Monday, November 2, 2015

Living In Two Places - How To Do It

The Green Bag
From 1997 until 2013 we kept Eolian at the Shilshole Bay marina in Seattle.  During this time she served as our Seattle home because I worked in Seattle.  That meant that the majority of our time was spent onboard, with brief weekend sprints to our log cabin on Camano Island.  Now that I am retired, our time is more evenly split between Eolian (now in Anacortes) and Camano Island.

So, for the last 18 years we have been living in two places.  How does that work?  How do we do it?

First, it takes a lot of organization.  Those of you who know me know that organization is not one of my strong suits, but thankfully, it is Jane's raison d'être.  So what follows here is the system that we have developed to make this work.  Tho in our case it applies to a house and a boat, I imagine it would apply equally as well to the case of two houses (for example, a primary home and a vacation home).

The System

The more self-sufficient you can make each location, the less you will have to shlepp back and forth.  There are limits of course.

In no particular order:
  • Pay your bills in one place; keep all your records in one place.  If you have things in both places, you'll never be sure whether or not you've paid that credit card bill.
  • Have a marshalling location in both places.  That is, a place where things can be collected which need to go to the other location - put things here when you think of them.  This way it is not a giant fire drill when getting ready to leave - things can be accumulated over time.  And then when it is time to pack up, you can be almost certain that nothing has been forgotten.
  • Have a solid, sturdy laundry bag.  It will get dragged back and forth full of dirty clothes going one way and clean clothes going the other.
  • You will need a set of commonly used tools in both locations.  A boat should be well-equipped with tools in any case, in order to be able to handle breakdowns at sea. For seldom-used specialty tools, see The Green Bag.
  • The Green Bag.  The Green Bag always goes with us.  It is a marshalling location for small items.
  • By and large, it works best if grocery shopping is done independently at each location.  Keep a separate grocery list for each location.  This will help prevent, for example, having 3 bottles of ground cumin at each end.  Search for a smartphone app called "Our Groceries" - it allows multiple people to manage a shared grocery list (or multiple lists...).
  • There will always be some food items that need to be transferred, say a partial gallon of milk or some particularly delectable left-overs.  Bag these together and put them in the marshalling location just prior to departure. 
  • You will need a set of commonly used spices in both locations.  For seldom-used specialty spices, see The Green Bag.
  • Have no loose items.  Everything should be bagged if possible.  We make extensive use of those reusable grocery bags that are now so in vogue.
  • Have a formal shutdown process for each end.  Follow it religiously.  In the beginning, it may be necessary to write it down.  After 18 years, not so much.
  • Leave yourself sticky notes to cover unusual circumstances when you think of them - don't try to remember everything at the end when you're packing.  Put them in the marshalling location.
  • Make your cell phone your primary telephone number.
  • Have a single official location for important items that need to travel, such as a checkbook (in our case, this always lives in my briefcase).  Always, always return the item to its official location after use.  If you violate this rule, you will be certain to find yourself at the boat without your prescription sunglasses, for example.
  • Computers are cheap enough now that you can have one at both ends.  But if you are not careful, you computer file systems will be like those two spice drawers...  There will certainly be a collection of directories that you would like to have be in sync on both machines.  Use a cloud service for these, or use a thumb drive to copy these directories back and forth (I use linux - rsync is my friend).
  • Reading material - I have only one word for you here: Kindle.
  • Cell phone chargers and cables are small and cheap - have an adequate number at both ends.
  • Outer gear - keep location specific clothing at each end.  Keep the foulies on the boat and the Carhart chore coat at the house.  If you wear a raincoat to the boat, be sure to put it in the boat marshalling location so that it will go home with you when you leave.
  • Hand projects like knitting should be handled as travelling projects - always prepared to go back and forth.  That is, each should have its own bag and live in it.
So that's how we do it.  Those of you out there who are doing the same thing  have additional suggestions I'm sure...


Drew Frye said...

Exactly. Except I have a red bag. I'm never quite sure what I've thrown into it, but as soon as I get a moment at the "other" location, I dig into the bag as a reminder of forgotten projects and what needs put away. If something goes home (or to the boat) in a pocket that should not have, it goes straight back in the the red bag. In principle, the red bag is emptied each time. Nearly.

The other necessity, for me, is a notebook for each general topic: boat, house, consulting, and writing (separate for each magazine). Huge help.

Patrick said...

This was funny - we have a marshaling location too, our "boat pile" at home.
Except the marshaling is even harder for us because we don't own a car. So all the stuff gets marshaled via bike, bus, car2go, or Uber.

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