I have moved so many times in my life, and here are some things that I’ve learned over the years. Of course, this is applicable to our circumstances: moving from one nearby place to another, with the help of friends (no paid movers!). So take it with a grain of salt. (Oh, and check out lots of other helpful advice here!)
1) Don’t procrastinate packing. Mark all the boxes with what is inside. Try to pack rooms together – think about where they will go in the new house/apartment.
2) If you can, get the measurements of your new place and decide where all the furniture will go. This will help you with packing and on the day of the move. You can use a room planner for free at sites like this one.
3) While you’re packing is the best time to sort through your stuff and get rid of things you don’t need. When friends come to visit, let them pull out things they might want.
4) For fragile things, wrap them first in paper towels or toilet paper, and then with newspaper. The paper towel will keep the newsprint from rubbing off, and you won’t have to wash any clean dishes once you’re moved. A good place to find newspaper is a recycling bin.
5) A good thing to have on hand when packing is small baggies. I used them for anything that had multiple small pieces. It’s especially good for screws and nails for things you have to take apart.
6) If you are asking people to help you, make sure you are ready for them. If they are helping you pack, have plenty of boxes, packaging tape, scissors, markers, paper towels, and newspaper available for them. If they are helping you move, make sure all your stuff is in boxes and ready to go. Be respectful of their time. If you ask someone to help you and they seem less than eager to help, give them a way out. Moving is hard work, and it doesn’t make it any easier to have someone helping who doesn’t want to be there.
7) If you can, take a day or two off work around the move. You will appreciate the extra time to rest your muscles and get your house in order!
8) Finish off the food in your pantry and refrigerator/freezer right you have less to move. Also now is the time to throw away all that expired food!
9) Put together a bag of stuff that will be the first thing taken to the new place. It could include: toilet paper, soap, hand towel, dish soap, a sponge, paper towels, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes, etc. Also, get a pack of bottled water and put it in the fridge for those who are doing the tough part of moving.
10) Pack an overnight bag for your family with all the necessities you’ll need the day(s) of the move. We moved in 3 days, so I packed three outfits for each of us, plus our basic toiletries. I made sure the bag stayed with me. It was so nice, at the end of the day, to know I didn’t have to find my clothes or my toothbrush before collapsing into bed.
11) If you have pets, then now might be a good time to find a temporary home for them. The hustle and bustle of packing and moving can be traumatic for pets, and you might be too distracted to keep a good eye on them.
12) Think through where you want people for the most productivity. For example, when the downstairs was empty, I moved all the couches, etc. towards one wall, then brought everything down from upstairs. That way, when Paul and his brother were loading the car, they were able to easily see what still needed to go. Also, they didn’t have to go up and down the stairs, which saved them energy.
13) Hand trucks are worth their weight in gold. ‘Nuff said.
14) Keep a running list of places you need to contact for address changes. The post office will forward your mail (go here to change your address online), but it won’t forward anything sent out bulk rate. And don’t be fooled – bulk rate doesn’t necessarily mean junk mail. For example, my parents send their newsletters out that way. An email updating friends and family of your new address might be a good way to keep everyone in the loop.
I had a pretty horrible moving experience a year ago, and this past weekend was SO much better. I attribute my particular case to these things:
1) Last time, I wasn’t organized and ready to move. I asked too many people to help, and it was chaotic. This time, I only asked a couple of people, and I tried very hard to be ready before they arrived. Also, I had a plan of what exactly I wanted them to do, yet I tried to be flexible.
2) Last time, we moved in a day and this time we moved in 3 days. To be honest, I prefer the 3 days (but I wouldn’t do more). It was less pressure to get everything done and we were able to ask different people to help on different days. We moved all the boxes the first day, the small furniture the second day, and the big furniture the third day.
3) Last time, Paul was working the day we moved. That was horrible for me – I am bad at decisions and I rely on him a lot. This time, Paul took two days off work and he was able to help me direct everyone and make decisions as well. It wasn’t all on me. This could just be a personality thing, but it worked better for us.
What advice do you have to add to this?