As you all know, our family has embarked on the chance of a lifetime – to live and work overseas. Due to a wonderful job opportunity for my husband, Mr. Puffles, we moved our family of 6 from Seattle, Washington, to Dublin, Ireland, in May 2013. The move wasn’t without the stress and anxiety of what you might imagine goes along with such a move. We made the decision shortly before the Thanksgiving holiday season in November 2012. So, we went into the holiday season determined to allow our children their birthdays and holiday fun without accumulating additional stuff as we tried to desperately purge the stuff we had.
We waffled back and forth on whether or not to store our things or ship our things. I googled shopping over in Ireland and old forum posts (from 2007) scared me into thinking that I wouldn’t be able to find soft towels or sheets or other things. But in the end, we decided to sell most of things (because who really needs to store that Ikea chair for 2 or more years), to store just the things we really loved, and to ship nothing because we figured we’d need it when we came back. Besides, we were moving to Ireland. Not Uganda. I’m sure between Ikea and TK Maxx, we’d be able to find the stuff we would need.
Luckily, we discovered that most rentals and properties for sale are listed online on daft.ie and we were able to scour the listings to figure out the cost and general amenities of typical rentals. Turns out that Irish rentals generally are furnished. Bonus! That meant that we could generally eliminate buying all new furniture from our budget spreadsheet. I worried the most about finding the right neighborhood to make sure that we were close to good schools. We also decided to not buy a car right away and try to use public transportation. I tried looking up “good neighborhoods for families” in Dublin, but the forums weren’t very helpful and other expat blogs weren’t very forthcoming on which neighborhoods were the best. Clare of An American in Ireland mentioned that she loved her rental in Raheny which is a coastal town on the North side. Jason’s Dublin colleagues recommended South Dublin. We just didn’t know what would work for us for transportation and shopping. So, we decided to wait until we arrived to secure a permanent lease.
We took a chance and reserved a short-term flat in the city center for 4 weeks and hoped that would give us enough time to find a rental. Mr Puffles’ paperwork took a bit longer to complete than we had planned and we ended up staying in Seattle until May instead of leaving in February as previously expected. The downside was that we were homeless for a few months since we had rented our house quickly. But we were glad that the kids were able to finish most of the school year and were able to leave without worrying about re-enrolling them mid-year. My sole goal was to get them enrolled into a school for the fall. I will do a separate post on finding and enrolling in Irish schools.
The extra time also gave us the time to pack and sell anything we didn’t want to store. Everything went. Bikes, clothing, furniture, spatulas. We held moving sales and sold most of the items on Craigslist. Thank goodness for Craigslist, but who knew there were so many flakes? We gave stuff to friends and family, and carefully boxes up everything else.
We planned to pack up our things, drive it all cross-country, and store them at my MIL’s house in North Carolina. As time went by, we realized that we could only tow a 6’x12′ u-haul trailer on the back of our suburban. When I say “realized”, I mean that Mr Puffles casually mentioned it on day. What?!? 6 feet by 12 feet. Our whole lives minus luggage had to fit into that small box. So, we rented a 5′ x 15′ storage unit and proceeded to fill it up. Mr Puffles was totally not helpful as I packed box after box as he ominously told me “this isn’t all going to fit.” So, I purged and purged. If you know how much I like to save stuff, you would understand that this was tragic!!
|The storage unit after everything was packed.|
But moving day came, and after two hours of packing, we were overjoyed to discover that it did in fact ALL fit into a 6′ x 12′ trailer. I was ecstatic! I had been desperately calling my brother and friends to see if someone would come to remove anything that we couldn’t fit into the trailer. But it was all in there!! It’s funny how detached from your stuff you become after you are separated from it. I still fondly remember things boxed away in North Carolina when I’m trying to cook or do something and remember my favorite apron or favorite pie plate. But for the most part, getting rid of all your stuff is incredibly liberating! If you are interested in being more minimalist, read Miss Minimalist for some inspiring stories.
|Almost ready to go on the road. Everything is packed into the uhaul.|
After three weeks of driving and visiting with family, we finally packed up our luggage for the last time (actually the second to last time) and got ready to fly to Dublin. This is the first time we’ve flown with all 4 kids. The last time we flew, we just had 3 kids. With a 20 month old, we knew it wouldn’t be relaxing, but we were determined to make it as stress-free as possible. For our family, flying on red-eyes works the best for us. Our kids are able to sleep on the flights and we prefer sleeping children to bored, cranky children. So, we forked over the extra $700 for a seat for little Lulu because really. It. Is. Worth. It. She is 20 months old and wild. We also ordered a $70 Child AirplaneTravel Harness. It was dreamy. It kept her buckled in for the most part and in her seat instead of climbing around AND we didn’t have to lug around a giant car seat to a different country. For the most part, she sat happily reading and coloring and then passed out.
|Pretending she is a calm and quiet toddler. Thank goodness the fans on the plane block most of the noise.|
For the most part, the kids were great on the trip. On the Chicago to Dublin portion, we flew Aer Lingus and I realized too late that we had paid extra for their “premium” dinners (steak and chicken) and the children still didn’t want to eat them. Mostly they just ate the rolls and dessert. Grrr.
When we arrived in Dublin, we were the last off the plane and the kids slept until we started our descent. We were the last to go through customs. But our luggage made it all through and it took three carts for all the luggage and bags. We exchanged the last of our US cash in the airport since it was easy. We decided to take two taxis to our flat and met our landlord at the Pearse Hotel a block from the flat. Our landlord, Sean, was great and very friendly and helpful. Our flight arrived at 5:30am and the group in our flat weren’t planning to checkout until 11am. So, Sean allowed us to stay in one of the other flats in the building for a couple hours while we waited for our flat to be ready. We didn’t want to ruin the clean flat for the next tenant. So, we spent the morning having breakfast at the Pearse Hotel which puts on a nice buffet. We enjoyed some coffee and a full Irish Breakfast (eggs, rashers, toast, grilled tomatoes, baked beans). They were very kind and didn’t charge us for the children. So, it cost us €20.
After that, we decided to go to the Jervis Shopping Center to the Tesco Mobile kiosk to buy our new sim cards for our phones and set up our accounts. We both have Samsung 3GS phones and they were both unlocked. After all that, we headed back to the flat. The children were so exhausted that they passed out immediately. I was desperate for a shower and decided to walk to TKMaxx in St Stephen’s Green to buy towels. Halfway there, I got a desperate call from Mr Puffles that the Monkey had used the toilet to do a doo and there was no toilet paper. I’m not sure why he wanted me to come all the back and buy toilet paper for him, but I did. I could go on, but then I’ll get all pissed again that I had to do that!
|The Puppy passed out as soon as we returned to the flat.|
Anyway, while I was back, our flat became available and Sean’s girlfriend, Claudia, was very nice and helped me carry our things from flat on the second story down to our flat on the ground floor. Our Flat 3 was a bit smaller and the kitchen more awkwardly laid out, but it was easier to deal with the stroller. The young man renting Flat 4 (the one we were using temporarily) arrived while we were moving and helped move the rest of the bags. He was German and coming to Dublin for his summer internship with Google.
At last, a place we could call our own for at least 4 weeks! I walked down to St Stephen’s Green and bought as many towels (and they were just as soft as in the US – no worries) as I could carry back. By then, it was too late and there was no time for a shower as I made dinner (sandwiches) and we all passed out by 8pm.
|Carpet under the dining table? Terrible with a toddler.|
|How many kids can you fit in a double bed? Three was the right number for us!|
|Home for 4 weeks!|