Ok, maybe that was a lie – no move is ever 100% stress free – but I’ve gotten close! As many of you know, I’ve moved a ton… more than I care to admit, actually. In my 12 years of adulthood alone I’ve moved 10 times…10 times!!!! It almost makes me sick to think how “unsettled” I’ve been the last 12 years of my life but hopefully (I’m crossing everything I can cross) this last move (my 11th!) was my last for a very, very, very, long time! It’s comforting to know that this move was into a place that’s all OURS! It sorta takes the sting outta of having to pack and unpack one last time.
To say that I’ve acquired a few tips and tricks over the last
10 11 moves would be quite the understatement. I thought maybe I’d help a girl, or guy, out and share a few of the things I’ve learned along the way in case you’re preparing for your next move too.
Nothing like waiting the last minute to pack an entire house, am I right? No matter how much you try to convince yourself that “you don’t have that much to pack” or “it won’t take that long”, IT WILL. It’ll take more time, you’ll need more tape and boxes than you originally thought. Guaranteed.
As soon as you know you’re moving – start packing! Pack a few boxes each night. Pack up all the non-essential items and live with less in the weeks leading up to your move. Pull everything off the walls, patch the holes, trust me…you don’t need that ceramic antelope head hanging while you’re in this transitional phase of life! Your house will eventually feel like a barren wasteland but in the last few days at your old digs you’ll be so glad didn’t procrastinate instead of having to pull all-nighters packing to make up for lost time.
At 2 weeks away from move day we were living with no couch pillows, 3 towels, plastic plates, 2 cups and 5 rolls of TP. And guess what? The entire house was packed and we survived. The TP situation was a little precarious there for a minute but it all worked out!
Less is more
Moving is the BEST excuse to downsize your belongings. When we’re forced to physically set eyes and hands on every.single.thing. you’ll be surprise at how willing you are to part with items you probably wouldn’t have before. If you haven’t touched it, worn it, or even looked at it in quite some time, get rid of it! Set it aside to donate, sell, or just toss it. Now’s the time!
As soon as we started house hunting I began Craigslisting items I knew I didn’t want to take with me and the items I couldn’t Craigslist got set aside for a yard sale. If you sell it or donate it before you move, guess what?! You don’t have to move it! Plus you get a little cha-ching in your pocket too.
Pack like items with like items
In the early days of packing and moving I’d go room to room and pack up the room as a whole without a thought to what I was actually putting inside the box. I’d tape that bad boy up and write “Bedroom” or “Dining Room” on the outside and thought I was the most organized person ever. When we needed to find the sheets I’d have to open 8 boxes labeled “Bedroom” before I could find what I was looking for.
So I got smarter. Or so I thought! I started writing a laundry list of items on the outside of each box as a way to inventory the items inside. But let’s get real…when you’ve moved all day, it’s the end of the night, you’re exhausted, do you really want scroll through a laundry list of items on the outside of 80 boxes to find what you’re looking for? The answer is no.
I found the reverse to be true as well. In the following days after the big move when we’re unpacking boxes, I’d see words like “paper” or “misc” on the outside of the box and say to myself “oh hell no” and wouldn’t touch any box with certain words for days, weeks, sometimes even months (!), just to avoid having to deal with whatever lurked inside.
After a lot of trial and error I found that the best approach to packing and
unpacking is to pack like items with like items. But what does that mean?
For me it meant gathering all the sheets, towels, home decor glass, etc. I had scattered throughout the house in various closets, cupboards, cubby holes, and packing them all together in the same box. When I got to the new house, it allowed me to survey the entire group of items and make the appropriate storage choices going forward.
What I’ve learned over the years is that every home you move into has different storage offerings. Some homes offer more, while many offer less. Maybe in the new house you’re able to store all your towels together whereas in your previous home you had to store your towels in each individual bathroom. Packing like items together allows you to make those storage decisions in one glance. Had you packed your boxes by room, as most people do, you might end up touching your towel collection 2 or 3 different times because you’re pulling towels out of 2 or 3 different boxes. Make sense?
Pack a 1st night box
One of the most helpful things I started doing was packing a 1st night box. After a long day of moving, all you really want to do is relax and go to sleep. But getting to that point can be hard when you’ve got to go to the bathroom (where’s the TP?), you want to hop in the shower and clean off (what box is the shampoo in?), or just need to wash your dirty box moving hands (who has seen the hand soap?).
You can avoid the frustration and crankiness if you pack a box that contains all the essentials you might need on your 1st night in the new digs without floundering around to find what you need. I always pack:
- A set of freshly washed sheets for each bed
- A roll of TP for each bathroom
- A roll of paper towels
- Plates, cups, utensils (I always have a stash of paper products leftover from parties)
- Trash bags
- Aspirin / Tylenol
- Hand Soap
- Shampoo / Conditioner / Body Wash / Bar Soap
- Any important documents
- A Ziploc bag of dog/cat food for your furry friends – they’ll be hungry (and scared) too!
Let the pros handle it
Moving is already a huge expense and I never wanted to pay more than I had to. For me that meant leaning on friends and family to schlepp boxes instead of hiring a moving company to do all the heavy lifting. While my friends and family were always willing to lend a hand, often times it took several trips and an entire weekend to move from point A to point B. After much convincing from my better half, we hired movers the last time we moved and let me tell you – it’s 100% worth the money. What normally would take us an entire weekend took them about 4-6 hours. We too lent a hand to the professionals by carrying down boxes and loaded up our own vehicles with the more breakable items but these guys know what they were doing, our mattresses and furniture was shrink wrapped for protection, and they got us loaded and unloaded in record time. It saved us from having to inconvenience our peeps and it saved our backs (and theirs too). It’s a small price to pay and I would absolutely do it again in a heartbeat.
Something to Remember:
If you decide to hire a team of movers be aware that they’ll be walking in and out of your home a billion times. If you’re a renter and wish to keep your carpets as clean and intact as possible, or a new homeowner with freshly laid flooring, consider asking that one person stays inside with booties or without shoes to relay boxes and such items to the team outside. That way they’re not tracking dirt or debris inside.
This time around not only did we hire movers, we seriously considered hiring a cleaning service as well. Moving out of a rental requires you to return the unit in the condition in which you received it – read CLEAN. And if I’m being honest? I didn’t really want to waste my time and energy cleaning an apartment that my heart wasn’t invested in anymore. Not to mention the horrible experience we had with the leasing company to get our money back after cleaning the apartment ourselves.
My mom and I spent an entire day cleaning that place top to bottom. We even cleaned all the baseboards and trim in an effort to get our deposit back. A week later they invoiced us $250 for a cleaning fee. When I questioned them about it, they sent over pictures of a few dust bunnies on top of the fridge and what they said were hard water spots on a bathroom faucet. And I’m not even kidding. Unreal. I fought it and eventually got them to drop the fee but it was an unnecessary headache I didn’t want to repeat. At least this time around I’ll have a receipt to show that the apartment was cleaned – and it won’t to cost me $250 either.
Some times it’s best to leave these things to the pros and the few extra bucks are worth your sanity in the end.
Whether you want to be super detailed about it or just want to do a quick box count, it’s important to take stock of what you’re moving. It’s true – sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. If you do a quick count while the boxes are being loaded and another as they’re off loaded you can quickly see if you’re missing any boxes…hard to do when you’re taking several trips – all the more reason to hire a pro to do it in one! If you’ve come up a box or two short rack your brain and try to think about where it might be. Did you leave it on the porch as you were locking up? In the garage? It’s better to know what’s missing early on than after you’re moved and settled in but still can’t find the box with your coffee maker…
And speaking of losing items in transit – always carry with you any valuables or important documents you keep close by – jewelry, birth certificates, social security cards, money…etc. At the end of the day, the only one you want handling those items are you and your hunny.
Well guys…I think I’ve done enough rambling for today! Don’t you think?! I hope you find these tips helpful. I know any move can cause stress and anxiety – I would know – but it doesn’t have to! Are you preparing for a move too? Or if you’ve moved before, what are some helpful tips we should all keep in our back pocket? Chime in below!
Check back in next week for a little house update – things are moving along over here!