You know what's expensive? Moving.
Updated: Aug 14, 2018
This isn't the first time I've moved, so I know it's traumatic. That may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn't. Going through all your stuff, packing it in boxes, stressing over whether your glass bowl is wrapped enough to make it unscathed, feeling overwhelmed at the sheer volume of stuff to be moved... all of it is terrible. Every time I've done it, I've sworn I'll never move again. I clearly remember promising myself that I will live in my current home until the day I die. And yet, here we are.
So, first of all, we're lucky: our stuff doesn't need to cross any bodies of water. If that had been part of the equation, I'm not sure how we'd be doing this. Our cat is too old and grumpy for a flight, and I can't even imagine how she would cope with a cruise, so driving is really our only option-- even though we know she's going to hate that too. Second, we're pretty good about getting rid of stuff. We probably do a house clean-out a few times a year, and neither my husband nor I are overly attached to most of our belongings. But no matter how tempting it is just to toss out everything and start over, it's financially not feasible.
What all this means is that we had to find movers. Long distance movers. Movers who had experience in crossing the border. That's what they call it: a "Border Cross Move". Even though it's technically an international move, if you Google that, you'll get results for shipping containers and big boats. But if you just look for long distance movers, you might wind up with someone who doesn't know the process for crossing the border. And it IS a process.
So, I started contacting companies. The process 1) you fill out their form on their website giving basic info on the size of your home and the start and end point for the move; 2) the national moving company calls you and you repeat the exact same information you put in the form; 3) the company tells you that they don't actually handle your move, but that they have a local partner who does it, so they'll tell the partner to contact you; 4) local partner calls you and you repeat the exact same information you put in the form earlier; 5) local company schedules an appointment to come look at all your stuff; 6) A few days after the appointment (with the exception of the 1 company who came over to see our stuff, then completely ghosted on us, never to be heard from again), you receive a price quote that makes your heart drop. Fun stuff. And everyone says to contact multiple companies since estimates can vary (they did). But the best part is, each company gives you wildly different information about the process, making you completely question whether you're equipped to make any decisions about this stuff at all.
One company emphasized how important it is that we arrive at the border before the moving truck in order to clear customs so that our belongings don't get held at the border in a storage facility at our cost. The other two companies said the opposite: no need to get their first, we'll handle it. One of the companies insisted that they needed to pack our items for us in their specially branded boxes or else we're likely to wind up getting inspected by customs (costing us time and money). When I told another company about this advice, they laughed and said "Nah, they just want to sell you packing and boxes." The prices given by two of the companies differed by over $3000. And one of the companies never even got back to me with a quote, so I guess we won't be using them. Suffice is to say, these appointments did not calm my nerves about the process.
We finally picked a moving company after doing a bazillion internet searches to find some peace of mind that the information they'd given us is correct about how this process works. One thing crossed off our to-do list. But also, it knocks down that first domino that starts this whole process. Now to sell our house, find a new place to live, pack our stuff, rent a bigger car to carry our "in the meantime" stuff to our new place (why did I buy a 2-seater car? Why???), cancel utilities, activate new utilities, sell our other car, purge furniture, organize paperwork for customs, and get our butts to the border. Oh yeah, and learn French. No prob.