Moving

by L

Did any Totebaggers move as children? If so, do you remember or were you too young?

This Totebagger moved prior to age 3 and has no memory of the first house. As we contemplate moving now, I am sad to think that our youngest child will have few or no memories of this house.

In addition, any tips for moving with kids? Changing school systems? What are your must-dos and must-avoids?

Preparing Children for a Move

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140 thoughts on “Moving

  1. We moved prior to both our kids starting elementary school. Though we thought the older one would have retained some memory of our first house – he doesn’t. All he recalls somewhat is our temporary apartment. Our kids were really too young and between different daycares, didn’t make friends until after we had moved. Even now they continue to make new friends as newer families move into our neighborhood. I had thought transition to middle school would be difficult but I am amazed that new friends from different feeder schools have appeared. I lived in the same place and went to the same school all through my childhood. I seem to have been more apprehensive than my kids.

  2. I was actually thinking about a tangent on this topic last night, which was who still lives near where they grew up, (however defined)?

    Except during college/grad school years years when I had 10 different addresses, I don’t think I’ve moved much.

    The first move I remember was when I was 3. This was to the house I would live in for 10 years at which point my mom remarried and we moved about 15 miles away. They still live in that house. I really don’t remember much about my move between 7th & 8th grades, except that I knew it gave me a chance to start over with a new bunch of kids. I had gotten in with a moderately rough crowd the year we moved (smoking cigarettes and drinking beer as a newly cool teen), so it was probably to my benefit to get out of there.

    Since marrying, we’ve had 3 addresses together…1st apartment, condo (2.5 years each), and this place for now 25+ years. Never would have thought we’d be here this long…the plan was to take another corporate relo after 5-7 years (got the offer after 8 years, but to a high COL area that would have severely impacted our finances). I feel we’re better for having stayed; there seems to be less keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mentality than there is in other places I’ve lived (LA, Bay Area). Or maybe I just don’t care about those image things like I did when I was a kid.

  3. I moved when I was in kindergarten. I remember being really excited, especially when all of our stuff showed up in the moving truck.

    We recently moved and my older two were quite upset about it. Didn’t want to move, want to visit our old house, talk about their old rooms, want to look at pictures of our old house. I am not sure if this is typical, but my guys are sensitive old souls, so it didn’t surprise me. I let them pick out some fun new things for the new house and this has helped a little. As had the promise of a jungle gym in the backyard this spring.

  4. I moved to a different apartment when I was 10. I remember my friends from the original building and playing outside. I moved to a different neighborhood, but I was still in the same school because my elementary and MS were large.

    My tip is to decorate the new room with age appropriate input from your child. Also, set up their room right away so they have structure and routine in your new home. They need to feel secure and boxes from other rooms can wait.

    I live near my parents because my burn is close to the city. It’s just a 20 min car ride.

    I’ve lived in other cities, states and countries for work and school, but I’ve filed taxes in this State for every year of my adult life.

  5. We are moving in the next month. It will be our sixth move in seven years. Because I moved a lot for school, I think I have a fairly low threshold for relocating. All of these last six moves have been in a single urban area, though as much as 30 miles apart. Three of the six moves have been somewhat out of our control. The perils of renting in an up housing market, among other things. In retrospect, I don’t question the need for any single move that we have done, though together, I think it has caused quite a bit of tumult for our children, and I regret that.

    The most important thing for me is that a few weeks before the move, I start to pack food, clothes, and toiletries like we are going on vacation. That enables me to pack up the rest of the house. Bedding goes in black trashbags the morning of the move and is easily found to put on the beds that evening.

    On our last move, I paid someone to do the lion share of the packing. It was surprisingly cheap and efficient, something like $600 and took half a day. This is in sharp contrast to three weeks of boxing, labeling, feeling bad about not having packed enough. Unfortunately, this made I’m back to boxing my own things, as we try to sort and prepare for staging our home. ( which is an entirely different level of stress).

  6. I moved between freshman and sophomore high school years, which in hindsight I would think would have been a tough transition. I don’t recall being “traumatized”, but I think I would have been more engaged and successful in HS if I had had more continuity. I also had another significant school change when I started HS knowing virtually no one there. I’m a “tough cookie”, and I sometimes speculate if my kids would have either failed completely or succeeded more if they had had less comfortable childhoods. They started and ended their K-12 years in the same house.

  7. By the time I was 18, I had moved 21 times. I am an expert on moving between school systems as a child.

  8. By contrast, my kids will have grown up never having moved. I think that is a bad thing, actually. In college, it seemed like the kids who had grown up in the same small place all their lives had a much harder time adjusting.

  9. MM — It seems you’ve made an effort to make sure your own children don’t have to move. Is that right?

  10. MM — Saw your answer. Why didn’t you move? Too much trouble, I suppose.

  11. We lived in a rental while we were building our house – we had a newborn and a 2.5 year old and spent a lot of time at the house site, watching things getting built. In the rental, the newborn slept in a cradle and later a pack-and-play until we could move into the new house. We explained to our older child that he would be moving to a “big-boy bed” in the new house and the baby would sleep in the crib. He didn’t like this idea, and pointed out that “the man can build me a new crib.”

  12. Once we left grad school housing we had a period of 6 months where we didn’t have a permanent home (DS1 was 5), but then lived in the same rented duplex for 20 years until the youngest finished high school. The disruptive factors (and there were more than their share) in my kids’ lives did not include relocation.

    My first move was at 3 1/2, when we abandoned our home, lived in various apartments with changing phone numbers for 4 years until my mother was able either to hide effectively from my father or he gave up trying to find her (he did return to his home state eventually). I forced a move to a school district acceptable to my mother when I was 14, because I wanted to leave my on the skids private school and go to public high school.

    In my childhood there was no attention paid to what kids were thinking and feeling. In my early parent years, there wasn’t much more unless they went out of control. By the late1980s the concept of parenting came into vogue and the entire landscape began to change – there were books and seminars and self help groups and techniques.

  13. We moved as kids but always within the same town. My mother remarried when I was 15 and rather than switch schools at that point, I moved in with my dad. I think high school is probably tough, elementary school I don’t think would be a big deal. DH moved right before 9th grade when his mother remarried and they moved from PA to RI. He went to a city high school for about a month and then after telling his mother that another kid had come back from lunch with no shoes because they had been stolen, he was switched to private school. He always says moving was the best thing that happened to him (although it was really traumatic at the time) as his particular area of PA was very working class, stay there and marry someone from high school, etc. kind of place.

    My oldest is in 3rd grade now and we’ve talked about moving back up north and she would miss her friends but she thinks it would be a fun adventure. The kids would miss our house the most.

    I still have memories of the house we moved from when I was four.

  14. “By the late1980s the concept of parenting came into vogue” — lol, true

  15. Lived in the same house in Texas until the end for 4th Grade, then we moved 5 states away to the north to follow my dad’s job and it put us in a very rural area, with lots of isolation in the winter, without much health care for my elderly grandmother who lived with us. My parents didn’t really understand the housing market there and we couldn’t find a place to live with access to EMS or a hospital, so we only stayed the summer (my dad stayed longer in total he had that job 2 years). We moved in with my aunt in another Texas city, then just before Thanksgiving our renters (we couldn’t initally sell our house, so we rented it out) lost the dad’s job and by December1, I was back in the old house at the old school. The following summer we moved to a third Texas city and stayed their 6-12 grade.

    In college I had 2 addresses and since then have lived at 5. We moved when one child was 3.5 and the other was 18 months. We didn’t move far and needed to redo some things in the house. We let the older one pick her room color and they helped us paint shelves and other things that wouldn’t show. The older one remembers living in the old house, the younger one just remembers it as a rental that we kept for a few years.

    I think your kids take their cues from you. My mom saw our 5 state move as very stressful and I think that filtered down to me. Our 5 hour move she was happy about and I was looking forward to it. We were excited about our move and putting our mark on our house, so the kids were excited too.

    I agree with other comments about if you can get them settled and having structure first. And, if they can have the opportunity to pick out a room color or where things will go or anything that gives them a little control over the situation, I think it really helps.

  16. I moved just as I was turning four. I remember little bits of the old house, and from moving, I remember the cat in her cage under my feet in the backseat of the car, and the dog tucked into a tiny little corner in the way back of the station wagon.

    In later years, whenever my parents mentioned the possibility of a move, I was always really excited about it, but it never happened. I don’t know if moving would have made college adjustment any easier, but if so, I think that the difference would have been minimal.

  17. I moved with my family 4 times (including two cross-country moves) and lived in 4 different states before I graduated from high school. While in college, my mother moved again – and then a couple more after that (which didn’t affect me as much since I was on my own at that point). The longest I lived in any one house was 5 years. Moving and having to make new friends was really hard. When I moved to Seattle (on my own) in my early 20’s, I decided I was done with moving. I’ve lived in Seattle for over 25 years – and we’ve been in our house for 20 years. It’s the only house my kids have lived in.

  18. So far our kids (esp the oldest) are SUPER excited about the move. If it works out, youngest will be 4 and 2 months when we move, so she may remember a few things from this house. We are aiming to do move right at the end of the school year.

    My parents have lived in the same house for 35 years – it will be a lot of work for them to clean it out to sell.

  19. There is only so much parents can do, and I think the way kids react to moves (or to anything else) can be very individual to their own personalities. I know a family who blames their kid’s troubles on the move they made just before middle school, but I think this kid has problems that go beyond that. Some kids benefit from a stable, continuous time in their early years so they can adjust well to college. Others may need more changes/moves so they can adjust well to college. It’s hard to generalize.

  20. MM – you have a long commute, you’re constantly disappointed and irritated with your school district, and you think it’s a benefit for moving. So why don’t you?

  21. One thing we learned in the move when I was a kid, is if you are changing schools, talk to them before the end of this school year. Some schools do a lot of placement at the end of the year. If my mom had contacted them in the Spring it is highly likely that I would have been placed in a different 6th grade class. Being put in the one with “less kids” the week before school started was an awful placement. It affected all my middle school years negatively.

    My mom didn’t understand or even consider that there was something to understand or that she could change to have improved the situation anywhere along the way. From her lack of advocacy, I learned a lot about the school doing things the most convenient way for them and not what is always best for the student.

  22. I agree w/CoC – it really depends on the kids’ personalities/circumstances of the move. Dh has said he was legitimately depressed when he moved right before high school, but his parents had gotten divorced the year before and his mother the very next year drops on the kids that she’s marrying a friend from high school that they hadn’t even met yet (his mom had reconnected with him at a high school reunion). Oh and they’re moving ten hours away. It all worked out and was much less dramatic then it sounds (DH’s mom and stepfather have been married for 25 years now) but I think his mother probably could have eased into it all a bit better.

    I would feel less guilt at a move at this point, even with my oldest, because her friends will all head off to different schools after elementary anyway. In fact, her best friend is headed to private school next year. Plus, she seems to have new friends every year depending on who is in her class.

  23. Our schools also do classroom placement in March/April, so I would also suggest letting the school you are moving to know that you are coming, especially if the new town tracks in elementary or if a child has a particular need.

    We moved when DD was a baby and I never moved, so no helpful tips from me.

  24. CoC, the reason we haven’t moved is because we are at a very different stage of life than my parents were when I was young. My father was a student, then a grad student, then post doc’ed at several places. Finally, he went onto the tenure track when I was around 9, but he consulted and did sabbaticals in many places in the US and overseas. We always went along. My parents did not buy a house until I was in middle school.

    My DH and I are much older, we have stable careers, we are in a part of the country we like, and we own a house that we like. There is no reason to move.

  25. DH and I have seriously discussed the idea of him taking a temporary position with his company at their Singapore location. It would be very good for the kids. But I would have to find a way to get a leave of absence approved, so it seems hard to accomplish.

  26. I agree that kids react differently. I found moving to be a positive thing, but my sib was very stressed out by the moves.

  27. My parents lived in the same house until my mom died when I was 25. DH and I lived in anew apartment for 3 months before buying our house when we were 22 and 24. We have no planeed to ever move. My DH lived in the same house growing up from the age of 2 on. His parents still live there. I love looking at homes online, but I could never imagine moving. My house is my home.

    I disn’t have any issues adjusting to college.

  28. My extended family expected me to be complaining about how home sick I was, how I missed this or that when I came to grad school here in my early 20s. I hadn’t travelled by myself before that. My parents never expressed any worry to me, wished me luck. My mother asked me to try and find a church near campus and attend services if I could get to church.

  29. My dad was an Army brat, moved all the time, and hated it. He resolved he would never uproot his kids, and he never did. They lived in the same house from 1951 to 2004, when he died. Obviously my sister and I were raised there. I liked having the stability.

    In other news, next time you’re tearing your hair out because your kid only got a 3 on the Calculus BC exam, reflect on the fact that at least they’re not fleeing from the Feds like DH’s niece currently is. Apparently she and her new boyfriend were dealing drugs across state lines, got sighted by the FBI, then dumped her young children on the father who never wanted them, and are now missing in action. They were supposed to show up to hide out in Indiana on Saturday but never arrived. There’s a tiny chance they might be headed here. Yay.

  30. “I think your kids take their cues from you.”

    I think this is true to the extent that parents can screw up what could be an easy move by being all frantic/depressed about it. But some kids and some moves are hard, and there’s nothing a parent can do to “fix” that, except be there and provide consolation. I make “real” friends with great difficulty, so there is significant pain and long-term adjustments required to really settle in and feel at home in a new place, and there’s not much my parents could have done to fix that.

    I had several moves while my parents were in school and I was a young kid that I barely remember. The one that sticks with me is when I was 7 and we moved from TX to IN for my mom’s degree. I had made my first “best friends” there, and we were extremely tight, and it was very hard to leave. Then a few years later when we moved to MD, I felt like I had just started to settle in and *really* didn’t want to leave (though looking back, I wonder why, since I really didn’t have any good friends — I think I just assumed that that was as good as it was going to get, and since TX to IN sucked, IN to MD could only be worse). Again, it took me several years (and one more move) to really find my niche, but I’d say after @ 3 years, it was great.

    In large part because of that, I vowed never to move when I had kids. We moved a LOT before kids, and then had DD where we planned to stay forever, but life intervened and we moved when she was 6 weeks old. I am a little sad she will have no memory of my favorite house. We moved here right before she turned 4, and all of the standard “regression” issues came out — tantrums, potty training issues, etc. I’m sure 3 mos. in the Residence Inn, where we *needed* her to be quiet so as not to drive everyone else nuts, and where we were stressed out the wazoo house-hunting in the middle of the big boom, didn’t help.

    Now we have been here @12 years, and it’s funny because it feels like forever — probably 4x as long as we’ve lived anywhere else since we married? And now *I’m* the one getting antsy (in that phase where I forget the good things about the house and notice only the things that annoy me). But the reality is that we are in a good place with family and jobs and commutes and finances and schools, and anywhere else would be a real step down in one or more areas. So barring a job crisis, we have no intention to go anywhere before retirement. And I do think it has been very good for DD — she also makes friends with difficulty (although for completely different reasons than me), so it has been nice to give her the time to find her place in the social world here.

  31. My family moved when I was 6 years old, and my parents stayed in the same place ever since. DH’s family moved constantly and the moves were very disruptive/negative for him. Staying in one place was important to him, as it was to me (who benefitted from having the same core group of friends from elementary through high school).

    We might move, but not until DS2 graduates from high school. We have a house in which it’s easy to age in place (single story, near hospitals, nearby public transit), which is great.

  32. I lived in the same house with my parents from birth until I was 20. (they still live there)
    I did move schools though (3rd grade switched to another school for their honors program, 6th grade middle school with the same kids from my K-2) and private high school, so I was basically switching peer groups every 3 years.

    DH and I have had 3 addresses in 12 years and are looking to move again.

    I’ve lived within about 30 miles of my childhood home my entire life

  33. I only really moved once in my childhood – right before Kindergarten. It was to a bordering state but from the heart of a large city to a small town. That was a bit of a culture shock for my parents, especially in the pre-internet early 80’s. They’ve been in that same house in the same town for 35 years now, and it’s funny to see how they’ve become small town people. I spent my whole K-12 education in one school system with the same kids, which had pluses and minuses.

    For me, the thing I hated besides not particularly liking living in a small town was the fact that the rest of our extended family was 6 hours away by car. They were all really tight & we were kind of an island even thought we weren’t super far away.

    After college, I took a job with Big Multinational company, and moved 9 times in 3.5 years including an international stint. It was really fun & exciting at first, but ultimately, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted long term. That’s what led me to quit and move back to the Upper Midwest when I was in my mid-20’s.

    I’ve spent most of my life in this general area of the country, and I don’t really see myself leaving. We may switch neighborhoods depending on what happens with jobs/school, but I don’t really even want to move to the burbs. We’ll see.

  34. We moved about half a mile when I was 6 and my brother was 3. We used to walk through the woods (shorter than driving) to visit the new house while it was being built, so we were ready for it. I do still remember the old house, and I maintained a lot of friends in the old neighborhood since it was so close.

    DD just had to move at age 8 and has not adjusted very well. Of course, it is the family situation that she doesn’t like. I did the best I could to include her in decisions and projects for decorating her new room at my house, but I think she is still feeling like she doesn’t really belong anywhere. I thought staying in the same neighborhood would be nice – friends nearby and familiar places to play, but she seems to miss the old house a lot. At least we don’t drive past it every day.

    I lived in the same place until college, pretty close to that for a couple years after college, and of course I now have lived most of my adult life in the same town where I went to college. I don’t feel like this has caused me any problems, but I do think it’s important to travel outside of your comfort zone and meet/befriend people from outside. I see a lot of locals who never expand their social circles to include newcomers – even a few who left for a while and then came back home to settle down.

  35. I really like moving. It is nice to start fresh and clean everything out. For my husband, moving is akin to torture, so I have to plant the seed years prior to the move. He would happily stay in a house for the rest of his life. Forever homes sound so depressing to me.

  36. My parents moved a bit before I was born and once when I was little, but I only remember my childhood home. I’ve moved a bunch for school and work, but since getting married and having kids have only moved once (Manhattan to Brooklyn) when the kids were still in diapers.

    I am starting to get antsy, noticing only the problems, especially since my kids share a room. Its hard to imagine them even bigger and still sharing that room. Our trouble is – where to move? If we buy a less expensive, albeit bigger place, it has to be “the place”, the one we will stay in long-term. We’d also need so much stuff – cars, etc. Staying in NYC pretty much means paying more for a larger place and that’s hard to stomach.

    Ideally we’d rent somewhere new with good schools and more space, rent our place in the meantime and return when the kids are off to college. Our current place would be fine for just me and DH and I do really love it. Has anyone done that?

  37. I never moved until I left for college. My parents still live in my childhood home. After college I moved 3 times in 4 years. We now find ourselves in our forever home (I think aside from future renovations, I hope), which is a 12 hour drive from where I grew up. I love to look at homes, and the local builder’s showcase is a huge weakness.

    I find that it takes me about 2 years for me to settle into a new house/city. I love where we are at and happy to call it home. That being said I’m open to new locations if it involves mountains or International, but I would have to really look at if it is best for my oldest, as she might have the hardest time adjusting (not to mention having to find a new medical team).

    Ivy – I lived in those burbs (SW area) and they aren’t all that bad. If we moved back I would consider that area again. But truth be told, that city is just too big for me.

  38. I’m getting antsy to move too and we have one more big renovation to go before the house is finished. I know this isn’t our forever home but my poor husband just wants to stay and enjoy the renovations. Part of it is financial (we have so much equity in this house because of when we bought/who we bought from) that I’d love to use half for the next house and invest the other half.

  39. ATM – would your kids have roots/sense of community if you rented ? Here rentals are temporary and families with kids are just renting till they buy. Here people buy into developments/neighborhoods and the feel of each.

  40. Funny thing – we have completed almost everything on the list of our “ten year plan” for when we bought this house pre-kids. We have always wanted to move out to the country – I am anticipating the worst thing being having to drive to get good sushi and Thai food (vs where we live now).

  41. Wow, you had a 10-year plan? No wonder I feel as if nothing ever gets done around here . . .

  42. “Ivy – I lived in those burbs (SW area) and they aren’t all that bad. If we moved back I would consider that area again. But truth be told, that city is just too big for me.”

    Oh I know. I just meant that I am certainly not seriously considering of moving to a new state when I don’t even really want to move 6 miles to the next town over or to one of the more far flung neighborhoods! We just really like our neighborhood. Plus, with both of us working downtown and enjoying it, the walking commute is really nice, not to mention being close to DS’s school during the day. I see people who have both partners commuting downtown from the burbs, and I just have no desire for that daily grind. Easy trade off to me for having less space. We just like the whole lifestyle of having everything close & accessible on foot/public transit/bike, and we take advantage of the city proper a lot with our tickets/memberships, etc.

  43. We moved a lot when I was young: several moves before I started school, in the middle of kindergarten, the middle of first grade, and a month into second grade. We stayed put for the next few years, and our last move was the summer before 6th grade. I was happy to not move during the middle school and high school years.

    I don’t remember caring that much about moving when I was a little kid – one house was pretty much the same as the other, since we had our “stuff” with us, and always had a yard to play in.

    I am very glad that we moved during the end of the summer when I was entering 6th grade because I didn’t have a lot of time in a new city not knowing anyone – school started within the week so there was suddenly a lot of new people, etc. Now my sister, who is a grade ahead of me, had a harder time because the 7th graders already knew each other and you didn’t have a whole new crop of strangers starting school together.

    Since I had kids we have moved from the west coast to the east coast back to the west coast, and moved apartments/homes several times in each location. My kids never had to move during their school years, though, so I can’t ask them their thoughts on the matter!

  44. WCE – probably Domino’s does. TBH, we mostly pick up takeout here rather than doing delivery since delivery takes an hour and takeout takes 10 minutes – the exceptions are Domino’s (if we are getting it for the kids) and Indian food.

  45. Hire a lawn service and forget the mower, weedwhacker and trimmer. I think we pay ours $30/visit.

    Of course, having 1/4 acre that is mostly house helps keep the fees and work down :)

  46. We have plenty of upscale, authentic, and/or family-run pizza places within a few blocks. My fave is still Pizza Hut. We, too, do takeout as it takes only 15 minutes and we can get the pizza while it’s still hot.

  47. We ended up with walking to elementary for kids, easy commute to work and everything a few minutes drive away. We moved only with the thought of getting a better commute to work and more affordable housing. At the time we bought our house, we had looked at a lot of houses but really hadn’t targeted or were clued into a specific neighborhood as some of our neighbors who moved after us were.

  48. L – Is the new place close enough to Boston that you will still commute? Or are you thinking about a new job/career?

    I lived in the same house from the time I was born until the time I moved out as an adult. I was a quiet, shy, sensitive introvert, and I think moving would have been really hard for me. Early in my high school years, my Dad was fed up with his job, and he wanted to take a new position in Westchester County, NY. My mom, who was generally a very traditional wife who followed my father’s lead, put her foot down on that idea; she told my Dad that he could move, but that she would stay in Boston with me, so that I could finish out my education at my school. I was always very grateful to my mother for standing up for what I needed at that vulnerable time in my life. (My Dad got over his job crisis, and ended up being happy staying in Boston, so it all worked out in the end.)

    DH and I moved into our current house two weeks before Child #1 was born, and we are hoping to never leave.

  49. @Sky – our 0.4 acre lot was quoted at $120 for mowing and trim. We just let it go to hell, with an occasional now. And today I’m meeting with a guy to see how much damage we can abate before listing it next week.

  50. wish work wasn’t so stressful right now. we have our house listed, hoping to move before the end of July for when kindergarten starts, not sure if we will stay in the same district. would like to because DS has some anxiety about starting kinder even though he goes to that school for Pre-K and loves it.

  51. Hire a lawn service and forget the mower, weedwhacker and trimmer. I think we pay ours $30/visit.

    we have .5 acres and have had a lawn service, then probably 15 years when I did the work, eventually paying whichever kid wanted the money, and now back to having a service. $28/trip. I contract with them separately to do the fertilizing…the lawn looks so much better when that’s done by a pro. Oh and a snow plow service, too. $200 for the season and we have a nice long season usually. He comes every time we get 3″ or more, and usually gets it done before we have to head out in the mornings.

    But the family L will have a big plot of land and can get a RIDE-ON MOWER! What great fun. And you can put a snowplow attachment on the mower for the winter! The kids’ll practically pay for the privilege of mowing/plowing. And it’s practice for when they learn to drive.

  52. I agree that in some communities it can be hard to be a family renting a home. Two of our moves occurred because the landlord decided they wanted to sell the house. In both situations they give us plenty of notice and were kind about it, but also both situations we had been there for one year, and we had been assured when we rented that there was no intention of selling. Also, neighbors are not so friendly or welcoming to renters. They are not interested in getting to know the short-term residence in their community.

    There may be places in the country where there are single-family homes that are stable, nice, long-term rentals. But I don’t live in one of those places.

  53. Ours takes maybe 30-45min, 1 or 2 guys depending on something; I’m not sure what. they have an extra-wide stand on mower that gets the cutting done pretty fast, then they trim and blow the trimmings off the sidewalk/driveway. They also do the next door neighbors’ place, no fence between so they get some economies for that.

  54. We pay I think $200/month for the lawn guys in season and then cleanup is maybe $500 in fall and spring. I think the sellers HAVE a ride-on which they may leave (knock on wood).

  55. I live in an area with a significant population of Japanese families, most of whom seem to stay for several years at a time. They mostly rent homes AFAIK. I live next door to one such family and another family used to live across the street. I think a non-Japanese family would find that renting here would be relatively stable.

  56. The homes here that are rented by Japanese families may be included in some corporate arrangements that include long-term commitments. But I think the general environment could be conducive to other families also renting over a long term.

  57. The refrigerator is going to be $225 to repair, parts and labor. The part’s on order. I would have considered total replacement, but I’m sick of spending money, and I feel like I’m getting hit from all directions, including a tax bill (oops).

    Also, all the appliances are black, which is fine, but I’d probably choose stainless. But would you pick a stainless fridge, even if everything else were black? What about going with a stainless fridge and dishwasher, and leaving the range and wall ovens black?

  58. “All the stuff” – think of all the stuff you have in your garage, basement, attic, spare room, mudroom, whatever, that you actually use. That’s the stuff we don’t have. =)

    We really would need a lawn service, year round to cover snow, etc. and a good handyman. DH did not grow up in the north and would have no idea how to maintain a home here. He asked me the other day if we would need salt, as in road salt, if we moved. The idea of a snowblower and shovel are foreign to him.

    As for feeling connected, if we rented for six years, I think the kids would make friends through school and afterschool activities. So far, they really are quite happy just hanging out with each other or with friends at their afterschool programs. DH and I would probably feel the most disconnected, since we’d both still be working probably with longer commutes than what we currently have.

  59. “DH did not grow up in the north and would have no idea how to maintain a home here. He asked me the other day if we would need salt, as in road salt, if we moved. The idea of a snowblower and shovel are foreign to him.”

    Learning new things is good for staving off Alzheimer’s.

  60. “you can just swap out the black panel for a stainless one. ”

    Interesting. I probably wouldn’t bother. The other appliances are good, but for some reason, the dishwasher is really cheap. Builder probably found a fire sale. (Although it does work well, and never breaks. It’s just loud.) That’s one reason I figured I’d replace it if I replaced the fridge; the other reason is that those have the most surface area in question. the ovens in the wall, and range on the counter; it’s just the trim.

  61. It takes a lot longer to do our smaller yard (~7500 sq feet) so I guess the higher price stems from a combination of yards here being often on slopes and generally not amenable to riding mowers, and poofy zoysia grass. Weed whackers are the instrument of choice here, with leaf blowers to finish. We used to pay $125/visit and that was 2-3 guys (actually 5-6 guys but spread over two neighboring yards) spending a bit over an hour. They now spend the same length of time doing just our neighbor’s yard — we did feel like they were not spending two yards’ worth of time to make two yards’ worth of money and that was one of the reasons we fired them, together with my irritation at their inability to tell rosebush from weed and their evident hostility to landscape lighting.

  62. anothertwinmom – Do you like your current location? Do you like your current school(s)? It sounds like it would be cheaper and allow for shorter commutes if you didn’t move.

    Maybe you could hire a designer to give some ideas and/or fix some of the things that bother you or find ways to get more space out of your current living situation? Maybe you could have the boys share the master bedroom so they have more space and you and your DH take the smaller bedroom?

  63. I attended five different elementary schools, all within the same state; I hated moving so often, having to adjust to new schools, make new friends, etc. I did not want that for my kid; she has lived in the same house her entire life. I envisioned her having the same friends from k-12, but did not think about her friends moving away or her group of friends changing from year to year.
    DH was an army kid. Because he has lived in so many places, including a couple of different places overseas, he can relate to almost everyone. For example, we recently met a Dutch couple. They were very surprised when DH knew all about their hometown. DH’s dad had been stationed in a nearby city when DH was in college, so DH had spent quite a bit of time there years ago.

  64. Milo – Any good appliance dealer has package deals with a big manufacturer’s rebate. When you are ready, you swap out the ovens, cooktop, dishwasher, fridge and microwave/hood (if you have that setup) all at once and get stainless. If you feel really adventurous, you can change the countertop (IIRC you have Corian) and get an undermount sink.

  65. ” When you are ready, you swap out the ovens, cooktop, dishwasher, fridge and microwave/hood (if you have that setup) all at once and get stainless.”

    I guess, but that seems so wasteful. Anyway, that’s the main reason I’m getting the fridge fixed. I wasn’t looking to spend $10k (including counters, sink, etc.).

  66. TCMama – we like our current location, but are starting to feel cramped. Schools – currently OK; for middle school and high school either we pay through the nose to send them to private schools (assuming they get in) or they get lucky and are accepted into a decent NYC school. The district/local middle schools are either terrible or hard to get into because everyone wants to get into them.

    Swapping rooms with them would require a major reconfiguration of the master bedroom but is worth looking into. Thanks for the suggestion.

  67. I am really down on schools lately. We applied to a very hard to get into private school and didn’t get in. Their current school mentioned there’d be a science fair soon. It may be today, but nobody really knows. And I could go on.

  68. ATM, A guy that worked for me couldn’t come to work because he couldn’t walk out of his house. We have a lot of days here with a wintry mix, and you really need salt. A shovel is useless, and he never bought salt because it was their first winter in the northeast. They were both raised and went to school in south Texas. He finally called his neighbor and the guy salted his walkway and driveway so they could get out.

  69. Lauren – Salt on the walkway, fine. But I think he thought that’s all we’d need for the whole driveway. Really not sure what he was thinking – it was an odd conversation, ending with yes, we’d need a year round service.

  70. ATM – that stinks about the schools. I hope you are able to find a better alternative for your kids. I read the NYTimes real estate section and I can’t wrap my mind around how expensive it is there and how long the commutes are.

    I wonder what the cost of a longer commute and property taxes and needing more stuff comes out to compared to paying for private school?

  71. I have a PayPal invoice from a business, and it seems to be giving me the option to pay by credit card. That’s not going to charge me extra, is it? The business is willing to pay the 2% transaction fee, or whatever it is?

  72. ATM, DH was a city man when we moved here and remains one (he didn’t drive until he was over 40).

    It’s definitely an adjustment but it’s not that hard, particularly if you consciously buy a smaller, newer (<100 year old) house and plan to hire out the maintenance. I shovel and fix things.

    HM, it takes three guys about 15-20 minutes to do our yard, as long as I put the outdoor toys away for them. The prior guy worked alone with a push mower and it took 45 minutes to an hour.

  73. SKY – a good friend of mine who had only lived in apartments moved to DC a few years back and bought a house. He sold and moved back to Manhattan within 2 years. He hated the upkeep on the house, had a host of problems with it (new roof, new windows), and generally never adjusted to life in the suburbs. DH isn’t quite that bad, but it would be an adjustment for both of us. I haven’t owned a car since the 90s.

  74. This is not our yard, but it’s very similar to how our yard gets when neglected for several months:

    No winter to kill the vegetation back, and enough rain to keep everything green. Sometimes it’s better to just go at it with a machete. (Although the dry conditions over the last few months have kept the rate of growth down.)

  75. “I wonder what the cost of a longer commute and property taxes and needing more stuff comes out to compared to paying for private school?”

    Me too! Except I really will have to figure that out.

    HM – Do I see stuff buried in the overgrowth?

  76. Yeah, there are lots of vines that will come in and quickly bury anything that sits still. We get what I think is skunk vine, which is a pure nuisance, along with morning glory and lilikoi which are all well and good in their way but keep trying to take over the world.

  77. ATM, I did a spreadsheet of the monthly expenses in various possible locations when we decided to move, but I could easily ballpark things like the lawn service. Obviously we saved enough for me to quit :)

    As your kids get closer to middle school a *lot* of your kids’ friends will move out (based on my similarly situated friends) – keep in touch with them so you can find out what it’s like in the towns you might choose and have some built in friends if you go.

  78. “I wonder what the cost of a longer commute and property taxes and needing more stuff comes out to compared to paying for private school?”

    We did this math. Having to own a second car, commuter rail tickets and/or parking, increased childcare hours, and a steep increase in property taxes made it closer financially than we thought it would be. The property tax difference in a lot of towns with good schools was very significant. We didn’t consider little stuff like lawn care in the numbers – only big stuff like owning & maintaining two cars with an increase in annual mileage vs. one with minimal mileage.

  79. I’m thinking of making this my ringtone. It’s just that kind of day. Tell me that Johnny Nash’s falsetto doesn’t just bring this baby home. “Softness in his eyes, iron in his thighs…”

  80. When my son and his family (3 kids) were looking at homes, the commuting tradeoff to the Boston location didn’t factor in that much. Of the three top school districts in the state, one has significantly lower property prices and is farther from downtown. Even though their property taxes are sky high, they are still far less than a single year’s tuition at a good private elementary school. By choosing that town, there is no discussion each year about private school, should we move, and all that. Also, his job in network and internal IT, especially since his company is VC owned, had a five year maximum shelf life, and there are always dozens of possible jobs, very accessible to his town, all along the outer and inner belt highways. It is also an easy highway drive for the Maine grandparents, and 20-25 min for me through nice country-ish back roads.

  81. RMS – Ummm….

    Here is my default (Minions) ringtone. Every family member has his/her own, but this is for everyone else.

  82. RMS – I love that song! I remember singing it as a kid (and some of the lines as an adult).

    Hercules, people are safe when near him, Hercules, only the evil fear him………

    I did not know that Johnny Nash sang that, but I didn’t know who he was when I was little and watched the show! Now that I know, it makes perfect sense.

  83. For years I had the theme to It’s About Time as my ringtone. People of A Certain Age would gape and say “I remember that show!!” Not a bad conversation starter, actually.

  84. I have a friend who moved up to Fairfield County (bought this fixer upper on 2 acres in New Canaan for about $1M) two years ago from Atlanta and we’ve seen her once or twice since then and she was telling me she spends $15K per year on yard maintenance. She had really wanted to be in Westchester because they have two kids and she was explaining to me the taxes were worth it if you had more than one kid or something like that. They ended up in CT because they couldn’t find a house in Westchester, but she was also going to be looking at the $1M house tax if she moved to NY.

  85. Atlanta, I will do her lawn for $15k :)

    I could see spending several thousand clearing a lot – once – but they must be charging her the New Canaan markup.

    Now I want pictures :)

  86. Sky – it is a beautiful lot! We went and visited two summers ago when we were visiting other friends up there and it is two landscaped acres of grass, gardens and a small pond. It’s totally idyllic.

    She had never owned a house before this – had lived in NYC and then rented in Atlanta while they were here, so I think it was one of those expenses she hadn’t thought about when buying a house.

  87. Sky – now that I think about it, our other friends who live in Weston, home of the 2 acre lot, were telling us they had about $100K in landscape plans for their home that they were planning on doing over the next few years. Same thing, the two acres were fully landscaped, not woods. We didn’t talk about what maintenance cost with them but I imagine it was probably about the same. It was beautiful though but what a drain on your $.

    That was the trip where we were checking out Fairfield County because we have a ton of friends up there. After that weekend we both decided although it would be nice to live near friends and it was beautiful up there, the whole NYC commute, cost of living, etc. was just too much.

  88. We moved when our younger kids were in middle and high school, and it took some time to adjust. Moving from a diverse major metro area to a small Midwestern city was a huge shock.

    Watching the difficulties both sets of parents experienced when faced with moving from homes they had occupied for more than 40 years convinced me that staying in one place so long has serious drawbacks. I don’t want to be so attached to bricks and mortar that we can’t leave. We have already uprooted ourselves from the two homes in which we spent most of our active parenting years, so when it’s time to move to that suitable one-story, low maintenance home, no worries.

  89. Atlanta, friends like yours are why my neighbors are masons, contractors and landscape architects :)

    It’s good that someone is keeping them in business, but it’s possible to spend a lot less if you learn to like low, rambling stone walls, trees, and low maintenance ground cover.

  90. Our friends bought in CT too. But their house was a fixer upper and the lot was wooded. Their commute has become a way of life and the family schedule that goes with it. The guy works and quits in cycles, so one parent is sort of available for the kids. It seems like a very long day if both spouses work in the city and commute. In our case both of us wanted to continue in our line of work but the commute was beginning to take its toll.
    ATM – if you can resolve the school situation and like where you live maybe you can move to a slightly bigger space. I like the designer idea to help you reconfigure your space.

  91. Louise – all of our friends in CT only the husband works or the husband works in city/wife works from home. When we were thinking about moving up north it was a definite that I would not be working because of the long commute. A lot of DH’s friends travel a decent amount for work so they’re not actually commuting into the city everyday so maybe that makes it better.

  92. Atlanta – even though we have big employers here, the culture here is such that employees will suggest they WFH if they travel or will suggest that their commute of 40 minutes one way every day impacts work/family balance, so could they work from home some of the time etc. Between this and overall better connectivity, it is so different from when I started. Then, I had to be in the office even with my laptop no matter the circumstances.

  93. MM – you have a long commute, you’re constantly disappointed and irritated with your school district, and you think it’s a benefit for moving. So why don’t you?

    I’ve also wondered this.

  94. I had a riding lawnmower in our previous state – it was really fun. I would always volunteer to mow. Our last move was to intentionally move to a smaller lot for less maintenance. When my husband had a knee surgery and I had to do all the maintenance for a couple of months, the beautiful landscaping lost some of its luster. Our lawn crew charges me $20, and 4 guys come out of the truck, grab their equipment, and have the whole thing done in 10 minutes. It’s a marvel of efficiency.

    We have moved 3 times since my oldest was born, but the last 2 were within the same town. Like others suggested, we let them pick out the paint colors for their rooms and decide where their beds should go, things like that, and they adjusted well enough.

    I moved from the East coast to the Great Plains when I was 6. It was traumatic for me not because I missed my house, but because we lived close enough for me to walk to my grandparents’ house in the first house, and I got to go on daily adventures with my newly retired grandfather. Moving to the new state, I really missed the time I got to spend with him. No one loves you like a grandparent.

  95. One of the benefits of reading here is the perspective I have on our kids’ school – I have a great appreciation for how well run it is and how unusual that can be. We have had some opportunities to move to other places, but decided we are pretty committed to staying where we are because of their school.

  96. I think it’s unlikely we’d ever move houses within the same town. We could easily retire in this house, although that’s not necessarily the plan.

  97. I came home yesterday to discover our 20+ year old crockpot finally gave up the ghost. Folks don’t seem to be as happy with their new fangled ones as I have been with my old one. But I’m not sure I can live without one. Does anyone have one they love?

  98. CoC – with regards to the Japanese families – there are companies that buy houses in our town expressly for the purpose of renting to the Japanese expats. The fact that the companies own the houses provides the stability. We have both Japanese and non-Japanese renters on our block, and the way they rent is very different. The Mormon family on one side rents from a Chinese family that bought the house and then moved to Scarsdale for the schools. The house on the other side is occupied by the owner, but he rents two floors to other families. The house two doors down was occupied by a family of renters, who were booted when someone finally decided to sell the house. But the two Japanese families rent houses owned by the Japanese-oriented companies. I doubt that non-Japanese families even knew these companies existed when they were looking for rentals, since it is all Japanese language.

  99. For those who wonder why we don’t move – what would be the point? We have good stable jobs. The commutes are not too bad when there isn’t traffic, our house is fantastic, and we can walk to lots of things. Why would we want to give that up? As for schools, the school districts in a reasonable commute distance are all pretty similar to ours, or else disaster zones. We could move to Queens, but then we have to play the exam school game. So I guess I am not seeing the reasons to move.

  100. RMS – Property news flash – my younger son was here yesterday after the seafood conference and informed me that he and his s.o.’s new home is a condo they bought in your target town. After an appropriate amount of description I did venture to ask the price. It was high for the square footage, as expected, but the regular people neighborhoods as opposed to the more vacation/coastal properties are not subject to the same level of bidding wars and cash buyer preference. His s.o. is also a budding real estate investor with two rental properties already, so I know they got value for the money.

  101. Lark, the newer crockpots have a higher “low” setting to comply with new regulations on safe food temperatures – in both of mine, “low” boils food and I need to use “keep warm” to simmer. A lot of older crock pot recipes require tweaking.

    Check the reviews before you buy or get one off the eBay/tag sale circuit.

  102. “the newer crockpots have a higher “low” setting to comply with new regulations on safe food temperatures – in both of mine, “low” boils food and I need to use “keep warm” to simmer. A lot of older crock pot recipes require tweaking.”

    I might try one of these for $12:

  103. I’ve mentioned before that I have a crockpot with three settings — high, warm, and low. The instructions sternly tell you not to cook on low but I do anyway. My tests showed that it gets water to about 165, which is fine if you leave stuff to cook long enough. See also: my rant about sous vide temperatures and the public health nazis inability to believe that mere mortals can read pasteurization charts.

  104. On schools – I was thinking about my school days. I was in private school and it was great but there was a science teacher that we had to endure for years. She was too strict. Now, I think parental standards are such that we want our kids to have no bumps at school. I know my parents were not the least concerned about my being happy all through. This makes finding and keeping a suitable school very important. I have had many conversations with my MIL and she wonders why we are all obsessed with schools.

  105. “I have had many conversations with my MIL and she wonders why we are all obsessed with schools.”

    Truth be told, I wonder the same thing.

  106. ““I have had many conversations with my MIL and she wonders why we are all obsessed with schools.”

    Truth be told, I wonder the same thing.”

    I think Meme explained it a week or two ago when she talked about the insecurity of the UMC regarding their ability to ascertain that their offspring would be able to maintain the standard of living the offspring grew up in.

  107. Yes, that pesky social mobility is far too high.

    I get the interest in that, I just think they have a gross misunderstanding over the cause/correlation difference in “great” schools.

  108. Milo, we’ve also discussed here how the school from which you have your degree matters in certain cases.

    E.g., in academia, it appears that someone with a PhD in philosophy from Harvard is more likely to be hired into a tenure track job at Directional U than someone with a PhD in philosophy from Directional U, ceteris paribus.

    As another example, it seems odds are stacked against any aspirant to the SCOTUS who did not attend law school at Harvard or Yale (RBG did spend one year at Columbia, “slumming” as Kagan has said.)

  109. However, I could turn your own argument around and say that it might still be advantageous to optimize undergrad for cost, and possibly even opportunity to stand out, and focus on the top name grad school.

  110. “I was speaking more in terms of primary and secondary.”

    It will be no surprise to hear that any obsession I have with primary and secondary schools has a lot to do with the potential peer groups at those schools.

    I think a lot of that obsession among totebaggy parents has its roots in their feeling of efficacy, that they have choices, and that those choices will affect their kids’ experiences. In my case, I care about peer groups, and my kids enjoying their time in school. Other totebaggy parents will have different priorities. But I think many parents that don’t have that sense of efficacy also will not obsess over a choice they don’t think they have.

  111. “I could turn your own argument around and say that it might still be advantageous to optimize undergrad for cost, and possibly even opportunity to stand out, and focus on the top name grad school.”

    What if you’ve always been the big fish? Do you go to the small pond to increase your chances of being a big fish there, or do you go to the big pond, decreasing (not to zero) the likelihood of being a big fish, but increasing the likelihood of being with a lot of fish near your size, or of being a relatively small fish?

    I suppose that not going because you are an athlete or legacy or URM reduces the chances of being a small fish.

  112. Finn – There are many factors and variables to consider. What I believe to be a mistake is the idea that “better” is always better.

  113. “focus on the top name grad school.”

    I’d appreciate any comments on how much an undergrad degree from a top name school, or lack of such, affects admission to a top name grad school.

  114. My understanding is that medical schools don’t really care, so just focus on grades and MCATs.

    I don’t know about the others.

  115. I think “top name school” may have different meanings in law, medicine, and other science/engineering fields. In medicine, doesn’t your school affect a career in academic medicine but not clinical medicine, aside from geographical limitations? In law/business school, prestige is very important.

    I know quite a few people who excelled at Land Grant U in engineering and then went to Prestigious Public/Private U for graduate school with no issues. In order to progress in research, you need a critical mass of people working on X, and you only get that at large graduate schools. But adequate knowledge of the ABET curriculum can be obtained anywhere, and Prestigious U recognizes that.

    I pondered this as a passenger in a 1993 Toyota Camry full of MIT PhD engineers as we sought a route to the wedding that did not involve any left turns, because the left turn signal on the Camry didn’t work and the spare part it requires is very hard to obtain. I thought, “In my Buick Century, I can turn left any time I da*# well please.”

  116. “as we sought a route to the wedding that did not involve any left turns, because the left turn signal on the Camry didn’t work and the spare part it requires is very hard to obtain.”

    This brings a couple of thoughts to mind.

    1. As I tell my kids, three rights make a left, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

    2. Did the driver’s door window not work either?

  117. Milo, an MD I know agrees with you. She counsels kids aspiring to med school to go to smaller ponds where they can get better GPAs than they could at larger ponds.

  118. WCE, my experience mirrors yours in that I know many state U grads who’ve gone on to Prestigious Private U for grad school, often sponsored by their employers who had ongoing relationships with PPU.

    I’m wondering more about Law and Business schools, where, as you point out, prestige can be very important. Is a big fish from Directional U at a relative disadvantage to a one in the crowd fish from PPU when applying to PPU for Biz/Law?

  119. “did not involve any left turns, because the left turn signal on the Camry didn’t work ”

    uhhh, yeah, Finn’s point #2.

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