Moving tips from a (non) expert
I’m currently plopped on the couch with my feet up, a glass of wine next to me and a show about polar bears on TV. Because I’m REALLY cool, obviously.
Don’t you just LOVE when I upload weird, random pictures of myself with PhotoBooth? Man, I’m a creeper.
You may notice (that is, if you can keep your eyes off that lovely giant litterbox) a bunch of boxes in the first picture. Well, those are there because…*drumroll* I’m moving. AGAIN.
This will be my third move within 12 months (I moved July of 2010 from Madison to Chicago, May of this year from an apartment with roommates from hell to a studio, and now I’m moving back in with a new roommate). I’m pretty excited to have more space again, but moving is still insanely stressful. You’d think that after doing it…oh I don’t know, 15 times I’d be better at it but alas, I am not!
A few things I’ve learned from the 14 billion moves I’ve made over the years:
- Always buy more boxes than you need; many places (like UHaul) will buy them back if you buy more than you need, but even if you have leftovers, it’s rarely a bad thing. More often than not, you won’t have too many — I promise.
- If you don’t want to shell out on a bunch of boxes, check the Craisglist “free” section — a lot of the time, people have zillions of leftovers and will give them to you for free!
- Dont’ use boxes that are “medium” or larger if you can help it; even though small boxes will fit less, they are MUCH easier to move.
- Hire movers. I know it’s expensive, and I know it’s scary, but seriously, just do it. It will change your life.
- On that note, don’t hire cheap movers off Craigslist. Just trust me on this one — don’t do it.
- Start packing two weeks before your move date, at a bare minimum. Time slips by quickly, especially if you have a full-time job. A good way to start is by packing up all but a few essential dish/kitchen items & silverware, and set aside just enough clothes for the next 2 weeks, then pack everything else. It can be annoying if you need something in those 2 weeks, but you can make it work.
- Make your last bigger grocery trip (pasta, pasta sauce, frozen stuff, etc) two weeks before moving at the latest, and make your last smaller grocery tip (milk, veggies/fruit, eggs, other perishables) 1.5-1 week before moving at the latest, and keep it small. Only buy what you need, and try to use up everything you can before moving — boxing up/transporting fresh food is a huge pain in the ass. Pack up any rarely used dry food/pantry items farther in advance (rice, extra oats, sugar, etc).
- Pack under-sink stuff in grocery bags and leave it under the sink until you move. (For example, I keep my Ziploc bags, aluminum foil, cleaning stuff, dish soap, etc. under the sink) You’ll probably use it enough not to pack it, but when it’s time to leave, you can just grab them and go, and they’ll be ready to use right away in the new house/apartment.
- Label the room where each box belongs, as well as a simple but detailed explanation of what’s in the box (not just “clothes” or “living room stuff” — try “couch pillows and blankets – living room” and “summer clothes – bedroom” instead). Sounds tedious, but you will be glad you did. Trust.
- Make a separate box (or boxes) for things you will need to use right away — for example, a box of the stuff you keep on your bedside table, a box of your toothpaste and everyday toiletries/makeup, and a box of the food things you use everyday (for me, this is oatmeal).
- As the countdown gets shorter, make a loose schedule of what things you need to do/pack on which day, so you can spread out the work and won’t get overwhelmed at a specific point. This helps a LOT, and it’s also a good way to help you remember to do important things like set aside all sets of keys (to return if you’re renting), change over bills/utilities, etc.
- Use this as a time to de-clutter your life. Never more than when I move do I realize just how much crap I have. While you’re packing, make a few piles, bins or boxes divided into things that you want to donate, things you want to throw away, and things you’re considering doing one or the other, but haven’t yet decided on yet. Moving into a new place is a new beginning, so it’s really nice to get there without all the extra junk to drag you down.