Our Residency Saga

When Jarred and I first moved we naively assumed we’d jump through all necessary hoops to achieve legal residency within a relatively short period of time. Based on our previous experience even a “slow” day at the tag agency back home would not monopolize more than one afternoon. Let it also be stated that one can renew a driver’s license AND obtain a license plate all within the walls of one glorious, privately owned tag agency in Oklahoma (or online). I say all of this to paint the picture of our complete ignorance of what shenanigans awaited us in Washington.




Our first weekend living in Seattle we attended a Sounders game with Hannah and some of her friends. During the course of our conversations the topic of driver’s licenses and license plates entered the discussion. Jarred and I were somewhat shocked when we learned that several members of the group were still using licenses and/or tags from their home states. Not to be judgmental, but clearly WE were not going to be those people still sporting Oklahoma credentials months after relocating – or so we thought.


On August 25th, exactly two weeks after moving in, we began our quest to legitimize our Seattle residency. After realizing that there would be no one-stop shop our first mission was securing driver’s licenses. The destination of this endeavor would be the Washington State Department of Licensing. According to one Google review – snacks, water and comfy shoes were advised; not the most encouraging sign.




Jarred and I did our homework and filled out all required paperwork in advance with the hopes of speeding up the process. We decided to live life on the edge and not pack survival kits, but we did stop for coffee along the way – which is equally as crucial. We arrived approximately two minutes after their doors opened and were rewarded with the 194th and 195th place in line. #winning



The process involved a significant amount of waiting as well as traveling between several different counters to provide documentation, sign our signatures, be photographed and answer questions. The woman working my last stop, who’s grandmother happened to live in Oklahoma City, caught me off guard when inquiring about my eyesight. She had asked if I had any vision impairments that would hinder my ability to drive, to which I responded that I did not. She peered over her perch and sternly replied, “well honey, I believe you, but my state doesn’t.”


At that point during the interrogation I was nervous that my driving escapades in Colorado had some how caught up to me, but I soon realized that Washington requires everyone to take an eye exam. Once all requirements were successfully met they punched a hole in our Oklahoma licenses, printed off temporary paperwork and informed us that our new licenses would be arriving via mail in 7-10 business days. After all our time and preparation to complete our first mission, we essentially walked away empty handed.




The next mission at hand was getting a license plate for Jarred’s 4Runner, however we learned that as a prerequisite your vehicle must first complete an emission inspection. It appeared as if Washington was not extending any favors in order to make this process simple or swift. On the morning of September 20th we ventured south to the nearest State Emission Inspection Station (which resembles a giant carwash) to cross this item off our list. We learned from our previous mistakes and arrived at this location seven minutes prior to their opening time. Our punctuality was not in vain as we earned bronze in the lineup.



Jbabe and I were excited at the prospect of completing this particular errand quickly; we didn’t realize until our turn just how rapidly this task could have been accomplished {read: avoided}. We were soon enlightened that because Jarred’s vehicle was a model newer than 2009 it didn’t even require an emission inspection. As we drove away empty handed for the second time, we realized that we were by no stretch of the imagination “achieving legal residency within a relatively short period of time.” Jokes on us.



By the third week of October initiating the process of getting license plates was long overdue. After perusing the DMV’s website we were instructed to “call our local office” for specifics. Originally I attempted to master this task solo, but after five unsuccessful minutes I had to bring Jarred in as reinforcement. I am not exaggerating when I say, the option of purely getting Washington tags was nowhere to be found on their prerecorded menu. Jarred and I spent no less than ten minutes listening to every irrelevant choice  available on speakerphone and then selecting each alternative in hopes of circumventing the menu to magically meet our needs. Long story short, we decided the tags could wait for another day.


In January we had extended our saga into a new calendar year and missed the 30-day window Washington allows new residents to change their tags by just a smidge. We jumped in the car with all needed paperwork and headed to a tag agency in Ballard to remedy this once and for all on January 6th  – or so we thought. It may have required two trips to the tag agency that day, but that’s neither here nor there; at the end of the day the 4Runner had two valid Washington plates. Mission finally freaken’ accomplished.




We’ve learned a couple lessons through our journey of changing our personal and vehicular identifications – 1) We will absolutely never again judge someone for continuing to use their license and/or tags from their home state. 2) The struggle is real and the process was not that easy. {And just for clarification in case you were wondering after reading this post – Jarred and I both have college degrees. It was difficult, people!} 3) God bless Oklahoma and it’s simplicity.

One thought on “Our Residency Saga

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s