Well, we finally made it to San Diego last weekend. It was a super long drive, but overall, it was a really great trip. We saw some gorgeous views and our dog was excellent the entire drive. Breaking it into 12 hour days was super helpful too because it made the days go by a bit faster. We weren’t so exhausted at the end of the day so we were able to order take out and relax in bed with some tv or movies each night before bed. It was perfect. But this past week in San Diego has been quite stressful to say the least.
Our first day was spent exploring the city and getting to know base and what’s around. I needed a new military ID so that was high on our list of things to do. Zack also needed to buy a few things for his uniforms. So we spent a lot of time on base. We also checked out the hotel on base to see what the rates were compared to the motel we were staying at and of course they didn’t accept pets. So that was out of the question. We spent the first week living in a Motel 6. A SUPER tiny room that didn’t have any space to walk around and even lacked a microwave and fridge. It was a bit claustrophobic so it was super important that we find a home ASAP.
Next, we went to the housing office to check on our application status. Before moving, we didn’t have a home or anything like that set up out here. We had put in our housing application for on base housing as early as we could due to the wait times being so long, but housing didn’t even put us on the wait list until the day Zack checked out of his base in Okinawa. So rather than being close to the top of that wait list by the time we got here, we were #241 out of 280-something people. A 3+ month wait time AT LEAST for the only neighborhood that accepted big dogs.
After talking to the leasing agents on base, they gave us a list of homes out in town that “met our needs” so feeling hopeful, we went to Chipotle for lunch while we looked up the houses and made some phone calls. We had about 20 pages of homes and NONE of them worked out. They were either already rented out or the agent never called or emailed us back. Some didn’t accept big dogs. It was horrible and quite frustrating.
The following day, we found a super cute cottage style home that we really loved. It was two bedrooms rather than three like we wanted, but we figured we could make it work for a year. We filled out the applications and submitted the paperwork and then the guy never ended up emailing or texting back until two days later. At that point, we didn’t have the money for a deposit or the first month’s rent to move in ASAP like we had planned. Our original hotel reservation was good until Thursday and since we hadn’t heard from him by Wednesday, we were forced to extend our stay which cost us another $400. We decided to ditch that place since the guy wasn’t reliable in terms of communication.
At this point, we were already extremely frustrated. And it was only Wednesday. I felt like we had little to no help in this whole process. We’re expected to be here by a certain date, but then we’re left draining our savings to live in a motel because we don’t have a home here and no one can help us out with one. Even with savings and getting some money from the military before moving, we really couldn’t afford to do this move. It cost so much more than what we’re given and although there are “a lot” of resources out there to help military families, none of them helped us out much.
Since the week was so stressful, we tried to get out of the hotel as much as we could and enjoy the city a bit. We’ve already crossed the San Diego Zoo off our San Diego bucket list so that’s pretty exciting! I highly recommend checking it out sometime. I’ve never been to a more gorgeous zoo. It was wonderful. We went later in the day so it wasn’t very crowded and they had A LOT there. It took us about three hours to check out everything and by the time we go to the car, we were more than ready to sit down. It was a lot of walking around. I’m just sad I didn’t have my Nikon with me. The trip to the zoo was kind of a last minute choice while we were already out exploring.
We also checked out downtown San Diego that day which was super pretty. We drove down by the water to where the USS Midway is located along with many museums and other touristy destinations. We’re going to have to go back down there sometime now that we have an idea of how to get there and what’s around. I’d love to walk around and explore some more (with my Nikon, of course).
San Diego is gorgeous. So far, I’m loving it a lot aside from the huge amount of stress we’ve been under. It’s so different from east coast cities because you have a mix of everything here. You have the mountains, lots of hills, cities, and the ocean all in one place. It’s not just flat and grid-like. Every drive we go on has some sort of view too whether it’s the ocean or overlooking the city. I was not prepared for the insane traffic though. During the day, it’s not bad at all. When 5 o’clock hits, it’s a nightmare. Especially if you have to take the highways. I’m sure we’ll get used to it, but coming from Maine it’s quite a change.
We also found a super yummy sushi place across from our motel. I was craving it like crazy the other day so we decided to try it out. The pieces were a lot bigger than the place we went to in Maine so we couldn’t even eat it all. But it was delicious so we’ll definitely go back sometime. One thing I am super disappointed in here is delivery and take out food. One night, we were dying to have some Chinese food and NO ONE delivered to the road we were on. Half the places we called were only a mile down the road from us which was super frustrating. We even found out the following day that one of the places was directly across the street in the same plaza as the sushi place we went to.
We called about 10 different places before finally going to the front desk for some menus of places that DID deliver. We chose an Italian place, picked out what we wanted, called, and then they too said they didn’t deliver…5 miles away. It’s crazy. We now live in a city with every food option imaginable and no one delivers outside a 1/2 mile radius. We ended up getting frustrated and settled for Domino’s which we ended up not even eating. And then it went to waste because we didn’t have a fridge or microwave in the room…
Zack started the check-in process at his new base on Wednesday and thankfully they were all super nice and gave him another week off from work to find a home and get a bit more settled. Thank God they understood our situation and were so helpful. We immediately started the process of looking for a home that same day and again we became discouraged pretty quickly. Like I mentioned earlier, the cottage we liked completely fell through and there really weren’t many other single family homes in the area in our price range. Apartments were out of the question in our mind because of Jack being so big so we actually ended up going into our bank to see how much we’d qualify for if we were to purchase a home. Although this is a longer process, we felt like this was our only option.
First off, a good 85% of the places out here don’t accept dogs over 30 pounds (assuming it accepts dogs at all). Next, out of the 15% that do accept dogs over the 30 pounds, 10% of them don’t accept German Shepards. Which isn’t helpful whatsoever. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many phone calls we made this past week, trying to find a a house or apartment complex that accepted our dog. And 99% of of those phone calls left us feeling disappointed. We can’t be the ONLY people out here who have a German Shepard. So we did the pre-qualification paperwork for a mortgage and were pleasantly surprised with how much we qualified for on one income. So it was really nice to have that as a back up option in case we were to need it.
Friday morning we woke up determined to find a place to live. At this point, we had spent about $800+ on a motel room that was the size of a small bedroom and didn’t have a microwave or fridge. Three of us crammed in there. It wasn’t working out and my anxiety was through the roof. So we grabbed some coffee and left the motel with a list of apartment complexes to check out (yup, at this point, we were going over every option possible…even an apartment). I had a list of about 20 apartments that said they accepted large dogs, but none of them mentioned their breed restrictions. So we expected to walk away from a lot of places feeling disappointed. But again, we were determined to not go back to the motel until we had a place.
The first place on our list was only about 11 minutes from the motel and was a 15 minute commute to work for Zack. We loved the photos online, but didn’t bother to explore the property until we knew if Jack could live there. So Zack parked outside the leasing office and ran inside real quick to ask while I plugged in the next apartment address into our GPS. He came out about five minutes later with a smile on his face and told me to come inside. Not only did they accept big dogs, but they accepted German Shepards. AND they had immediate availability.
We then sat down with the leasing agent and started to discuss our needs and all their apartment layouts. All of a sudden she was asking us questions that we hadn’t even thought of before. At that point, we were just looking for a place that accepted our dog. We hadn’t thought about how many bathrooms we wanted or bedrooms or whether we wanted carpet or hardwood floors. All of a sudden, we had options. So of course we chose their most expensive 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment with hardwood floors. We all piled into a golf cart and drove to one of their available units. The moment we walked in, we fell in love with it. It was perfect. It was newly renovated and had big, open rooms. Our master suite was incredible. It didn’t have walk in closets, but it did have two very large closets so we could each have separate closets like we did in North Carolina. The bathroom also had two sinks which is super helpful along with a ton of closet space. My office (and future nursery) was rather large and also had a huge closet. The closets were all mirrored too which I thought was awesome. It even came with a patio and washer dryer hook up.
The community had over 400 units in it along with pools and gyms. It couldn’t have been more perfect. The very first place on our list and we loved it. We then spent the next 30 minutes in the leasing office filling out the online application. At first, I didn’t get automatically approved. Zack did, but I didn’t because I was unemployed. This was a bit frustrating because it wanted job history and due to moving so many times, I just didn’t have a “stable” job. So it required us to go through a verification process. No one wanted to do that, so she had me add on my last two jobs from Maine and North Carolina and voila! I was approved on the spot. In just under an hour, we had found our home. We’re still waiting for Zack’s background check to clear, but we’re obviously not worried about that. His takes a little longer because of his job. But assuming it clears overnight, we’ll be moving into our new home this weekend (we’re hopefully moving in as you read this).
Once we left the leasing office, we celebrated at Buffalo Wild Wings with some drinks and wings and then headed back to the motel to make some phone calls. We got our cable, internet, electricity, gas, and renters insurance all lined up so we can move in over the weekend. We also picked up an air mattress and extra pillows to get us by until we’re able to get all of our belongings out of storage (which we have to call about today). It was nice to be able to relax last night rather than spending it searching home listings and making more phone calls and sending out emails. Instead, Zack was able to play some video games and I was able to lay in bed typing up this rather long update for you all.
We were completely ecstatic to finally have a home all lined up. As excited as I am to be in California, this week has been kind of horrible. It’s stressful to not know where you’ll be living the next day or how you’re going to afford it. I wish we had been able to get more of this taken care of before we arrived, but it just wasn’t realistically doable from the other side of the country (or from the other side of the world). Now that we have a home, we can finally unpack and get settled here. We have an actual address here now. We’re not on vacation, we live here. And that’s SO exciting. I can’t wait to settle into our routines and meet new people and really explore the area more. My fingers are crossed that we’ll love it here!
Have you ever moved cross-country? How did you manage the stress of living somewhere new?