You could say I’m an expert when it comes to moving.
I was calculating how many times I’ve moved and even I was a little shocked: 27 times since 2005.
I’ve moved as a single woman, as a married woman, as a pregnant woman (6 months pregnant), as a mother, and as a student. I’ve moved for jobs, for school, for cheaper rent, for less lousy accommodations, for love, and even for church service. I’ve moved across international borders twice, across state lines nine times, and sometimes I just moved a few blocks from where I started. I’ve moved on beautiful, sunny days, during snowstorms, in a typhoon, in freezing cold, and blistering heat. I’ve moved using nothing but my car, once I used just the bus, the train, even once used nothing but my bike. I’ve also rented trailers, and used moving companies. I’ve moved into apartments, basements, townhouses, the first floor, the second floor, the third floor, the fourth floor, the thirteenth floor and now, finally, into a house of my very own. So you can imagine the wealth of knowledge I’ve procured over the last 8 years concerning the subtle art of moving house. Moving has gotten to be a way of life for me, and here I hope to outline for you my ultimate moving secrets. They come in two parts: tips and tricks, and a moving timeline.
Tips and Tricks:
#1. Cleaning supplies with magical properties – there’s lots of cleaning to be done when you move, and it helps enormously to have the proper supplies:
The power of dryer sheets to clean oily dirt scum off of blinds(and other gross, oily appliances) is truly miraculous.
You could spend hours trying to clean walls, doors, and the bathroom tub with soap and water. Cut the time by 75% by using magic erasers. Haven’t tried them before? Boy have you got a good time ahead of you. You can find them in any cleaning aisle.
CLR. Cleans bathroom fixtures (especially difficult stains in your tub) like nothing else I’ve ever seen.
#2. Pack hanging clothes in garbage bags – This is by far the fastest way to pack hanging clothes and hangers. It makes unpacking a snap as well. Garbage bags are also good for packing blankets, pillows and bedding.
#3. Wrap mattresses in two fitted sheets – You can wash truck-junk off a fitted sheet, but it’s a lot harder to get it off your mattress. Put one fitted sheet on one side, and the other fitted sheet on the other.
#4. Dedicate each box to a certain room – I never worried about labeling my boxes according to where I wanted to put them in my new place. That kind of thinking just gave me a headache. Instead, I made sure that everything packed in the same box came from the same room. That way if I suddenly needed to find something I could narrow down which set of boxes it might be in. There is an exception to this, outlined in #5.
#5. Pack 6 specialty boxes: First aid, bathroom necessities, cleaning supplies, technology, important documents, and kid entertainment – Pack these boxes first, but don’t seal them. Put them in a safe place where you can easily reach them and keep them with you at all times. They are the first items to be packed but the last ones to go in the car.
A few tips about what to put inside each box…
First Aid: Daily medications, Band-Aids, neosporine, ibuprofen, Tums, and water bottles.
Bathroom necessities: Toilet paper, soap, a couple towels, toothbrushes, hair brushes, hair ties, Kleenex, extra contacts or a spare set of glasses, and chapstick,
Cleaning Supplies: Dish soap, magic erasers, sponges, paper towels, dryer sheets, toilet bowel cleaner, bucket, mop, broom, vacuum, old toothbrush, disinfectant wipes, a basic tool kit, and CLR.
Technology: chords, plugs, tablets, phone chargers, router, extra light bulbs, and cameras.
Important documents: Passports, birth certificates, social security cards, paper, pens, envelopes, stamps, extra checkbooks, wallets.
Kid Stuff: Diapers, blankies, binkies, bottles, movies, games, and treats
TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. When you pull into your new house and everyone runs in to go to the bathroom you’ll be really glad you have the toilet paper, soap, and towels handy. When your dear friend who sacrificed a weekend to help you move comes to you with a gash in his arm you’re going to be glad you can find the bandaids. When your husband swoops you up to carry you over the threshold of your first house you won’t be kicking yourself for burying the camera in some anonymous box. When you get lost on your way to meet the movers you’ll need a fully charged phone to guide you in. And when things go horribly wrong and everything you own gets lost, burned, wet, or strung all over the highway you’ll know right where to run to save the stuff you really don’t want to lose.
#7. Have the right moving supplies – It’s easy in a pinch to try cutting corners on moving supplies. I’m all for saving a buck by doing things the hard way, but it’s still a good idea to make sure you’ve got at least what you need to get by. And make sure you have plenty of it. There is nothing more annoying than breaking your packing groove because you have to run to the store for something you’ve run out of. So here is a little list of suggestions:
Silent packing tape: Whether you’re a student trying to pack your stuff while your roommate sleeps, or a mother trying to sneak one more box in before the baby wakes up, silent packing tape is a good idea.
Black sharpies: even if you don’t plan to label your boxes with what’s inside, you’ll still find yourself wanting to post “this way up” or “FRAGILE!” at some point.
Extra Light bulbs: Yes, I’ve had a light bulb go out on moving day, and you never know what you’ll find moving into a new place.
Small boxes and big boxes: It’s stupid to pack books in a big box. Don’t do it. Make sure you have both sizes to choose from.
Trolleys and dollies: U-Haul and other moving companies offer a wide selection of moving and lifting tools that you can rent for the day. I particularly recommend an appliance dolly. It’s a good way to save your back and knees, and if you pick up a few long boards from the hardware store you can even roll them up and down stairs.
Newspaper/peanuts: Nice to have a little cushion for your glass vase, candlesticks, etc.
Hitch/Trailer wiring: If you’re renting a trailer make sure you have the accessories you need to hook it up properly. Lots of trailer rental places won’t let you drive away unless the wiring is working properly.
#8: Be prepared to spend a little extra money – It always surprises me just how much money it takes to move. You have to pay for the truck (if you can’t fit everything into your car anymore… those were the days) the gas, the food you eat until you’ve managed to set up your kitchen, deposits or down payments, moving supplies, new appliances and furniture, replacing things that go missing (that darn potato peeler. I lose it every time.), buying things that got packed too soon and end up being essential to survival before you finish unpacking.
#9: There is always more you can throw away – After averaging three moves a year for eight years I’m always surprised how much junk I get rid of each time. You’d think I’d finally have everything trimmed down to the bare bones, but alas, there is always something extra hanging on. In fact, this last move Kyle was appalled to see that he’d been hauling around a collection of children’s magazines for me each and every move… I don’t know why I had those. I don’t know how I didn’t get rid of them sooner.
#10: Be prepared to lose stuff – It almost always resurfaces at some point, but I don’t think I’ve ever moved without misplacing something for a period of time.
4 weeks out:
By now you really ought to make sure you have a new place to live. For those of you who don’t move very often, this might seem like an idiotic bit of advice. However, I remember at least two occasions, when I avoided finding a new place to live even though I knew I had to move out within a month. My advice: take care of this immediately.
Determine HOW you plan to move. There are so many different ways to haul your stuff from place to place. Take multiple loads in your car or truck. Rent a truck or a trailer. Rent a pod that a company drops off and comes back to ship for you. Sell all of your stuff, pack what’s left in your car and buy new stuff in your new place. You don’t necessarily have to make the arrangements right away, but it’s important to decide early on because it sometimes takes a bit of research to figure out what will be the most cost effective.
Begin throwing out all of your clutter. It’s easier if you tackle this little by little. Plus, if you save it until the end you’ll never fit all your garbage in your own garbage can.
Take pictures. You might not ever make it back this way again and your kids will forget what everything was really like.
Sell anything you don’t want to take with you. Throw a yard sale and/or post big stuff like appliances up on Facebook Marketplace. Do this as early as possible since one yard sale might not be enough. If it rains or nobody responds the first time it’s nice to have time to reschedule.
Cancel piano lessons, karate, doctor’s appointments, etc.
Clean your fridge, oven, and microwave.
3 weeks out:
Make moving arrangements. People tend to move on weekends near the end or beginning of the month. If you’re going to rent something to aid you in your move you have to beat out the other million people trying to move on the same day. This is ESPECIALLY true for college students moving at the end of a semester, but I’ve noticed that it really applies to everybody.
Start packing the closets, garage, bathroom cabinets and storage spaces. There are lots of things in closets that you only use once in a while, and you can store the boxes in the closets once you’ve got them packed, so they won’t clutter up the house for those last two weeks you have to keep living normally there.
Go through your cupboards and make a list of meals you need to make in order to eat as much of your food stores as possible.
Scrutinize your holiday preparations. Changing addresses can really mess with you if you’re knee-deep in ordering Christmas from Amazon. This last year we moved the weekend before Halloween. I had to make the costumes much earlier than normal, and then I had to make sure I knew what box they were packed in.
2 weeks out:
Spring clean. Every place has it’s own cleaning surprise when moving day comes. Hard water stains in the bathroom, a surprise hole in the wall from the spring that secretly popped out of the back of your couch, or damage from a leak you didn’t know about. If you can find the tough spots early on, you can strategize to get them fixed. Otherwise, you’re just out of luck.
Vacuum the inside and underneath your couches. This may seem counter-intuitive. I mean, you will have to move them on move-day anyway. Why not wait and deal with it then? First of all, you won’t want to uncover the unholy mess hidden by your couch in the presence of your saintly friends who have showed up to help you move. You don’t want a years-worth of crumbs to fall out onto them when they remove the cushions for more easy transport. Secondly, you will find things underneath those couches that ought to have been packed in long-lost boxes if you fail to clean them out earlier.
Set up mail forwarding at the post office. You can typically do this online these days.
1 week out:
Pack your specialty boxes (see tip #5)
Do all of the laundry, including rugs, sheets, and towels.
Pack everything except the kitchen and bathrooms.
Clean walls, baseboards, doors, outlets, fans, fixtures, and light switches
Clean the windows, blinds, and window wells.
Deep clean the bathroom. Then you only have to touch up on moving day.
Mow the lawn and weed the flower beds one last time.
Make sure your new home will have all the appliances you need. Some things are obvious: fridge, and range usually come with apartments, but you’ll need to ask about washer and dryer arrangements. If you are buying a newly built home, you might be expected to buy all the appliances yourself. There are also some are less obvious appliances you won’t want to forget, like a microwave. Or light fixtures. I have a friend who pulled into the parking lot of a new apartment late in the evening, only to discover that there were no permanent light fixtures there. You will not want to discover you don’t have something that fundamental in your moment of need.
Make sure internet is set up for your new place.
Call and double check your moving van reservations. Yes, we have discovered a mistake the day of our move.
Pack as much of the kitchen and bathroom as you possibly can. I recommend keeping paper cups and paper towels out by the sink, though.
Get a good night’s sleep (assuming that you’ve gotten done everything on the list so far. Otherwise, stay up until it’s done.)
Take apart beds and cribs.
Pack furniture first, then fill in the cracks with your boxes.
Pack the fridge, and don’t forget to grab anything left in there before you head out.
Order pizza. Its fast and cheap, anyone helping you move will likely enjoy it, and it requires no utensils. In a pinch all you really need on hand to serve it is some paper towels.
Vacuum and mop all the floors, starting with the room furthest from the exit and leading up to the front door.
Grab the mat from the front door on your way out!