When I decided to leave Chicago, despite preconceptions to the contrary, I made the decision QUICK. (If this had been a slow decision, I never would have closed my awesome Barclays UK bank account last year — an account I am no longer eligible for because the requirements are so much higher ten years later.) The speed of my decision meant I didn’t have a lot of time for planning, for downsizing, for anything really. And then the moving guy showed up to give me an estimate and told me it was going to cost $12,000 bucks (!!!) to move my stuff from the US to the UK. Plus insurance. Hey, I make a decent living but this move from Chicago to London was entirely self-funded. $12,000 was a scary number. So I had a lot of stuff to get rid of and a lot of downsizing to do. And I needed help. And once I accepted help in my life, I couldn’t stop. Here’s how I did it.
Chicago Anytime Assistants: The lovely Shelley took all my unwanted clothing and kitchen gear to the Salvation Army for me. Clothing I hadn’t worn in years, shoes I bought on a whim when all I ever wore were Uggs anyhow…all gone. (And don’t be hating on my Uggs. I’m a convert.) She also took back my cable boxes to Verizon, a task worth a gazillion dollars alone because I seriously would have had a breakdown if I had to queue up at Verizon for the 90 minutes she did for me. She even sent me a photo from the queue! Shelley picked up my dry cleaning, bought me Thank You cards and picked me up some Chinese for lunch while I waited at home with the movers! All for a very reasonable $45 an hour or thereabouts. Highly recommended. A lifesaver. And so very nice to work with.
Quintessentially: On the other side, here in London, I needed help unpacking. I knew that if I didn’t have help, I would never unpack. It would be like that time I moved back to Chicago in 2010 and four years later, I still had about eight boxes that I had never opened. So on the basis of a quick Google and only a quick Google, I hired Quintessentially. And although I get the sense that I was not their wealthiest of clients and they expected a lot more of me — I must have been such a disappointment to them — they did what I needed them to do and I paid them for it. A lot more expensive than I expected at £65 an hour + VAT, but worth it for my peace of mind. They took a lot of phone calls while they were here, and I guess I also paid for that, but there was some rounding town of their time so I guess it was okay.
buy:time: In hindsight, I probably should have hired buy:time for my unpacking. Thank you to Bon Vivant Concierge for the recommendation. After my move, for £29 an hour, my personal assistant helped me get rid of all my CDs via Zapper.co.uk and also took a bunch of my stuff to a charity shop. (It’s amazing the crap you discover when you unpack.) She also took my bike into a local bike shop for repair, which was a huge lifesaver. (When movers move bikes, they take the pedals off and let all the air out of the tires so the bikes are easier to move. So it kinda sucks when the bike gets to the other side because the movers don’t come with a bike pump and don’t have the tools to put the pedals back on.) In short, my buy:time personal assistant alleviated me of many tasks and for that, I was grateful. She checks in with me now every few weeks to see if I need anything else sorted, which is helpful too!
So…as a single woman living alone with a full-time job, I can’t tell you how helpful these services have been for me in 2014. I think I may have had a breakdown otherwise. Not only did they help me do the things that I wanted to do, but they also helped me (in a larger sense ) lead the simpler life I’ve been wanting to live. Since moving back to the U.S. in 2010, I found myself accumulating a lot of stuff. Let me tell you…what they say is true…stuff expands to fill the space. I went from having two bedrooms and two normal size closets in London in 2010 to having three bedrooms and seven closets in Chicago, plus a storage unit in the garage between 2010 and 2014. Now I’m down to one bedroom and 1.5 closets. Life is better this way.