I’ve moved 26 times in my life, not counting college moves. I’ve moved while 8 months pregnant. I’ve moved while recovering from surgery. I’ve been kicked out, invited in, I’ve moved for heartbreak and for celebratory promotions. No matter how many times you do it, and under what circumstances, moving sucks.
After a major relocation in February, I could have gone without another move for at least a year, but we couldn’t justify the cost of rent when mortgage payments would be so much cheaper, so oops, we did it again! Six months later, we loaded up and moved 15 minutes away, from a third-floor apartment into a home of our own.
In our “big move” this year, one fragile item was broken and one piece of furniture was scraped up. In this recent, small-in-comparison move, several items were broken or damaged, and weeks later, a few things are still missing entirely! And, in case there was any doubt, moving with a zero-to-sixty toddler and no childcare blows.
With 2016 officially being The Year of Moving (and with a lifetime of moves under my belt), I’ve got a few tips to help make your move easier:
- Before you do anything, purge! Don’t even consider the packing and moving process until you’ve thoroughly gone through your home and gotten rid of what you don’t absolutely need. You will pay, in one way or another, to move every item in your home, so downsize! Be brutally honest with yourself, which is not to say you should foolishly get rid of smart investments only to have to buy them again, or that you aren’t allowed a single sentimental item. Have a garage sale (which will help cover the cost of your move), sell things online, donate items to charity or give belongings away (hand-me-downs, tools and garage items you won’t be needing if you’re moving into an apartment or going into a different climate). Take to social media to find out who needs or wants what, and then tell the recipients to come an get it! We took furniture that didn’t sell and delivered it to a single mom in need. In another instance, a teacher bought a few items from me for her son, and I ended up giving her a bunch of office supplies I no longer had use for. Trust me, there are plenty of people who need the stuff you aren’t even using more than you do, and in my experience, the karma is worth it!
- You’re only as good as your tools. I was taught to move using boxes fished out of dumpsters and to wrap breakable items in linens before transit. While I’m all for recycling and minimizing costs, often store-bought supplies will make the move more organized and unpacking easier. It’ll also increase your chances that everything arrives as it should. When you use all of your clothing as bubble wrap, you have to resort to opening every box before you can find that shirt you’ve been wanting to wear. When you use your comforter to wrap your furniture, don’t be angry when notice snags and stains. Use what you can, but buying moving blankets, giant rolls of shrink wrap, packing tape and a dispenser will be life savers. One item worth scavenging for: printer paper boxes from offices. Those things are perfectly sized, sturdy and have a lid. Bubble wrap is also key to protecting your breakables, but it’s surprisingly expensive, so start asking everyone you know to save the bubble wrap from packages they receive as soon as you know you’ll be moving.
- Make no wasted trips. When you make a short-distance move, likely there will be lots of back and forth trips. Regardless of how much time you have to get the job done, those back and forth trips will get old, so fill your vehicle to the brim each time.
- Enlist help (and make it worth their time). If you’re going the DIY route, ask everyone you know for help, especially with the heavy lifting. There are a few things to keep in mind so you aren’t taking advantage of their kindness, though. For one thing, either pay them to help or pay with food. You work up an appetite moving, so order plenty of food or take everyone out for drinks afterward. And be specific about what you need help with. Don’t make people give up their entire day and have no clue what they are in for. Do you need help packing up the kitchen? Tell them in advance. Do you only need help moving the heavy stuff? Make sure it’s all ready to go the moment they get there so there’s no standing around.
- Choose your own adventure: rent a truck, a storage container, or hire movers. As for long distance moves or moves that need to be loaded up in a single day, you have a few options. Renting a truck is obviously the way to go for a short move, but for longer moves, a PODS container is probably cheaper and easier (no gas, no driving it yourself, etc.). You pack your own boxes into the big ol’ container and send it on its way. It arrives at either a storage facility or our new place, and you do all of the unpacking at your own pace (Be advised: You need to pack it all the way to the top, leave no empty spaces, and be sure to bungee everything into place to prevent shifting). The price is based on how far it’s going and how long you need it. For our 1,300 mile journey, it was under $2,000. If you can afford to pay more than $5,000 to have movers come in, pack your junk and haul it off, go for it. You’ll pay slightly less to pack it yourself first, but they won’t insure boxes you’ve packed because they can’t guarantee you packed the stuff correctly in the first place. That’s understandable, but know that you’ll be majorly overcharged for the packing supplies if they do it. We’re talking $200 to pack a flat screen TV. You can, of course, pack some things yourself and leave some things to the movers.
- Finders keepers. Remember that anything you leave with the house after you’ve handed over the keys is no longer your property, and you could be fined if you leave a bunch of junk behind.
My family is hoping to be in our new place for at least the next two years, but looking back over our last four years together, we’ve learned that life brings lots of surprises, good and bad. No sense in sitting still.