it was cheaper. I remember paying about $1200 for our previous apartment in Ann Arbor in 2020, but inflation plus the school year starting meant rent was increasing everywhere. In total, it costs us $2700 to rent this new place.
Once we moved, we also got a new sofa from Ikea, a new mattress from Costco, and other smaller pieces of furniture. We kept our old dining table, the box spring, electric piano, TV, my husband’s desk, our office chairs, the tv stand, and other important things. We also needed to replenish some of our pantry items. I’m grateful for my friends in California and in Michigan who helped us move, gave us a ride to and from the airports, and gave us a place to stay before we were able to move into our new place.
I think we spent just under $15000 on this cross country move. Luckily, I negotiated a small relocation bonus with the new job and had some PTO that was paid out from my postdoc, and we had been saving for the move since June. Besides the first class tickets, I don’t think it would’ve been cheaper than this to move across the country. If we were to sell everything, buying them again would’ve likely costs more than the $3187 we spent on the relocube. Everything increased in price in the months prior and during our move due to inflation.
Moving is expensive and exhausting, and moving cross country is a logistic nightmare. I really hope this is our last move before we purchase our home, which is our next financial goal. Overall, I feel that this move has been good for us, as the cost of living is lower in Michigan, and we both feel at home here in Ann Arbor. But, I do miss my friends in San Francisco and the amazing food there. Maybe we will visit California again in the future.