All our moves this summer—from Country Fair to our summer place to our winter palace—were in support of a plan to move to a townhouse in Winfield Village. That plan was looking a little shaky along about mid-summer, when we were still far from the top of the waiting list for a townhouse and needed to find a place to live when our sublet ran out, but our plan has come to fruition! We are now members of the Winfield Village coop, and yesterday we picked up the keys to our townhouse.

We’ve spent the last two days scoping out the new place—measuring doors and windows, updating our furniture plan with the new information, etc.

The movers come Monday to move all our stuff out of our winter palace and into what we’re tentatively calling our country estate.

More updates as things progress. There’s a lot of cool stuff out that way, some of which I was completely unaware of. (For example, there’s a gorgeous reconstructed prairie just a few minutes walk from our front door.)

So, we’ve not been making progress on the waiting list at Winfield Village. Actually it’s worse than that: We’ve been making backwards progress.

When we first got on the list, we were #5—but they said we were to be called next, because several of the people ahead of us had already been called and had passed because they weren’t ready to move yet.

Then next time, we were #5.

We stayed at #5 for a while, but then a few weeks later, we were #7. How can that be? Well, two ways. First, several people who had been waiting for townhomes had decided to give up and move to the list for apartments instead, and they order people by the date their application became active, rather than the date they asked to be on a particular list. Second, people who already live at Winfield Village who decide to move within the complex skip to the top of the waiting list.

Last week we checked and learned that we were #10.

This was not as discouraging as you might think, because it actually simplifies our life. We had talked about various strategies for temporary housing to span a gap between when we needed to move out of our summer place and when our new place was going to be available. Clearly, those plans would not need to be actualized. Any possible move-in date was far enough off that there was no reason not to just go ahead and sign a one-year lease.

Of course, this necessitates yet another name—for our next place, after our old place and our summer place, but before our new place at Winfield Village.

My propose, which Jackie enthusiastically accepted, is that we call our next place for after our summer place our winter palace.

We’ve so much enjoyed living right downtown that we focused our search on this area. Jackie found a place about a ten-minute walk from here—two blocks further from West Side Park, but about five blocks closer to the library. I called right after lunch. We went to see the place at 2:30, read the lease standing out by the landlady’s van, signed it, and I wrote a check for the damage deposit.

Our winter palace will be ours starting August 1st.

After we signed the lease we walked to the library (I had a book on hold), then to the Blind Pig Brewery where Jackie bought us celebratory beers, which we drank in the beer garden:


Moving is a big disruption and a lot of hard work.

I’ve moved enough times to know all about the big disruption, but it turns out I’d had a skewed perception of the amount of hard work involved.

As a software engineer, most of the times I’ve moved it was because I had a new employer, and my new employer paid for the move. A guy (or two or three) would show up and pack all my stuff in boxes, and then a couple of guys with a truck would load everything up, drive it to where I was going, and then unload the truck into my new place. Still a big disruption. Still a lot of hard work—but only a fraction of the total work involved.

I’ve done a few local moves without movers—with friends or relatives to help—but I now realize that it was back when I had a whole lot less stuff than I have now.

Turns out, I had no idea how long it would take to pack everything up, doing it ourselves. As I said, in the past it was always a day’s work for three people or less. Jackie started packing weeks ago, and I now see that she was very wise to have done so. If we hadn’t started until last week, or even the week before, we’d be nowhere near ready—and utterly exhausted. As it is, we’re just about ready, and only moderately exhausted.

She did the same thing the last time we moved, but that was back when I had a full-time job, so most of the packing happened while I was at the office. I knew she was working hard, but I didn’t know how hard.

Both last time and this time we’ve hired movers to do the loading, driving, and unloading. It’s a very modest amount of money. (A low single-digit multiple of the cost of renting a truck and buying pizza and beer for your friends who help—assuming you still have friend young enough to fall for that.) Plus, the movers show up with a dolly and do in two or three hours what it would take you and your friends all day to do.

Our summer place
Our summer place

Anyway, we’re about set. We’re already living part-time at our summer place. (That’s what we’re calling it now, to distinguish it from where we’re calling our new place—where we’re hoping to end up in the fall. I like the sound of it, like it was an estate in the Hamptons or a at least a cottage on a lake.) We have things well-enough in hand that I’m confident that we’ll be ready in advance of the mover’s arrival.

We’ve been able to do things at a sufficiently moderate pace that we were able to do a lot of decluttering as we went along. The Habitat for Humanity ReStore not only accepts donations of old electronics, for $10 they’ll send a truck and a couple of guys to load everything up and haul it away. We’ve also made repeated trips to the Idea Store, which takes all manner of things that can be used in student art projects, and uses the profits to fund enrichment programs for the schools.

Less clutter is nice. Very nice.

When I was in boy scouts, one of the scoutmasters suggested creating a packing list for camping trips. His key suggestion was to update the list after a trip, adding anything you’d wished you’d had, and thoughtfully deleting anything you’d brought but ended up not using. (Thoughtfully in the sense of not deleting your first aid kit just because no one had gotten hurt on that trip.)

I immediately recognized the value of the idea, but I never really put it into practice, mainly because I was no good at preserving the master list from one trip to the next. That problem was eventually solved by computers.

My oldest pack lists go back to 1992, when Jackie and I took a vacation in London and Wales. Our itinerary was complex, because we were driving to St. Louis and spending the night with my mom, and then flying to London from there, and reversing the process for the return home. The pack list for that trip has things broken down by stages:

  • Worn to St. Louis
  • Carried to St. Louis and worn on plane
  • In carry-on
  • In checked luggage
  • Left in St. Louis, for return drive

The key, though, was that instead of making the pack list on paper, I put it in a file on my computer. Then, the next time I went on a trip, the file was still around. I used it as a starting place to make my next pack list.

I’ve kept the basic format for twenty years now—stuff to pack, sorted by bag. At first I editing the old list for each new trip, but I long ago started letting old lists hang around, and eventually came up with a file name format to include the destination, the number of days, and the season. When I’m planning a new trip, I can quickly look through the old pack lists, find one with some overlap in terms of season and duration, and then use it as the basis for a new list. Because text files take up essentially no space, I’ve let old lists accumulate (in a small way—I’ve got a dozen or so).

Those old lists came in handy again just recently, as we’re preparing to move into our summer sublet. As it happens, I have an old pack list for a multi-week summer outing in furnished digs: my Clarion pack list from 2001. I’m having to adapt it—I don’t need the books by Clarion teachers that I was bringing to get autographed—but it’s not only a good guide, it’s a tested guide.

I strongly recommend making pack lists, and then keeping your old lists forever. You never know when you’re going to take a similar trip.

We’ve decided to move. The reasons deserve a post of their own, which I’ll write in due course. This post is about our short-term plans.

We’re hoping to move to Winfield Village, an apartment complex that’s unusual in that it’s owned by a co-op of the people who live there. For a while now we’ve been on the waiting lists for either a two-bedroom apartment or a two-bedroom townhouse.

This has been in the works for some weeks, and we’d hoped to have a move-in date by now, but things are moving unusually slowly this spring.

Lacking a move-in date, but with our move-out date set by the expiry of our current lease, we’ve decided to resort to a delaying tactic: We’re getting a summer sublet. There are lots of reasonably cheap apartments available over the summer, and we’ve found one that’s cat-friendly and pretty nice. As a bonus, it’s just two blocks from downtown Champaign. (It’s a straight shot across West Side Park to the Blind Pig Brewery!)

We were going to hire movers to move us anyway. With this delay, our plan is to get the movers to put all our worldly goods into storage, except what we need to bring to the summer sublet. We’re going to limit ourselves to just what we can fit in the car. That sets us up for possible phase 2 of delaying tactics: visiting every single one of our relatives for a week or two. (We’re not especially richly endowed with relatives, but we have enough that we could stretch that out for a good long while, especially if we intersperse visits with bits of camping. In particular, if we end up going to visit Jackie’s brother in California, we’d almost have to drive through southern Utah, and I’ve been wanting for 20 years to take Jackie to Zion and Canyonlands and Arches and Bryce.)

I find myself really enjoying this process. It’s been years since I felt myself quite so footloose.