Lessons from two New Yorkers moving to California


I had just taken the first bite of my omelet when my phone buzzed. The text I was hoping for finally arrived.

We got the house.

Nine months earlier, we were sitting in Fargo, North Dakota at MisfitCon chatting with our good friends Jason Zook and Caroline Winegeart. Earlier, Clay and I had confided that, after seven great years, we were finally ready to leave New York City but we weren’t sure where we wanted to live next. We planned to try a few cities on, living for 3-4 months at a time in Austin, Boulder and San Diego.

Jason mentioned that they were also ready to live somewhere other than their hometown of Jacksonville and that our “slowmadic” road trip had inspired him and Caroline to try something similar.

Then Jason blurted out, “why don’t we all just move to San Diego and move in together?”

Without thinking, I instantly replied, “Let’s do it.”

We looked over at Clay and Caroline. Their faces held more excitement than fear and before brunch was over, we started planning our first trip to San Diego to look for a house to rent.

We were really going to do this.

It turns out, it’s really hard for two couples to shop for a house in San Diego when one lives in New York City and one lives in Jacksonville.

We came out for a week in July to look for houses and do a “trial run” of living together. By the end of the week, we didn’t have a house but we knew we could live together, we had ruled out certain San Diego neighborhoods and focused on others. We also wrote down and ranked the attributes we wanted in a house:

  • a bigger house with plenty of space
  • extra bedrooms for guests and one to turn into a home production studio
  • a big yard, ideally with plants and some nature and
  • a big main room where we could all work from
  • a pool

Over the next six months, we had our realtor send us possible houses to rent using Zillow.com. When we saw the listing for a big 6BR / 6BA house in Poway, we booked a trip to San Diego to see it.

The house was perfect. We all instantly agreed that this the house we wanted and we started filling out the paperwork immediately. Two weeks later, everything was finalized. Jason texted us to confirm that we got the house.

Oak Creek Trail 20-XL

That was the good news. The bad news was that we had to get out of our New York City apartment and move our stuff to San Diego, ASAP.

After researching our options for moving across the country, we chose to work with PODS, a great solution that allowed us to pack up everything from our NYC apartment into a big container. Then PODS takes it away on a truck and it arrives at your destination when you’re ready for it. Instead of an unnecessary road trip, we ended up taking a leisurely flight, knowing that our stuff was safely on its way to our new address.

The move was seamless, in big part thanks to PODS but also because we did a ton of research on how to make moving as easy and stress-free as possible. After all of my research and hands-on learning, I have compiled a list of 11 things you should never move without.

11 Items You Should Never Move Without

  1. Mover’s Dolly (Amazon Link)

311UUjbvvZLGet this before the day of your actual move. Since you will be hiring movers (see recommendation #2) you will use this less on moving day than you do leading up to and after the actual move. By the time you’ve boxed up one room of your home, you will have a lot of boxes to shuffle around. Stacking up boxes 5 at a time to move them close to the door is much more efficient than carrying them one by one. Save time, and your back, by investing in a moving dolly. Remember to be sure to pack it in with your stuff and not leave it behind at the end of your move because it will be just as useful when you’re unpacking!

  1. Retractable Utility Knife (Amazon Link)

utilityGet one of these even if you’re not moving soon. You will find so many ways to use it, with the #1 reason being the ability to effortlessly break down boxes at the speed of light! It most definitely beats trying to cut through layers of tape and cardboard with a dull kitchen knife or a pair of scissors. Disclaimer: If you’ve never used a utility or Exacto knife before, please remember to be careful. The blade is sharp!

  1. Furniture Blankets (Amazon Link)

Untitled 3It goes without saying that if you want to protect your furniture, especially wooden furniture, from scratches and dents, you should completely wrap it up with furniture blankets or something similar. I didn’t have enough on moving day and one blanket-less bookcase arrived pretty banged up. Pro Tip: If you like your bedroom blankets, do not use them to protect your furniture as they will be covered in dirt and dust by the time they get to your new home. An added bonus for us is that we are going to make good use of the furniture blankets by using them as sound absorbers for the recording studio we’re building in our new home.

  1. Bubble Wrap (Amazon Link)

Untitled 4No matter how hard you try to keep it from happening, inevitably some of your stuff could break (or be completely destroyed) during the course of a long, bumpy move. But an ample supply of bubble wrap + recommendation #6 will keep most of your ceramic and glass kitchenware in the condition they were in when you packed them.

  1. Plastic Stretch Wrap (Amazon Link)

Untitled 5Most things damaged in a move get damaged because they were packed loosely, inside a box or not. To minimize the impact of loose items banging together, you want to bind them together. Instead of using tape to secure items together, which is a real pain when you have to unpack, just get yourself some stretch wrap. It secures items together and works like a charm. Secure lids on baskets, wrap handles together, keep stackable containers in place, etc.

  1. Rubber Bands (Amazon Link)

Untitled 6It will surprise you how many ways you can use a simple rubber band. Roll and secure bulky clothes, keep notebooks together, pens, tupperware lids… the list goes on and on. And anything that is too big to secure together with a rubber band, see recommendation #7. Get a big bag of rubber bands, you wont regret it. Plus, post move, you’ll never have to buy rubber bands again!

  1. Tape Gun (Amazon Link)

Untitled 7You should have one of these even if you’re not moving. Anyone who mails more than 10 boxes a year should have one of these. And, it’s the only way to move like a pro. Why? Because securely taping up lots of boxes is half of the battle of moving. It shouldn’t take you longer to make boxes than to fill them. With this tape gun, you can make boxes quickly and easily. A tape gun will save you hours of time and frustration.

  1. Bankers Boxes (Amazon Link)

Untitled 8We didn’t buy any moving boxes except for these. If you are moving a lot of books, these are a must. They are perfect for packing and carrying heavy things like books and piles of papers. The managable size and the convenient handles make moving books so much easier. Without them you end up packing books with clothes to distribute the weight, which is a real pain when it comes time to unpack.

  1. Colored Tape (Amazon Link)

Untitled 9I know what you’re thinking… Colored tape is #3? How can something so simple be that useful and important during a move? Here’s how it works: When packing, each room is designated a specific color tape. I used yellow for boxes with kitchen items, green for office, blue for bathroom and red for bedroom. I put the tape on the top corners of every box that we packed. Like I said, halfway into packing I began to wonder if it was worth the extra effort, and now that I’m completely unpacked, that’s a hands-down YES!

Why? It makes unpacking a lot less stressful and confusing because just a quick glance at the box and you know which room the box should be unpacked in. Even if you label exactly what’s in the box on one side, the colored tape can be seen from every direction and angle, making it easy to organize them into the appropriate room before busting them open.

  1. Movers (Referrals from PODS)

When you add up all the costs that come with a move, it’s tempting to think of movers as a nice-to-have, not a must-have. But with all the planning and labor that goes into a move, once moving day arrives, carrying and loading is the last thing you have energy for. While the movers were bringing our boxes and furniture to the container, we were actually still packing up the last 10% of our stuff. On moving day, do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor, hire movers. The movers we worked with were one of the companies PODS referred us to. They were completely professional and even showed us a few tricks on how to pack fragile items. The day of the move, we didn’t have boxes for our big 27″ iMacs, so one of the helped us wrap our computers in furniture blankets (#9) and secure them with rubber bands (#6). The movers then packed them under our (sturdy) dining room table in the container and they arrived in perfect condition in San Diego.

  1. PODS (Website)

When you’re moving across the country, you have a few options…

You can rent a moving truck or hitch a moving trailer to your car. That’s if you even have a car. We lived in Manhattan and didn’t own a vehicle, so a moving trailer wasn’t an option for us. The problem with both these options is you’re required to take a cross-country trip while also towing your life behind you. The next 5-7 days of your life will be spent on the road. Going from New York to California by car would have been 8 hours a day for 5.5 days on the road (it’s approximately a 43 hour drive from NYC to San Diego.) Just thinking about having to spend 8 hours a day for 5 days trapped in a huge moving truck stresses me out!

The other, and for us the best, option is to have someone else move your stuff across the country. Since we didn’t own a car, finding a you move our stuff for us service was clearly the best option. After some research we found that the most well-known, highly rated company that does this is PODS. So we reached out to them and it was the best decision we could have made. 

All we had to do is box all of our stuff and hire a few movers for 3 hours to help us load everything into our PODS container that was parked on the curb outside our New York City apartment building. With everything in the container all we had to do is hop on a plane to San Diego with just our carry-on bags. Once we arrived at our new home, a few days later our PODS container rolled into the driveway, filled with our stuff. We spent the next 5 days unpacking it. Then, PODS returned to haul away the container.

It couldn’t have been a more stress free, convenient way to move. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re moving across the country.


This post is in partnership with PODS. All opinions are 100% my own.

Find PODS on the web here: WebsiteFacebookTwitter

About Julia Roy

Leave a Reply