Moving with cats

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Yep I know I’m a complete an utter cat lady. We have two, they OWN us, and a lot of the time they are definitely in charge and they know it. Before we packed up and moved to the other side of the country we had a think about the best way to transport the kitties. Continue reading

Hello Salt Lake City

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Our new home! It’s strange seeing your new home for the first time. Kiwi and I flew out for a weekend to search for an apartment before making an epic road trip across the country a few weeks later. My first sense of the city is that its fairly vibrant, beautiful and conveniently located to lots of cool things. The outdoor activities are endless. Continue reading

Road trip – To the West

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Its time to move on, so not content with moving a few state away we thought, hay lets take a road trip across the continent. Lets do lots of driving. Even better, lets tow a UHaul truck and take some cats! 7 tanks of fuel later… Excitingly though we did get to follow some of the original route 66, although only a very tinsy bit, and we felt like we had packed up our wagon and embraced the American dream to head west, or at least were living a real life adventure of the Oregon trail! Good job we packed lots of food. Continue reading

Relocating – six months later

 

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Some days I still think I’ve pressed pause on my old lifestyle and whenever I fancy I can jump back into it. Of course this isn’t quite true. In some ways not that much will have changed, friends and family are carrying on with their daily lives, doing things I recognise and have previously joined in with, life, playing sports, going for dinner, changing jobs, and doing everyday regular things. Yet life does continue and I miss the small moments that aren’t big enough or important enough to write in a letter or chat about on skype.

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Sending parcels

One fun aspect of Christmas is hunting down and giving gifts! I wrote at thanksgiving a bit about some of the symbols behind gift giving, and if you wish to bestow good luck and fortune upon your loved ones you better start hunting for frog paraphernalia.

One challenge for us this year has been finding presents that are suitable for posting – the old fashioned way or ordering on-line. This has been an interesting challenge and one I need to get better at. Postage can cost a fortune – sometimes more that the value of the gift itself, but who doesn’t like receiving a little parcel in the post. Kiwi thinks wrapping paper is pointless and just adds to the overall weight – it does, but I’m a total sucker for ribbons, brown or pretty paper and the surprise of a gift.

Its also worth looking around for postage prices – for larger/heavier gifts or if you can send several to one place to be sent on a courier is the way forward.

So for anyone else looking at sending pressies oversees here’s a little list of some of my favourite gift ideas! Feel free to comment below on any other awesome parcel appropriate gifts!

Stationary

Always a winner, and there are some fabulous home-made craft versions and local markets and craft fairs, the added bonus these are usually fairly flat and easy to package!

Prints and pictures

Again nice and flat, and easy to send there are a whole range of prints and photos you can purchase or even make yourself if you are feeling creative! Some of the best I’ve seen are from Etsy or notonthehighstreet.

Food

Sadly sending a hamper probably isn’t very cost effective but sending some local treats that you cant usually find elsewhere is a winner. I’ve found Hersheys bars – flat and very American, mini Reece’s cups, salt water taffy, and cake mixes where you only need to add water are fun.

Decorations

The US have an amazing array of tree decorations – there is literally everything!!! some of them are flat and lightweight, and most of them are oh so garish and amazingly crazy.

Mini tolietries

Small and a good way of trying different products, this time of year there are so many fantastic gift sets and mini products that are brilliant stocking fillers, some of my favourite are philosophy, origins, and the mini sets in Ultra. For girls a facemask, nail products, a new lipbalm or mix of products are much appreciated.

Online delivery

A total winner for oversees gifts, you can order a cookbook on Amazon and have it delivered straight to your loved one- bonus no gift wrapping! notonthehighstreet and most retailers offer the same if you have a particular gift in mind. Some of my favourites are sending a couple of graze boxes, the spicery send a combo of fun spices each month with recipe ideas, a magazine subscription – Frankie, The Smith Journal, etc, You could also check out if there are any local events, such as theatre or sports tickets too. I also love the idea of giftowl – where somebody else will find the perfect gift for you!

And if all else fails gift vouchers easily fit into a Christmas card! Or finding an extra special card with a note in is also really special, as it really is the thought that counts. Bonus if you can add a frog! (or squashed spider)

Take the plunge in 5 easy steps

Its been one of those days, well weeks actually, I keep going to find things and they just aren’t there. Sometimes they turn up right next to where I was looking, others, well they could be in my mums shed, or left on a plane somewhere, I just cant remember. But its only stuff right! You can always find more stuff, and then have a spring clean, be minimalistic again.

Having some time off over Thanksgiving has been really nice, and we experienced our first thanksgiving! One of the advantages to uprooting and moving is that you get to try out all these fun traditions that you’ve either never heard of or only seen in movie world! Having spent some time streamlining I thought it was time to reflect on what I wish I could have told myself a few months ago. So if there is anyone else out there thinking of re-locating, or just making a change, be that a new job, a new life phase, doing that thing that’s been on your to do list for ages, Just do it!

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Do your homework

Research research research, knowledge is power right. So look into things, if you are moving, before you go, look up what sports teams and activities there are. Look at what amenities there are, what places do you want to go visit, are there job and volunteering opportunities. What are the transport options. Picking up a local guide book can be good to get a feel for the place, also there are so many blogs out there now and local communities to help you find your way around.

Paperwork and lists

The boring stuff. ah yes, this bit. There’s always official dullness that needs to be done, it might be a job app, a tax return, changing your address, there’s always something. If you are moving to the US, a few pointers. Your visa should be sorted before you arrive, once you’re in check if you need any forms signed before you need to leave the country again so you can re-enter, Then you will need a social security number for everything. Find your local social security administration, and pick up your social security card – or letter explaining that you don’t need one – they have a deli counter system for queuing! Find your local BMV and book in a theory test. You can do your practical on the same day if you pass and hold an out of state license. Each state differs but you will most likely need to retake your test at some point, especially if you want affordable insurance! It also serves as good ID – I’ve had some really strange looks over my UK license – its pink and looks weird. Get a copy of your I94 – its online, change all of your addresses – you cant redirect your mail forever! find your local post office, and get your forms in if you need a work permit – these can take at least 3 months. Open a bank account, take out a credit card – so you can get a credit rating! You also need this for everything.

Make a budget

Short term most changes are going to have some kind of financial impact, especially when you are somewhere new, finding where to eat out, what good grocery shops are, buying pans to cook with. Moving is expensive, getting things to a different place soon adds up, even if you decide all you need in life is one rucksack and off you go. The further you go the more expensive it gets. But this really gives you some perspective on what is valuable in life and what things you actually need. Eventually you need to re-buy half the stuff you didn’t want to bring with you, because lets face it you need a cheese grater and a hoover, and these things are boring and expensive to buy. But mostly don’t stress over it, ultimately its only money.

Take the plunge

Just go for it, what are you waiting for, it will never be as bad as you think its going to be, and generally Its so much fun, you get to do something new, and really test yourself. See who you are when you strip everything else back, and push yourself to try a little harder. Its all so easy to get into a nice routine, because change is tiring, scary and emotionally challenging. But change is really good for you. In the last few moths I’ve learnt so much about myself, I’ve really had time to think and test out some new skills. Its all worth it

Just get out there

I’ve signed myself up to different activities as that’s how I roll, I figure good friends are usually ones you can either sit drinking gin and eating chocolate with or ones you can run around and look a mess with. If you can do both great! You never know who you might bump into, sure I will always consider snuggling up on the sofa vs anything else, but its rare that I think, actually I wish I hadn’t done that. Networking, meeting new people, new places and exploring, being present in your life even if you haven’t moved anywhere. It could lead to all sort of things, give it a try!