Several of my readers have mentioned that they're planning to move in the near future. To those readers and future readers, I thought I'd let you know that over the years, I've moved house eleven times, moved out of state twice, and moved internationally five times. I might know a few things about moving, so I hope I can offer some help to you who are planning a house move, big or small.
This category applies to most of us, I think. Moving is an extremely heavy expense. Trust me, I know! Control your costs and your stress with the following tips that have worked well for me:
1. Find free moving boxes. I have never paid for moving boxes. The frugalista in me doesn't see the point in shelling out $5+ for each box that only gets used once and will be recycled as soon as unpacked in the new home. Here's a brief list of places you can explore for free boxes, while ultimately helping out the environment as well:
- Clothing stores
- Craigslist, FREE section
Wherever you find boxes, make sure they are a good size. You don't want them to be too big that it gets too heavy to move or too small that it can't store anything. The perfect size box is one that you can pick up easily when filled with your personal things and that you can see over so you're not blinded when you're walking; roughly maximum 30" W x 24-30"D x 24"H.
2. Also find free packing material. As with boxes, I have never paid for packing materials. Instead, I use what I have around the house.
- I cushion my fragile plates and glasses between towels and bedsheets.
- If I run out of towels and bedsheets, I resort to using my clothes. I've rarely had to do this, though.
- Newspapers also make great packing material.
3. Color Code. This is especially important if you are moving into a place with more than one room and you have other people to help you. Assign a color to each room and mark your box with the same color. At the new place, post signs indicating the name of the room and its color in very prominent places. This way, no one has to ask you where each box needs to go.
4. Label. Even with color coding as a great organizational system, it's also a good idea to clearly label the contents of each box for your own use (after the movers are gone). You don't want to look at a bunch of blue boxes, but not know exactly which box has your bedsheets.
5. Denote a box placement area. In addition to #3, it's a good idea to place a sign IN the room where boxes should go. It should be a place where there won't be furniture placed and clear of main traffic zones.
6. Pack a bag. After a day of moving boxes and furniture, don't assume that you'll have the energy to open up the boxes and start organizing all your belongings in your new home. Pack a bag of night clothes, bath towel, toiletries, a few days worth of work clothes and shoes to help you get through the first few days. That way, you're not stressed out looking for your toothpaste at midnight. Pack the bag as if you were going on vacation.
7. Keep some things unpacked. It's easy to get carried away and pack everything in plain sight, but consider the following items to leave unpacked:
- Cleaning supplies (useful to have on hand if your new place hasn't been mopped or swept yet)
- Tool kit (in case you need to take apart furniture to get through doors)
- Kitchenware (or at least know exactly where they are in your pile of boxes so you can easily access your plates and silverware or glasses for nourishment and refreshment)
*8. Have a floor plan. Here's some extra credit for you! In an ideal world, you would have your furniture completely laid out on a floor plan in your new home before moving in, but not many of us work like this. IF you are really organized and have everything together and have all the time in the world to think these things through, draw up a floor plan, preferably for each room, with the furniture in place so your movers know exactly where to place everything without asking you at every turn. Serious bonus points if you get around to doing this.
1. Pack as if for an extended vacation. Bring only clothes, shoes, and accessories. Carve out a little space for a few personal things that will make you feel more at home in your new country such as books, photo frames, or a pillow. You'll be grateful to have a couple of items that are familiar to you as they will help to alleviate any culture shock and homesickness.
2. Forget about housewares. It's not worth the expense to ship them, plus it'll give you the opportunity to get out and explore cool shops in your new country.
3. If you are moving by plane, try not to pack more than the required allowances in order to save on expenses. As for everything else that doesn't fit in your suitcases, arrange for storage if you plan to return within a relatively short amount of time or sell/donate everything.
Out of State Moving
1. Plan well in advance of renting a truck and the route you'll be driving to get to your new home. If it's a long drive that requires hotel lodging, make a list of the best and most reputable hotels along your route. Most will be inns and cater to travelers, so making advance reservations isn't necessary. In fact, I recommend against it as you don't want to feel forced to make the miles to make sure you check in on time or feel out of luck if you arrive early.
2. Make sure you know, and have on hand, the phone numbers to roadside assistance should you run into any vehicle problems. And always have a fully charged cell phone on you.
3. Take breaks! Driving long distances is rough on your mental energy and your bum! Give yourself plenty of time to Destination B. It just takes the stress out of things. Also, nothing worse than getting into an accident because you refused to acknowledge how tired you are.
And With ALL Types of Moves
1. Purge, purge, purge! Donate and/or sell anything that hasn't been used or you won't need at your new home. Moving is a good excuse to edit some of the stuff you've been hanging onto for no good reason that you can think of.
2. Start early. Give yourself at least a month to pack it all and plan it all. Starting early will definitely help make the moving process a lot less stressful.
3. Ask for help. I admit that I hate asking for friends to help me. Moving is such a HUGE chore and usually takes up someone's precious weekend. I don't want to impose that on anyone. Because of this, I've moved several times without anyone's help and have felt the time crunch in getting out of my apartment by a certain time frame. Don't do it alone. Just ask your friends - the worst thing that could happen is they'll say no. But most likely, you'll have a few who will come through and help you - God bless them! Just remember to pay them with kind words and a dinner or the common pizza and beer. And most importantly, when it's your turn to be asked for help, repay the favor.
4. Allow time for cleaning. Don't forget that you have to clean up your old apartment or room when you completely move out. It's also a good chance to do a once over to make sure nothing was left behind.
Phew! That was quite the list! I hope I've covered everything. Do you have any tips of your own that have been effective? Share them with us! I always love hearing new tips when it comes to organization of any kind.