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I Sold Everything I Owned and Moved to Iceland

Moving abroad is hard. I mean, it’s like moving…on steroids. At first you’re like, “YAY, we’re moving abroad! Let’s just sell all of our stuff and get on a plane!” And then, you’re two weeks into packing and selling your whole existence when you realize you are straight up overwhelmed, calling your mom at 2pm on a Wednesday telling her that you will pay for her to get on the next direct flight. (P.S. when your mom tells you she wants to come down and help well in advance of your move, and you tell her “no you will be okay”…just take the help. Trust me. No one helps like mom.)

I know what you’re thinking…blah blah, deal with it Jeannie. And you are right. It was all worth it 🙂

After nine months of waiting for our work visas to be approved, we finally got the word that we were all clear. We had our heart set on mid-August since Bobby had purchased concert tickets in March to Of Monsters and Men (one of our favorite bands) who played in Reykjavik on August 20th. So as soon as we got the good news, we went online and bought a one way ticket! Then we opened the bottle of champagne we had been saving, and started a countdown on the whiteboard.
Thankfully, I had two weeks of not working to prepare before we left. During that whole time I swear my brain did not shut off. I had an obsessively detailed and color coordinated three page to-do list. I had dreams about my to-do list. I would wake up every two hours thinking it was time to get up. One day I actually woke up at 3:30am and decided I’d rather get started with the day than go back to sleep (Those of you that know how much I love sleep and that I am NOT a morning person know that this is ridiculous logic). I could’t stop thinking of every possible thing I would have to accomplish before we left the country.  For example, “well, they don’t have Lululemon in Iceland, so I have to load up!” and “I better go to Torchy’s Tacos one more time before I can’t have it again!” (This and other nonstop craziness explains why I have been taking naps at every opportunity since we arrived!)
I realized that PACKING to move abroad would’t have been so bad had it not been for the selling of all of our things that ended up taking up so much time. I decided to have an apartment sale when I realized there was a lot of things that I didn’t want to pay to store, and too much to just donate. (Plus, why not add one more thing to the to-do list?!)
Let me tell you, it is a really strange feeling to compartmentalize your life into PILES.
Pile 1 – things we are bringing to Iceland (minimal)
Pile 2 – things we are putting in storage (also minimal)
Pile 3 – things we don’t ever need again and can sell (quite a large pile)

Oh. And thank goodness for my friend Jen because she hands down SAVED. THE. DAY. This amazing life saving lady shows up AT my house WITH dinner AND gluten free cupcakes, starts bubble wrapping, AND sets up for our sale. I mean, literally, this was the most magical thing that could have ever happened to me at the time. Please look at the before and after picture and then immediately hire her up to be your personal assistant. (Note: do not actually do this, she is highly successful and employed full time…she is just that good 🙂

Amazing, isn’t it?! Mind you, this was just one corner of our apartment! When people walked in for the sale, we told them that everything they see is for sale! It’s also very strange to put a price tag on the things in your life. People kept asking, “how much for this?” and I would would be thinking, “well, I paid $60 for it, so…$20?” not knowing of course that when people see “apartment sale” they think “garage sale” and thus, “$2 max”.  Either way, the sale was wildly successful. Considering I spent a large amount of time preparing for the sale, we hoped that people would actually show up for it! I would say within the first two hours about 80% of our stuff had sold.

Now with the whiteboard countdown at 2 days, we are thinking “ok, there is still a lot of work to do, but we’ve got this.” And at the end of the day, we get on the plane Tuesday morning, right?
Let me tell you a little bit about how my husband’s brain works. He doesn’t make color coordinated lists. And other normal times when you move, it’s easy. Throw everything into the back of a moving truck and deal with it when you get there. When we moved to Texas  we rented the biggest U-Haul they had and just tossed in bikes and lamps. It was chaos. Moving to Iceland was the most organized I think I have ever been in my life. Except for losing my mind. And except for our wedding – I was pretty organized for that.

Monday morning we start loading up the moving truck of things we are bringing to storage. I am again cursing the fact that we live on the third floor with no elevator, and WHY do we insist on moving in AND out during the hottest month in Texas?! The whole time I am telling Bobby, “there is no way all of this is going to fit into our tiny storage unit!” while he keeps reassuring me it will. This is also when I realize that his non-stop sense of humor is just what I needed.

Can you tell who packed which box?!

Needless to say, everything fit. Easily. And that made one happy me.

READ MORE:   How to save money on FOOD + DRINK in Iceland
At the end of the day we decided to reward ourselves with a delicious frozen pizza. I know, we are classy. Obviously we had nothing left for dishes or silverware at this point, so this is what our last night in the apartment looked like:
Yes we cut our pizza with plastic knives and yes we drank wine out of a coffee cup.

When we couldn’t think thoughts anymore, we decided to leave the rest of the to-do list for the morning. Four hours should be enough time for last minute stuff, right?

WRONG.

Remember when I was telling you how my husband’s brain works? Well, I naturally had everything planned out ahead of time including what to pack in which bags, and then was going to spend the rest of the time on things like emptying out the refrigerator and bring everything down to the dumpster. Basic move out stuff.
Bobby realizes at the last minute that he has too much to squeeze into his suitcases and will be way over the weight limit. His solution is to start throwing away clothes and shoes. I tell him this is why I bought a luggage scale and why it would have been wise to pack ahead of time. We decide that it is best to check another bag at the airport, but obviously we do not have any more bags.

All hell breaks loose.

I start sprinting up and down the stairs in the wonderful Texas August super humidity and start loading up the vehicle.
We drive maximum speed to Target and I run in and get the lightest bag I can find. Next we are sprawled out in the middle of the Target parking lot rearranging suitcases and frantically re-weighing each one. At one point, Bobby yelled out, “how can this one be 65 pounds, is there a shot put hidden somewhere in here?!” And I try to hide my laugh as I realize this is honestly the worst case scenario. Once we decide that we would rather pay overage prices for the bags rather than miss our flight, we head the airport.

I’d say we did pretty well!

After checking in all of our bags, the lady at the counter advised us to head right to the gate because the plane was early. Not having eaten a single calorie yet and also realizing that I had somehow survived the morning without caffeine, we couldn’t pass up the stop for breakfast tacos. We sit down to eat and I couldn’t be happier to have a coffee in my hand, when we hear our names being announced for final boarding call.  Running through the terminal with a taco in one hand and hot coffee spilling all over my other hand, we arrive at the gate with plenty of disapproving looks from the flight attendant.

I ate my well deserved breakfast taco and fell asleep until the pilot announced we would be landing shortly.

Now, thinking that we had endured enough drama to last a while, we were hoping for a smooth layover in JFK. We had four hours which seemed like more than enough time to pick up our carry-ons (which had to be checked at the gate, because they wouldn’t fit in the overhead bins, because we were the last people on the plane), check-in with IcelandAir, go through security again, eat dinner, and wait to board the plane.

Welllll JetBlue decided to lose our carry-ons. We waited for an hour for the luggage to drop, and then realized that there was a long line of people waiting in the baggage services office. We waited an hour to file a report for missing baggage. (The most frustrating part being that normally when you check a carry on at the gate they have you pick it up on the jet bridge!) I think we were both at the end of our rope. I mean I can understand our 7 suitcases being delayed to Iceland, I half expected it! But to have the carry-ons missing was not ok. That is the stuff you pack for a couple of days IN CASE your luggage gets lost!!

Now with the hour and a half we have left of our four hour layover and no carry on, we decide we should buy toothpaste and other essentials so we don’t look like homeless people when our new boss picks us up at the airport. Literally as we are standing in the check out line, we get a call from baggage services saying they found our carry ons but we would have to come BACK to baggage claim AND go through security AGAIN to get them. Bobby takes off in a full sprint hoping he will make it back in time to catch our flight.

(Meanwhile I sneak in a quick FaceTime with the fam 🙂

Bobby makes it back literally right as they start boarding. We get to our seats and remember why IcelandAir is the best airline ever:
We are exhausted, but excited…next stop, our NEW HOME!!!
Again, I don’t wake up until the pilot announces it’s time to land 🙂

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  • Michelle Zhang
    November 15, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Hi Jeannie, I plan to go to Iceland next January, I read through your blog, it’s so good, I got A LOT OF useful information. Thank you for sharing them!

    I plan to go to the ice cave, do you have any suggestions? It’s a full day trip, we have 8 adults from a place where snows are rare to be seen, hah hah~~~~

    Thank you very much and wish you a nice day!

    • Jeannie
      November 30, 2016 at 8:06 am

      Hi Michelle, I’m so glad I could help with your Iceland planning! There are a couple companies that run ice cave tours but the most common is Guide to Iceland.

      Have a great trip!

  • Acacia Smith
    July 29, 2016 at 1:07 am

    Hey! I am so inspired by your blog!, I am a single 20 year old, who has a desperate need to see the world, and a little obsession with Iceland. The dream would be to move to iceland.
    Would it be doable for me to move to iceland? Or should I just wait for another opportunity?
    thank you!

    • Jeannie
      August 5, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Hey Acacia! Thanks so much for saying hello, I’m glad I can be an inspiration! If it’s your dream then go for it girl! I know it’s tough to do, but if it’s really what you want then you should try 🙂

  • Kris
    January 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I love your posts! We are from Texas also and are planning our first trip to Iceland for our honeymoon in October. I’m already plotting how to move there…Lol. 🙂

    • Jeannie
      February 19, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks so much Kris! I hope you have an amazing time in Iceland, I have to say I think it´s the best place for a honeymoon 🙂

  • Stacie
    September 11, 2015 at 12:59 am

    I can’t believe you guys moved over there! That is so amazing!!! Good luck, can’t wait to read all about it!

    • Jeannie
      September 12, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Yes we couldn’t resist. Thanks for reading!

  • Michaela
    September 5, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    Miss you two already! So happy for you!!

    • Jeannie
      September 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Miss you too! Not too late to book a flight 😉

  • Corey
    September 5, 2015 at 4:20 am

    Jeannie-so glad you’ll keep us ask updated about your adventures in Iceland! Loved this blog entry-keep them coming. xxxooo

    • Jeannie
      September 12, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Thanks for the support Corey!

  • Britt
    September 4, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    I thoroughly enjoyed this! Keep em coming =)

    • Jeannie
      September 12, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Yay, glad you enjoyed it…thanks Britt!

  • Jessica Windish
    September 4, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    Can’t wait to read the next post!

    • Jeannie
      September 12, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Glad you found the blog! Thanks for reading!

  • Bailey Schreiber
    September 4, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    You are so brave. I am excited to continue reading and hearing how things are over there.

    • Jeannie
      September 5, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks Bailey! Glad you like the page, more posts coming soon 🙂

  • Kyna
    September 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I can’t wait to live vicariously through you two! Are you doing chiropractic/physical therapy over there or something else?

    • Jeannie
      September 5, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      Yes we are working as chiropractors in the same clinic! You would be in photo-heaven in this country 🙂