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Welcome back to our Home Sweet Homo, the ongoing series where we attempt to turn a cardboard box into a home. Learning to be an adult is hard and paying for it is even harder! Thankfully we’re your Handy Homos, here to make U-hauling as painless as possible. Plus we’ll make sure you get your damage deposit back!
Hello and welcome to Hansen’s dramatic life, wherein I have moved/will move three times this spring and summer and have moved maybe three thousand times in total. My wanderlust, ability to only educate myself in places very far away and naive U-Hauling past have really made me an expert in the logistics of moving. I don’t recommend this. In the immortal words of Tegan and Sara, “It’s not fun. Don’t do it!”
If you do have to move, maybe in with your girlfriend who you’ve been dating for three months but you’re just sure she’s the one (or maybe you’re moving out of that situation, no judgment), you might as well make it as painless as possible. I wish you luck. We’ve already discussed how to move from Point A to Point B with minimal crying, but there’s always more to learn. Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way.
Here’s a handy timeline for when you should be getting things done:
Six weeks ahead of moving day: Secure your new place to live. Get the new address and pay the security deposit. Notify your landlord you’re leaving soon.
Four weeks ahead of moving day: Put in a change of address with the post office to your new place, starting a few days before your move. Hire movers if you want the best moving day of all time.
Two weeks ahead of moving day: Hire a moving truck (compare prices on U-Haul, Budget, and Penske, which are usually the cheapest!), if you’re going to use one. Send out change of address cards to your friends and family. Begin asking friends if they can help you move. Start packing! Grocery shop for the last time. Arrange for gas/electric to be transferred and turned on the night before you move in.
One week ahead of moving day: Change your address for all bills and subscriptions. All of the knick-knacks and not-super-important things can be packed by this point, including wall art. Make a packed box corner to everything out of the way.
Three days ahead of moving day: Start cleaning your old place. I’m talking super clean. I’m talking tracks of windows wiped down clean. Do a little at a time to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed. Start with things that won’t necessarily be dirty in three days, like dusty blinds. If you’re moving far away, try to have all of your cleaning done a few days before your move to save on stress headache medication.
The night before moving day: Can you get the keys already? Do this! Or consider moving the day after you get the keys. Go over to the new place with toilet paper and other toiletries like shampoo and soap because you’ll want a shower after you move in. Take tons of pictures of the place before you move in to prevent future landlord disagreements. Move all of your boxes into one room to make getting out in the morning easier. Disconnect your major appliances and defrost your fridge.
Day of the big move: Be ready to move first thing in the morning. Have everything packed by the time your help arrives. Get the moving part done quickly and efficiently and don’t bother to start unpacking yet. If it’s an in-town move, come back in the evening and clean the rest of the way. Take lots of pictures of your old place to prevent landlord disagreements.
The Packing and Pre-Move Part
Pack a box with all of the stuff you’ll need right away or on the first night: toiletries, surge protectors, box cutter, phone chargers, toilet paper, trash bags, paper towels, etc. This will help you immensely. Do you plan to eat in your new place the first night? Pack a few cooking and eating utensils in your first night box. Load this last into the truck or car.
Pack important documents together and take them with you in the car. Do not pack them in the back of the moving truck or you’ll never find them. This includes passports, certificates, social security cards. Put them immediately in a safe place where they won’t get lost. I like to put them on top of my desk as soon as it gets moved in, but the kitchen counter has also always proven to be a safe spot.
Use clean clothing/socks as packing for breakables. Clean socks will get you a long way without bubble wrap and newsprint can sometimes leaves marks on white dishes. Kitchen and bathroom towels also act as amazing buffers in boxes with fragile contents.
Label your boxes. I cannot stress this enough. Label what room they go into or you’re going to have a bad time unpacking. Color coding your boxes also works great, like green tape for kitchen, blue for bathroom, red for bedroom and so on. If you really want to get intense, number your boxes and write out a list of everything that went in box 1, 2, 3 and so on.
Place any hardware/screws/etc. and electrical cords into plastic baggies, label them, and tape them to the back of whatever they belong to. There’s nothing worse than tearing apart your room looking for the power cord to the printer.
Don’t bother unpacking dresser drawers. You can cover them in saran wrap if you’re intense, but I usually just place them on top of one another. And don’t move your dresser with your drawers in, that’s just silly.
Figure out how to use as much of the food in your house as possible so you don’t have much to move. Obviously perishable items aren’t going to work in a cross-country situation, but even in cross-town moves, it sucks to have to worry about frozen meat.
Pack smaller things in bigger things. This seems obvious, right? Pack your spices inside of your crockpot. Pack your books inside of a suitcase (the wheels make it so much easier to carry heavy things!). Pack your clothes on their hangers in trash bags. Utilize every nook and cranny you can.
The Actual Move
Hire movers for the heavy furniture. And do so weeks in advance of moving. I know this sounds silly if you’re on a budget, but this will make your life so much easier. You and your friends don’t want to move things like couches, bed frames and large appliances, be honest. If you only have the movers lift the heavy things, it won’t take as long and it won’t cost as much. Plus, if they drop it and break it, they’re liable to cover the cost, as opposed to the terrible dramatics that will come from your friend knocking off the leg to your dining table and saying it’s your fault, anyway. If you don’t want to hire movers, at least get a dolly. You won’t regret it.
Feed your friends and family who helped you move. Or beer them, whichever they choose. Don’t skimp. They just saved you money and a headache. Also, remember them doing you this favor the next time they move or you will have no moving friends or maybe even just friends.
Moving cross country? Consider hiring PODS or movers to ship your things for you. I’ve also heard you can ship your things via Greyhound but your boxes will get a bit banged up.
Moving overseas? Container shipping is your friend! I moved overseas in two large suitcases and paid heavy baggage fees, which is crazy, but Space Bags are also your friend!
Moving with Pets
Pack your pet’s things last and move their things into the new place first. Section off a room, preferably a bathroom, that can become their safe space for the move. My vet recommended moving all of your furniture in before letting them explore the new place to give them a sense of security and fill the place with your scent. Most importantly, while you’re moving your stuff in, make sure they’re safe so that you don’t have the added stress of chasing your dog in your new neighborhood along with your move. Trust me. Also, don’t forget to update your microchip information.
If you have a dog, putting up a baby gate that allows them to see you but keeps them out of the way can cut down on their stress. Give them extra attention, but beware of showering them with treats because moving might upset their little tummies and we all know how fun that can be. Take them outside of the new place right away so they can mark their new territory and sniff all the fun new smells.
For cats, my vet recommended Feliway and it worked so well. My cat is a Sensitive Sally, so I was really worried about her Feelings. I sprayed the old apartment a few days before moving out to get her used to the pheromones, then I sprayed the new apartment before moving her in. She adjusted really quickly and without any bad stress-like symptoms, so three cheers for pheromones. If you have more than one cat or if you’re merging cat households, make sure you move them in at the same time for territorial purposes.
The Aftermath of Moving
Make sure you wash all dishes and cookware, no matter what. I don’t care if you washed them immediately before moving. Wash them again.
To cook or not to cook? I prefer to eat out at restaurants or order in for the first few nights until I get my kitchen set up, so I like to tally that into my moving budget.
Personalize your place as quickly as possible. Hang up some art. Set up a bookcase. It’s going to feel weird for the first few nights in your place and these things quickly remind you that you’re not renting a vacation home, but that you’re really living there.
Don’t rush on unpacking. I like to be unpacked by about two weeks in, but I start with one room and set it up nice and then make it my safe haven for when stacks of boxes give me panic attacks about the state of my world.
What other moving tips have you found to be super helpful?