Last week we drove to Arizona–from Illinois! Yep, that was a 27 hour drive! It took us two days of riding about 14 hours in the car each day to reach our destination. (We only stopped once for a meal each day. The rest of the meals we ate in the car with food we packed.)
I’ve never seen the West, so I didn’t know what to expect. Luckily, I didn’t find the desert depressing as I feared I would. I can definitely see where there is beauty in the desert–it’s just a different kind of beauty than I’m used to.
I know when we move out there that I’ll miss green grass and green trees. I’ll also miss the seasons, and my family, and. . . well, the list goes on and on.
However, I know our move to Arizona is just a temporary season. The minimum we plan to be out there is two years so my husband can finish his post-doc training with his mentor. The maximum (we hope) will be four years.
However, what I want to avoid is moving again just to get out of Arizona. The next time we move, I want it to be to the Midwest where we plan to settle permanently. Honestly, we don’t know how many years it will take for a job to open up at my husband’s first choice of university in the Midwest.
With this move, we have a lot of decisions to make.
Buy a House or Rent?
We looked at houses with a realtor while we were in Arizona. Before we went we got pre-approval for a mortgage. (Can I just say the whole process is a little ridiculous? I couldn’t believe how much we were approved for. Way more than I know we would ever be able to afford! In fact, the houses we looked at were $150,000 less than the maximum we were approved for.)
We’ve never owned a house before, even though we’re both in our forties, because we could never afford to buy a house in Chicago. So, the idea of owning a home is exciting, and the market there has already reached bottom and is climbing again, so that’s a good sign.
However, we could rent a house and not have to worry about selling it when we leave Arizona. We wouldn’t really save much money if we went this route as renting would cost just as much or more in monthly payments as buying.
If we stay for two years, buying a house doesn’t make much financial sense, but if we stay for four years, buying is a better option than renting.
Buy a Second Car or Stick with One?
In Chicago, we’ve always been a one car family. My husband takes the train, and I keep the car. The car we have is old (10 years), but we enjoy it because we haven’t had a car payment for the last 5.5 years. By not having a car payment or a second car, we’ve been able to live very frugally.
Even though the cost of living is lower in Arizona, for us personally, it will be higher if we need to buy a second car.
After we got back from Arizona, we started looking at used vehicles for my husband. I was in shock to see that a used car costs about $10,000 even if it has 100,000 miles on it or more. Honestly, I started freaking out a little bit when I started thinking about the additional maintenance, gas, insurance, etc.
One option would be not to buy a second car and make do with one car, but my husband’s workplace will be 30 minutes away from the homes or rentals we can afford. He’ll be able to work one day from home, so I could have the car that day, but the rest of the week, I’d be stuck at home. I’m not sure how I feel about that.
The Waiting Game Begins
Now that we both agree that moving to Arizona is the best move for my husband’s career, we’re just waiting to see when he will need to report to his new position and how much he’ll be making yearly. (We have a range we know his salary will be in, but we don’t know the exact numbers.)
Decluttering in Earnest
Meanwhile, I realize we may be moving in anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months, so I have to get in serious decluttering mode. Houses in Arizona don’t have much storage space, so we really need to become minimalists. I’m not exaggerating when I say we need to get rid of 30 to 40% of our belongings before we move.
So, if you noticed I was absent from the blog for the last 10 days or so, that’s because we were making a whirlwind trip to Arizona.
If you live in Arizona, if you’re a one car family, or if you’ve recently made a cross-country move, I’d love to hear your experience!