Life Update – How We Moved From DC to Seattle: Relocation Packages, Costs, Mistakes

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After more than two years of planning due to Covid, we have finally moved to the West Coast. We don’t exactly live in Seattle proper. But I will just refer to our location as Seattle for ease of recognition and for privacy.

I know I haven’t given a life update in a long time, so today I will share with you the details of our relocation packages (yes, we got two!), the move, and our mistakes in the process.

Relocation packages

Both Mr. FAF and I got two relocation packages due to our new software engineer jobs, which amounted to $50,000. I know it could be someone’s one-year salary, and the thought of having such a huge amount of cash just to move to a new city for employment still amazes me.

At my previous job in nonprofit, I never heard of a sign-in bonus or a relocation package for someone at a junior level. In tech, it’s just the norm. And the money is good.

We have two options. One is to get a lump sum amount of money and make the move all by ourselves. And the other one is to have the company’s moving company handle everything.

We decided to go with the cash option and were ecstatic when the money hit the bank.

What did we do with the money? We didn’t buy an expensive car or design clothes. We just stashed the money in a money market account to prepare for the move and to save for our second home.

At that time, we thought it was a good decision, thinking we didn’t have anything valuable. We just had used furniture, mostly old clothes, and pretty much used everything at our house.

Our dining set which we got for free from a friend when they moved.

The move

We lived in the DC area for a couple of years, so the thought of moving across the country both excited and worried me.

I was excited because I would be closer to my team and could go to campus. That means more opportunity to interact and learn from them and to attend company events if I want to.

However, I was concerned about how to rent out our house, where to find a good rental in Seattle, packing, unpacking, new schools for kids, and a myriad of things you can think of when moving to a new city.

We thought we’d just toss almost everything and buy new or used when we got to Seattle. However, the reality was just so different.

We didn’t want to hire anyone to throw our our heavy furniture for us, so we mostly did it by ourselves with the help of my in-laws. Mr. FAF’s hip didn’t feel so well, so it was just my in-laws and me.

It was heavy and time-consuming. And then about three weeks before the move, I got hit with Covid. It just happened at such bad timing. I spent those weeks feeling so sick I could barely move anything.

It dawned on us that we should have chosen the company’s moving option instead of the lump sump. It would save us so much time and energy. We would then pocket $20,000 in cash since we’d need to use one relocation package.

Moss Bay in Kirkland

The logistics

Mr. FAF decided that he and his dad would drive his mom and our son across the country. Our daughter and I would fly to Seattle. The costs of the drive included gas, hotels, and food, which amounted to about $2,000.

The two plane tickets cost $857.20. My daugher and I spent $13 buying French fries, a burger, and a coke at the airport.

We rented a U-Haul box to move our stuff to Seattle and then realized later we had to either pay $600 to get it delivered or go pick it up at the storage. Mr. FAF rented a car to haul the box home, which cost us about $100 in rental cost and gas. The actual cost was about $3,000 for the actual move.

After we got to to the new house, we decided to buy a new sectional couch from Costco, a new dining table and chairs from Ikea, and two new mattresses.

In total, Mr. FAF told me it cost us about $9,000. in both moving and buying new stuff for our rental.

It might look like we actually saved money by picking the lump sump. However, there are hidden costs that we didn’t take account of.

Hidden costs

1.Mr. FAF’s hip pain got worse

Mr. FAF was having some hip pain issues. The long trip and drive took a toll on his health.

He spent the next month after the move trying to recover. On the way to Seattle, he and my MIL got into a couple of arguments, which added to the stress.

Our son got carsick.. Mr. FAF told me he had pictured the trip to be a fun road trip for the family. But it turned out to be a disaster due to the tension and the health issues.

2. My in-laws’ health was also affected

My in-laws and my son also spent quite a bit of time trying to recover from the long trip. I spent the last week trying to clean up the rest of the furniture and the house while still having Covid symptoms and taking care of our daughter.

Conclusion

Overall, we think the actual and hidden costs of making the move by ourselves far exceed the lump sump amount for one relocation package (roughly $25,000). We have decided that if we ever need to move for our job in the future, we will pick the relocation package to save us time and spare us from exhaustion and headache.

We believe in being frugal and doing things by ourselves. But sometimes it’s just worth it to spend the money and have someone else do the job for us.

The good news is that we all arrived in Seattle safe and sound. Over the past few months, we have settled down and are loving the new city and the Seattle weather in the summer.

Choosing to move by ourselves was a mistake for us. But we have learned from it and will make better moving decisions in the future.

Money is indeed important to us. But our house and sanity are worth more if we can afford it.


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8 thoughts on “Life Update – How We Moved From DC to Seattle: Relocation Packages, Costs, Mistakes”

  • I’m glad to hear from you again. I’m glad you are safely settled after all your difficulties. Hope you will keep your readers in the loop with your life in the future. I also hope your life will be more settled and less stressful.

  • Hello!
    Glad to see you are posting again! Welcome to WA! I’m also in the Seattle area, Kent/Covington to be exact. I hope you will be happy here.
    Alicia

    • Congratulations on the whole family moving to Seattle! Thanks for writing again and sharing about your move. I am happy to hear your news. My family might be moving next year as well and I learn a lot from reading about your experience. Hope that we could meet you all some time soon!

  • Congrats on completing your move! We just moved *away* from the Seattle area, so I know how trying moving can be.

    I got a good chuckle about you guys enjoying the Seattle weather. 🙂 That lasts about 2 months. The other 10 months of the year will be cold and damp. I hope that’s your preferred kind of weather.

    Stock on on long-johns, thick socks, and wet weather gear! 🙂

    • Haha I keep hearing about winter in Seattle. So far I’ve loved the summer weather in Seattle so much! 😀 Great to see you here, Mr. Tako!

  • Great to see you back! Moving is torturous. I just moved my uncle and even with movers, it was exhausting. Taking the relocation package is good advice. Hope you are recovering well.

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