We did it! After months of preparing to move from Indiana to Texas, it finally happened. And it was quite the adventure!
Finding an Apartment
Since we were not able to come down to Texas to look for an apartment firsthand, in the flesh, we had to rely on our computer, word-of-mouth, and internet pictures and virtual tours. It was also hard to apply for places long distant as we couldn’t just hand over our important documents, and some places, because they are income-restricted, wanted us to get documents notarized. Others needed us to fax everything, and little did I know that would cost me $50 at FedEx!
Finding the right apartment was very hard. We couldn’t afford to buy or rent a house (we checked), or at least one that wouldn’t be falling apart or much too small. And we also had to come to terms that we would be spending at least $175 more a month in rent than we had been in Indianapolis for a place the same size or smaller than we have been renting for the last three years. I love that Indianapolis has such a low cost of living (cheap housing and no food tax)! So, we made a spreadsheet (okay, my mathematician husband did) with some numbers of rental costs and income and other expenses and how much we’d have after bills were paid each month based just on my husband’s assistantship, his assistantship plus possible blog income, and then with possible government assistance, really relying mostly on the figures on the first two possibilities, to determine what rental price range would be the most realistic and easy to afford.
With that in mind, we applied to some apartments, all of which were low-income restricted. We got mostly approved, though we were still waiting on “compliance” to make sure we had filled every bit of our application out correctly. We had to redo entire pages because we checked one box wrong, delaying the process.
But, with the hope of mostly being approved and an apartment waiting for us, we decided it was time to move on and to get ourselves to our new home (hopefully) awaiting for us in Texas. We were taking a leap of faith.
Packing (with Kids)
I managed to finish packing once Josh stopped working his temp job as an evaluator/team lead, and when people offered to take the kids. The kids spent some time with their grandparents that last weekend, even little Mike.
And then on the day of the big move, a friend watched the kids pretty much all day. We are so thankful for their help because, honestly, packing with kids is almost impossible. I may be a fan of cleaning while kids are awake, but packing? No way.
My daughters really wanted to help, so they would just throw things in a box, but I like to be an organized packer, putting things neatly in boxes, maximizing their storage abilities. I also like to put as much related items into a box as possible, and that sometimes means running around the house to get different items. Well, running around the house looking for items to put in a box just means my kids have time to put things that don’t belong in the box, in the box, or to take them out and scatter them around, or to take them out and then haphazardly put them back in. And if my 15 month old got in on the packing game, things could really out of hand. And with a box cutter, tape guns, and sometimes fragile items in the mix, it is beyond stressful packing with young kids. So thank you in-laws and Deborah!
Loading the Truck
The day of the big move, we had several errands to run, a truck and trailer to pick up, and lots and lots to box up. And plenty of hiccups came along the way.
First thing that morning we ran some errands, from picking up Josh’s Master’s Degree diploma, to getting a previous employer to sign off on something, to putting in a change of address, and to return our rental modem to Comcast. We also had to call and cancel utilities at our place, put in a forwarding address with our apartment complex, and more. Picking up the truck proved a challenge, as we first went there without having the proper credit card, so we had to run home and come back. Then their computer system was super slow and they didn’t have all of the items we had requested (fewer blankets, and the car pull). Thankfully it worked out in our favor somewhat as we got some furniture pads for free and a full car trailer instead of just the dolly (for the same price), but Josh had to go to a different Budget location to pick it up. We also scored a free dolly in the exchange.
We had several men from church come and help load up all the boxes into our truck on July 21, a Monday evening. We had a great showing of people and were able to get it loaded up pretty quickly. But, then there is always the odds and ends. We ended up leaving our microwave (which didn’t sell in time) and a touch lamp behind near the dumpster, as well as bags of condiments and fridge food. And because Josh wanted me to stop cleaning and get us out the door, I didn’t have time to wipe down the inside of the fridge. I was bound and determined to get back at least some of our deposit. Josh was sure it didn’t matter and that we wouldn’t get any of back anyway, so why bother. We’ll see.
On the Road
At almost 9pm Monday night, sweaty, tired, and dirty, we locked up our empty apartment for good and dropped off our keys. It finally really hit me that we were leaving our home when I saw our apartment completely empty. I realized I would never live there again. My kids would never go up and down those stairs again, and I would never see these friends and people again (or at least for a very long time). I cried. And I am not one to cry. I cried some on the way to pick up our kids and head out on the road. I was sad, but held myself together as I said goodbye to the family who graciously took our kids (and provided us with some moving boxes) that day.
The Apartment Debacle
That first night we drove until the far side of St. Louis, MO, and we were both so tired. We got a hotel at about 2am, ate breakfast, and got on the road again, driving all day until we reached the far side of Dallas, TX, at about 10pm that night. The next day, Wednesday, we drove the remaining 4 or so hours until we reached San Marcos. We found our apartment complex and pulled up to the main office only to be told that we couldn’t sign a contract today and we couldn’t get any keys until compliance was done checking over our application. And the manager was out of town on vacation.
We called the local bishop, who we’d been in contact with, and let him know that the scheduled unloading that Wednesday night was off. We didn’t have a place to go. He asked to meet with us that night. We talked to him, and he said he’d looking into putting us up at a hotel for a few days. But, as we hung around the church building for a little while and saw some people coming for weekly activities, we talked to some people, and a very nice family heard we needed a place to stay, and invited us to stay with them for a few days instead of us having to stay in a hotel.
Praise the Lord for such Christian people and an answer to prayer. I was in a pretty bad mood most of the day. I had prayed, and prayed, and prayed that we would have a place to live once we actually arrived in Texas. And the feeling I had when we first entered our new city was a feeling of fear and dread. Would we have a place to live? And honestly, when I heard my fears being realized, I wanted to be mad. I wanted to be in a bad mood, and Josh was sickeningly optimistic and cheerful and too jokey about something I deemed to be a big deal – we were homeless! We didn’t have a place to live! Had it been a mistake to move so soon? Should we have stayed in Indianapolis longer? And unfortunately, my bad mood took hold of Josh eventually, because he was sick of my bad attitude.
Over the next few days we looked at other apartments, worked with apartment locators, but it seemed like most apartments didn’t have openings until the middle of August!! What were we supposed to do until then? Would someone really want to put us up for three or four weeks? And what would we do with the moving truck which had to be returned on Saturday by one in the afternoon? Should we continue to play the waiting game on our current apartment and one other one we had tried applying to months before?
We eventually put in an application for a place on Friday afternoon, paying the application fee, fully aware that the place wouldn’t be available until August 10. Ten minutes after we put that application in, we received a phone call that our application had been approved by compliance and that we could come sign our contracts right now, right before their office was set to close (for the weekend) at 5pm on that Friday, July 25! We were ecstatic! We had a place to live that was affordable, a townhome at the end, with a big backyard in a quiet, small complex, and that came equipped with a washer/dryer (so we could sell the ones we took with us) and a microwave. Plus, it had hard wood floors all downstairs! And even though the carpeting on the stairs and upstairs is less than stellar and the master bedroom is small, it sounded like the best we could hope for (except for the lack of a pool). I was thrilled and leaping and smiling for joy!
We decided to spend one more night with our gracious hosts (mostly because we liked them and it was already in the evening on a Friday when we finally signed the papers). And that night we went to a big stake celebration for Pioneer Day. We got up there late and our dinner mostly consisted of hot dogs (without buns) and onions, as well as mounds of desserts. We played some games and had a good time.
We had put the word out in the ward that we needed (for real this time) help unloading our truck on Saturday. Our new friends watched our kids as we unloaded boxes and furniture into our new home on Saturday, July 26, and then returned our truck. We then avoided picking up the kids for a little bit, so that we could start unpacking some things. Josh ran some errands (picked up some milk, random things that he thought we need “right then” instead of making a list and checking it twice) and left me with majority of the unpacking.I started with the kitchen first as it is the lifeblood of the home. Then I moved on to the laundry/dining/cleaning supplies as they are also part of the kitchen area. Josh got the table set up, and I started tackling bathrooms, linens, and toiletries. Josh set up Michael’s crib, and our bed, and then we made it together.I worked on clothes next. I hate hanging up clothes. I really do. And I had to hang up a lot of clothes that day and it was like that annoying fly that wouldn’t go away. Ugh! But, I bit my tongue, sucked it up, and hung up all the shirts and pants and dresses for the entire family. Thankfully some were still on hangers and we have since bought a dresser for the kids.
By the time we picked up the kids the upstairs was mostly put together and the kitchen.
Over the next week we managed to unpack most of the other boxes, set up our computer, rearranged our furniture, sold our washer/dryer that we brought with us because we didn’t sell them before we left, hung up my bike, rearranged the kitchen, and did some laundry. I even made homemade bread and cooked meals here now. It’s really starting to feel like our own home, even though we’re still getting used to it.
We did our new apartment inspection, and noticed the first night that our master bathroom light did not turn on, or the fan. And we also noticed that all of the plugs in our master bedroom didn’t work, as well as an outlet downstairs. So, the maintenance man spent a long time trying to figure it out, and couldn’t. He came for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon, a few more hours Wednesday morning, and then on Thursday he came with an electrician and they finally were able to fix all the apartment electrical issues.
It was frustrating because we also finally got the internet hooked up on Tuesday afternoon, but couldn’t use it for a while. Plus, the internet tech was over an hour late for his appointment, and then had to leave to get a tool he needed, and then finally finished the job about three hours late. But, as soon as we finally had internet, we needed to turn off the computer (and the WiFi router) because the maintenance man was checking out the outlet downstairs that didn’t have power and needed to turn off that breaker. It was the same the next day when he came back.
Thankfully, that problem was addressed as well as other relatively minor maintenance issues. Oh, and we got a brand new microwave put in too since our turn table no longer worked!
Our New Home (Unpacked)
We really are coming to love our home and find the downstairs to be very spacious. We love having more counter space, more cabinet space, an ice maker, and so much more. The ceiling fans are super nice and we’re glad we don’t have to buy new tower fans (ours had all previously kicked the bucket, except one which is still hanging on, which we put in the kitchen, which is the only room without a ceiling fan, even though it’s one of the hottest room in the house).
In general we love how roomy our downstairs is and the awesome “hardwood” floors throughout. It is so much better than having a carpeted dining room. Seriously! We decided to put all three kids to sleep in one bedroom and have the third bedroom be a playroom, or at least where all the toys are kept, in the hopes that our downstairs doesn’t turn into the playroom again. We bought the girls a double/full bed and they have been doing pretty well all sleeping together, even taking naps together all at the same time (afternoon). The playroom has been regulated for now as the storage room too and have a few stacks of boxes we are unsure what we are going to do with for the time being. We also bought the kids an IKEA dresser and a nightstand for my side of the bed. The master bedroom is pretty small and does not have a walk-in closet and boasts only one position for the bed, and it happens to be against a window. Our neighbors seem nice so far and the girls have already made a friend. We enjoy the quiet neighborhood, especially after our sometimes crazy last complex. And our location in the city actually seems pretty good. We are close to a lot of things as well. Oh, and we especially love that we open our back door to this: We are excited to be in Texas and thankful for our new friendships and the friendly people. We really hope we come to love our new home over the next few years!