We are in a bit of an in-between state. With the exception of my wine and winter wheels/tires, we no longer live in or have belongings in Connecticut. Our cat is living in our new apartment in California. She is joined by the possessions that rode with us on the jet west and an assortment of crap from Lowe’s and Target. We visit her daily but are living out of a hotel for two weeks, with one week to go. Then our cars and household goods show up. We hope. Work starts tomorrow, my first first day of work in a decade.
Moving has been interesting. I’ve moved many times. I’ve had movers before. With that said, nothing really prepared me for the scale and duration of a fully-packed transcontinental move. When I gave a month’s notice at work I had five more weeks planned on the east coast and a week in the west coast before I intended to start work. At the time it seemed aggressive but reasonable. In retrospect only the former was accurate. We spent a lot of the first three weeks rapidly downsizing our existence via donations, giving things away, and ultimately far too many things getting thrown out or recycled. We likely still have too much stuff.
With everything organized, pruned, and broken down, packing our entire existence up only took a day. Loading it into a semi took another day. We did not need an entire semi (or even half of it), but they brought one anyway. Its driver was visiting with his family and then picking up some loads in Brooklyn, so it spent another 3-5 days on the east coast before heading west. This was somewhat inconvenient as it precluded us from having our goods shipped door-to-door due to our availability on the receiving end. Independent truck owners and their particular proclivities can have a rather substantial impact on whatever plans were in place beforehand to get things delivered before work resumes.
Instead, everything will be delivered to a warehouse in Fremont, and then re-loaded and delivered a few days after that. This is considered a pretty bad thing from a risk-to-your-goods (for damage) standpoint, but it’s the solution that ended up being necessary. One thing M and I quickly realized was that these types of moves would be dramatically easier if only one member of a family was employed full-time. Coordinating everything and being available for various pickups and deliveries (three separate services/companies alone are needed just for our household goods just at the origin and destination) is a full-time job.
Moving the cat was its own adventure. This required getting a health certificate from the vet, first off. Not a big deal. She rode under our feet in the economy cabin for $125. Our tickets were only $143, so I think they should have just sold us a dedicated seat. We got a soft-sided carry-on bag that fit perfectly (except for our feet, of course), and generally had no problems. All-told, she spent about 13 hours in the bag without relief, only exiting to go through security. That was its own adventure as she had to be on a harness and leash. And, of course, the TSA decided they needed to swab both of my hands. While I was holding a cat and a leash. This is dramatically more complicated than you might imagine. Given her anxiety in general, the vet recommended a mild sedative and I can say in retrospect this was definitely helpful keeping her relaxed through the chaos, noise, and jostling. We managed to arrange early check-in at a hotel, meaning we only needed about two hours after we landed before we could let her out (and it took some time to pick up litter, food, and a litterbox, anyway). Once she settled into the new apartment, she’s been fine, except for when she decided to get stuck behind the fridge.
At least we’re pretty sure she was stuck. She definitely made it down without a problem, but appeared to have difficulty getting enough clearance to jump back out. Once we freed her she immediately ran to the litter box and I immediately set to relocating the fridge so that can’t happen again.
Our new place is quite a bit smaller than our old apartment. It has fake wood floors outside of the bedrooms, which while fake, are nicer than carpet. The kitchen is a galley design with a lot of cabinets, a huge sink (with flexible head), huge refrigerator and gas stovetop. The latter in particular is a surprise, as we did not see another property with gas in the bay area. We were told this is for liability reasons and because of earthquakes. The bathroom is as large as the master bedroom, featuring huge open spaces, separate toilet room, a soaking tub, and a shower stall. There’s even air conditioning.
On the other hand, we have five keys, three different keyfobs, and the washer/dryer is a miniature over-under unit sized for a small child’s wardrobe. The rent is even more than we paid in Connecticut. There’s basically no cellular coverage at all. And the Internet is positively third-world.
Yes, I’ve moved west to work for one of the biggest sources of bandwidth in the modern world, headquartered in the same town I’m living in, and the Internet options are embarrassing. In every other city in the bay area, we can get a Comcast business cable Internet connecticut. San Bruno has a municipal cable company that provides cable and Internet. For well north of a hundred dollars a month, one can get a 25/5 connection with a 500GB cap and a strict acceptable use policy. Unfortunately, a quick Internet search will reveal people have endless problems with this option and the Internet is often barely operable and never achieving the quoted (abysmal) rates.
Next up there’s AT&T DSL, clocking in at my apartment somewhere in the 10-20/1-2 range depending on circumstance. It of course comes with AT&T’s inane bandwidth caps and associated policies.
There are a number of other similarly bad options including, of all things, satellite Internet. In the end, we went with Sonic. For a little short of a hundred dollars a month, we’re leasing a dry and wet DSL line from AT&T via Sonic with no caps or restrictions or silly policies. Under the best of circumstances we may see 20/3 or so, but I’m not so silly as to expect that. Thus far only the wet line is hooked up; I’m seeing 3/1 on it. Hopefully the dry pair is faster and we can get to 10/3 with the bonded link. We do not even qualify under the best of circumstances for the legal definition of broadband. At this point all we can really hope for is for fiber to the premises (whether FiOS, Sonic, Muni, or Google) or for Comcast to decide it does want to get into the cable business in San Bruno (it had every right to do so in the past and decided not to). Or we can move.
One of the nice things about where we’re located is I can walk to work and M can walk to the Bart station. We can both walk to a mall that includes a Target, a home improvement store, and a supermarket. We can get rid of a car. We can stop paying for an extra parking space. We can have a (tiny 1L-powered) grill on our patio. IF things aren’t outright terrible, it would be incredibly convenient to live here for a few years.
Of course, if you trace a line from SFO’s 28L and 28R departures you’ll notice the path takes you directly over our apartment just 2.5 miles downrange. Triple-pane windows don’t make much of a difference when a fully-laden wide-body is 1000 feet above your apartment on take-off thrust. And the 380 is just on the other side of our building. So that’s a treat.
Enough about our new residence. We’ve had a startling amount of downtime once we got here; outside of M’s work (and mine, starting next week), we have basically nothing to do in the hotel or apartment. So we’ve been trying to take advantage, visiting some tourist attractions, stocking up the apartment, eating good food, visiting our favorite wine shops, etc.
The food in particular has been surprisingly good. Almost everything has been good, with the produce generally better than we’re used to. We’ve had delicious Vietnamese, Asian Fusion, Burmese, Indian, Nepalese, Japanese, and Filipino cuisine along with a myriad of “American” and “Californian” things. We had the best pizza in SF (Una Pizza) and some great oysters and paella over in Pacifica. It’s been fun, but we’re anxious to have our stuff. And get back to having regular day jobs.
There are some advantages to being out here. All of those west coast beers that are a pain in the butt to get back east are … everywhere. On the other hand, those hard-to-find east coast beers don’t exist at all. And, with another snow storm back “home,” it’s sure nice to be in sunny, breezy, and 55-65 every day of the week!
So, that’s where we are. We still need to register and license ourselves out here and all that jazz, but we’re on our way to being proper California residents.