Moving = $$$$

After many frugal months on the road, our last three weeks have been anything but. Moving always costs money, sometimes a LOT more than expected. We get that. Even when the navy (supposedly) covered all our transfers back in the day, from pack-out to unpack, those moves were still a drain on our bank account. These last three weeks though have been unlike any move we’ve experienced before.

Once the decision was made to return to the U.S., to Kaua’i, the money started to flow. Although our previous flight reservations were changed to cover our flight back with no added expense, we still had to purchase YaYu a ticket plus pay for almost three weeks in a vacation condo to cover her quarantine and have a home base while we looked for a permanent place to live. When we were searching for a rental back in March, almost everything on the island was still booked for vacations and there was a very limited selection of rentals to choose from. We ended up paying over $140/day, one of the least expensive rentals we could find, double our usual budget of $70/day. However, if we’d been able to start looking two weeks later, maybe even a week later, we could have had our choice of almost everything, anywhere on the island, and at a much better price.

Finding a place to live on Kaua’i turned out to be easier than expected although we had to pay two months’ rent upfront (one month as a security deposit). We got lucky and found a lovely, affordable place on the south side of the island, our first choice for location and with utilities included in our rent so we didn’t have to also pay additional deposits to set up electric and water service in our name. We also had to buy a car right away, and again we were very fortunate to be able to buy our old car back at a great price (and it’s in great condition). 

We knew furniture was going to be an upfront expense and budgeted accordingly. We needed a sofa, dining table and chairs, a bed and frame, bedside tables, a TV and something to set it on, and once we found our apartment we knew we wanted chairs and an umbrella for the deck, and a grill. We soon discovered we needed a coffee table (we underestimated the need for this piece of furniture – currently we have nowhere to set a drink if we’re sitting on the sofa) and lamps. Thankfully we found pieces that fit within our budget; the only piece of furniture we still want at this point is a sofa table, but it can wait. We thankfully didn’t need to buy a dresser as the closet in the master bedroom is fitted out with built-in mesh drawers, nor did we have to buy a microwave oven – the kitchen came equipped with one. We are still waiting for the apartment’s washer and dryer to be installed, but those two items still haven’t arrived at Home Depot. There will be rugs and a side table for the living room coming in our stored items, and when those and our other things arrive we will be set. Although the above sounds like a lot when I write it all out, it’s currently very minimal but enough for now.

It’s been the other small but necessary stuff to make the place habitable that has added up surprisingly quickly and been the real drain on our bank account. These are the things I like to call the hidden costs of moving, the small but necessary household items you rarely think about but add up quickly when you need to buy them. We’ve had to purchase a broom, dustpan, and other cleaning paraphernalia. Bathroom rugs. An anti-slip mat for the shower. A trashcan and wastebaskets. Basic cooking utensils including a frying pan and lidded saucepan. Command hooks. Glassware. Very basic dishes and cutlery. Bed linens and pillows. Kitchen linens. Towels and washcloths. Hangers for the closet. Placemats. Hot pads. And on, and on, and on – in our case, all the things we got rid of or stored before we left on our adventure but need once again to set up housekeeping. 

Finding things on Kaua’i can be a challenge even when times are good, but during this shutdown, it’s been more than challenging at times. We were fortunate that two furniture stores agreed to open for us, and that we found things we liked that were also good quality and affordable. Wearing our masks, and bringing along our alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer, we’ve made numerous stops the past two weeks at Home Depot, Costco, and Walmart for other necessary items. Amazon has been a lifesaver too, although shipping times, even with Prime, have been running from the sublime to the ridiculous, and almost nothing arrives in less than 10 days.

Our friends, Alan and Cheryl, have also returned a few items we gave them when we departed in 2018, including our vacuum cleaner, Brett’s tools and ladder, and some of our old dishes. They turned out not to need these items, and we’re grateful to have them back and not have to buy them again.

We have splurged on a few items to make our life more comfortable. I bought some decorative pillows for the sofa. I also ordered a good-quality hand mixer and a three-quart InstaPot, especially because that was less expensive than buying a new rice cooker and slow cooker (although the InstaPot isn’t scheduled to arrive until the end of the month). YaYu loves smoothies, and I bought her a blender she can take back to college whenever she returns. 

Thankfully, the spending associated with the move seems to have come to an end. Everything is falling into place, and all we’re doing now, for the most part, is waiting for our Amazon orders to trickle in. The apartment is comfortable and in a great location. We’re making do with what we have and learning to appreciate a more minimalist lifestyle these days.

We have come to realize though this would have been our scenario whenever we stopped traveling, although I like to think that with more lead time we could have spread all the spending out a bit, and been better prepared. A less frantic schedule under hopefully better conditions would have been easier if nothing else. Whatever, for now, we’ve landed and we’re safe and comfortable, and that’s what matters.


26 thoughts on “Moving = $$$$

  1. I well remember the feeling of money doing nothing but flow outward after our 2017 move. But it did eventually stop, and now we can enjoy our comfortable space, as will you I have no doubt. And in Kauai!

    BTW- is your new place within walking distance of the ocean? I don’t recall if you mentioned this previously or not. Thinking of how nice for you to be able to walk there and back during times of Shelter In Place if so. Over here it has been such a reliever of stress!


    1. Even with the best of budgeting, it was hard not to spend these past few weeks. I don’t ever remember another move costing us this much, but then again this has been a unique situation. We have been careful this time too to get things we know we will enjoy for the long haul as I don’t think we’ll be traveling full-time again.

      Our former place was closer to the beach than we are now, but it was also noisier and had less beautiful views so we’re actually happier here. We’re about 25 minutes now from the beach, and try to go down for walks a few evenings a week.


  2. I don’t recall reading, but why didn’t you store beds, garbage cans, etc. until you returned? Had you not decided where you would be returning this Spring? Just curious…

    I just LOVE my InstantPot!!!

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    1. We sold so much stuff before we left because we didn’t want to pay for shipping it back to the mainland for storage (Hawaii is not a great place to store your stuff). Also, we learned back in our navy days that a lot of things like garbage cans, etc. don’t transfer well or at all to a different place. We never once could use any window coverings we purchased in the next place we lived, for example, and I can already think of a few things we put into storage that won’t work here.

      Also, lots of that sort of stuff we needed NOW versus possibly waiting a couple of months for it to arrive from the mainland, things like trashcans, bathroom rugs, and other items.

      YaYu and I are both very excited about having an Instant Pot and learning to use it.


  3. You’re right, moving house is costly in money, work, stress and time. Regardless of circumstances, it is a draining process and I don’t know about you, but it takes me a couple of years to regain balance after a move.The older I get, the less enthusiastic I have become about moving.
    With that being said, your wisdom kicked in at the right moment.You’re settled, safe and comfortable and that is what truly matters right now.The fact that you have the utilities included in your affordable rent is huge and will help you recoup the extra expenses you had with the condo.I am glad you found a place that you enjoy.


    1. Brett has already said this is the last move he wants to make, but if for some reason we end up moving elsewhere in the future the entire thing will be handled by professional movers – I agree! This move was flat out exhausting on top of all the expense – the drive from the condo down here was over an hour each way, and also burned a lot of gas, even in our mileage efficient car.

      We are pinching ourselves that we found a place with utilities included – it makes it so easy, and utilities here can be a very expensive addition to the budget. We are pretty conservation when it comes to utility usage, so hope that keeps us in good stead with the landlord.

      The important thing, as you say, is that we’re now settled, safe, and comfortable. I still miss our traveling life, but we did the right thing coming back when we did.


  4. Getting set up in a new place is expensive. I’m curious what rents go for on Kaua’i ?? just a ballpark figure. And how did you find a rental? was it thru Craig’s List?


    1. Craigslist is the name of the game for rentals here on Kaua’i. Even rental agencies use Craigslist. From experience we knew to check every day as new offerings pop up, but that there are problems with a rental that seems to linger on the site more than a week – usually that means there are going to be problems with the landlord, or that there is a serious problem with the rental unit.

      Rental prices are all over the place here on Kaua’i, but they’re all expenisive – a studio can go for $1500 or more, but is more likely to be somewhere in the $1000 – $1200 range and a 1- or 2- bedroom house can be as high $2200 or more per month (our former rental is available again – the landlord is now asking $2420 per month, W-A-Y more than we paid, but he’s gotten (more) greedy. He’s also having problems finding a tenant at that price). With the current collapse of the vacation rental market, there are lots of furnished rentals currently available, but those are usually only for month-to-month rentals versus having a long-term lease. No thanks.


      1. I looked at Craigslist after I posted and was surprised that the rentals were not that outrageous. Actually I think they are lower than the area I live in ( Sierra Foothills) . Most rentals here( houses) go for $2000 and up. Being on Kuai’i and having rentals in that price range is certainly a win-win!!


      2. I think California rentals (almost everywhere in the state) are actually higher these days than Hawaii, or at least Kaua’i. Our current rental is much lower than average and includes utilities (and comes with a washer and dryer, which will be delivered this week!) so we found a very good deal this time.

        BTW, we seriously looked at the possibility of purchasing in the Sierra Foothills (Big Trees), but the potential for fire in the area scared us too much.


  5. I always loved your Hawaii pictures when you lived there before and since It doesn’t look like I will be going there, or anywhere, in the foreseeable future, I will look forward to your island pictures every week. I would love to see pictures of the ocean and the houses and flowers where you walk and live. I find the differences in housing and flowers across the world fascinating. I also find your grocery purchases fascinating because y’all eat thing I have never heard of and they look delicious. By the way, the sink ( and toilet) was stolen out of my house prior to my purchase and I have a small sink also. It really doesn’t bother me at all. I still haven’t put in the kitchen cabinets that were also stolen at the same time… shrugs. I have lived here 8 going on 9 years so I obviously don’t get in a hurry about decorating… lol.


    1. Thank you so much, Cindy! I hope to eventually be able to get out more here and take more pictures, but for now we’re pretty restricted to our apartment. We can get out for exercise, but have to drive about 25 minutes now to get down to the beach.

      You’ve probably noticed we eat a lot of Asian dishes, but that’s mainly because YaYu is lactose intolerant and Asian dishes don’t contain milk or milk products!

      That’s awful about your sink, cabinets, and toilet being stolen! I hope you get the cabinets and get to enjoy them before you move on. I am happy these days to have someone else responsible for those things.


  6. I hear you –on two levels. We used to save $10,000 for a military move. We usually got most of it back, but it was difficult to do it every 18 months. Since retirement we have done every move (5) on our own.
    We are planning our one last move in two years. My husband (69) declared we will either buy it there, or have a mover move it. “Start saving”. Our budget has that line item in it and the goal is close already. . Building our house, energy saving and senior friendly features are in the cards. We will have far fewer pieces of furniture. Not sure if the rugs will make the cut. Art and books….
    You have a set of keepers in Alan and Cheryl. Wow! They really stepped up for you. There is a special place in heaven for that type of friend!
    Hope to make it back to Hawaii in three years. Maybe we can meet up at Barking Sands!


    1. People used to always talk about the “free” military moves – hah! The worst was the per diem paid for the moves – it didn’t even cover a night in the navy lodge, let alone a commercial motel or hotel, gas, etc. The last time we moved to Japan we had to live off-base for 19 months, and paid 4 months rent upfront (!!!!) – Brett had to draw advance pay to cover that, but six months after we moved in the navy started covering that added expense. They also decided to pay double the moving allowance for a while, but stopped that two months before we left Japan – typical luck for us. These days you can’t bring your dependents over to Japan until you receive on-base housing, and you have to get very special permission to live off base. (By the way, my best military “free” story though was a civilian neighbor who complained because her tax money was paying for our family’s food – according to her we got all our groceries from the commissary FOR FREE – military people just got a cart and filled it with whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted it, at no cost. We disabused her of that idea pretty quickly, LOL).

      Anyway, if we’d had more time to plan and save for this move I doubt it would have been as expensive as it has been. Brett says we’re never moving again.

      Alan and Cheryl are the BEST (and wonderful people to boot) – we are blessed to have them for friends.

      I would love to meet up at Barking Sands – we love it there, and we’re now living much closer!


  7. It does seem that moving always costs more than I plan. Like you, we anticipate the big things, but it’s the little things that make the place ‘home’ that always add up. Your new furniture is really lovely, and it’s nice to see you getting settled.

    We are still in limbo re: our house and the new condo – both on hold. We had a buyer this week, went under contract, and two days later they backed out. We’re not sure why, because they hired two inspectors (inside & outside) and apparently our house passed everything with flying colors. During our lockdown, the only way they could physically tour the house was during inspection, but $500 seems like a pricey walkthrough to us. Oh well, nothing more to be done than to wait. At least the days are longer and it’s sunny sometimes. ha!

    Delta canceled my flight to England this week, which was no surprise. They gave me an e-credit, but when I complained, I got a call back and they claim they’ll give me the refund now. I can book another flight, but I didn’t see any reason for them to sit on my money when I don’t know when I’ll be able to go. Hopefully, my grandchild won’t be in school before we meet. 😩


    1. I am so sorry the potential sale of your house fell through. It’s such a high when you get that solid offer, and then to have it withdrawn is a corresponding low. This is a miserable time to try and sell though, and I have to believe there are many who want to buy that are holding back due to the pandemic and all that’s going along with it right now. It doesn’t make it any easier emotionally, but at least there’s a rational reason. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

      I know how much you long to get to England, but from what I’ve read things are bad there if not worse than in the U.S. Boris Johnson bungled things there as much as Trump did here. Hopefully your daughter constinues to do well. And boy do I know about hoping we get to see the grands sooner rather than later! I am so afraid it may be years before we see them again.

      Every move we have done we have made a budget and it has ALWAYS cost more. ALWAYS.


  8. Moving is crazy expensive, and I’m sure in your situation (furnishing a household again), that’s doubly true. I was just thinking of Hawaii today, and we have a trip booked to the big island in June. While it seems unlikely it will happen, I was able to get $1000 off the cost today, by rebooking at a lower price. So, if it happens, the resort fee is waived, it includes free breakfast, free drinks & a round of golf. It will be a sweet deal. Fingers crossed.

    Hope things settle down on the financial (and life) front for you!


    1. HP, why would you even consider traveling in June? There is no vaccine yet and traveling is certainly one way to move the virus. You may be asymptomatic and spread the virus. Stay home. Sweet deals will happen again.


      1. Although the state needs the income derived from visitors and lots of people want to get back to work, no one is eager to have visitors come again until there is a vaccination because the spread of the virus in the islands is primarily due to visitors, and not through community spread.


      2. This trip was booked before anyone understood the impact of coronavirus. We obviously will not go unless things change drastically over the next few months.


      3. Thank you for clarifying this, HP – I have to admit when I read your comment that you had recently rebooked your trip for June (which I thought was optimistic!), not that this was something that had been booked earlier.


    2. Funny that the furnishings have been the easiest things to budget for! We’re keeping our fingers crossed now that the cost for bringing our stored items back over here costs the same as it did to send them back to the mainland, or less because they don’t have to pack anything except maybe one box this time.

      You may be able to come in June, but I think it’s still going to be very different here and you may still be be in some sort of quarantine. The state wants to open up to tourists again, and people in the industry are eager to get back to work, but no one currently is thrilled about having visitors come again as most of the spread of the virus here has come from visitors to the islands. Hopefully by June there will be better handle on things.

      We are currently as moved in as possible – it’s been wonderful not to have to go out for the past few days.


  9. You don’t always think of those little things, like dust pans and brooms, when starting over. Even minimalist living needs stuff to be comfortable and clean.

    I’m reading backwards, so hope I come to how long you plan to be on the island. If the borders ever open up, I’d love a visit to Hawaii. Had thought of a cruise that went via NZ and Tahiti but don’t think I’d ever go on a cruise again.


    1. I am so glad to hear from you – have hoped you and yours have been OK.

      We keep a running list of things we still need, but we’re at the stage where we don’t remember what we put into storage so don’t know if we should buy something now or just wait. Still, we send off at least one order to Amazon every week. This week it was cleats to tie up the cords for the window shades and a tray for the refrigerator to corral all the bottles of sauces and condiments. Just a lot of little things that we can’t find here or don’t want to spend the time out hunting for.

      We are happy to be back on beautiful Kaua’i again, and of course we’d love it if you could visit some day! We still hope to return to Australia but I doubt we’ll ever ride the Ghan – too much like a cruise ship. Brett and I had dreamed of taking a cruise back from England to NY on the QEII, but that idea’s been eliminated as well. Here’s hoping for better days no matter where we go!

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