Tuesday, August 4

Okay, explanation time

To recap: We're moving to Phoenix at the end of the month. Hence, much explanation is probably needed.

We were already planning a move, of course. But, especially during this latest heat wave, Tim's skin was just deteriorating by the day. The higher the humidity, the worse it was. He barely slept; he'd wake up scratching himself raw.

Meanwhile, I had started calling apartment communities to get an idea of rents and specials. Turns out the whole bloody area is having a special of one sort or another. In order to keep leasing agents at all interested, I told them we were planning on moving in late August/early September. Even then, they all cautioned that specials could change, but at least they actively worked with us to find apartments. Any later of a move date and they would have used very vague information.

The specials were great. By and large, Arizona rent is far, far cheaper than here in Seattle. Here, we pay $700 for a 648-square-foot, 1BR apartment. There, we were finding two-bedroom units for under $500. It was pretty enticing. It made us wonder if we shouldn't move sooner rather than later.

One place in particular appealed to Tim. It was very centrally located and had very low rents, but good amenities. I even left a message asking about leasing. I asked whether, if we were willing to sign a one-year lease, we could lock in the special rate. It was something along the lines of $500 a month for a 900+ square foot apartment.

Luckily for us, no one actually returned the call because we soon found a huge stumbling block: utilities. Here in Seattle, you don't generally pay water/sewer/garbage unless you have a washer/dryer in unit. Arizona, however, is in a desert. So most places expect you to take care of everything.

Based on Tim's experience down there, that situation could quickly make a $500 rent skyrocket to $750-800. Not such a good deal after all.

But by then, the idea of moving at the end of August had been planted in our heads. We kept talking about it, and soon it just sort of became a fact. I think the heat wave -- and the havoc it wreaked on Tim -- really helped speed along that decision.

Then I started looking for communities with fixed utility rates. There were some out there, even if we had to look harder. Several places would pay everything but electric. Still, when you realize that air conditioning is run by electricity, we were still a little nervous.

And that's when I found the holy grail of Phoenix apartments: good area, good rents, good amenities, all utilities included.

I suppose you want more information than that. Well, the floor plan we would choose has 838 square feet. That's 190 more than we have now. There are elevators, so if we don't get a ground-level apartment we won't have to trudge upstairs with groceries, etc. There's a laundry facility on every floor, so Tim won't have to carry large baskets of clothes down to the basement. There's a pool (naturally) but also a hot tub, which Tim wanted for his joints. There's a 24-hour fitness facility, so I won't have to join a gym. It's in a good neighborhood, and it's close to a Target and a Super Wal-Mart.

Oh, and after prorating the rent to reflect one month free, we'll pay right around $620 a month. ($15 of that is pet rent, a phrase which never ceases to send my mom into giggles for some reason.)

Just to be clear, that's 190 square feet more, plus a tax deduction for a home office, plus a whole lot of amenities for $80 less a month than we're paying now. And no worrying about electricity and water usage.

We actually sent off our applications today. We were nervous about applying. Tim has a 10-year-old eviction on his record, and his income is from unemployment. Turns out, just my income alone (disability and contract work) satisfies the income requirement. The eviction will mean we pay a bigger deposit, which will be based on our mutual credit scores, but we're just thrilled that we should be approved.

So that is one big check on a rather long list. Now we just have to turn our attention to... everything else!

We realize how much we have to do, in case you're wondering.

I've already found a moving company with what are, relatively speaking, very, very good rates. We'd pay $900-995 to get our stuff there. Since we're paying for a set amount of room and weight, we'll be able to take a couple extra things with us, plus load in some boxes. So I just need to do some quick online research to be sure the company is trustworthy. After that, we'll just wait for confirmation that we're approved on the apartment and sign up for a moving date.

We have to get boxes, though I'm good at securing those. I'll just haunt some liquor and grocery stores for new cardboard arrivals. Also, the new tenants upstairs have said I can have their boxes when they're done moving in by the middle of the month.

I also have more things to post on eBay. The last set of items sold for about $190 after fees. There are still a few more sets of things, but I am trying to keep the lots relatively small. If I don't, I'll get overwhelmed with the shipping and nothing will go out. The remaining items won't fetch nearly as much -- I sold the big ticket items first -- but we should easily make another $100-150 on them.

We also need to start liquidating our furniture and other items we don't want to move. Most of the stuff will be priced to sell. I don't think we'll ask for more than $15 or $20 for anything. But if even half of this stuff sells, we should make around $150.

Our game plan for the next week or two is to try and get either one box packed or list two or three things on eBay/Craigslist. (Though now we're considering a garage sale. A somewhat difficult proposition given we're in a secure building, but technically the parking lot is public land...)

Oh and perhaps the biggest item: Mom is giving us her car. Well, she's selling it to us. For the steep price of $1. We're going to scrounge around in the couch cushions and see what we can come up with. This means that we can drive down, which will probably save us some money on airline tickets. More importantly, it means we won't have to buy a car down there. And it means we can take some stuff with us.

Unfortunately, that also means that Sandy will have to be relegated to a cat carrier. A large one, so she has some room to move around. And we're going to tape down a tupperware bowl with some litter in it so she can relieve herself. We may not be able to relieve ourselves of her yowling, though. So we're working on some schemes, including asking a vet about liquid tranquilizers and/or getting her into a harness and leash (ahead of time) so that she can sit in my lap but be prevented from dashing under the pedals. It's a work in progress.

We also have to get Tim SR-22 insurance so that he can take his driving test and regain his license. It expired when he couldn't pay a court judgment against him, so he has to take the written and driving tests over. Within 4 weeks, so that he can help me drive down. We're getting him a booklet this week to study for the written exam. Then we just have to finalize the insurance and get the car in my name before he starts practicing his driving. And he needs to take it relatively quickly in case something goes wrong and he has to re-take it.

So, yeah, we're a tad frantic around here, but are more or less keeping sane. If we keep chopping everything up into small pieces, I think we'll manage okay. Certainly, a garage sale would make our lives significantly easier when it came to selling off our worldly possessions.

I'll keep you all updated.


Blogger Cindy B. of Montana said...

Good luck! Even though it can be overwhelming, it sounds like you have things well planned!

August 4, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Anonymous bluntmoney said...

Good luck with the move! I'm guessing you're moving to Phoenix itself, with the prices you describe, not the suburbs. It's good that you found something with all utilities included. (Water is pretty darn cheap here, but electricity can get pretty high, especially now while it's super hot out.)

August 4, 2009 at 6:04 PM

Blogger DogAteMyFinances said...

Yes, my electric was almost $300 last month, but this place is 1500 sq. ft and from the 70s.

YOU DON'T WANT ELECTRIC INCLUDED. That means you'll have a bunch of idiots running the AC all day and driving your costs up.

At least when your major cost is AC, you can (kind of) control it.

New-ish construction makes a world of difference when you're talking about AC.

August 4, 2009 at 8:12 PM

Blogger Abby said...

Thanks for the well wishes Cindy B.


Water is probably cheaper than it is out here (at least, here you pay for the water coming in, then about twice as much for the water going out, bah!) but, while Tim has definitely cut down on his shower times, he still takes multiple ones a day. I generally try to time it so I share one of them, to save water, but even so I'm worried about how much things would add up to.


Electric is included with no cost on our part, so I can't really understand why you think it would drive our costs up. Perhaps you're referring to rent? But we'll be locking in for one year at the specified rate, and after that we'll almost certainly want to move to a place where Tim can get a decent-sized dog. So I think it will work out.

Also, your place is definitely older and about 50% bigger but you should also remember that I don't deal well with heat. So even assuming the place we live is more efficient, we'll probably be running the A/C more than you do. Though, of course, I don't know what your particular comfort zone is.

Either way, if we sign with this place, our rent/utilities would be a fixed cost for one year. Given how many unknowns we're butting up against (I've never had to worry about getting decent drinking water before!!!) I think it will be nice to have a reliable amount for 12 months.

August 5, 2009 at 1:14 AM

Blogger chiaone said...

Yeah, best of luck with the move. I wish I could give you some advice on how best to deal with a cat who dislikes moving automobiles. But I never had the stomach to feed liquid tranquilizers into my poor cat, and even on road trips of less than an hour in length my nerves would be frayed from the incessant yowling.

August 5, 2009 at 2:01 AM

Blogger DogAteMyFinances said...

One more thing (just trying to help!)

When electric is included, sometimes you can't control your AC. That means you're always hot and the office doesn't care. I only lived in apartment like that ONCE.

The electric bill is not so bad when you're out all day, and can turn the AC off all day. The problem for you guys (and me now) is that you're home all day, so you will have big cooling costs, like I did recently.

You pay for AC one way another, or someone else controls it. That would be my worst nightmare in a hot climate.

I'm wishing you a good move!!!

August 5, 2009 at 7:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck with your move! I hope you guys get the apartment and have smooth sailing from here on out. It's always nice to get a fresh start and it sounds like Arizona will really help with Tim's skin and health issues.
Will you both be looking for work down there or do you have a different plan?

August 5, 2009 at 9:49 AM

Blogger Revanche said...

Good luck with the move!!

Your to-do list has my head spinning, and since I'm home but work-challenged due to pain today, my joints ache in sympathy.

August 5, 2009 at 11:12 AM

Blogger Abby said...


Hmmm excellent point. I will have to check out just how the A/C is dealt with there. I don't remember if they have central air or actual A/C and how the units are controlled. Thanks for the tip.


I think, given the length of the trip, I'll have to get a stronger stomach. But I also think letting her out to sit on my lap (with a harness/leash so she can't run far) will calm her down a bit. Or at least stop the yowling somewhat.

Naturally Frugal,

Tim will be looking for work down there. He's already talked to one company that might work out. We'll wait until we see exactly how his skin does first, to determine whether he should try working part-time first.

August 5, 2009 at 11:15 AM

Anonymous frugal zeitgeist said...

Very best of luck with the move. I hope this is the start of better days for you both!

August 7, 2009 at 10:50 AM


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