Sunday, June 28, 2009

Two Weeks In

It's really hard to believe that I've only been in Seattle for 2 weeks, ok to be precise it's been 16 days. It seems like it's been so much longer, probably because I've packed so much into this time. Before I go on any further here are some of the pictures I've been promising.

The apartment I'm currently staying in:

The hill I have to walk down and up every single day, I probably should have taken a picture from the bottom instead of from the top it really is steep:

You may notice that I haven't put up any photos of the place I'm looking to buy. I did take some yesterday during the home insepction but am holding off an posting them. The home inspection yesterday revealed some electrical concerns which need to be addressed hopefully I can get some answers early this week and everything will continue if not it's back to the drawing board - ugh! I'm keeping my hopes up but realize I may need to walk away from this if I don't get a good answer from the electrician.
The other not so good news I got on Friday was in regards to moving my stuff from storage in Boston. They've given me a time estimate of 7 -22 days, quite a wide range and you need to accept delivery if it's there within 7 days otherwise there are considerable charges. If the sale on the condo doesn't go through I may need to find a storage place and then bribe friends with food and drinks to help me move the stuff once I do find a place. But we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
The one good thing is in my wandering around today I stumbled across a furniture store that is going out of buisness so there are huge discounts. I was pretty impressed with the price and quality of stuff. I'll keep my eye out for other sales but I like the idea of a liquidation as there is no need to order and wait for stuf to arrive. I have to say I'm looking forward to going on a nice shopping spree.
That's it for now will keep you posted on what the electrician says.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Wow it seems like I've barely had any free time and that's probably because I haven't between trying to find a place, work and travel I've been going crazy the last week. I had to go to NYC for meetings earlier this week and had an impromptu visit with some family. It was great. I hadn't been to NYC in about 3 years, since then travel has sure changed. Taxis in NY now accept credit cards it was quite shocking. I was also surprised to see that Delta offered in flight wi-fi access. The cost was only $12 not too bad for a 6 hour flight. I didn't take it as I had somehow forgotten to pack my power supply so I would have run out of battery power very quickly.

Before I left I had seen a number of condos on Saturday and decided to put an offer on one. The owners countered and I accepted this evening, by the end of July I'll be in my own place - yippee! A lot of people have commented on how quickly I moved and I did but then again I've been looking at a lot of places on-line and in the end I knew what I wanted. There was a lot of fixer-uppers out there and unrealistic prices on tiny places I think I really lucked out. I'll be doing the inspection on Monday and will take pictures. Speaking of pictures I know I promised them in my last post but haven't gotten around to that yet. I'll get that taken care of this weekend.

The house buying process in the US is quite different from the UK from what I've been told. There's no need to worry about chains and wondering if somebody is going to drop out. I will be in the condo no later than July 30th, potentially sooner depending on how long it takes the financing to come through. There is also no need to worry about gazumping or gazundering they've agreed to the deal and there will now be penalties if they decide to take another offer.

It's surprising the things that I'm having to re-adjust to being back in the states. As I was signing and dating the offer for the condo today I was writing the date sometimes the British way and sometimes the American way. I very frequently have referred to condos as flats, luckily people know what I mean. The strangest thing though is the money. I've gotten so used to money being different shapes and sizes for different denominations I find myself spending much longer trying to figure out how much money I have and if I have the correct amount to pay for things. I've also found myself opening my change purse when I'm expecting less than $5 change so I Can put the coins away. I then realize that I'm getting dollar bills back. I'll get readjusted eventually.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Made It

Wow my first blog as a re-pat. That just doesn't have the same ring to it as expat. First off let me apologize for not posting sooner but the Internet connection at my apartment is absolute crap. If you are ever tempted to go with a service from Clearwire run away don't do it. The speed has been worse than dial-up if I can even get a connection. Last night I did go out and get a Verizon wireless card and that works much, much better. Now on to the fun and exciting stuff.

The flight over from London was good I actually managed to sleep for a couple of hours on the plane and arrived feeling rather refreshed. I thought to myself this is good maybe I won't have jet lag. No such luck I've been getting up at 4 or 5 am every day since I arrived. Today I was shocked I actually slept in until 6:30.

The place I'm staying is very nice, I'll take some photos one of these days and get them uploaded. The only drawback is that the place is on top of a very steep hill. The last 3 blocks are the worst and am usually out of breath by the time I get to the apartment door. Of course by the time I get to the door I have also walked quite a distance. As I didn't rent a car I've been walking everywhere - earlier this week I was in training that was 1.7 miles from my house a nice 40 minute walk in the morning. I did cheat in the evenings and take either the bus or monorail to the Seattle Center and then walked from there.

Some of the many things I've been up to:
  • Unpacking
  • On Monday I traded in my UK mobile for a US mobile
  • Finding the important places grocery stores, restaurants, bars, etc.
  • Looking at condos a rather discouraging endeavour - there are a few possibilities though
  • Getting pre-approved for a mortgage
  • Figuring out the buses

Today was my first day officially in the office. It is a little odd being in a cube. I haven't worked in a cube ever! All of my previous companies I was either working from home or there was an open or semi-open floor plan. Some of the perks of being in the office today I was given a $10 gift card to the cafe across the street as a new employee.

Friday, June 12, 2009

2 Years 4 Months 3 Weeks and 1 Day or 75,533,627 Seconds

Today's the day in a couple of hours I'm off to the airport thus ending my adventures as an expat. I've thought for a while about what I could possibly say to summarize my time here and the words just don't seem adequate. It has really been an amazing time and I am so glad I had this opportunity it is sad to see it come to an end. There are still so many places I didn't get to see, but I guess that just means that I have more reasons to come back.

My adventures by the numbers:

253 Blog posts
20 New countries that I had never visited before
4 Different continents
50 Different cities
112 Passport stamps and visas

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have visited places that I never would have dreamed possible. Some of the highlights:
There are definitely things I'll miss and thing I won't miss about living in London. What I'll miss:
  • Nando's
  • My masseuse - I'll just have to find a new one
  • Jetting all over Europe
  • British Music
  • Richmond Park and The Thames
  • All the great people I've met

What I won't miss

  • British customer service
  • The sound of planes constantly flying over my flat

And of course there are the things I'm looking forward to about being back in the states:

  • Watching the Superbowl at a reasonable time
  • Exploring the west coast
  • Being able to get Diet Dr Pepper whenever I want
  • Finishing my state quarter collection (The Denver Mint)

Thanks to everyone that's made my time here so much fun. I must go now before I get too emotional.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dawn's Question Time

I've gotten a lot of questions about the move so I figured I would take some time to answer the questions.

When are you leaving?
Friday June 12th at 3:15 PM.

Are you happy to be going home and being closer to your family?
I'm not going home. Home is on the east coast. I'm going to Seattle, that's on the west coast. I am no closer to my family in Seattle than I was in London. Still a 6 or so hour plane ride. The time difference is a little different instead of being 5 hours ahead I'm 3 hours behind.

Are you taking any time off before you start?
No I'm crazy and start working Monday. I have a 2 day training and will be in the office on Wednesday morning. I will have the weekend to get adjust to Pacific time. I'll probably take some time off over the summer just don't know when.

Do you have a place to stay in Seattle?
I have a temporary place lined up for 30-90 days. I am hoping to be in my own place by mid-August - yes this is quick but there's no need to drag things out.

I received 1 question after I posted the quiz on Monday asking what size the boxes - luckily I took a picture - I didn't measure them.

See left.

And the answer to the question you all want to know - the answer from the quiz on Monday. How many boxes were my belongings packed into?

33 - Dad was the closest with his guess of 30 congratulations you get to help me unpack them - HAHAHAHAHA

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Taking A Break

Taking a quick break today from the re-patriation related posts. I was checking out my Google Analytics account today - yes that's right I track all the readers of my blog and my photography site. Today I looked at the search terms that have taken people to my blog, in the past 30 days there have been 30 visits sent via 30 different keywords. While the keywords are different they do fall into some similar categories. The time that users have spent on the site has been next to nothing as most people probably realized that the information was not what they were looking for. Below are 10 categories/keywords that have landed people on my blog
  1. Landlord not responding
  2. Top 10 things in Copenhagen
  3. Adventures of Delvish
  4. Basheesh
  5. Custom Fees
  6. Expat Boston Blog
  7. Kangaroo pyramid / Kangaroo Tudy
  8. Sofas
  9. Expat problem
  10. Lease Renewal

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bye Bye Belongings

It's surprising how many boxes your life can be reduced to ( or maybe it's how few). The movers came today and packed up everything I decided to take to Seattle. Shocking how quickly they work. They started at 8:30 and were done by noon. Only 1 minor problem but that was quickly resolved. When I checked out the kitchen I realized they had emptied a cupboard that they weren't supposed to. I had left all the cabinet doors open showing what needed to go and what was closed was supposed to stay. One cabinet accidentally got emptied. Luckily all the boxes are clearly marked and there were only 3 possible boxes the stuff could have been in. Yup you guessed it the third box had the stuff in it. The only reason I wanted the stuff is I was afraid what I would be charged to replace the items, in my mind they're worth about £5 in total if that - 3 year old heavily used Tupperware.

Not only was I moving today but so were my neighbors so my tiny little street had 2 big moving vans parked on it. I have never seen the parking police patrol my street but they were there today. I can only guess that somebody called to complain that they couldn't get around the corner.

Anyways you may have noticed that I didn't actually mention how many boxes were packed that's up to you - can you guess?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Next Week At This Time

Exactly one week from today I'll be sitting in the lounge at Heathrow preparing for my journey back across the pond. Last night I started going through the items remaining in my cupboard and fridge. It's amazing some of the food that just purely needed to be tossed - they've been sitting in my cupboard for 2 years, a few more items to clean out tonight.

Between now and next Friday there is still a bit of stuff I have to do but it isn't much.
  • This evening I will be packing as much as I can into my suitcases and prepare for the move to my friends for the final week.
  • I'm still hoping that Virgin sends me the bag to return the set-top box so far no luck.
  • Monday the movers come and package my belongings for the long trip to Seattle.
  • Pay the final bills.
  • Professionally clean the flat on Thursday.
  • I've also managed to take some time on Thursday to relax a bit and then have one last goodbye drinks and dinner with the guys from the office.

Tomorrow is the big goodbye BBQ, I am using the power of positive thought to make sure there is no rain tomorrow. The Q is happening rain or shine, I would just really like for it to shine.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's About Time

The call came this morning at about 8:45, the landlord has finally decide to re-let the apartment. This is almost exactly 1 month after I gave notice that I was leaving. I have absolutely no idea why it took this long. It's incredibly frustrating as I am responsible for the rent until July 7th or until new tenants are found, as the landlord took so long to start advertising the chances of finding a tenant that wants to move in next weekend is probably slim to none. Had the property been advertised sooner I'm sure they would have found somebody.

What makes this even more frustrating is that when the call came in they asked to come over and take pictures, I am 4 days away from having the movers come and pack things which means the place was a real mess. Things on the tables, and everywhere I spent about 45 minutes running around putting things away so that the place would be relatively tidy for the pictures and now I have to make sure the place stays tidy for prospective tenants. It will be interesting to see how long it takes them to post the flat on the site and start actually showing it to tenants.

In other news I walked outside today to see the parking ban sign posted for my move. Does this make it real?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You Get What You Negotiate

Today I read an article that made me realize I did a really poor job of negotiating my relocation back to the US. The ex-boss of Vodafone received £500,000 to move him and his belongings from the UK back to the US, I'm getting slightly less than that. Some of you may think that there's a difference in our roles; he was running a company for 5 years, saw profits of over £10 billion, and made more than £8.1 million in his last year (Again I made slightly less than that).

Of course what I want to know is what is he moving that he needs £500K. With my package I'm managing:
  • To move all my belongings from the UK
  • To move all my belongings in storage
  • A first class flight from London to Seattle (OK so it was using miles but it still counts)
  • Rent for temporary accommodation while I find a permanent place

Isn't it something how the other half lives.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

They Don't Make It Easy

I had to jump through hoops today to cancel my TV License. I had called a month ago but you can only cancel the license 10 days in advance. Now here is where it really gets interesting. In order to process a refund they will mail you a form it takes 10-14 days to receive the form - hmm this means that you will likely be gone by the time the form arrives. No worries there is a form on-line to download. There is a full page of instructions which list the supporting documentation that is needed. In addition to the original TV license you need to provide proof that you are leaving the property in the form of a final utility bill, plane ticket, letter from a solicitor, proof of sale, etc. I printed out my e-ticket and TV license, filled out the form and realized the one thing that was missing from instructions is the address where to mail the refund. To get this I had to go back on-line and look-up the address. Why would this not be included in the instructions or on the form, everything else was there. I'm really going to miss this British bureaucracy.