Coast to Coast – SF to Boston (1)

Why Boston? – As we’ve been asked by almost everyone

We had been considering moving out of California for some time, and Boston was our top candidate. We have several requirements for our dream city:

  • On the coast. I grew up on a coastal town, and I believe the ocean brings so much to a place, from beaches, waterfronts, to the local climate and seafood.
  • Not too hot and humid. Josh hates warm and humid weather. That rules out Florida.

But why Boston? With those requirements, we have Seattle, NYC. From my 5 days experience in Seattle during Thanksgiving, I decide I don’t like Seattle because it rains too damn much in winter. I’d get depressed there. NYC is a big disappointment when I visited in the 2019 holidays. It felt NYC went down so much – much more homeless people, much dirtier streets, and still so crowded and so much noise.

Boston is a big city, by American standard. It’s the biggest city and the center in New England, so it has a lot going on in the city and we won’t get bored. It’s also a small city. City center is pretty walkable. It has a lot of history as the oldest city in the States. The biggest challenge is probably the harsh weather in the winter, which is fine for me. The town I grew up in has cold winters, and I’ve lived in Long Island NY for 3 years and I didn’t remember winter there was particularly bad.

Why Moving?

Ever since the pandemic, I started thinking about the lifestyle I lived with for the past few years. I didn’t have choices. I work in Mountain View and I have to live in South Bay for commute. There is no real urban center in South Bay. When 9 counties in Bay Area opened up, I went to Mission Dolores park, and I was so amazed to see so many people gathering and having a good time. After being in lockdown for almost a year, I had never been wanting the urban lifestyle as much as that moment.

Still, it is a big decision, and I’ve been hesitating to do it. Josh had expressed so many times to me how much he wanted to leave California, and I was taking notes. Sometimes I got frustrated and annoyed. But after several months of suffering from anxieties from work and the push from Josh, as well as the urge for something exciting, I finally started thinking how much fun we could have. Sometimes I’d look online for Boston apartments. Without a sense of commitment, I scheduled a virtual tour with The Sudbury Apartment in downtown Boston, at the end of September.

The tour went really well and we were both impressed by the amenities and the apartment itself. The rent is about $4000 a month but I decided I would set aside $40-50k just for this “experiment” – to see if the city life is for us, and see if Boston is for us.

We emailed the apartment two days after the tour saying we were going to move in at the beginning of November. At that time I had another track day on 10/31. Assuming we leave next day, we’d need at least a week to drive to Boston. Then we started preparing for the big move.

Before the move

The time and route

I had been wanting to drive from coast to coast since I came to the States. And this move was a perfect opportunity for me to do that. Since it was almost winter time, we decided we’d avoid the northern route, which goes through Rockies and Great Lakes. An alternative is to take the southern route, which goes through Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Since Josh had families to visit in Tulsa, and he’s a big country music fan, we decided to take the southern route, and spent several days in Tulsa and Nashville. After some debating and discussion, we’ve decided on the following schedule:

  • Day 1: San Jose CA -> Flagstaff, AZ
  • Day 2: Flagstaff, AZ -> Albuquerque, NM
  • Day 3: Albuquerque, NM -> Tulsa, OK
  • Day 4: in Tulsa, OK
  • Day 5: Tulsa, OK -> Nashville, TN
  • Day 6 and 7: in Nashville, TN
  • Day 8: Nashville, TN -> Harrisonburg, VA
  • Day 9: Harrisonburg, VA -> Boston, MA

And I booked all hotels along the route except in Tulsa where we’d stay with Josh’s families. All hotels were booked on Marriott as I had so many of their points. After this trip I spent almost all points. At the moment, the redemption rate for Marriott hotels are still based on tiers. Hotels in Flagstaff and Albuquerque had way much more cash value than the points. I redeemed both of them for 12k points, and their cash price for that nights were well above $250.

The U-Haul Trailer

We were going to drive the truck (2019 Ford Ranger) to Boston, and tow a small 5×8 U-Haul trailer with our stuff. Not surprisingly, it was really difficult to find a trailer in California, and it was also very expensive. The quote we got was over $1,600 for the move from Bay Area to Boston. Their online system wouldn’t let Josh to make the reservation. The U-Haul location in San Jose called Josh, said they couldn’t guarantee the trailer of the size and the location we wanted. But they’d call us a few days before our pick-up date to tell us if they would have one near us and would tell us where to pick it up.

I got a lot of anxieties from the uncertainty of not being able to reserve a trailer. But Josh is in charge of that, and I just learnt to let it go and we’re a team and I don’t have to worry about everything, and Josh is fully capable of dealing with that.

When the pick-up day got closer, Josh did get a call from U-Haul to pick up our trailer in a location in Morgan Hill, which is not too far from San Jose.

We also went to the Home Depot to buy the hitch and ball for the trailer.

I was so excited to see the truck with trailer showed up after Josh picked it up. It was not first time to use my truck for proper “truck use”, but it was still exciting to have new adventures and experiences.

Packing & Planning

I introduced Notion to Josh for planning and to-do lists. It worked out very well for us. Everything was so organized and it helped a lot with my anxieties. At the last few days in October, the packing list got checked by the day, as I still went to work and Josh would pack at home. I spent several nights before we left to pack my own stuff. Josh paid a lot attention to details and small helpful things from the kitchen, living room and some common spaces.

Even with powerful tools we still missed some. So on the last day, we stuffed several bags with random things. Josh backed up the trailer to the driveway perfectly, and it took 2-3 hours for us to load up the truck and the trailer. And the day came for the big move.

To be continued…

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