I recently moved for the 10th time since I got divorced in 2016.
Yep…10 times, 5 of which happened between March and September of 2016.
I’ve actually moved 24 times since leaving college in 1984 which means on average I have moved about every 2 years. That, of course, isn’t the real picture. I only lived in two homes in Tampa between 1996 and 2016 but still…I’ve moved A LOT!
And while some of the moves weren’t technically a full move…meaning, I was temporarily relocated with some of my belongings for at least a month…there was still some degree of planning that had to go into where I knew I was going to be positioning myself for an extended period of time.
I generally handle the stress of a move pretty well. It may be why I LOVE doing move management for It’s Just Stuff clients. There is something about the rhythm I get into when helping someone declutter and pack or unpack and organize that really does get my juices flowing. The physical side of it I’m so used to at this point…standing on my feet for 8-10 hours, lifting dozens of boxes, loading and unloading donations and even climbing on top of refrigerators as was the case last week for a packing job. I'm relatively certain this is not something most women my age are doing but until I can no longer boost myself up there I will scramble up onto things no different than how I scramble up mountains here in Colorado.
But even the emotional side of moving I have always tended to have under control. Whether I moved across the block (as was the case in NYC one time), the same city, state or the entire country, I think I have managed to keep it together fairly well.
Even going through two divorces and leaving behind those marital homes?
There may have been a few tears shed but overall I managed the moves with relative ease…in my opinion of course.
I am sure my first husband would beg to differ but we won’t go there.
My second husband?
We actually never did a move together which was really a blessing because his method was essentially to just throw everything in garbage bags and that would definitely have ended our marriage had it not ended the actual way it did.
I’m not kidding…I have my method and it works for me…and apparently my clients too or I don’t think I would have all positive reviews with the exception of one and even though I don’t think it was really justified I still have to own it.
But this most recent move?
It hit me hard from an emotional standpoint.
First and foremost, I really wanted my kids to be here to help. I’ve never asked them before but this time I just felt like it would be nice to have them get me over the emotions I was feeling in my head, heart, and gut. And I think at my age it really is ok to expect them to help.
Besides…they owe me.
The number of times I have dropped everything to be there for their transitions from one place to the next?
Yeah, I am their mother and that sort of goes with the territory but at some point, the tables really should turn. In their defense, though, they were going to come but it truly was going to be a hassle this summer with so many airline delays and cancellations, not to mention very expensive and in the end, I excused them from any obligation.
That being said, I still didn’t want to move.
My property management company, on the other hand?
They wanted me O...U...T!!!
Well, they didn’t exactly say that but it was definitely implied.
The reason they gave me?
They said, and I quote, “We know you aren’t happy there so we aren’t renewing your lease.”
I was happy, just not with them.
From the moment I moved in, they fought me on every maintenance issue.
Seriously…I literally walked in the door not 30 minutes after getting the key and discovered blood on the carpet…yes…BLOOD…and they told me it wasn’t blood or maybe I had a cut and didn’t realize it???
They always took the stance as if it wasn’t their responsibility...
...or I didn’t know what I was talking about...
...or I didn’t know what I was doing as was the case when I told them the thermostat wasn’t working and they said I must not know how to program a thermostat and it was perfectly fine. It wasn’t…trust me. I know how to program a thermostat and it wasn’t fine. I hired an outside HVAC company for a consult and they agreed it needed to be replaced.
I am not someone that needs constant validation but when I work as hard as I do to make sure my rent gets paid every month, I kind of expect the property manager to do the job I am paying them to do. I mean, that seems reasonable right? Can you imagine me walking into a client’s house and telling them, “You clearly don’t know how to do anything and I know you paid me to help you but I’m not going to do the work so there's nothing I can really do for you…sorry not sorry.”
I found this particular apartment two years ago and other than having to deal with the difficult property management company, I was very content…
…in my 800 square feet of space
…with my own attached garage
…with a rather reasonable rent for the area
…in a super convenient location to get to Boulder and Denver with relative ease (minus the usual traffic)
My stuff all fit into it perfectly and if I wanted to own a home again I would have seriously considered buying that apartment…except for the fact that the actual owner doesn’t seem to exist. I tried to do a search online but the only person with that exact name is 20 years old living in California and I even went so far as to send a letter to the address associated with that name but it came back with “addressee unknown” stamped on it.
Anyway, the reality of the situation was that the property management company retaliated against me for making them do the proper cleanup after the Marshall Fire that occurred on December 30th last year. In case you don’t know, it was a massive event that took place outside of Boulder that destroyed nearly 1100 homes and displaced almost 40,000 people, myself included, due to some smoke damage that occurred in my apartment complex.
The fire came within a few blocks of us and I ended up being displaced for a few weeks while I fought for what I was guaranteed by Colorado law…a safe and habitable home. Until I threatened to deduct the cost to get the smoke damage taken care of, they insisted there was nothing wrong. They even went so far as to claim there was no smoke smell which was so ridiculous. I couldn’t be in the apartment for more than 5 minutes without coughing and getting a headache.
Even their maintenance person commented on it over the phone the day after the fire when he had to get to my unit while I was actually in Glenwood Springs, a 3-hour drive away on a good day but it was winter and I had taken a train there with the man I was dating at the time and the highway back to the Denver/Boulder area was apparently a disaster. There were a few things that needed to be done due to the lack of electricity and gas as a safety precaution. So to prevent the pipes from freezing and causing flooding in the unit, the recommendation was to put in space heaters as well as turn on the faucets to let the water drip once the water was turned back on.
I really was more concerned about the owner’s investment than my own stuff primarily because I have very comprehensive insurance that would have covered all of the loss. Would it have been a hassle to get all new stuff? Sure but I would have simply walked away without having to worry about remediation or rebuilding. Why they were digging their heels in and not advocating for the owner just didn’t make sense.
More importantly, there was a lot of concern as to whether or not it was safe to live there with all of the toxins emitted from the various things that burned in each home. This was a very different scenario than the typical wildfire we experience in Colorado. When trees burn, the smoke that makes its way to more populated areas may make it hard to breathe but generally speaking, it isn’t toxic.
It was bad enough that they didn’t care about me but clearly they didn’t care about the owner’s investment either which created even more suspicion around who actually owns the unit. I will always maintain they are the owners. Yeah, that’s a conspiracy theory of mine but even the HOA has never spoken to or met the owner. And for 6 years didn’t even know it was being rented until I went into the office right when I moved in because I needed to ask a question about garbage pickup that the property management company couldn’t answer. I think it was just easier for them to say “we need to discuss your issue with the owner and will get back to” and then basically wait a few days and tell me that the owner doesn’t want to do this or that.
In the case of the fire, though, Colorado does, as previously mentioned, have laws in place that required them to do the proper cleanup but I think they were just willing to see how hard a particular tenant is willing to fight them before they acquiesce. Clearly, they underestimated the fight in me. And while I don’t want to be “that tenant”, they really didn’t give me a choice. My health and well-being were paramount to anything and they didn’t give a “you know what” about it.
When I received my “dismissal” letter at the beginning of March, 4 months before my lease would expire, I am sure it was a move they made to be able to claim they gave me plenty of time to find a new place.
But it didn’t matter.
The rental market was bad enough before the fire, but after?
Price gouging and extremely low inventory due to so many people displaced and needing immediate shelter have caused a severe rental crisis.
I did ask the property management company if they would be willing to release me from the lease a few months earlier. I mean if they didn’t want me there and could get more money sooner rather than later for my unit (they increased the price well over the 12% cap if they had renewed my lease that is allowed by Colorado law after something like this fire) they should have been happy to get rid of me.
They never responded.
So I started my search for a new place and, of course, there really was nothing in my price range or the geographical area that makes the most sense for me both personally and professionally. The only option I felt I had until things hopefully quiet down later this fall or early next winter was to do a houseshare. It wasn’t my first choice, especially after a not-so-positive experience doing it a few years ago before the pandemic that ended more or less because my housemate didn’t want me going on hikes during the lockdown and was demanding rent before I had received any pandemic unemployment even though she was still employed and getting a mortgage reprieve.
Fast forward to today and I am sitting in a house that I am, in fact, sharing. I was really not certain it was the right move but really had no other options.
That said, the price is right, the location is great, the owner is super chill but still…I was admittedly worried about certain things like…
…will her dog barking every morning at 5 am wake me?
…will it bother me to live in a lower level again where someone is walking over me?
…will we have enough in common to keep the conversations between us comfortable?
In almost all of my blogs since launching this website, I ask the question usually much closer to the beginning “So what does this have to do with being a professional organizer and move management specialist?” with the intention of hopefully providing some words of inspiration that will help you with your specific needs when faced with clutter and lack of organization systems or the chaos surrounding a move. There didn’t seem to be a logical place to ask that question in this blog but I would like to think it was answered through the story told.
How will this story really end?
No clue but for now I am content.
I mean, this is the view from the back of the house so it is kind of hard to imagine not being content...
I haven’t heard any barking at 5 am, the layout of the house doesn’t seem to be causing a lot of noise over my bedroom and I think my housemate and I have very similar interests and values. We actually connected as a result of the Marshall Fire because of the advocacy work she does in Boulder County. She introduced me to a few media people that interviewed me about my situation including an article for The Colorado Sun but I think what helped the most in making the decision to rent from her was the fact that we know a lot of people in common, including her son who I happen to know through all of the networking I do in and around Boulder. I didn’t know that until I came by to do the walk-through before deciding to rent so at that point it became a no-brainer. I figured if he had a great relationship with her I would too.
Bottom line, I have to remember that my particular rental situation is such a first-world problem and I was so grateful to be able to reach out to my spheres of influence to find a new place to land. It is a month-to-month situation at the moment with the hope that I will be able to find my own place again in the not-too-distant future.
Or you never know…I may end up here for a really long time.
Or it's possible I will end up moving at least a dozen more times before I die.
You hear that kids???
You have officially been put on notice for the next 20, 30, maybe even 40 years!
Be well...be safe...and, as always, be kind out there!
P.S. If you happen to be someone like me that does move quite a bit you really should consider purchasing heavy-duty bins for packing a lot of your stuff, especially if you are keeping a significant amount in storage for any length of time. But if you plan to save the used packing supplies for future use I highly recommend the following to make it easier for you the next time...
1. "Bundle" your boxes by room so you can easily find them and use the same ones for your stuff for each room to save time figuring out what will fit.
2. Flatten out the paper and then fold or roll up several sheets at a time to store in some of the boxes you do save. You can use heavy-duty garbage bags but they generally do not store as well.
3. Any unused packing tape should be stored in any container with a tight lid. Do not store in any porous or open containers or the tape may dry out, especially if you happen to live in a dry climate.