how to move

At long last, hubby and I are *finally* mostly-settled in the new house. What I mean by “mostly-settled” is settled enough to function. We still can’t find various crucial items, and there are still quite a few boxes in each room, but we can get through our daily tasks without too much difficulty. It only took a month, but this highlights my first point about moving: It takes more time than you’d think.

Case in point: While we were packing, Hubby kept making comments along the lines of “This isn’t going to take us very long at all! We can finish the packing in a weekend, load the truck in three hours, and unload it the same afternoon!” Although Hubby helped with the packing on our last move from Grad School City to Postdoc City, he was out of the country for the last week in Grad School City (i.e., he missed the garage sale, multiple trips to Goodwill, filling trash can after trash can with stuff I couldn’t take with me or Goodwill, packing the final boxes, loading the truck, etc. etc.). I’d told him how long it took to accomplish all these tasks, but it didn’t really sink in until he did it all himself.

Adders already have a tendency to underestimate how much time will be required to complete a task, even smaller ones much simpler than moving. Moving is really a marathon of many tasks. Expect every task to take more time than you’d think, because there are always glitches (e.g., running out of boxes or packaging tape) and distractions (e.g., the European soccer championships were on tv while we were packing and unpacking the truck). Start sooner rather than later, and build in extra time!

Prioritize. Start with low-priority items as soon as possible, and do at least a few boxes each day. We started with books, dvds, wedding presents, and non-essential kitchen items. On the day we loaded the truck, I packed the last of the essential kitchen items as the movers loaded our furniture.

Take the time to sort and label. Don’t just toss things into boxes by size (yes, hubby did this, and it’s now driving me crazy because I have kitchen items mixed in with electronics!). Make your boxes make sense. Keep your kitchen tools together, and keep those separate from your books and magazines. Take the time to label boxes carefully (e.g., “remote controls and power strips” versus “electronics”), because it will save you a great deal of hassle when unpacking.

Have a “Do not lose under penalty of death” box. I kid you not… that’s how I labeled this particular box. This was the last box to be loaded in the car, and the first to be unloaded at our new house. You should know where this box is located at all times, so don’t ever put it in the moving truck unless it’s on the seat next to you in the cab. It contained everything we knew we’d need until the last minute in our old apartment, at closing, and from the first moment in our new house. For example, ours included:

  • All the paperwork we could possibly need at the closing (e.g., proof of hazard insurance)
  • The “change of address” confirmations we’d received from the post office
  • First aid kid
  • Lightbulbs
  • Paper plates, cups, & plastic eating utensils
  • Tea & water
  • Our phone chargers
  • Phone book for new destination
  • Cat food & toys
  • Towels
  • Toilet paper & paper towel
  • Shower curtain liner and rings
  • Other items we knew we shouldn’t lose (e.g., gift cards we’d received for our wedding)

Pack enough clothing. About a week before loading the truck, pack a suitcase for the days you’ll be on the road and the days that you’ll be packing & unpacking the truck. Then add at least 2-3 more sets of clothing, including socks, underwear, and a comfy pair of shoes. If anything goes wrong, you’ll be glad you have the extra clothes. Don’t count on being able to access your clothing while it’s in the truck or even right away once the truck is unpacked, or even being able to do laundry right away. Expect to get dirty and to want to change your clothes more frequently than normal. Put essential toiletries in here, too (I can’t tell you how much I wished I’d put our toenail clipper in this bag instead of packing it with the rest of the bathroom items!). This should also be one of the last items tossed into the car before driving away.

Have the right tools on-hand. Buy or rent a dolly. We bought one the last time we moved ($50 from Home Depot), and it’s been worth its weight in gold.  A friend recommended that we buy a cordless drill/screwdriver. It’s one of the best purchases we’ve ever made. Although our toolbox didn’t go in the car, it was one of the last items loaded into the truck and one of the first to be unloaded. Things go a lot easier when you’ve got the right tools!

This system has reduced the stress of my last two moves, but it’s not perfect by any means. It’s also not the “only” way to move successfully. If you have any tips, please add them in the comments below!

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One response to “how to move

  1. absent-minded professor

    haha! I am an ADDer just starting a new academic job. I had a “do not lose under penalty of death” box (it included several important forms of ID). I wrote a note on my hand to remind myself to keep track of it at all times and still managed to let the box make it onto the moving truck instead of my car. The truck took 10 days to make it to my new house.

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