Thursday, May 13, 2010

Moving Tips

Seems like a lot of people are getting ready to move soon. I am currently preparing for my 24th move in 18 years. As you might imagine, I have some tips.

These tips are not unique by any means, they are just things I have learned the hard way, from experience. I'm sure there are loads of websites with information on how to move. My favorite happens to be Fly Lady's moving tips. She has great advice on prepping your house to sell, and packing tips, among other ideas.

Here's my advice:

1) Start early.

This almost goes without saying but it's so important it's worth saying anyway. Start your preparations as early as you can stand to, the sooner the better. Last-minute moving frenzy is not pretty. I have thrown away some very important things (including my birth certificate) in last-minute frenzies.

2) Make lists, in advance, and schedule your time.

Start writing your lists weeks or even months before you'll need them, so that you can add to them over time as you think of things.

For example, our pack-out situation is complicated: we'll carry our most important things, like papers, with us in our carry-on bags; other things we'll need right away will come with us in our luggage; stuff we'll need soon but not immediately will come in our air freight shipment a couple of weeks after we move; and the rest of our belongings will arrive a couple of months later. So I have lists of what we'll need and when, and where to pack it.

You should make a list of everything you need to change your address with: magazine subscriptions, insurance companies, doctors and dentist offices, utilities for final bills. I'm always astounded at how long my "change address with" list is.

Make lists of packing materials you'll need, and schedule time to go buy them.

Make lists of items to sell or get rid of before you move, then schedule time to have a garage sale or take things to charity.

Schedule time to pack up! You can start packing seldom-used items immediately, to save you time right before you move. If you can do a little packing every day, or block out time on weekends, you'll be able to pack much more effectively.

Your life is already very busy, so you'll need to carve out the time for all of these preparations. Be sure to schedule it in your planner and stick to your schedule so you don't get behind. (See aforementioned last-minute moving frenzy.)

3) Consolidate.

The last time we moved, our kids were both toddlers which meant we were already out of our minds on a daily basis. Luckily for us we had movers come in and pack everything up for us. But when we arrived in our new place and started unpacking the boxes, we discovered they were all a total mess. Each box contained a seemingly random mixture of books, toys, clothes, kids' art supplies, framed photos, you get the idea. This was not the movers' fault at all--they just packed things up like they were supposed to. It was my fault for not organizing things in the first place.

This time, I'm consolidating. Kids' stuff will be gathered up from all over the house into their room, so that all of their stuff is together. Art supplies will go into their own separate boxes. Only books will go into Books boxes. Framed photos will be carefully wrapped and packed in a box together. Clothes will be packed separately in boxes and not mixed in with my bags, shoes, linens and everything else in my closet.

This will make it infinitely easier to unpack and put everything away in our new place.

4) Don't get rid of anything you'll just have to buy again when you get there.

Some people go overboard in the pre-move getting-rid-of. Yes, you should jettison anything you no longer use. But unless you really can no longer stand your couch/ TV/ dishes/ blankets/ whatever, don't chuck it because it will most likely cost a lot more to replace than to move it.

Another thing to think about: just because you haven't used something in a long time doesn't mean you won't need it where you're going. For example, while we've lived here, we haven't used our down comforter at all. But where we're going, we'll need it so I'm definitely not getting rid of it.

Exceptions: cleaning supplies or any other chemicals. You really don't want those leaking during the move or all your carefully-packed belongings will be ruined. Also, pitch your mop and broom, you're probably due for new ones anyway. And for Pete's sake, don't move your toilet brush! You don't want a toilet germ infestation. Just cough up the cash for a new one.

5) Think about what you'll need immediately in your new place.

Fly Lady has a great list of materials you'll need for moving in to your new place. Often I'm so focused on the move-out I forget about what I need for the move-in.

Remember you'll be walking into a totally empty house or apartment. The first thing you'll want to do is clean it. After all, that's somebody else's germs in there. So you'll need cleaning supplies, and and provisions to sustain you while you clean: Lunch. Drinks. Toilet paper. Music.

Once the previous residents' dirt and germs are expelled, your stuff can come in. You'll need scissors or box cutters for opening boxes, so bring those with you (don't pack them in one of your many boxes!!).

If at all possible, get all your furniture inside and set up before you bring in any boxes, so that you have drawers and shelves to put your stuff in/ on.

Before you arrive in your new place, make sure the electricity and water will be on! You don't want to be moving in without lights or flushing toilets.

So there's some things that I've learned about moving. What have I missed? Do you have any moving tips or advice?


  1. Laurie, thank you for posting this! Alas, I moved...YESTERDAY : )

    Then again, I seem to prefer the hard way!

  2. Sorry I was too late for you!! I hope your move went well.

    So, now that your move is over with, does that mean we'll be seeing you around cyberspace more? I've missed you!

  3. When we moved into our house the previous owners left us a note asking to forward any stray mail and telling us when garbage day was along with a new, indivually wrapped roll of toilet paper. I can imagine the last item was because of some unfortunate experience.

  4. LOL "some unfortunate experience". That's hilarious! Timing is so important. Taking time to clean where you're leaving and where you're going can take just as long as packing sometimes. And by the time you've hauled your every single posession, you dint feel like cleaning. Painting and cleaning carpets or making small renovations is also a lot easier to do pre-move before you get all your stuff in there. Again, making sure you have time to do that before you have to move out of the old place is crucial!

  5. laurie, still finishing things up and awaiting my cable/phone/internet install at my new home so you will be seeing me around cyberspace more...but not until after the weekend!

    i'll tell ya...moving FIVE LARGE BINS worth of planner binders and refills is no fun. that stuff sure gets heavy when you put enough of it together in once place!

  6. YM, yes but at least you are organized and well-planned!!

    Winnie, LOL!!!

    Sis, those are great ideas. Especially to paint etc before you move into your new place, if possible. I've never lived anyplace I've been able to paint the walls!