I received a reader question from Danielle that was too long to go at the end of a Snapshot post so I’m posting it solo. She wanted to know if I had any tips for organizing a move which can be a large and daunting project. Although I’m not an expert on moving, I do have a few organizational tips that should help. We haven’t moved in over five years, but seeing as how we recently had to pack up everything in our house in order to get all new carpet I do have some experience. And I’ve lost track of the times I’ve helped friends move in the last five years. I’m happy to share what advice I can and if you have advice please add it in the comments so Danielle (and everyone else) can benefit from your wisdom and experience!
DECLUTTER LIKE A MOFO. I think the first and most crucial, most helpful step comes before the move: ruthlessly purge and get rid of as much clutter as possible. If it is not worth it to you to painstakingly pack it up and keep track of it it’s not worth holding on to. Whittling your possessions down to only what you really love and need and use will save you so much frustration (and possibly sore muscles) come moving time. Declutter now and make things as easy as possible. When my neighbors moved they held a yard sale both before and after. The second yard sale was to get rid of all the stuff they wished they had gotten rid of in the first place. They simply opened their moving boxes and let people rifle through them. They wished they had let it all go in the first place. When the yard sale was over they took the remains to Goodwill and moved on with their lives.
RENTALS. A friend of mine found a really, really great deal on a moving truck and rented it without asking too many questions. Apparently it turned out to be the worst deal ever because they wanted to the truck back ASAP when my friend thought she was getting the use of it for most of the day. She ended up returning the truck and renting a new one from U-Haul to finish the job. An expensive and frustrating lesson. See if you can rent a dolly or a the equipment to move your refrigerator or other large appliances while there. Many storage lots also rent reusable plastic boxes for moving.
BE PREPARED. Pack a box full of toiletries and other essentials to get you through the first couple days. Deodorant, toilet paper, contact solution, anything you’ll need right away to fulfill your intimidate health and hygiene requirements need to go in an easily located box that you have access to right away. Some aspirin or other medicine for sore muscles or stress headaches caused by moving would be a great idea, along with any daily prescriptions you might take. Also: cell phone chargers and large garbage bags for trash are vital.
BABY MAMA DRAMA. If you have young kids you’ll need a box like this just for them with diapers, wipes, cream, sippy cups, and other necessities that a baby needs. Don’t for get the infant Tylenol or Orajel. If your little one still naps one of your first priorities will be setting up a comfy sleep area in the new digs, ditto to a diaper changing or potty training station.
MEAL PLANNING. Pizza is the meal of choice when treating friends who helped with the move, but keep in mind you’ll need a plethora of paper plates, utensils, napkins, and cups on hand. If your budget can swing it, I’ve found it’s helpful to eat out the first couple meals when you’re in a new place because not only do you not have to worry about the paper supplies and the trash, but it also gives you a much-needed break from the mess.
SURVEY YOUR DOMAIN. It’s a good idea to have an idea of how to fit the stuff in your current space into your new one. Stuff you keep in the living room in one place might fit better in your bedroom or in the den in another. Be as specific as you can so that as you pack stuff up you can label it to be placed in the correct room in your new house. The more organized you are with your surveying and labeling the more work you’ll save yourself post-move.
MOVING BOOKS AND COLLECTIONS. We have a ton of books and I keep them organized loosely by the Dewey Decimal System. The thought of these books getting out of order when we moved was enough to make me long for a darkened room where I could breathe into a paper bag. I came up with a numbered shelf and box system to keep everything organized and that saved my sanity, and probably, my marriage. It was a snap putting things back together and I highly recommend this system for moving books or anything organized on shelves.
Do you have a question for me? I’d love to answer it! You can leave your question in the comments, @-reply me on twitter, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a messenger pigeon. Don’t actually do the last one, though. My cat will eat it.