Winston Churchill said ‘war is hell’ – I’d say moving is an alternate version of his darker hell – maybe heck, or an especially irritating purgatory. Total household upheaval, stress, chaos, complete disorganization – and that’s a good move. The bad ones cost you time, money, and major headaches when the moving truck suddenly cancels on you or you lose your antique china.
No matter which way you cut it, moving is a pain in the @ss.
Here are my top 5 Ps of moving for smoothing out the bumps in moving – focus on prepwork, and packing, and paying for pro materials and pro help, when needed – to reduce the PIA.
1. Purge. Purge early, and keep purging – start before you even KNOW you’re going to move, just at the point when you’re thinking of buying a new house or changing locations. Begin with an epic purge of the entire household – stuff too old, broken, whatever – get rid of it. Donate, resell, or trash it, just don’t keep it ‘just in case.’ Keep getting rid of things until the actual day of move because moving them or storing them will ultimately cost you money – even if you have ‘free’ help, there’s a cost to everyone’s time, and time is money.
My last move was started NINE MONTHS before our actual moving day (before I’d even started looking for a home), and I still found myself hauling around an extra set of snow tires for a vehicle I no longer own. The move before that was a very fast exit from a rental situation (Landlord gave us 60 days’ notice…) and almost EVERYTHING went into storage during the course of those sixty days. I didn’t have time to sort and purge, I had to pack and get the hell out.
So, if time is on your side, use it.
2. Pack early – you may as well, since you’re going through all your stuff anyway. All those family photos and out of season clothes? Pack them now, label them clearly, and you’ll thank yourself later.
My bonus strategy (as a veteran of SIX TOTAL HOUSEHOLD MOVES in ten years) is to pack a dedicated ‘UNPACK THIS FIRST’ box – contents include a couple rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic cutlery, garbage bags, cleaning supplies, light bulbs, box cutter, decent kitchen knife, scissors, an extra beer or wine bottle opener (you’ll thank me later) and maybe some non-perishable snacks (think bags of chips or box of granola bars). Instant coffee, tea bags, a couple mugs, and a spare kettle are nice to have — think about all the stuff you need to get an empty house up and running. I usually pack this box BEFORE I even start packing anything else.
Moving is hard enough; I don’t have time for keeping up on a kitchen while I’m unboxing bedding or moving sofas – during a move my menu plans usually include take out or the finest of my local deli or grocery freezer sections, and served on paper plates. Voila, dinner is served.
3. Pay up for packing materials. Seriously, pay the money for decent professional quality mover’s packing tape and boxes. They work better, they’re easier for movers to handle and load into a truck, and will help keep your things safe.
DO NOT USE PLASTIC STORAGE TOTES or a bunch of chewed up boxes from a grocery store and expect professional movers to be happy. Your hapless friends might not know the difference, but pros will, and they may refuse to move it (as their insurance may not cover it). Plastic totes and an assortment of boxes are almost impossible to load on a truck safely, securely and in a way to maximize space. Uniform sized boxes are the way to go.
4. Pack reasonably well – heavy stuff to the bottom of boxes, fragile objects well wrapped (and the box itself well labeled with intended room and possible contents – i.e purple bedroom, kid’s toys), and do not pack a box so heavy that *you* can’t move it. If you can’t budge it, a mover might not be able to either, and you risk having your belongings damaged.
My secret for packing dishes is to use EXTRA LARGE moving boxes, and line the bottom with a duvet or pillows, then use move pillows/and or comforters to line the sides, and then I wrap each dish in a combination of newspaper and bath towels. I wrap each plate individually, and then tape a stack of wrapped plates together, because if nothing is moving within the box, things are less likely to break; then I wrap the stack of plates in a bath towel. Place each bundle in the padded box, and stuff move towels between them.
4. Prepare assistance as early as possible. You might not have firm dates, but put out the call to friends and family, rental companies, and get quotes from professionals. The earlier you book, the lower stress for everyone around, and you’ll actually have time to make decisions and plan.
5. Pros really can help make your move better – pro storage, pro movers, pro materials – although I am a DIY gal at heart, I want to make sure my belongings are safe and taken care of.
Professional storage facilities have protocols in place to prevent pest infestation and will guide you through preparing your belongings and selecting a unit so your belonging don’t go moldy or get chewed up by mice – not so Great Aunt Esther’s basement.
Professional quality boxes and materials will make packing faster and the move easier. During a move I keep a supply kit of extra packing tape, my tape gun, masking tape for securing loose items and creating quick labels, and army of colour-coded sharpie markers in a well-labelled box on top of my fridge (so I don’t lose it all in the mess lol).
Pro movers will have insurance to cover damage to your belongings and a reliable truck with people who can drive it (trust me, reversing a 26’ truck into a single car driveway is not for the faint of heart); and a wise consumer always checks the reputation and BBB rating of any company they enlist.
Although possibly more costly, factors in considering using a professional moving company vs an assortment of friends and family, include household size, total amount of belongings, your own constraints such as time off work, any physical needs, your own willingness to move a sofa through a narrow door, and your own available help. Most moves tend to be a mix of pros and friends/family, and let me tell you, a reputable moving company can be worth their weight in gold… they’re faster than the average non-pro, so less time is spent loading and unloading a truck, and as an added bonus their employees are insured against injury (consider WISB claims, and personal lawsuits), and less likely to hold a grudge when they stub a toe carrying a sofa into your new living room.
The bottom line in preparing to move is start as early as possible, and get rid of as much unnecessary stuff as you can (time to toss that broken lawnmower, or finally sell those unused baking sheets on kijiji). Get the stuff and people you need together, and start packing.
Moving may be a mild version of hell, or war, or whatever analogy you and Winston Churchill prefer, but like a general surveying a battlefield, with a plan, things fall will eventually into place.
And don’t forget to pack that wine bottle opener… you’re gonna need it.
Considering a move or relocation? Questions? Comments? Concerns? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org