I don’t mean to brag, but I have quite a few moves under my belt. From the time I graduated college about five years ago, I have lived in three different states: New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, and in four different cities in Maryland: Rockville, North Bethesda, Germantown, and Clarksburg. If you do the math, I’ve never lived in one place for an entire year, on average. I have learned a few tips and tricks along the way that I hope to pass along to you. This won’t cover every aspect of the moving process, but I hope it includes a few ideas that you may have never thought of before.
First off, you’ll want to read my Declutter, Depersonalize blog post. Whether you’re moving from an apartment or home, the theory of decluttering is equally applicable. Of course much of the post is dedicated to getting your home ready to sell, but when you’re moving, clutter is your worst enemy. Go room to room and get rid of anything you don’t love. Donate it to charity, sell it on Ebay, give it to friends, or throw it away. Do whatever it is that you have to do to get it out of your life. If you don’t love it in your current home, moving it around won’t help you love it any more. Oftentimes this is movers’ hardest part, as your things will take on a new sentimentality when it comes time to part with them. Try to avoid getting caught up in trips down memory lane and applying more value to an object than it deserves. New homes are a chance to start fresh. You won’t want your old stuff taking up space that new memories could fill.
Once you have each room cleared out, you’ll want to buy packing supplies. If you’re hiring a moving company, they will oftentimes offer supplies such as boxes and tape to you. Try to avoid this charge if you can. Because I worked in retail for a few years, I know that when clothing companies get their shipment in they have tons of left over boxes that just get thrown in the recycling bin. If you ask a large company like Old Navy when they receive their shipment and request that they hold their boxes for you, they will likely be very happy to oblige. They will even break the boxes down for you to make getting them in your car easier. They will have boxes of all different sizes, and they will usually be happy to set aside as many as you need, assuming you that you make it convenient for them. If they get their shipment on Tuesday morning, don’t wait until Wednesday or even Tuesday afternoon to come get the boxes. Make arrangements to go as soon as the store opens or slightly before they open.
Once you have your boxes, and you’re ready to start packing them, don’t try to tackle your entire home all at once. Go room by room and label the boxes thoroughly. Start by packing rooms and items that you don’t use on a daily basis, but don’t mix rooms in the same boxes. Keep a schedule in your mind of what you have to do in the next week or so before the move and leave that stuff out until last. In your kitchen, you may want to convince yourself that you can live off of a few simple foods or by ordering takeout for the next week. When you get to be just a day or two out from the move, pack like you’re going on vacation. Get a suitcase and pack overnight essentials, your phone charger, toiletries, and the like. Don’t forget to leave out a set of sheets to put on your bed in the new house.
When you’re down to the last few items, you likely have little more than your closet left. For your closet, I’ve found that the easiest way to move hanging clothes is in a garbage bag. Rip a hole in the bottom middle of the bag, slip it over about 10 hangers with clothes still on them, and tie up the bottom. If you’re moving right away, you clothes won’t even have a chance to get wrinkled at the bottom. If you get ahead and do this step a few days in advance, just leave the bottom untied before you actually put it in the moving truck or in your car. You can even rubber band the hangers together so that none slip down during the move.
You’ll also want to avoid packing cleaning supplies until the very end. They will be useful in your old home and new. Clean your house as you get rooms packed up. You would want your new home’s former owners to give you the same courtesy, so make sure your home’s new owners receive it as well. And If your home’s former owners didn’t do that for you, at least you’ll have the supplies at the ready.
For furniture and electronics, I’ve found that my phone’s camera is invaluable. Take pictures as you take furniture apart to know exactly how it goes back together. I’m bad about keeping directions once I have things assembled, so if I have to take it apart, I’m on my own. I also keep all of the hardware for each piece of furniture separate from each other. I put it in a plastic bag and tape it to the bottom of that piece of the furniture. That way I know what hardware goes to which piece, and I know that all of the hardware is accounted for. I also take pictures of the backs of electronics. This way, you have a map of where everything hooks up before you take it apart. Putting it back together isn’t such a guessing game with the proper documentation.
By no means is this list exhaustive. I didn’t cover how you should schedule your TV and internet disconnects and reconnects ahead of time, how you should pack fragile belongings with towels and clothing items to save money on packing materials, or a million other things. There are loads of lists online to help you in much more detail than I covered, but these are a few things that I didn’t find covered on those lists that I’ve found useful.