It was just over a year ago that we followed our hearts on the grandest adventure yet. Moving from Phoenix to Nashville, having never been before was the hardest, most incredible, and the most faith-building thing we have ever experienced. Today I thought I would share with you how we moved cross-country with a $1500 budget. Yes, you read that right – wink!
If you haven’t followed our story, you may not know that in order to make this move we had to close the doors to a six-figure business that my husband built in Phoenix. And since we were moving with no job prospects for him, we were doing it solely on my income. And at that time, I was still running my branding and design studio which I have since walked away from in order to invest more time into everything that goes on here, The Well Life Society, and our kiddos. Because we were moving from two incomes to one, we knew our move had to be done in the smartest way so we did not arrive in Nashville on fumes. Moving can be extremely expensive especially for our family size. I received so many messages during that time from others who dream of doing the same thing. The number one question asked was always how we were doing it. And from experience, I can say, if you want something bad enough you will find the way.
So a few tips I have in how we moved cross-country with a $1500 budget:
Our $1500 budget didn’t have room for flying back and forth to secure housing. Nor did we even know what area we truly want to settle in so buying a home was out of the question. Especially since the area we were moving to was higher-priced and buying high would not have been a smart investment. So the next logical option was to rent a home. However, the homes that we were interested in had owners that wanted to meet us beforehand. The final option? Renting an apartment. A family of seven… in an apartment. Deep breaths.
While we knew the city we wanted to be in, we had no way of knowing how nice different areas of that city were. So how do you get a feel for a city you have never been to? Google Maps! Oh yes. Once we found an apartment that would fit our family of seven, we took to Google Maps and literally used the satellite and snap to roads feature to “tour” the area. We also made sure to research how far it was away from specific things, what shopping and stores were nearby, etc.
Once we felt comfortable this particular apartment was the right choice, the leasing office made it possible for us to handle all the paperwork remotely and we would simply sign when it person on moving day. The community also had a summer promotion going on so our deposit was only $400. A huge win for our situation.
Sounds crazy? We were quoted $18,000+ for a moving company. We were quoted $9,000+ for a storage pod to be moved. Then we were quoted $1500+ for a UHaul to drive ourselves. Do you know what worked? A UHaul trailer hitched to our Ford Flex for just under $500. Now, we had a 2500 square foot home to fit into a UHaul trailer so I’m sure you can imagine what came next. Oh yes. The hard decisions of what we would be taking and what we would be leaving behind.
We started with necessities and worked our way down the list from there as to what would fit. Our beds and mattresses were deemed necessary, but our fridge and deep freezer were staying and sold to family. We fit everyone’s clothing and of course our personal family history of photographs, albums, and memorabilia. However, we left behind all of our bikes and a lot of toys. We were able to fit dishes and a good amount of kitchen items, but all home decor stayed. We were able to fit a few larger pieces and ones that meant the most – my dad’s tool chest for the garage that was passed down to Jarett along with the dresser he made when I was baby – two things I couldn’t leave without.
And two things that will forever make our family laugh when we recall this story – my brand-new flocked Christmas tree from King of Christmas that I had just purchased the season before. And the most ridiculously over-sized teddy bear the kids had just gotten for Christmas. The kids made their case as to why he had to make the trip (I think the older ones simply wanted the comical aspect of bringing it along) and it became an inside joke from that day on. And the last spot to fill as we packed up our entire life? The front seat of Jarett’s car so guess where that damn teddy bear sat the entire 1600 miles.
I still can’t see this picture without laughing hysterically.
We left most of our belongings in Phoenix at my mother’s house that was picked up two weeks later by The Salvation Army. A year later and I can honestly say it was worth the sacrifice.
To be honest, none of us feel well after fast food. We knew we didn’t want to deal with any added drama or to not be feeling our best while on the road, but ditching fast food not only helped us save on time but also really helped with our budget. Before getting on the road, we simply got what we needed at the grocery store and made sure we had a large cooler in the car. We packed it with water bottles, with snacks such as pretzels and apple slices, we even pre-made mini deli sandwiches for when we did get hungry. Granola bars and protein bars were used for breakfast as well as those Kodiak oatmeal cups that we could heat up in the hotel or at a gas station. Whenever we needed to refill we made sure it was at a grocery store.
This also just helped me keep my sanity a bit more in the car. Jarett drove our Ford Edge while I drove the Flex with all five kids and the trailer hitched (this is because our sweet Ford Edge, Birdie, is 200,000 miles strong with no AC. Jarett said he would rather take the hit.) We were also dodging storms and tornadoes the entire way so minimizing kids complaining about being hungry, having to search for a place that everyone agreed on, as well as having the car covered in junk and trash really did wonders. I mean, I was already dealing with enough, you know?
This is one we learned the hard way. My thought was to pre-book everything, however, that started to become an issue. When we left Phoenix we knew there were storms ahead of us and behind us. Our first hotel I booked was in Amarillo, Texas and that worked out great, fortunately. The morning that we were leaving Texas I pre-booked our hotel in Oklahoma City. However, upon arriving we realized that this Hyatt Place was in a very seedy area of the city and we did not feel comfortable staying. You can only investigate so much online and we had never been to Oklahoma City and didn’t know what to expect. Unfortunately, we could not get refunded because of the late cancellation so that was a paid night down the drain. We decided it was better to find something in a safer area.
On the flip side of that, however, is not being able to find a room upon arriving. We ran into that problem on our third and final night in Memphis. I refused to pre-book in case it would be another situation like Oklahoma City, but it took us a good hour or so of driving around at 2:00 AM absolutely exhausted and trying to find a hotel room for the night.
If you are familiar with the area or know someone you can ask, then I think pre-booking hotel rooms for the trek is a much better idea. However, if you don’t know the area you will be staying in, I would rather look for a place to stay on the fly then waste more of the available budget.
We rolled into Nashville with $50 left of that $1500 budget and I will never forget grabbing Chick-Fil-A with it after emptying that UHaul trailer and eating on the floor of our apartment. We were exhausted, but so happy. We had nothing and left behind so much, but nothing beat the feeling of following our hearts and doing something we talked about doing for years. Literally, years. All the sacrifice, the stress, the unknowns – it was all worth it when we drove down Main Street of our new city that night with tears in our eyes. A place we had dreamed of for so long was finally our reality.
It was a 1600 mile journey with the seven of us. Storms in front and behind, a hitched trailer, and a car that had 200,000 miles on it. A number of things could have gone wrong, but not a single issue. Not even a flat tire or an engine overheating. There is so much more to the story, but we saw literal miracles happen for our family throughout this entire endeavor. And it’s because we gave up control. We gave up worrying, gave up the “what ifs”, and simply said we want this for our family and had faith that we could make it happen. I don’t think we have ever been more prayerful in our entire lives.
So there you have it! How we moved cross-country with a $1500 budget as a family of seven. I hope those few tips help you in your own moving adventure!
If you are wanting to make a change for your family or for yourself and not sure how to go about it – find the courage to begin. Make that first step into the unknown (because remember, faith is an action word). Then carry that faith like a lifeline, and watch things fall into place. Life is too damn short not to jump at the things whispered on our hearts.
Rooting you on in the dreams you have from right here in good ol’ Nashville.