Welcome! I'm Katie Toomey, a freelance video editor living here in Los Angeles, CA. I started this “Get Moving” interview series in what feels like a long overdue fashion. After having many approach me about my own moving blog and how helpful it was to have another experience to read about or relate to, it sparked me to interview others in our industry who have made a move somewhere for their own work.
My aim is to help broaden the reach to share these stories for others out there, like me, who wanted to hear more perspectives to help build confidence, to relate to planning worries and execution woes, and to understand the struggles and even successes more fully.
This series will hopefully help you gain wisdom to be better informed when and if taking that risk and leap for yourself.
I myself have made a rather large move (the biggest I've ever done to date) moving from the East coast in NC to the West coast to LA. I wrote my “East to West Coast Moving Adventure” on Creative Cow very soon afterwards to document the process. I've been living in LA ever since. Who knows where I’ll end up next! All these experiences will combine to make a collective resource that anyone can access - from any where, at any time. If you don’t know anyone who’s done this sort of thing, it can feel very isolating and impossible to manage on your own. You shouldn’t have to face this alone - and now, you won’t have to.
Evan’s moving has overall been concentrated to the east coast. First, in 2008 he moved from Buffalo to Washington, D.C. He stayed there for a few years until moving in 2010 from there to Winston-Salem, NC. After six years in Winston-Salem, he moved locally to Kernersville, NC in 2016 and continued living there for another 2 years. Then in January 2018, Evan moved from Kernersville, NC all the way back north to his hometown in Buffalo, NY and where he’s currently living. In total, starting with DC, he moved and lived in 2 apartments (DC), a duplex (NC), then 3 different houses (2 NC, 1 NY). He has moved a lot for work.
Evan wants the world to have more music, less traffic, extra queso, and no mosquitos. Ever. When he’s not writing in the third person, Evan keeps busy making award-winning short films and industry-recognized advertising, hosting workshops at SXSW and trivia nights at local pubs.
MAIN MOVING BACKGROUND
In 10 years, I’ve had 6 homes in 4 cities and built 0 equity.
Katie: What event or situation sparked the move?
Evan: While every move was different, every move was for a job with the exception of one (moving into a house to support a larger family). The first move was to break into video editing. The next, to NC, was to step up and further that career. And the big move back to Buffalo was yet again to move up into a more creatively satisfying gig.
It was clearly the right move - I mean, my welcome package included a USA Today prop replica from Back to the Future II. These people get me.
Can you tell us some of the ways that the new area(s) differs from some of the other places you've lived or the last place you lived?
I grew up in Buffalo - I loved it then, and I still love it now. The city definitely gets a bad rap because of the snow (although, my former home in North Carolina has gotten way more snow than Buffalo so far this year) and because of the four lost Super Bowls twenty-some years ago (but, I mean, four super bowls in a row? No other team has done that… so… that’s something). But it’s definitely going through a renaissance period - businesses, parks, breweries, events, all that fun stuff - a lot of life being injected into the area lately.
Winston-Salem definitely had more technology built into the city’s culture and Washington, D.C. had so much culture and diversity, there’s nowhere else that can compete except maybe NYC. But the cost of living in Buffalo, to see the change and development first hand, and especially to have so much of my extended family that much closer to my immediate family - it makes it all worth it. The fact that the job I’m at now is uniquely tailored to everything I’ve wanted in an editing position makes the hassles of this last move very easy to deal with.
How did you begin to prepare for the move?
The biggest thing was selling our old house. Which wasn’t going to be done by the time i needed to start my new job. So I ended up moving up to Buffalo and staying with family for a couple months while my better half stayed in NC and took care of prepping the house for showings, inspections and any necessary last-minute updates and repairs - on top of taking care of our four year old daughter. I married up, for sure. I definitely came back a few times to help, and ultimately for the big moving day, but let it be known, my wife bore the brunt of selling and packing.
What did you use to help plan your route? Did you fly, drive, or otherwise teleport to your new location?
I would fly back and forth a couple times to help, as I mentioned, but for the last big move, we drove a familiar route from our house in NC to our family in Buffalo. Waze is fantastic for avoiding traffic and optimizing your route. Since this is a trip we’ve taken many times in the past for holidays, etc, we stopped at some familiar haunts and restaurants just to give us all a sense of normalcy.
Do you have any packing tips and tricks for us?
Since we had moved a few times in our lives, sometimes across town, sometimes from different states, we had a pretty good handle on everything - but the biggest thing about packing was to not be discerning about what you wanted to take with you; donate/sell all the stuff you don’t want to pack. It helps to use the 90/90 rule - have you used it in the past 90 days? Are you going to use it in the next 90 days? If the answer is “no” to both, consider losing it (some sentimental types prefer to up that to the 120/120 rule).
What sort of challenges did you face trying to save or come up with the budget needed?
dPost was very generous and gave us a pretty healthy stipend for moving. Still, moving is expensive and there are tons of unexpected things that pop up so we went into it wanting to be as thrifty as we could. We got a ton of boxes and other random moving supplies from strangers on facebook and craigslist. After a move, people have a ton of boxes, cardboard, and packing material - more often than not, there’s a post from someone looking to get rid of those things for free, “just get them out of our garage.” So we happily obliged there.
We also saved a bunch by packing ourselves and only hiring movers to load the truly heavy stuff. We used PODS and found that to be an excellent way to move on a budget but also to help gauge just how much stuff you need to make room for. This storage unit gets dropped off in your driveway and you just start loading it up. It’s not huge, by any means, but it was just enough room for us (and, again, helped push us to get rid of stuff that we truly didn’t need).
What would you -not- recommend cutting costs on when considering a move?
Movers. Absolutely. Obviously it depends on just how much stuff you’re moving, but if it’s significant and there are a lot of heavy/expensive items, get some movers - it’s incredible what they can accomplish in an hour or two. Lord knows, way more than me. Also, make sure you have water and, like, a pizza or something for them.
What were some of the advantages/disadvantages to working within your time and budget limits? Did you have a long time to plan out or did you have to move fast?
Luckily, as I’ve mentioned, this latest, biggest move went pretty well, all things considered. We had done it so many times (and recently) that we kind of knew what we were up against.
As far as budget goes, little updates to rooms made the showings go that much better, so if you can, do it! With some paint, ikea flooring, a curtain, a little chair, a light and some elbow grease, we converted a storage closet in the garage into a pretty nice changing room for the pool. For very little money, we added value where there was arguably none.
That’s unique to homeowners, sure, but for everyone, start getting quotes from movers and booking them asap. You don’t want to wait until the last minute and find out that you’re stuck without them. Or worse, stuck with expensive movers that have lousy reviews because they’re the only option at that point.
If budget was no limit, what conveniences would you have liked to use or were you able to incorporate into your move that you would suggest others try using, if they can? How did you mentally prepare for the move?
If budget wasn’t an option, I’d hire packers. I did that once, moving from DC to NC. It was incredible. They came in and just started wrapping and packing everything. The only downside was feeling guilty that I wasn’t doing anything to help. It was weird. But great.
How did you mentally prepare for the move?
This is a huge question. Sure, we made lists or things we had to do for the sale, things we had to do once we moved up to Buffalo, etc. But the mental stress of moving is so huge for me. Especially the part where you’re showing your house. Two weeks of waiting for an offer can feel like an eternity.
I think my wife and I had very different approaches, though. She was definitely more focused on the tasks that needed to happen to the house. I was more focused on the logistics of when certain stages would happen - when I’d be able to come down and help, when we’d connect again for the final move, etc - and also the financial part of things, making sure we stayed “on budget.”
What is something you absolutely could not live without in the new area/place? Your hard line of "I'm not moving unless..." moment.
It’s tough to move your whole family out of an environment they know and love. So I’d like to say I absolutely could not move if the job itself wasn’t a huge improvement but, while true, that doesn’t mean much to everyone else involved. Granted, I’m much happier now that I’ve been in recent years, so that’s huge, but ultimately, the most important thing for me was that there was potential for my family to be happy. There are plenty of things in the area to do on the weekends, the schools are great, and there’s so much more family here.
Did you ever find yourself at a low point and feeling like giving up or saying no the opportunity? Were there any times that people tried to talk you out of it or alternately were they supportive and helped you stay focused/encouraged?
There were a couple times when, early on, I’d feel incredibly guilty that I was basically taking this job voluntarily (I didn’t have to) and it would mean taking my wife and daughter out of every situation they’re familiar with; away from friends, school, work, and family. There’s no easy way to deal with that. The nearby family we had down in NC was always so incredibly supportive, though. They recognized how great the opportunity was and were sad to see us go but happy for us at the same time.
How does managing all this have an effect on your overall mental health?
It definitely affected my sleep. All I could tell myself is that it would get easier in time and that a year from then (around now) it’d seem like a distant memory (it does - a weird, strange, foggy distant memory).
There were three things that really helped during the part of the move where I was up North, staying with my folks, while my wife and kiddo were still down south:
FaceTime. Great invention. I loved seeing my daughter, even if was just her hand shoving the phone away from her.
Being busy. The first couple months I was at the new gig were busy. And thank goodness. It helped keep my mind off of things.
My folks colluded with my wife and surprised me with a guest room that was all dressed up with tons of printed out pictures of me and my family (dogs, included). It was so sweet. Definitely made me feel comforted and not quite as lonely.
How do you know the difference between moving worries that can be researched or worked through or a generally bad decision/bad outcome risk? Can you even know that difference?
Jeez, I don’t know. I mean, I said “yes” to a huge move only three months into a new job so I don’t know if I’m the best judge. I don’t know that there’s ever a “right time” to move. It’s just a matter of preparing yourself. Or, often, pushing yourself to do it - to take that next step. Especially if you see it as an opportunity. I suppose that’s it, if you don’t see it as an opportunity, don’t move. But even if you don’t have anything lined up, if your mentality is that it’ll truly be an opportunity, you’re already halfway there.
THE MOVE ITSELF
As a family, we took Last Day moving pictures out in front of the homes we were moving away from. Bittersweet photos, for sure, but I like it.
Everything can seem overwhelming and stressful but it can also lead to a huge sense of accomplishment - packing is an accomplishment, selling a house is an accomplishment, travel, buying a new house, moving in, decorating … it’s all part of a huge life change, and it’s good to stop and breathe and take all the little moments that make up this big accomplishment.
During our actual trip up north, we took a lunch break and filled up the tank. We were sitting outside and my daughter looked like a friggin’ champ. Like nothing could touch her. It was that much needed laugh and vote of confidence from a toddler that helped settle the nerves a bit.
AFTER THE MOVE
How long did it take to settle into your new place in your new area? In new job duties?
I feel like we’re still getting settled one year in. We just finished patching holes and painting one of the rooms. But I suppose this was unique in that the move itself was so drawn out. I had moved a year ago but my family didn’t come up a few months later. Then we stayed with more family while we searched for a house. Then we didn’t move in until only six months ago.
Luckily, the new gig is fantastic and I have no worries there. It was pretty easily to settle in - especially since I hit the ground running as soon as I walked in. They had tons of work for me so it was “get settled” or “get overwhelmed.” I chose the former.
Now it’s just about navigating the winter (which honestly are not that bad) and getting used to all the new stuff around us. Luckily, as i mentioned before, Buffalo’s going through a bit of a renaissance so there’s always something new and cool popping up.
What's your unpacking and getting situated process like?
This is where my wife and I differ. I like getting everything out of the box and finding a place for it. And if there isn’t one, put it in a place where we can at least take stock of it - the theory being; if it stays in a box, it may never come out and we’ll never fully unpack. She likes to slowly figure out what purpose each room serves and doesn’t want to just put things around the house for that sake of putting things around the house.
Both valid tactics. Definitely a bit of a push and pull - but we’ve gotten to a place where we can kind of compromise on a per room basis. Usually consists of at least unpacking a box, taking stock, and being able to say “we’re not ready for this one yet” and packing it back up if that’s the case. If nothing else, it helps us prioritize what we want to do.
Did you feel homesick ever or miss your old town? If so, how do you deal with those feels?
I miss my friends in those places, absolutely. I also miss some of the conveniences of Winston and the incredible melting pot of cultures in Washington DC. And that’s cool, I just tell myself it’s okay to miss those people/places/things. It means they meant something to me - and how lucky am I that I knew those people or experienced those places? But now I’m starting another chapter in a place that has plenty of things and people I love. Nothing is “bad.” It sucks to miss folks, but nothing is “bad.” I’m a very lucky guy.
What opportunities do you have available to you now (either that you didn't have before or have more of now) Do you find you have less work opportunities?
The job is incredible. I’m definitely exposed to a wider variety of work from a wider variety of clients - commercials, TV, movies, animation, and production. Plus it’s a pretty rad office with an incredibly talented team. I feel like I’ve got more of a voice in what we do - more so than I’ve ever had. It’s empowering. Definitely boosts my confidence. But also incredibly humbling since there’s so much more responsibility. It’s a great mix.
How has moving changed your life, for better or worse or in-between/uncertain?
I’m infinitely happier. There are rough patches, growing pains, and plenty of pining for what used to be, but it was all worth it.
I think, if you’re considering a move, my advice is to try and consciously separate the fear of moving with the opportunity that exists elsewhere.
Chances are, that fear of moving - of meeting new people, of starting a new gig, of the stresses of relocating - that stuff won’t go away, so don’t let it get in the way of the decision.
There’s nothing you can do about it. Separate it from the equation and weigh the opportunity that exists where you are versus where you want to go. If you think there’s more opportunity elsewhere, go. Then deal with the fear. Because, in my experience, dealing with that fear is a lot easier when you know in your heart that you’re making the right decision.