Moving 101: From Point A to Point B With Minimal Crying

You are moving!

Near or far, for work or play, with your girlfriend or with your cat or with the Star Wars action figures you’ve had since you were ten, in a box, with a fox — it doesn’t matter — you are moving to a new place.

There are certain truths universally acknowledged about moving, like that it sucks, and that unless you’re a military brat or someone in a Disney Channel movie, you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Conveniently, all three editors of this publication have also moved relatively recently, ranging from September 2010 (Riese) to May (Laneia) to this August (Rachel).  We’ve all learned many lessons, mostly about our own inner workings and how many panic attacks are possible in one day. But some of those lessons were about moving! And we are here to share. Although, you know, fair warning, we actually have no idea what we’re doing. Here goes!

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3-6 months ahead of time

+ Start saving money, because moving is expensive. Probably way more expensive than you think it is. Here’s just a sampling of the things you may or may not be spending money on in the near future:

UHaul
Hotel room, if you’re traveling a long way
Gas for the trip
Shipping costs
An actual moving company
Packing tape (it’s like $5 or more per roll?)
First, last, and security at your new place
The likelihood that utility bills and rent between apartments will overlap
A week’s worth of pizza and Chinese once your kitchen is packed up
A week’s worth of buying $3 coffees after you pack up the coffee machine
Cleaning supplies, soap, toilet paper, etc for your new place
Replacements for the things you didn’t feel like moving (trash can, iced tea pitcher, half-full honey bear)
Bike rack
Therapy
All your living expenses until you find a job at your new place

Could you afford all that right now? No. Work on that.

+ Start getting rid of shit, because you have too much of it.

Trust me on this. If you are wily, you can leverage this into point number one by selling your shit, which is really ideal.

Garage sale! EBay! Your greedy roommates! Chances are you don’t have an unreasonable amount of stuff, but unless you’re an actual ascetic, as soon as you start trying to pack it up you will feel like one of the failure stories on Hoarders.

A former roommate of mine who is generally much more successful in life than I am advocated the “sticker system” — buy a set of stickers from the dollar store and for a set period of time, maybe a month or six weeks, put a sticker on an item every time you use it. At the end of the set time period, look at the stuff that doesn’t have stickers on it. How bad do you need it? Obviously if it’s your snow boots and it’s July, you get a pass. But if it’s the set of knitting needles you’ve been meaning to teach yourself how to use for the past two years, maybe get over it and get rid of them. Your aspirational ideas about your future self are not worth making your friends carry that shit around in boxes.

 

VIA FLICKR USER FLAMINGTEA

Obviously I don’t have my shit together enough to use this method, as it requires forethought. Instead, I went through my stuff as I packed the week of, picking up each object and looking deep into my soul as I asked myself “Do I really want to pack this in a box and move it 800 miles to unpack it again?” Frequently the answer was “no,” so it was effective in that sense, but I would warn that with this method, you are left with a huge pile of shit that you no longer want at exactly the eleventh hour, when you have no time left to figure out what to do with it all. Your call!

+ Begin looking into roommates, jobs and apartments. If you are physically moving out of your old home, then the “finding an apartment” stage should really be complete already. This 3-6 months is your time to take care of that. Get on it. In these things, as in all things, the answer to your prayers will come via Craigslist. Also though, don’t get axe murdered.

4-6 weeks ahead of time

+ Start packing. It seems like you don’t need to yet, but you do. Stuff that you’re not going to use up until you move — parkas in summer, ice cream maker in winter, etc. Be real, are you going to read War and Peace between now and then? No. I realize that having huge piles of boxes in your house is really depressing, but you really have way, way more than you think you do. Remember all that stuff in the attic? And the casserole dish set your aunt gave you? It all has to go. Unless:

+ Get rid of even more stuff. I’m serious.

+ Logistics. How are you getting there? Plane, train, automobile? How much will it cost? Will you need to stay somewhere halfway? Do you need to rent a van or car? Are there things that would be easier to ship? Do you need to sell your furniture or whatever? Can you sell anything to the new tenant? Is anyone helping you? Do you have any friends even?

Organizing these things won’t be easy. All I can say is: make lists. Lists of what to pack, what to do, who to call, what to take care of before leaving Point A, what you’ll need to take care of when you get to Point B. Should you make sure to check off going to the dentist before you leave? Library books to return? Parking tickets to pay? Try to take care of those things now, because you’re not going to have time to realllllly soon.

2 weeks ahead of time

+ Start eating strategically. Now is the time to start working on that 24-pack of frozen Gardenburgers that you bought six months ago and forgot about, because otherwise you’re going to have to throw them all out. Anything perishable or anything that could at some point become perishable needs to go. Invite friends to help if necessary. Which brings me to:

+ Start making plans to see the people you need to say goodbye to if you’re moving far away, because otherwise the last time you see them will be waving from the sidewalk while you’re sleep-deprived and blubbering like a child, which is not sexy. You want them to remember you as sexy.

– If you are driving (I’m going to assume you are because I did) start making road trip mixes/CDs. This may not seem important but it is because otherwise you end up driving through 173 miles of Ohio farmland with nothing to do but curse yourself over and over for not burning a copy of The Black Album. Also, make sure you bring The Black Album.

+ If you’re driving, get your car a tuneup. This is also something you will appreciate in the middle of Bumfuck, Ohio. At LEAST make sure you have a recent oil change and good tire pressure, you crazy diamond.

+ Get a Xanax prescription if you can. I’m serious about this. I don’t advocate the use of prescription drugs for recreational purposes, but this is not a recreational purpose. You will need this at some point in the moving process. I feel confident promising this. Your doctor may understand.

+ Change your address with the Post Office. You can tell them in advance what date you’re moving. It’s a little thing, but it will save you SO MUCH HEADACHE.

+ Pack ALL YOUR SHIT. Seriously. Go to the liquor store. Get the free boxes. Bring a pretty friend if necessary to make sure you get the free boxes. Don’t buy any liquor though, because drunk packing is even harder than regular packing. Take my word for this.

PACKING PROTIPS!

+ Pre-pack a duffle or suitcase that contains your basic toiletries (if you have stuff in travel sizes, that’s great), a week or so’s worth of clothes and underwear, and a few pairs of shoes. If you pack this stuff first, then you can live out of this before, during and immediately after moving, so you don’t have to agonize over what box you packed your v-necks in, or whether you should pack your v-necks yet, or whatever.

+ I used my clothes as packing materials for fragile things, and ended up not having to figure out how to pack like ⅔ of my clothes! Granted they are now really wrinkled and smell like my wine glasses, but I’m ok with that.

+ Pack a box of “first week/first day” things that you will need to unpack immediately. It should contain: corkscrew, vibrator, vital medications, important books, granola bars, chapstick, and anything else that you feel you will freak out without and need to unpack EVERY BOX until you locate.

+ Put books and other heavy things in SMALL BOXES so that you’re actually able to carry them yourself.

+ Pick something to label your sex toys and other personal items so the yahoos that you convince to help you move don’t feel weird, like “items for Lily Tomlin devotional altar” or something.

+ You could optionally label important things accordingly, like “favorite books,” just be aware that if you are later storing said boxes at the house of someone who is soon to be a vengeful ex-girlfriend, or something, that will be the first box to be vandalized.

+ Pack cleaning supplies last so you can get your security deposit back.

+ So many ziploc bags. Use them for silverware, spices, especially terrible liquids (like nail polish remover or, say, liquid smoke). This will seem excessive and annoying at the time, and I sincerely hope for you that your move will proceed such that you can continue feeling that way, as opposed to “Oh Jesus, I’m so, so glad everything I own doesn’t smell like liquid smoke,” or worse, “Oh Jesus, everything I own will smell like liquid smoke forever.”


Next: What to do in that crucial final week.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books and news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 752 articles for us.

66 Comments

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    Impeccable timing! I just moved to my new place two days ago and I got to see that I at least did /some/ things right :D I sure wish i did the xanax thing. Seriously people, panicking and packing at the same time is tricky, moving made me start smoking again.

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    Yey perfect! In my younger wandering years, I moved out-of-state three times and each experience was basically just tossing my clothes in a bag and moving. Now I am a full-fledged grown-up, and my wife and I are moving across the country (2000+ miles) in early December… and have an entire household of stuff to go through in the meantime. This is fab timing… good to see I’m already doing some of the right stuff! I am fairly orgasmic over lists so I have spreadsheets on my computer like you can’t believe… I’m going to show this to my wife to prove my point that early organization is a good thing (and completely necessary!)!! :) Thanks!

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    This is fantastic. Wish I’d had it about 2 weeks ago when I moved!

    One note regarding using your clothes to wrap things: if you’re wrapping anything potentially breakable or with any sharp/pointy edges, either use an old shirt or newspaper instead. I definitely got a couple of holes in shirts from wrapping something pointy.

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    1)
    There will be no internet at your new place. And it doesn’t matter if you alerted the internet company in time, filled in all the necessary forms or whatever, there. will. be. no. internet. None. So think of a way to have some sort of internet access at/near your new pad. (For me, it was balancing myself and my laptop on three moving boxes near my kitchen window, because if I sat like that, I’d have 2 bars of my neighbours wifi.) Because you will need it to fix standard moving stuff like the power company messing up your account and turning off the hot water, for instance.

    2)
    Toasties will save your life. Keep some bread, cheese and ham (or a vegetarian/vegan equivalent) at your new place and eat toasties when you feel low when you’re way behind schedule, all alone, painting your walls. Also, serve toasties as lunch on the moving day itself. Toasties are very forgiving for old bread and cheese that has not been in a fridge.

    3)
    Buy one of those trolleys with two wheels (http://www.dickvanderwalcatering.nl/layout/images/products/steekwagen.jpg) that you can use to transport very heavy stuff like washing machines down the stairs. And do not buy the cheap, crappy kind, because they will break down immediately and you will regret it. Your back and your friends who agreed to help you will thank you for this investment.

    4)
    Move your toolbox last. Despite the fact that you probably used your toolbox all the time at your new place during the weeks before, take it back to your old place and pack it last. You will need its contents to remove lamps, deconstruct furniture etc. You do not have a toolbox? Buy one and fill it with standards like screw drivers (normal + philips in different sizes) and hex tools. Also, if you don’t have a drill, ask one of your friendly, better equipped friends to bring one along.

    5)
    Plan, plan, plan beforehand. Which one of your helpers will do what? How long can they help you for? You are the only one with a birds eye view of your move. Keep that view and give people clear tasks. That way no one is confused about what to do, and helps you avoid lulls. There is enough to do, and everyone hates it when the process jams up because someone has not been thinking ahead. Don’t just ask enough people to help you, but think about when you need them, and what they could do.

    6)
    Be smart about the people who are willing to help you and ask their help accordingly. No one likes moving, and you have to accommodate them a bit. Some people hate painting, but love DIY. Others can’t use a drill to save their lives, but are great cooks. Also, take into account any injuries that prevent people from doing certain things. One of my friends has a back injury, and cannot lift stuff, but was the best truck driver ever. He helped me rent a truck, picked up the truck, drove it back and forth all day, helped with tetris-like schemes to pack everything and in the end of the day took the truck back. He took all truck-related worries out of my hands, all I had to do was give him the money for the truck rent. <3 Gave me so much peace of mind.

    7)
    NEVER EVER EVER do carpet or vinyl floors yourself. Carpet tiles or laminate floors are fine for DIY, but not these ones. You say, why pay 30 – 50 $ to the guys of the carpet company to do it for me? I am so broke already. Why ? BECAUSE THEY DO IT IN 20 MIN AND ARE WORTH EVERY BLOODY PENNY. The last thing you want to do when in the middle of a move is wasting 3 days on putting the vinyl floor in by yourself, which ends up looking like crap anyway. (Yes. I learned the hard way.)

    ———-

    I can go on forever. I am permanentely scarred by 11 moves in 8 years.

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      So VERY true. The internet is never connected at the time you need it – why is this? It’s like the most necessary part of my life (*cough* except for my gf obv), and being without it for a week is very painful.

      Having lived in god-knows how many different places, my top tips follow a lot of what Rachel has said.

      Getting rid of stuff is absolutely the most important aspect to moving – it’s your last chance for a while to get rid of shit. Moving house has been great for keeping my number of belongings to a minimum.

      I would suggest intermittently doing a stock-take of your stuff (say every 6 months or so) to get rid of the clutter anyway. You just don’t know when you’ll have to move!

      You have to be ruthless. I find it *very* hard to give away/sell books for example, but at some point you have to accept that you *can* have too many bookcases (might be when you’ve run out of wallspace).

      I pack per-room, so kitchen stuff all stays within kitchen boxes, bathroom stuff all within bathroom boxes. This means when you arrive at your new place, you can sort out where the boxes go as a first step, and (assuming you’re not embarassed about the contents of said boxes) people can help by unpacking some whilst you’re doing a different room.

      Do NOT invite lots of people to help pack as they will in all likelihood get in the way. Choose assistants carefully.

      Absolutely DO NOT GET HORRIBLY DRUNK THE NIGHT BEFORE. Massive error I have made too many times, and it makes the whole experience absolutely hideous.

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      I can’t articulate in this email, in any language, with any hand gestures or blessings, how much I love and thank you for your list.

      Seriously. I am one of those people who go through life in a permanent state of panic anyway (working on it, but hey, it’s one of the cards in the hand I was dealt), so your input was immensely calming and useful.

      May your every move be blessed with good luck and (if you live in cities) may this life and all subsequent reincarnations be forever free of parking tickets.

      And thank you, thank you, thank you, AS, for this excellent guide.

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    I wish I had this before I moved a week ago!
    Here are some things I learned:
    -Even if you’re moving within the same city, you might have 12 or more homeless hours, so figure out a safe place for your truck/animal.
    -Don’t let your roommates/moving helpers drink too much the night before. Too late? Breakfast shots of pedialyte!
    -There will be things you can’t control, like a red sox/yankees game a few blocks from your
    house or your ISP saying : “Sorry, nevermind,
    your house is actually the only one on on the
    street we don’t cover, you have to get Comcast
    and now you have to pay for cable television
    too!”
    -Don’t go away with plans to come back and finish packing a few days before the move. This is stupid and a hurricane is gonna come straight at you and in addition to the stress of needing to be many miles away when there are no subways or buses, the news might be telling you that you’re going to die.
    -Make sure your roommates know not to throw your stuff away without asking, because maybe your barely broken bike won’t make it in the uhaul because someone thought bikes couldn’t be fixed.
    -Get the cat drugs.

    Moving sucks until it’s over, and then it’s awesome!

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      I onced helped someone move, and they had an agreement qith the new tenants to leave a few (super valuable, btw, dumb idea) things at the old place and they’d come pick them up the next day, after the new tenants moved in. Well, we showed up and everything was on the curb, ready for the garbage man.

      So. Bad idea, indeed. Pack all your shit, and bring all your shit (or throw it out).

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    Do NOT reserve a U-Haul or Budget truck thinking you will get that truck. Believing those fucking assholes know what a reservation is will completely screw you. You “reserve” a small truck to drive your belongings and then when you get there, *gasp!*, they don’t actually have that truck there and they never did. So they offer to let you instead of upgrade to their GIGANTIC ENORMOUS SCARY PRACTICALLY A SEMI truck. So you can drive a huge truck that you can’t even fill and be scared of dying the entire time. OR, you can tell them to go fuck themselves and scramble for a plan B. DON’T DO IT. THESE TRUCK RENTAL COMPANIES ARE ASSHOLES! If you are moving within the same city, you can rent one of their vans and I’m sure it’s totally fine. But if you are doing a long distance move, just don’t deal with these assholes. That’s my advice.

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      For what it’s worth, last time I moved this happened to me. I was going to Budget’s smallest available truck with all my shit from my mom’s house but they only had their largest truck available. Um, fuck no. So instead I drove up to my new home in a car with my clothes and bought all my furniture when I got there. Then, when I moved out a year later, I sold it all out Craigslist. Then when I got to my new place, I again bought my furniture. But this time I went with an inflatable bed. I know I’ll be leaving soon and it’s seriously more comfortable than the cheap-ass $300 mattress I bought before. If you’re living like a nomad, like me, I have some tips. A new state every year is not a bad way to live, IMO.

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      Good one.

      Be very serious about the rental company you use. Spending 50 euro more on a proper rental company meant not having to deal with the Shitty Rental Company keeping 250 euro deposit, like what happened to my friend, because they falsely accused him of denting and scratching the truck.

      With my work we use a lot of rental trucks, and I just used that company because it’s professional & reliable. Ask people in buisinesses who deal with rental trucks on a daily basis for advice on which one to use.

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    this is so true: you always have way more stuff than you think you do. and so when you think you’re almost done packing (like the night before the actual move) you’re in fact only about half way through…and then you run out of tape. also also, maybe the most distressing moment : when you’ve moved all your 67 boxes into your new place, and you’re sleep dreprived and maybe hung-over from the missing tape induced-drinking, and you think okay now I have to unpack all this…my advice: do it quickly, unpack ALL the boxes, get rid of them. the longer your coffee table is made of boxes, the more depressing it is. last : i moved a month ago, still no internet. and last time i moved was in december and we stayed a week without hot water. these things will happen. all in all moving is just fuel for anxiety : figuring out the vibes in your new place, getting used to the geography of your new bedroom, to the unusual noises…and then it gradually becomes home.

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    Ugh, just looking at the title of this post makes me want to cry a little bit! I just moved from Germany back to Canada around a month ago and that was a huge nightmare. Then two weeks later I moved from the ‘burbs to downtown, except that place was only temporary since my new place wasn’t ready yet. And then earlier this month I moved from the temporary place to my new place, i.e. moving nightmare #3 in less than a month.

    I wish I were a plant right now so I could put down roots. I DON’T WANT TO MOVE EVER AGAIN. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!!! /movingexhaustionx3

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    But yes on a more serious note, some good advice for packing and moving in general:

    * If you haven’t used it for the past year (or, if non-seasonal, the past 3 months), throw it out/give it away. We often hold onto things that we haven’t used for years irrationally, but try to look at it this way: is it worth so much to you that you’d want to a) move it from point A to point B and b) have it take up precious space in your new place when it is basically useless?

    * Books and CDs should go in little boxes. This should be self-explanatory, but you will be surprised at how often this slips your mind, especially when you’re in a hurry and just want to get the packing over and done with. If you don’t know where to find small cardboard boxes and are feeling cheap, just head to your closest supermarket and ask for some. They usually have some clean ones.

    * Clothing donation bins = awesome. Seriously – they are everywhere, you just haven’t been looking. What’s better than a place where you can dump all that cheap stuff you bought at H&M on a whim and then asked yourself why you would ever buy something so blatantly unsuitable for you? (Answer: Because it was cheap. There is a lesson to be learned here, folks.)

    * Wet wipes are the way to go when you get filthy new place shock (what we experienced this time ’round, because of our dirtbag landlord who refused to get the place cleaned).

    * Unpack your speakers first thing and hook up your iPod to them while you settle into your new place. Nothing makes a move less painful than unpacking interspersed with air guitar.

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    Having people round to eat up food and pack tip x1000

    When I moved last year I cleared my spare bedroom first and set it up as mini display for all the things I wanted rid of, racks of clothes, shoes, books kitchenware etc so the people who came round to pack and eat also got to browse and leave with bagfuls of my unwanted stuff! Several birds … one stone!

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    Also those in the UK (not sure if it’s elsewhere yet!) Freecycle is your best friend, both for getting rid of unwanted things without th use of a landfill AND for picking up things you need at your new place all for free!

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    Remember to actually unpack. Fully unpack. Everything. I moved in June 1 and still have half my shit in boxes. Once you get comfortable, you’ll feel moved-in, even if you’re not actually unpacked.

    If you have parents in a remotely close area to you who you still talk to, take advantage of that.

    And if you’re moving in Manhattan, realize that NO ONE has cars. And more people than you think don’t have driver’s licenses. Even if they grew up driving, if they’ve been in NYC long enough, their licenses have expired, and they never renewed them.

    More Manhattan moving tips:
    -Don’t try to move via Subway.
    -If you can, find someone who has a valid driver’s license and bribe them with food & booze to rent a van (that you’d pay for), and drive your stuff.
    -You will be double parked. Have someone stay at the rented van.
    -Bribe friends with food & booze to help you move your shit from the van to your apartment.
    -If you live on a 4th floor walk-up, hire professionals. I have an elevator, but I would not be able to deal with that.
    -There’s a 75% chance that your super will be an asshole. Learn to deal with it.
    -You will have bugs. It’s NYC.
    -If you must move via cab, try to get a van-style one.
    -You might have a panic attack in TriBeCa. It happens.
    -The KMart at Astor Place and the Bed Bath & Beyond in Chelsea deliver.

    Tips for everyone:
    -Call ConEd BEFORE you move in to create an account. If not, you will not have any electricity.
    -Research internet companies and set up an account BEFORE you move in. You still won’t have internet when you move in, but at least you’ll have it sooner.

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    I would have totally used this instructional article if I went with plan A…but instead i decided to leave all my shit behind and fly out to Los Angeles while my car is being shipped on a tow truck. Basically all i’m bringing are clothes and toilet trees. Literally starting from scratch. Anyone looking for a roommate? Holler at me! (moving Oct. 2nd! =D)

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    - When you just broke up with someone, and you’re moving out of the shared apartment, DON’T BE ALONE WHILE PACKING. That shit is bad enough as it is, and being all alone in the apartment that’s not yours anymore, trying to shift out your stuff from theirs HURTS. Also: lock your cat up when you pack. Because all those horrible feelings AND a cat going berserk because she feels that something is wrong is gut wrenching and no one should have to deal with that stuff. Friends don’t let friends pack alone.

    – Make sure you have a First Aid Kit that is full, up to date and accessible. Last time I moved someone cut herself and all I could find after a long, frenzied search, was one very tiny plaster. (Bonus points: it was green and had a picture of a dinosaur.)

    – No matter the colour/wall it needs to go on/your painting experience or whatever, walls will have to be painted twice. Also: don’t paint your walls white-white, to avoid the good old hospital vibe. Go for an off-white, but select your specific colour of non-white OUTSIDE the shop in day light, not inside under the weird artificial light inside Home Depot. Most stores will have a set of sample cards that you are allowed to take outside to take a look. Also, painting all the woodwork in your house is a hell of a job and it will age you prematurely.

    – Playing Iron Maiden or ACDC real loud will make things better.

    – For people just like me who are bad at throwing stuff out: I allow myself two ‘emo’-boxes. One for clothes, one for other stuff, no more, no less. I am allowed to take as much sentimental clothes/stuff to fit into those boxes and no more than that. That way I didn’t have to toss out my purple velvet trousers from when I was 15, yet I refrained from moving my 60 piece collection of old ‘I’ll use ‘em for DIY’ t-shirts for the 4th time.

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    Oh wow. WOW. I’m 30 years old and I’ve moved 22 times (the latest time was just two months ago!), so just reading this article is making my eye twitch! But it is full of very, very useful advice! And what with all the U-hauling us lady gays get up to, it’s super useful as well ;)

    Also, I just thought I’d share this Hyperbole and a Half entry: Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving. If you’ve ever had to move with an animal, you feel this woman’s pain! A very, very hilarious pain.

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    Where the f*ck was this in January and August? I’ve moved twice in the last year, and I need Autostraddle to fix my life.

    Make it up to me by writing Moving 101B: Settling in.

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    I noticed look for a job was in the first couple of steps…
    What if you’re like me, you want to move to the Bay area…but don’t have a job. And have been trying to apply/get hired to one, when you live on the east coast.
    (Addendum…i don’t like the prospect of being homeless or poor :) )…would you throw caution to the wind and just move…and wait for other things like…employment..fall into place?
    ~signed…stranded in dc :)

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      Jay, I feel your pain! I live in VA and have been trying to decide between moving to SF, LA or ATL. I’m not sure applying for jobs from so far away is getting me anywhere. If nothing’s come up by December, I think I’m going to throw caution to the wind because I’m young and if I fail now, I don’t have kids and a partner and really anything to worry about. Just me.

      Good luck sweet pea!

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      I think this depends on how much you have in savings and a realistic assessment of the kinds of jobs you’ll be able to find and are willing to take. I moved to Chicago (a much more affordable city than many, though) immediately following college with no job or real plan and I had to endure a number of disapproving lectures about that — but I had about $3,000 in the bank and knew I was willing to live cheaply and take crappy jobs to get by for a while, so I moved anyway and temped and waitressed until I found a better job, and that worked fine. If you feel like you have enough saved to live without working if necessary for, say, 3–4 months and aren’t picky about jobs, I’d say, do it!

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    Ziploc bags! If you have to unscrew shelves or beds or whatever, place all the screws in a bag and tape it to the thing you just took apart. If you have to use a socket wrench, write the size on the bag. Because you will forget.

    If you are taking apart something complex (like, say, a Bowflex), stick a piece of tape to each disconnected end and label each joint (a, b, c, etc.). Then when you reassemble, just connect piece A to the other A and so on. into the other end A. This will save a lot of time.

    Tape the remote to the TV. Or put it in the ‘important essentials’ box. Tape the cables to the back of the TV, or put them in a gallon ziploc and tape that to the TV.

    If you are moving a ton of stuff and tight on truck space, invest in buying boxes. Being the same size, you can stack them on top of each other and take up less space.

    Also, if you have a consistent label for your box (first line: room, second line: contents) in the same place on each box, it’s just easier. The more descriptive the label, the better. The 5 seconds you take to label a box while packing will save lots of time later.

    It’s so stressful to move. All this prep on the front end will help you clear that last hurdle. It’s like paying it forward, to yourself.

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    Your best friend is your tool box. Don’t have a tool box? I’d like your lesbian membership card back, please. Get a tool box. It should contain a hammer, a pair of (preferably combination) pliers, a screwdriver (preferably one which allows bits to be slotted into it) and a wrench. I got mine from IKEA as I like to return to the mothership from time to time and it was £7 for a set. Do not pack your tool box. Keep it available and with you at all times. Not all furniture will pivot.

    Have a plan. Your friends want to help you so make sure you make it as easy as possible for them to be helpful. What are you moving first, what still needs to be packed, what needs to be cleaned, what needs to be picked up from the other side of town. Make lists. Make several lists.

    There is one way and one way only to properly pack books. This I know from highest authority (friend who’s been in the moving business for 25 years). And it is not to put them in bags to make them ‘easier to carry’. You’re not. Books go into cardboard boxes, stacked on the bottom, no more than 1/4 way up. Then clothes/lighter stuff go on top. As far as possible, you should pack things into boxes. The more you use the better, as they’ll be lighter. You might think having fewer things in total is better, but that might also be because you don’t quite realize how important you back and knees are to your continued existence on this planet.

    Start saving newspapers a month before you move. Nobody will have them when you need them three days before the moving date.

    Your friends are awesome so do ply them with beer and cookies.

    Have fun. You’re moving, you’re making a new beginning. Don’t worry, everything is going to be awesome.

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    last year my housemates and i didn’t have tv or internet in our house until the middle of october (we moved in at the beginning of september) because our landlords, who only live in the house during june and july, had not paid time warner for years. YEARS. they owed over a thousand dollars in cable bills. clearly people like that were not exactly expedient in sending a letter confirming to time warner that we were not our landlords and that they should give us internet so we could do our homework.

    also, as a foreign service brat, i can say that even those of us with extensive moving experience still have no idea what the fuck we’re doing. we just pretend we do because we feel like we should by now.

    also also, high packing works about as well as drunk packing. mostly because you think of something else to do while you’re in the middle of something about 5 times in a row, and then you have 6 half finished projects and you’re really hungry so you have to stop packing to go get a sandwich and eat it. and then smoke another bowl because you’re super full and then the process starts all over again.

    also also also, have awesome friends who won’t resent you when you call them crying for moving help and won’t freak out when you have a breakdown because you’re throwing out pounds and pounds of food (including the 6 jars of jelly and 5 different kinds of mustard in your fridge) and it makes you feel like a fat, privileged american.

    and finally, the whole time management part of moving is really crucial. my housemates and i started cleaning the aforementioned house/packing about 4 days before we had to be out of there, which would have been horrible enough in itself if we hadn’t also been partying every night and saying heartwrenching goodbyes to college friends we will probably never see again.

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    I’d never get anywhere packing while high. I’d get shit done drunk packing, it might be a mess and not make sense, but it would get done. Smoking a bowl would lead to endless hours of looking at pictures and telling stories, surrounded by empty Funyuns bags and coke cans. Lotsa fun but not productive. Kudos for being able to power through it :)

    Now you’ve got me thinking about smoking. And Funyuns.

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    The last time I moved (about a year and a half ago) I ended up having a breakdown, probably because everything from packing to getting an apartment to loading the truck and driving to new place and unpacking was done in a week. I also learned after that experience, that packed boxes are a massive anxiety trigger for me, I have to get them unpacked as quickly as possible or I will be guaranteed to have a breakdown and it will not be pretty. And if you get drugs for your cat, make sure they work! I tried that and the damn drugs didn’t work so she cried and whined the entire six hour drive and I felt horribly guilty for putting her through all of that.

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      For me it was the tinkling rain chimes behind nervous guinea pigs. Those chimes tinkled the entire trip. It was only ten minutes, but it was ten minutes that lasted for too long.

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    I just went through a bad move. There is no internet no matter how much you plan in advance. Friends are scarce when needed. Emergency trips to buy the basics is always going to happen because the most needed items are packed in an unlabeled box. (I packed the shrink wrap on accident early on and misplaced the garbage bags.) Even the dog sighed in relief when the household looked semi-normal in the new place.

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    This is such an excellent guide, I moved to los angeles about 2 weeks ago. Unfortuntely I followed approx none of this advice, unless you cound klonopin s a sub for xanax. Here is a record of my move:

    4 weeksish ago (Friday morning): after a series of unfortunate events I sort of was like fuck it, I’m outie. Over the next week I packed, sold furniture, had my car fixed, switched my bank account, and said goodbye to some friends

    A week after (Friday) was my last day in town, slightly hysterical, have lovely going away party

    Saturday: commence cross country drive to la, with a few unexpected detours.

    Arrive in la thursday night

    Crash on friends couches for a week plus a couple days

    Moved into studio in downtown la this week

    And here I am, about one month after deciding. You should probably (def) go with rachels plan. Although mypsychotic venture has turned out remarkably well.

    Life is funny like that.

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    As far as taking cats somewhere Feliway spray is pretty good. Its a pheremone spray and it makes them calm and happy (my vet did not approve of kitty sedatives). I managed to get my cat all the way from Edinburgh to London and back again on the train, followed by hours of car ride with this stuff and the only time he cried was when the train broke down and we had to stand for an hour and a half in the fucking snow until my Mum could aquire us a godamn minibus to take us to Grandma’s (still a little traumatised by that trip incase anyone couldn’t tell).

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    timely and excellent post!
    I just found out that my housemate is selling the house we live in so I have approximately 3 weeks to find an apartment, pack and get the fuck out. At least I already have a roommate lined up!

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    My gf and I just moved from Boston to DC, and all I can say is that you can have everything planned perfectly and your dad is coming to help you drive the UHaul (which other people have correctly mentioned will not be the same size or pick-up site that you requested) and then a FUCKING HURRICANE decides to roll up the east coast in the exact opposite direction on the day you are moving, forcing you to race it to your destination and stay overnight at your parents’ house in Delaware.

    Also, helpful tip: Use all of your rugs, blankets, towels, curtains, etc. to wrap your furniture and other breakable items. Then you don’t have to buy/rent packing material from the truck company, and you don’t have to worry about packing these bulky items. If you saved those stiff plastic zip-up bags they came in, you can use those to keep your sheets from getting dirty.

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    Only moving I’ve done is from one bedroom in the house to another, but I’ll be going off to college after next year, so I will definitely be using all of this then.

    I already have my stuff to where I could move it easily enough since I moved into my sister’s room the other weekend. I started going minimalist last year (I got rid of over half my possessions over winter break, and continue to pull things out here & there). Art supplies & my hoard of references(which I do use for art regularly) are pretty much the only reasons I haven’t gone even more minimalist.
    This was really helpful for me when I was decluttering:
    http://minimalstudent.com/moving-from-home-to-dorm-part-1-decluttering-5-steps/

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    I have no problem getting rid of stuff. But for those who do, maybe stream Hoarders on Netflix while you are deciding what to keep? I dunno, tho, I find when I do watch it I am mesmorized, even by the 20th time I’ve seen someone buried under 3,000 pounds of broken lamps, dolls heads, and rotting (fill in blank).

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    I am planning on moving this year, but haven’t started officially planning yet, so this guide is extremely appreciated. I have moved exactly 1 time in my life, and I was 4, so I really have no idea what I’m doing. All I remember from that moving adventure is that someone stole our vcr and video camera and a few other things from the old house while we were at the new house. Lesson: Do not take multiple trips unless you leave someone to guard your shit. I only remember this because they didn’t take the tv and I wanted to watch Cinderella and 4 year old me could not understand why this was not possible. The tv was right there, how important was that other little box thing, really? It was very upsetting. x_x

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    Great article – I was wondering if I was jumping the gun by getting things ready now without a definite moving date/plan yet. Clearly, I’m doing the right thing. I spent most of my childhood and young adulthood moving, so this should be second nature… but I’ve lost the instinct. Excellent article and comments.

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    If you love yourself at all, listen to the advice about packing ALL (ALL!) of your shit in advance. Don’t think you’re going to get it all the week of the move.

    If you have furniture that needs to be taken apart don’t save that for last. Also, if it’s Ikea furniture – fuck it. Don’t take that shit apart and think you’re getting it back together again in the same condition.

    If you can afford it, hire movers.
    If not, choose your friends wisely and be prepared when arrive to help you. Don’t still be packing or cleaning. And make sure you give everybody enough time so you don’t have to rush them at the last minute. Moving is an excellent opportunity to thin out the herd of friends if shit gets too stressful. And buy them food after.

    Don’t pack junk and figure you’ll sort out what you want in the new place. Start packing soon enough to choose ahead.

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