As a young girl, I loved reading the Little House in the Prairie series. I read them all again when I was an adult, and I couldn't help but think that the Ingalls family would not have struggled so much financially if Pa hadn't had wanderlust and would have been content to stay in one area.
Instead, seemingly every time he got established in a new area with a good house and crops that were producing, he had the urge to move again. Then, the family would have to start all over in a new area.
My husband just recently accepted a job in Tucson, Arizona. Prior to this move, we had been in the Chicago suburbs for 14 years, so we didn't have the same wanderlust that affected Pa. We made this move because we felt it would be best for my husband's career, which would in turn make it the best choice for our entire family now and in the future.
What we didn't anticipate was just how expensive moving, especially moving long distances, can be.
My husband's employer paid for our belongings to be driven out here, and they also paid the expense of the three day drive to get our family out here. Those are often high expenses for people when they relocate, so we're thankful we didn't have to pay them. Still, we feel a bit like we're bleeding money with this move.
It Costs How Much To Transfer Utilities?
My husband and I bought a house, so we had to transfer all the utilities from the owner's name to ours. That cost a cool $155. The gas company charged $35 to do this; the electric company charged $20, and our internet provider charged $99 install fee. In addition, the electric company charges a $250 deposit that we'll be refunded in 12 months if we make all of our payments on time. Ouch!
We Have to Drive How Far?
The Chicago suburbs were very expensive. With property tax alone running $10,000 to $20,000 or more, there is no way we could afford a house there. We're very grateful for Tucson's much lower cost of living so we could afford to buy a house.
What we weren't prepared for was how much we'd have to drive here. In Chicago, we were happily a one-car family. My husband took the L to work, and I kept the car all day. The kids and I often walked places, so we only needed to fill up every other week or so.
In Tucson, everything is spread far apart. My husband has a 30 minute drive to work. Alternatively, I can take him to the bus station, but even that is 15 minutes away. Thankfully gas is much cheaper per gallon here than in Chicago, but still, we're having to fill up every week and being a one-car family is no easy feat.
Why Don't We Have Health Insurance?
There are other unexpected expenses. My husband's new employer didn't finish getting him into the system as a new hire before his start date, so we couldn't have health insurance through his employer for the first two weeks. We could have risked it and gone without, but I've never been much of a gambler. Instead, we paid an independent insurer to cover our family for a month (the shortest time they could offer coverage) for $454.
This Move Will Likely Be a Financially Smart One
Thankfully, times are different than when the Ingalls were relocating. Then it took Pa over a year to make a comfortable home and reap the rewards from crops. While our family is paying a lot more up front than we anticipated, within 6 months, I believe our financial situation should stabilize and we should start to make headway.
Still, all the unexpected expenses have helped both my husband and I decide that we only want to move one more time–to a location closer to our friends and family. We won't be doing that anytime soon, though. We still have a lot of moving costs to recoup before we start shelling out money to move all over again.
If you've made a long distance move, what expenses surprised you?