It’s Official: We’re Finally Moving!


It’s official!  After years of hunting, and looking for a wonderful place to finish raising our family, we’ve finally decided to move!  I mentioned our upcoming move in my recent post “What have I been Up To (Winter 2022 edition)”, but I didn’t go into a whole lot of details about the move.

Why?  Well, I didn’t have a lot of the details completely nailed down at the time.

Well, this is the post with all the details!  Finally!  Decisions have been made, reservations booked, moving companies have been selected, and real estate agents are armed and ready to earn commissions!  It’s all locked and loaded now!

So let’s begin this post with the burning question on everyone’s mind…

 

Where Are We Moving?

Long-time readers of the blog know we’ve been looking for a new home for years!  It’s a surprisingly tough decision to make when the move isn’t driven by a job change!

Every year (other than pandemic years) when the kids got out of school for summer, we’d travel and look at different cities.  We looked at college towns in the Pacific Northwest.  We drove down and checked out Eugene Oregon, Vancouver Washington, and Boise Idaho.  Last year, we checked out Arizona.  On another trip, the family flew to Texas and had a good look at Dallas, Austin, and Houston.  We also looked internationally at various cities in Japan too.

walla walla downtown 2
College towns like Walla Walla, WA were frequent candidates for places we might move.

We looked at a ton of great cities over the years!  Many are fantastic places, but nowhere was perfect…. Which made our rather long list of “move criteria” hard to meet:

  • It must be more affordable than our current city.
  • Warmer and dryer weather (preferably both).
  • Plenty of ethnic diversity, and local culture.
  • Have a high quality local library.
  • Plenty of good quality grocery stores, including a local asian grocery store.
  • Lots of things to do outside for families (hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, nice parks, pools, etc.)
  • Walking / Bike friendliness (sidewalks, bike lanes, etc.)
  • Parking availability/cost.
  • Reasonable healthcare costs and good healthcare facilities.
  • Reasonably safe.
  • Decent schools, and higher education options (preferably a college town).

That’s a long list isn’t it?  And what magical place finally met most of our criteria?  Believe it or not, we selected a small city just outside of Tucson, Arizona.

tucson, az
Tucson, AZ — A desert city, that at first glance doesn’t seem to have much to get excited about.

Why Would You Move To Arizona?

I know what your thinking — Why the hell would you move to Arizona?  It’s hot as hell!  There’s no water!  Climate change is going to make it totally unlivable!  It’s the bloody desert.  Nothing is green!  There’s tons of snakes and scorpions, and all kinds of venomous creatures!

And you’d be right.  Arizona has all of those problems, and more.  It’s definitely not for everyone… so please don’t move there!  Stay as far away as possible.  OK?

One important lesson we learned during our search, is that no place is perfect.  You have to learn to live with and accept the ‘ugly’ bits wherever you move.  Most big cities have problems, and the Tucson area is no exception.  It’s all a series of tradeoffs, and the calculus to determine if it’s better for you, is going to be a very unique and personal equation.

For example: Some people think living in the desert is terrible, but we’re actually looking forward to it!

We spent two weeks in the area last summer (which I wrote about in the Arizona Trip Report post), and had a very nice time.  We found a small city (not far from Tucson) that we liked, and decided we could live with the problems.

Our new city is just good enough that we think we’ll be happy there, and just shitty enough to keep swarms of people from moving there.  It’s a balance that’s surprisingly hard to strike.

tucson mountains
The desert certainly isn’t for everyone, but for those willing to overlook the imperfections, it certainly has its charms.

With that being said, there were several other cities that ranked very high on our list — Austin, Texas (for example) was a very close second.  It’s a great town, that grew WAY TOO FAST for our liking, and turned into a very busy city in the span of just a couple of years.  It’s a great city, but many other people discovered this.  It’s now swarming with people!

We almost moved to Hiroshima, Japan too.  Mrs. Tako had a very good job offer (with an American company) in Hiroshima that we decided to turn down.

Why?  Ultimately we wanted a more relaxed place to live.  Japan is NOT a relaxed place to live.  It’s a nice place for tourists, but living there is an entirely different story.  We wanted a place where we could de-stress our life.  A place where things just seem to move a little slower.

hiroshima
Hiroshima is a great place for tourists, but it’s a bustling big city, and not a laid-back place to live.

We think we’ve found that in our new city — A laid-back town, with just enough going on to keep us happy.  And, when the need suits us, we can drive into Tucson, or Phoenix, and take part in all those big city activities if we so desire.

 

How Are We Moving?

Unfortunately, moving is a very expensive activity.  To make matters worse, we don’t have an address yet, which means all of our household goods will need to go into storage until we actually have a place to ship it.

While we hunt for a place to live, we’re going to be living out of hotels and airbnb’s.

As part of the process of deciding how to move, I got estimates from all the major ‘van line’ movers (United, Allied, Atlas, etc.).  As well as a few local movers.  Most full service movers provided estimates in the $11,000 – $16,000 range, which is a super expensive way to move.

Ultimately we decided to go with one of those “container” type movers — The kind where they park a container in your driveway and then you fill it.  We decided on Uhaul’s U-box service.

u-box

I’ve never used one of these pod services before, but they ended-up being significantly cheaper per pound (even when including the cost of additional labor).

During my search, I received lots of recommendations on Twitter for U-Pack containers, but unfortunately the dimensions of those containers just wouldn’t work for us.  Otherwise they seemed like a very affordable option.

All combined, I expect our move is going to cost around $6,000.  (Assuming we’re able to find a place to live in less than a month.)  The longer it takes us to find a place to live, the more the storage costs increase.

 

 

Are We Selling Our House?

Yes!  Once we’ve vacated our house, the plan is to put our house on the market for sale.  With any luck, it will sell quickly and free-up the necessary capital to buy another home.  This totally depends upon the state of the real estate market and the price we can sell our house for.

This is why I’ve been working so hard to fix-up the house these last few months (and blogging a lot less often).  We need every penny we can get!  The price of real estate may have boomed in the last year or two, but there are a TON of fees that subtract from the selling price:

  • Real Estate agent fees (both the buying and selling agent)
  • Escrow and closing cost fees
  • Washington Excise Tax
  • Document and Recording fees
  • Mortgage payoff (around $250k)

All combined, the fees and the mortgage pay-off will subtract around $350,000 from the selling price.  Then, we are also “lucky” enough to get hit with capital gains taxes, since our capital gain is (probably) going to exceed the $500,000 tax exclusion.  Ugh!

This won’t make buying a new home easy in today’s market.  I can say with complete honesty that I’m more than a little worried about about our house sale!

 

Why Move Now?

The ‘why now’ part of our move is actually the hardest to explain.  A number of different factors just came together all at once… and the biggest elephant in the room is Covid-19.

Not only did Covid-19 cause the world to change rather quickly (allowing for remote work to be a real option), but Seattle’s real estate market went completely nuts as people started looking for houses in the suburbs, instead of trendy urban apartments.

In about one year, the price of a single family home rose by 50%.  This really hurt housing affordability here in Washington, and became a tailwind at our backs — pushing us to find a new city.  Real estate taxes are no joke!

Even though Arizona has also seen incredible price increases during this time, the relative affordability compared to Seattle is still quite good.  Couple that with a $8,500 incentive benefit package from our new city (discussed in this post), and the decision became a pretty easy one to make.

As far as employment goes — For the time being, Mrs. Tako wants to keep working remotely (she’s been working from home for the past two years) and her employer is OK with it too.  On my side, I’m going to be primarily taking care of the kids and investing our capital (just like I do today), which I can literally do from anywhere with an internet connection.  So really, not a whole lot is changing on that front — just our zip code!

Making the decision to move is never easy,  In our case a whole bunch of stars simply aligned all at once, and we decided to pull the trigger!

 

Final Thoughts

As with anything that gets posted to the internet, there’s always plenty of ‘debate’ about what’s the right or wrong decision.  I’m sure this post will get plenty of detractors that tell me Arizona is a “terrible place” to live, and frankly those folks could be right.

We’ve only spent a couple of weeks in our new city, and it’s possible we’re making a HUGE mistake.  Mistakes do happen.  You can plan, and save, and study, and still make mistakes.  That’s life.  Not everything can be worked out in a spreadsheet!  Sometimes you just have to go to a place and live there for awhile.

Maybe we’re making a mistake, but I hope not.  Mrs. Tako and I have literally spent years studying, traveling, and debating this move.  Now finally seemed like the right time, and we finally found a “good enough” city.

Now, if you’ll excuse me… I need to get back to packing!

 

[Image Credit:  Flickr1, Flickr2, Flickr3, Uhaul]

38 thoughts on “It’s Official: We’re Finally Moving!

  • May 6, 2022 at 4:45 AM
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    “just shitty enough to keep swarms of people from moving there”

    Haha, love it! Congratulations dude, sounds like great move. As an outdoor sports guy and a lover of all things nature I love the desert. Having grown up and lived in the east my whole life, the stark contrast it gives from the hyper-green east is amazing. I’m not sure I’d want to live in a lower elevation desert though because of the extremely hot summers, but I have considered Flagstaff a great option. Since it sits at almost 7,000 feet it has cold winters and the summers aren’t nearly as brutal as Phoenix or Tucson. And even though I love winter sports if you get sick of the cold for a while in mid winter you can just drive 3 or 4 hours and be in Phoenix enjoying warmer temps. Needless to say Flagstaff is on my retirement list.

    Congrats again and looking forward to seeing ho your new location treats you!

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:48 PM
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      Yep, elevation can make a huge difference in AZ. I remember driving on a 105F degree day last summer to the top of Mt. Lemon, and it was a mere 71 degrees at the top.

      I’m surprised Tucson isn’t on your radar already Dave! It’s a very bike friendly place, there’s also mountains (with regular snow in the winters), and lots of hiking and rock climbing.

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      • May 7, 2022 at 2:51 AM
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        It’s not off the list, but I’d have to be at a higher elevation outside of Tucson. I’ve been to Tucson City a couple of times and even in the fall it was screaming hot, a bit too much for my taste. But yes, areas around it are gorgeous!

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  • May 6, 2022 at 5:41 AM
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    How do you think about moving vs leaving in regards to friends and family?
    Will you miss friends in the old place and need to find new ones?

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:43 PM
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      Yes, we will indeed need to make new friends, but there’s nothing that says we can’t keep the old ones! We’ll just see them a little less often!

      Reply
  • May 6, 2022 at 7:02 AM
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    Wow, you really considered everywhere – I didn’t know international places like Japan were on the radar!

    Congrats on finding your spot – that’s really exciting! I agree that there’s no perfect place. The best you can do is find a place that meets 80% of what you’re looking for and adapt the best you can to the parts that aren’t your favorite.

    Sounds like it’ll be great (minus the headaches of the house selling). I hope you love it there!
    Jim @ Route to Retire recently posted…The Fascinating Reason We’re Traveling Over 500 Miles To Buy All Our Furniture

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:43 PM
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      Thanks Jim! If you ever make it out West again, swing by to say hello!

      Reply
  • May 6, 2022 at 9:19 AM
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    Tako! I give you plus one (1) internet points for a good post. But I take it back due to lack of pictures of delicious and inexpensive food which I’ve come to DEMAND from you. You break even here.

    A little bummed that Houston did not make the cut. I’d love to have a beer with you sometime. I wouldn’t worry about the heat. The headline temperature will be higher than Houston but the Heat Index (including humidity) will be much better, plus the wind blows in Tucson. You may in fact, find it TOO dry and need a humidifier running 24/7 for the first year, lest you get frequent nosebleeds (tip: don’t run a fan at night).

    Might consider one of the no money down, just buy the power from us (and sell surplus to the grid) options for solar power in your new sunny location. The panels will shade and protect the roof as a cooling bonus. I passed because it would have meant removing some beautiful fully mature trees that keep the house cool in summer. You likely won’t have 30 foot tall oaks in your backyard in Tucson area!

    Also, I am human or cephalopod.

    Reply
  • May 6, 2022 at 10:04 AM
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    Very cool, best of luck with the move!

    We have been eye-balling that area for the last couple of years. We have focused on the Benson area (Benson, St. David, Huachuca, etc.) but have considered Vail and Sahuarita as well but we prefer to be outside of Pima county. Cochise County offers more flexibility and I believe fewer taxes and fees. During our RVing adventures over the last four-plus years this area floated to the top as a place we could live. We have lived there for many months during that time, and the Fall, Winter, and Spring seasons have proven very liveable. Feel free to reach out with any questions we might be able to answer about the area.

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  • May 6, 2022 at 10:24 AM
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    Congrats! I’m in Phoenix and overall AZ isn’t a bad place to be all in all. Moving sounds exciting and painful at the same time. Happy trails!

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:40 PM
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      Thanks Dan M. We’re pretty excited about the move!

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  • May 6, 2022 at 11:39 AM
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    We have so many overlaps in our situation! We are also moving out of the Northwest because of the high home prices and the dreary, rainy weather and moving to the SW.

    We originally had Tucson on our short list to relocate to, but we have a dog who requires an hour long walk every day, and she would be miserable in the summers, so New Mexico is where we decided. Lots of sunshine, but the summers aren’t as brutal.

    And yes, our family is quite concerned that we’ll be in danger due to climate change–fires and no water. Is it a worry, but not enough for us to give up the quest for sunshine and more affordable housing.

    Reply
    • May 6, 2022 at 6:40 PM
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      The way I view it, no place is going to be unaffected by climate change. Major changes will need to happen in most states/countries. Wildfires are even a big issue here even in the PNW.

      I don’t think there’s any escaping it.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2022 at 12:23 PM
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    Congrats on the move. You really looked everywhere and I totally did not expect you to move to Arizona. I’ve to agree with what you said about Japan. Seems too busy for us to.

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:36 PM
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      Thanks Tawcan! It’s nice to visit family in Japan, but they lead such stressful lives. Not something I really want for my retirement years.

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  • May 6, 2022 at 1:14 PM
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    My dad lives in Oro Valley(just north of Tucson), and my wife and I think it’s fantastic. I don’t think you can move anywhere in the continental US that you’re not going to have a few months of weather yuck.

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:35 PM
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      Yup, and the ‘yuck’ weather in Arizona roughly coincides with the kid’s school summer break, so we’ll likely be traveling during some of the hottest months.

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      • May 6, 2022 at 9:49 PM
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        Smart. I think June is the worst month here but it’s wonderful starting in October. We’ve had some swarms of Calis lately but not as much as Phoenix. Welcome to the Tucson Metro area!

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  • May 6, 2022 at 3:14 PM
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    Congrats on the move, and good luck. I’m sure you’ll do well no matter where you moved.

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  • May 6, 2022 at 3:15 PM
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    Congratulations, I think it’s a good choice. Better to try than to do nothing at all. There’s no failure in that. I moved from Long Beach California to Portland Oregon to help my husbands aging parents, the weather has been rough for me so I understand wanting to be in better weather and more diverse culture.

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    • May 6, 2022 at 6:33 PM
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      Thanks! Portland is slightly nicer than Seattle (weather wise), but compared to Long Beach that’s probably rough.

      Reply
  • May 7, 2022 at 8:20 AM
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    Congrats! I love Tucson and Arizona. Before Covid, I went to Arizona for the Christmas holidays every year and absolutely loved it. Laid back vibe and nice people and so much nature to explore. Good luck with the move!

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  • May 7, 2022 at 11:40 AM
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    Man! I’m going to miss you already! I am hoping we cross paths before you leave the Seattle area – I’m close by… issaquah, factoria, renton, kent….

    enjoy the awesome adventure!

    Steve (NWOutlier)

    Reply
  • May 7, 2022 at 3:27 PM
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    Congrats and safe moving….

    Sorry for the out-of-the-topic question…What company do you host your website and Domain Name Registration? I just received a renewal astonishingly high price for the company I am with.

    Reply
  • May 8, 2022 at 4:30 AM
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    Congratulations on your move. Tucson is supposed to have great weather 8 months out of the year. I can’t deal with living in the desert after living in the UAE for 18 months. The dry weather causes bloody noses and dry skin and I can’t stand the dust storms. The sun is harsh on the eyes and you need to stay in the shade with sunglasses to keep your vision from developing cataracts prematurely.

    Let us know how the move feels, I’m sure having more clearer days will feel great after living in the PNW.

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  • May 9, 2022 at 7:40 AM
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    Congratulations! I think it’s the right decision to avoid Japan. The work culture there seems crazy. I’m not a huge fan of the desert, but it can be neat. Mrs. RB40’s hometown is in the CA desert. We’re heading there to visit next month.
    Good luck with the house sale. I don’t think you’ll have a big problem. It’ll probably be more difficult finding the right place in AZ.

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  • May 10, 2022 at 6:22 PM
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    Congrats on the move! I think I missed why you guys are relocating? Isn’t it tough on the kids?

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  • May 14, 2022 at 1:08 PM
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    Wife and I travelled through Tucson while we were living in a van. It’s a definitely pretty cool city but I do agree with “just shitty enough to keep swarms of people from moving there” lol. We did like Flagstaff area but definitely different vibe.

    We’ll be moving from the PNW back to the east coast next year. Housing in western Washington was already expensive prior to the pandemic, and now we are priced out. Will look into U Pack as we don’t have as much stuff as you.

    Enjoyed the read.

    Reply
  • May 15, 2022 at 7:56 AM
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    Cool! We liked our (very brief) time in AZ this past summer. And as we were passing through various large and small towns, I always did the “would I want to live here?” test. Seems like the smaller towns and non-brand name cities were the places we liked better. No LA or Las Vegas or Denver for me, thank you very much!

    And I love your checklist of criteria for places you’d want to live. I think our priorities are pretty much the same. Where we live in Raleigh checks all those boxes for the most part (except the humidity is probably a bit much 2 months per year).

    Reply
  • May 15, 2022 at 8:50 AM
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    Congrats!! Sounds well thought out. The bonus of staying local while you look is a bit more time to be sure. When I moved I was in an extended stay until I picked an apartment. It helped to not need to visit for a weekend and make a snap decision. I got to check out the areas on town and rule them in or out. Wishing you all the best for a smooth transition.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2022 at 1:11 AM
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    I’m in the same boat, preparing to sell and move to another town. Determining which town to move to and type of housing has been my challenge.

    I expect I will also end up with my stuff in storage while I hunt for a place that suits me. Big complications for me are two cats and three horses. I’m in the process of selling off excess equipment, vehicles, and trailers. Closing out a farm isn’t for the faint of heart.

    Reply
  • May 16, 2022 at 7:57 PM
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    We share a lot of common ground in your post here, Mr. Tako!

    Like you, we have been searching for a home for the last several years.

    Covid derailed the effort and grounded our nomadic ways for 18 months, but since last November we have been back roaming the West. This coming winter we’ll head to the SE.

    Before Covid our travels took us to Tucson. We have a nephew there and he loves it.

    Great criteria list — we should be more thorough ourselves. We also take your point that, despite all the analysis and searching, until you live there you never know. Sometimes it seems all the effort just proves your point: No place is perfect.

    BTW, you dodged a bullet avoiding full-service movers. Not only are they stupid expensive, they are hard on your stuff and our last one slapped on a bogus extra 2k grand refusing to deliver until we paid. Turns out this is common practice.

    I swore I would never move stuff again, and for the most part we won’t. But there are always things of sentimental value. Thanks for sharing the pod idea. That sounds perfect for the limited things we’d take.

    Good luck with the process and enjoy your new home/adventure!
    JL Collins recently posted…The Dinky Diner

    Reply
  • May 21, 2022 at 9:44 AM
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    Be really selective about what you move. Different house, different climate, you’ll find much of what you own you’ll no longer need and want. Next time I move I think the whole house contents will be sold/given away and I’ll just keep some personal belongings. Imagine being able to start with a clean slate again.

    Reply

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