Moving to the Bay Area Part II: A New Hope (in the East Bay) / by Goondaba

DAY 2: Sunday

The next day I felt demoralized, thinking it could very well be a while before I found a place. But, having spent the previous day walking around the city and seeing a few places, I wondered if I might find some better values across the bay.

Before flying out, I'd read some suggestions about living in the East Bay and commuting into the city for work. When I finally flew into San Francisco and hopped in a cab, I asked my cabby if he had any opinion on the matter; San Francisco or East Bay: "For you? Young Guy, just live in the city. Maybe go to the East Bay when you look for a house." Noted, Cab Guy, but after the prices and claustrophobic spaces I'd seen on Saturday, I was ready to look to the East Bay.

My host was very enthusiastic about her adopted town of Oakland, but I was hesitant to consider it. Maybe it's just because I grew up in a relatively small town in the Midwest, but crime isn't really something I've ever had to consider when apartment hunting. But Oakland has its fair share of crime; enough to warrant its own crime-tracking website:

Though a hipster's paradise and a landing spot for many making the exodus from San Francisco (as noted in the aforementioned "Why Are All My Friends Moving to Oakland?"), Oakland just wasn't for me. At least not yet; maybe I'll warm up to the idea.

So I searched online for areas in the East Bay with low crime rates, and that sent me looking farther inland, near the Walnut Creek area. It looked promising enough, so I found a couple of places to go look at. I hopped onto a BART train and headed East. Hopping off the station, I took an instant liking to the area; it had kind of a familiar small-town feel. Plus I'd seen that it had lots of trails and a reservoir with a jogging path around it. The only downside was that since the crime was much lower here, naturally that meant that this was an area people flocked to to raise their spawn. I figured I could put up with it as long as the lines at Coldstone weren't too long.

While in the area I was able to see two apartments, and get applications for both. Normal applications; no stool sample required. Of the two, I much preferred the second apartment. A two bedroom at $1700, I felt it was a steal compared to the places I'd just seen the day before. I chatted with the fellow showing me the apartment, gave him my little apartment resumé, and went on my way. I'd decided I liked it. I liked the place so much, that I filled out the application for it right away, scanned it with my iPhone, and emailed it to the landlord within half an hour of seeing the place.

The next morning, I got a call from the apartment I'd applied for. It was the landlord saying the place was mine if I wanted it. I gladly accepted, then gave out a sigh of relief. That afternoon I BARTed out to my new town, signed the lease, and spent a glorious night sleeping on the carpet in my new, empty apartment.

Looking farther East worked out for me, but everyone in the area seems to be looking to the East Bay as housing costs in San Francisco continue to rise. It'll be interesting to see whether the prices in the East Bay start to skyrocket.

The Power of the Resumé

That same Monday, in the afternoon while still at work, I got an email from someone I didn't recognize. To my surprise, it was the landlord from the place I'd gone to see in Pacific Heights on Saturday; the place besieged by a legion of couples, the place I'd assumed I had no chance at. She was offering me the apartment. 

Having taken the place in the East Bay, I declined and thanked her for the offer. I was seriously shocked that I'd been more qualified than any of the other applicants, especially considering that some of them were clearly local, and the expectation I had that I could be searching for months before getting accepted at a place I wanted. The only thing I could think of was that my little resumé did its job and let the landlord quickly know I had a solid rent history and good credit.

Behold; the power of the resumé.

Shipping the Stuff

Having found an apartment, I now had to get my stuff from the (Eastern) Midwest to California. And I had a plan.

But then I realized that matter transporters had in fact, NOT been invented yet. So then it was on to plan B: 

  1. Get a hold of a box.
  2. Put my junk in that box.
  3. Make someone ship out the box.

Perfect! Now I just needed to figure out which box-handling service to use, and there are a few to choose from:

The basic idea of these services: they drop off a container at your old residence, you fill it up at your leisure, and then they pick it up and ship the container to your new place. In my research, the Ubox service's boxes seemed too small and Pod's pods were too expensive. So that left me with UPack's ReloCubes.

Reserving the cube via their website was easy enough. They don't deliver or pick-up on weekends though, so that's something to consider when planning things out. After making the reservation they called me up to confirm the details. Everything was great, except that apparently I had to be there to receive the container; there, being Ohio. I was already in San Francisco doing the programming thing when I made the reservation, so that wasn't going to be possible. I'd booked a weekend flight back to my old house to pack my stuff, but as I mentioned, they don't drop off on weekends.

In this case, I had a friend who saved my smoked bacon and was willing to be at my old house and sign for the cube when it arrived on the Friday before I flew back. I arrived in Ohio on a red-eye flight, grabbed a rental SUV at the airport, and drove to my old house.

That whole day was kind of a blur. Just minutes after arriving at the house, my friend whom I was selling my car to arrived so that we could head down to the BMV and take care of business. She stuck around, helping with the move and providing a seemingly infinite amount of sturdy cardboard boxes.

I was lucky to have more friends and family show up to help. I was much more tired from the flight than I thought I would be, and had to take a nap sometime in the afternoon. I don't know what I was thinking; doing a move in a day like that. But, thanks to plenty of help and pizza-fuel, by the time it started to get dark out, the cube was full and ready to go.

I flew back to San Francisco the next day, and received my cube a few weeks later (they transported it across country by train). The only hiccup I encountered in the process, is that someone forgot to pick up the cube at my old house until I called!

I'd been using the tracking number Upack provided me with to see where my cube was, but kept getting an error. When I finally called someone to find out what was going on, I learned that instead of being picked up the day after I flew out of Ohio, the cube had been sitting in the driveway for a few days. I'm not sure why that happened; it had been scheduled to be picked up the next day. But, the cube got picked up after I called to see what was going on. So, I guess you should make sure to check on the status of your cube soon and often.

It's like magic!

It's like magic!

When the cube DOES arrive, you don't necessarily have to be there for drop off, but I was able to take the afternoon off that day to make sure there were no hiccups. Instead of using the helpers UPack offers for a minimum fee of a few hundred dollars, I simply hired a TaskRabbit for much less, and together we unloaded the cube in about half an hour.

I'd found a place to live, and gotten all my stuff across the country in one piece. Now, I just had to figure out where to get some coffee...