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Moving in San Francisco

Started: 2017-02-19 15:15:44

Submitted: 2017-02-19 19:05:06

Visibility: World-readable

In which the intrepid narrator becomes a home owner (again) and moves out of his rental in San Francisco

In the space of a year, I moved four times:

  1. February 2016: My solo move into my temporary apartment (in Mission Bay);
  2. March 2016: My solo move into our rental house (in Mission Terrace);
  3. June 2016: Our family move from Boulder to our rental house;
  4. January 2017: Our family move from our rental to the house we bought (in Ingleside).

Not all of these moves were the same size -- for the first move, I piled everything into my Rav4 and drove across four states. For the second move, I took a couple of trips between my apartment and the rental house, but ultimately did all of the moving myself and fit everything in my Rav4. (I also picked up a few pieces of furniture from Ikea and Craigslist.) The third move was cross-country across the same four states; my employer paid for all of the packing and moving.

View of Mount Davidson and Sutro Tower over Ingleside
View of Mount Davidson and Sutro Tower over Ingleside

We closed on our house in San Francisco's Ingleside neighborhood in the middle of December, but the sellers maintained possession until the middle of January so they could buy, prepare, and move into their new house.

This left us to take a regular Christmas (we visited Kiesa's parents at their new house in Burlington, Washington ("like the coat factory", I try to remind myself), and Kiesa and I escaped for two days in Seattle on our own), returning to San Francisco before New Year's Eve. I was on-call for New Year's, and my service consistently hits its all-time peaks on New Year's Eve, forcing us to scramble to make sure we have enough capacity and can react in the event that things go wrong. I spent most of Saturday afternoon watching graphs and counting down to various New Year's Days in time zones around the world. I didn't actually end up doing anything but I spent a lot of time watching and also talking about whether we could (or should) do anything. After my shift ended at 22:00 PST, I took BART downtown to celebrate New Year's Day in my own time zone by watching fireworks over the bay.

I spent the rest of the four-day weekend at home and on-call but with very little to actually do, so I spent my time packing. I started in the garage, cataloging the boxes we already had packed (some of which hadn't actually been unpacked from our move from Colorado), then consolidating open boxes and packing tools and other things in the garage I didn't think I'd need until after the move. I entered everything in our box database, which is really a collection of structured text files in a directory on my server, with some Perl scripts around the margins to display and search the contents of boxes and print out big packing labels. (It's crude, but effective, and I can (with an almost-straight face) claim it's "nosql" because that's the new hotness.)

Packing a box of kid's games
Packing a box of kid's games

During this time I also took staged pictures of the house we were moving out of, on the theory that our real estate property management company might be able to use the photos to help market the house better (and save us from paying all of the final month's rent -- our lease didn't expire until the end of February, so we were on the hook for paying an entire extra month of rent). I took some reasonable pictures, but didn't end up sending them (and the house was marketed using the old photos that we saw while we were looking for a rental house in San Francisco). It wasn't clear how much extra effort on my part would really swing the balance to getting the house rented, and in the end I was willing to write off one month's rent.

Book boxes stacked up to move
Book boxes stacked up to move

I spent most of my free time over the next two weekends packing as well, which included another three-day weekend for Martin Luther King Jr Day. This was the first time I've actually gotten the day off as a paid holiday, and I celebrated by packing all of the books in our family room. By the final three-day weekend we had only a few days left before our final move date, and I no longer felt like I was in the "hurry up and wait" phase of the move, where I'd have to second-guess what I wanted to pack so that I wouldn't need it before moving.

Calvin looks out from the deck at Louisburg
Calvin looks out from the deck at Louisburg

We scheduled our move for 20 January -- inauguration day, which might have been an inauspicious omen except that it gave me a good excuse for ignoring the hand-wringing and impotent panic from my filter bubble on Twitter triggered by the inauguration of our (dumpster fire of a) forty-fifth president. We hired movers to do all of the heavy lifting, and ended up with a five-man team (and a second truck, as they'd under-estimated how much stuff we had crammed into the garage -- we moved from a 2500 square foot house in Boulder to a 1500 square foot in San Francisco, and the garage was packed) who arrived promptly at 08:00 and spent a good chunk of the day working. I took the day off work to facilitate the moving and answer questions; at our old house the question was usually "does this go?" and the answer was usually "yes"; at our new house the question was usually "where does this go?" and the answer was "let me check the elaborate Sketchup models to see". (I did at least print labels on every box that gave its target destination, as well as its number and contents for easy unpacking.)

Shamrock moving at Cayuga
Shamrock moving at Cayuga

When the movers showed up at our old house in the morning, I had forgotten to corral Willow to keep her out of harm's way, and she ended up hiding under the bed. This worked fine until the movers actually wanted to move the bed. I tried to herd her into a closet to keep her out of the way, in a sadly-comedic scene of running in circles between the kitchen, dining room, and living room; but she ended up escaping me and running through a series of doors the movers had propped open down the stairs, into the garage, and out the open garage door into the drizzle. I was right behind her and looked for her, but I couldn't figure out where she had gone.

Willow returned a couple of hours later through the open back yard gate into the ground-floor family room, and this time (since the movers were just about done loading stuff) I was able to shut her safely into the house, leaving her there until I could come back with reinforcements.

Here's a neat 360-degree view of this moment in the house, standing in a sea of boxes in my new dining room. (I can't quite figure out how to embed this picture, but given that I actually went out and bought an LG-R105, a little camera that lets me take these views on a whim (it's what I'm holding in the picture) I should figure it out because I have a handful of them. I also want a selfie stick optimized for this camera, and probably a monopod so I can get seamless wrap-around views.)

Post-move living room at Louisburg
Post-move living room at Louisburg

That left the unpacking. We had all weekend to figure out where everything was supposed to go, though the first thing I needed to do was fix rear foot on the entertainment cabinet, which had broken off in the move. This triggered the first of many trips to Home Depot as a once-again home-owner to get the things I needed to outfit and equip and repair my new house the way I see fit.

Numbered boxes stacked up in the library
Numbered boxes stacked up in the library

I for one am thrilled with my new house*, and I'm looking forward to finishing my unpacking and settling in.

[* Though not with my new insect overlords; the rain triggered an ant infestation until I figured out the thing to do is buy Torro liquid ant traps, that slowly commit ant xenocide on the entire colony.]

I have more [than five computers] in my own office, and they are still
breeding like rabbits.
- Arthur C. Clarke