Looking at Dome's Beach from El Faro Park

Friday, September 4, 2009

Moving Day aka the Longest Day of My Life

In addition to the 2 boxes we shipped, we were allowed 2 checked bags (at a cost of $25 each) and 2 carry-ons each. Since the dogs would be travelling on the plane with us, (they would be laying at our feet), we would only take 1 carry-on each, so we had to maximize the check in luggage. Each check on bag could be up to 50 lbs., anything over would be charged $50. Of course, as we packed the bags and they got heavier and heavier we realized we might end up paying a lot of money in overweight fees. We tried to balance heavy items throughout the luggage and we even borrowed a friends scale to give us an idea of the weight of each bag. In the end we decided we could afford to pay one overweight fee and loaded up one of the bags.

The house was ready for our renters and we locked up. As the van we had requested from the taxi company pulled up to the house, our neighbors came out to send us off, their grandson loved our dogs and was very sad to see them go. I remember a quick, emotional cab ride through the August night and before I could come up with a good reason to stay, the LAX traffic control tower passed in a blur.

Travelling these days is stressfull enough, throw in 2 dogs, 4 overstuffed suitcases and the nerves of leaving your home and we knew the only way to make it through this night was to be organized, calm and to not let anything rattle us. The dogs were great, they stood in line at check in and through security as if they had done it 100 times. The flight however, was booked solid, not an extra seat on the plane and once we got the dogs settled and sat down, I knew I wouldn't be moving for another 7 hours.

As we landed, I looked at Cyndi and saw the same thrill in her eyes as I was feeling. We made it, halfway there. Just need to rent a car, stop at Costco and buy a bed and then drive 2 hours to our home in Rincon. We left at 9pm on Friday night, at 3pm Saturday we opened the door to our beautiful, albeit empty house in Paradise.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Rincon, Here We Come....

Cyndi sold her business in Laguna Beach. She had to in order to pay for the work needed on the house. She could always build a business in Los Angeles, but her plan was to build her massage therapy business in Rincon, whether I was with her or not (I think). She was able to secure a website for her massage therapy business in Rincon and built a web page that described her work and that she would be available after August. For my part, I guess I was dragging my feet and when confronted with the possibilities of a life in Rincon or staying in Los Angeles, the easy choice was always LA. But Cyndi is tenacious and after realizing we could rent our house out short term and my job, however good I may think it was, wasn't all that, basically I had nothing keeping me in Los Angeles.

We decided to rent the house on craigs list for 2 months while we went to Rincon to work on the house and explore the possibilities of staying permanently. I would come back after 2 months to return to my job for awhile and Cyndi would stay in Puerto Rico. The biggest issues we faced were getting the dogs there, to ship or not ship one of our cars and of course after 2 months in Rincon how long would I stay in LA?

Though Puerto Rico does not have a quarantine period for dogs and the only paperwork we needed for the dogs was proof of a rabies shot and a certificate of health from the vet ($25), the dogs were not as easy as we thought. We were planning to go to Puerto Rico in August and American Airlines will not allow dogs in the storage area of the plane if it is hotter than 85 degrees. We scheduled a red eye flight that would land in San Juan at about 9:30 in the morning, but most of the weather forecasts we had seen called for the temperatures to be between 80 and 90 degrees. One of our dogs, Sancho is a retired service dog and has a vest and identification, so we felt comfortable taking him on the plane. The other dog was still a puppy and we planned on crating him on the plane, however American Airlines couldn't guarantee that he would be allowed if it was too warm. We worked for 3 months training the 1 year old dog to be a service dog and eventually he got a vest and identification and we decided to take him on the plane with us as well. It was going to be an interesting flight.

Cyndi was dead set on shipping her BMW to Puerto Rico. She did some homework and found a company that would take it from LA and get it to San Juan for $2000, about $1000 less than most everyone else. I didn't think a BMW convertible would be the best car to have in Rincon, I felt she should sell her car and save the $2000 and buy something when we got there. But Cyndi's arguments were valid; the BMW was reliable and she has had it for over 9 years, knew it was in good condition and well taken care of. Trying to buy a car in Puerto Rico could be difficult and could take time to find the right car, what would we do then, car rentals would add up quickly. Cyndi also felt that with everything else being new and different maybe her car could provide some comfort. So at the end of June, a guy came by the house in Los Angeles, loaded the Beamer up on his truck and drove off. I guess I get an I told you so on that one as shipping the car turned out to be a bigger problem then we ever imagined.
We also shipped a few items via the post office, Cyndi doing her homework at the USPS web page to know the maximum size of boxes we could ship for the cheapest price. Initially we thought about shipping our sofa and furniture, but from Los Angeles the shipping price was prohibitive. There were a few things we wanted to ship as we weren't sure of their availability on the island; Cyndi's massage table for example, and we also wanted to have a few essential items when we got there like sheets and towels so we wouldn't have to spend our money on those things right away.
The address of our property wasn't listed on our title, there was just a fine description of the parcel and where it stands in relation to others. Getting the address was difficult as most everyone uses landmarks or kilometer markers to describe where they live. So we shipped the boxes to General Delivery, Rincon , Puerto Rico 00677. Sure enough, 2 days after we arrived the boxes showed up at the post office and we had a few of our comforts from home.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Offer Accepted, Now What?

After the thrill of realizing we owned a house in Puerto Rico, we needed to plan our next move. I figured we would travel to Rincon for a month at a time a few times per year and get the house fixed up slowly. Cyndi wanted to pack a few essentials and sell everything else, grab the dogs and catch the next plane to Paradise. Fortunately, for me, we had to wait about a month for escrow and the house needed a lot of work.

While in Rincon we had met up with a few people who could help us fix the house up. Over the phone, from California we were able to have the roof patched, a few walls ripped out, the kitchen plumbing moved to the west side of the house and 2 new sliding doors on the south or "view" side of the house. We also had a new new tile floor and shower installed, the electricity upgraded and the walls and ceiling refinished and painted. All this was done over the course of about 3 months, actually a short amount of time in Puerto Rican terms and at a cost of $10,000.

So by the end of June, we had the upstairs part of the house as ready as we needed. We felt we could install the rest of the bathroom and kitchen fixtures once we got there. The budget of $20,000 for repairs to the house was down to about half.

Back in Los Angeles, Cyndi and I went back and forth if we should make the move completely or go slow. We have no kids and our jobs are easy to leave behind and start back up anywhere, but we would have to sell or rent our house in LA. I felt we needed to take our time and figure Rincon out, work on the house slowly, spend our money slowly and enjoy the 2 or 3 year process it would take to set up our lives in a new and very different place. Cyndi felt we should jump in head first and not overthink this. We bought the house, we love Rincon, let's go !