Tuesday, January 28, 2014

On The Move

I'll kick off my first post of the year with a big confession. For all of the times I've been crafty while traveling, when it comes to moving residence, I am a hot mess. Perhaps it's the Jekyll to my Hyde? I moved at the end of October and I'm just now, starting to get my day to day life back on track.

The last couple of months have been a roller coaster ride of packing, moving, saving, spending and unpacking. Looking back on it, there a a few things I did right and a few I wish I had done better. In the hopes that I can spare someone else a bit of anxiety I'll share my experience.

Photo Credit: Betty Kane
I unexpectedly had to say goodbye to my couch on moving day.
Here, the couch and my moving helpers Chris and Mike wait for my former roommate to lay claim to it. 


Once you realize a move is on the horizon, start using any stockpile of household goods and food. The less you have to move, the better, plus refraining from shopping sprees will leave a couple extra dollars in your pocket (for the time being).

Decide on your method of moving. Professional movers will cost more and require quite a bit of research in advance. I have not been able to afford the luxury of a moving company... yet. The cheapest rates I found were in the $500+ range. I chose to drive a 10" U-Haul truck and coordinate a group of friends to show up in the right places at close to the right times. The bonus is that the cost of the truck rental was about $90. Add the cost of food and drinks for my helpers, for breakfast and lunch, and in total I probably spent about $200. The down side is that my stress levels were through the roof for the entire day. The next time I move, I really hope I can afford movers.

Don't make any large, non-essential purchases until after you are in your new place. This is especially true for renters in apartments. I'm glad I didn't spend money on a dining set I saw because I ended up needing to buy a new couch. We tried to get my old couch in and it just didn't fit. My now former roommate was able to take it off my hands that day. Also, if you find yourself in a similar situation, with no one to take said furniture, call local thrift shops. Larger facilities will often take furniture and you'll get a tax refund too. It's better than tossing it to the curb.

In the month or two leading up to moving day, keep a running list of people and companies who need to be alerted to your change of address. I highly recommend you use the Change of Address portion of the USPS website. It costs $1.05 and gives you one year of mail forwarding services.

Photo Credit: Betty Kane
This was not from my actual moving day. After moving into my new place I found a table and chairs on Craigslist.
This is what it looks like to put a dining room table and three chairs into a four door sedan.
I like to call this Adult Tetris
Level: Expert.


Packing is an art. At some point in the process you will hopefully feel like an accomplished master, but most of the time you're probably going to feel like a novice.

Flat out, start packing as soon as you possibly can. Have a garbage bag, a donations box and your regular packing boxes on hand. The donations box works great for me. I don't mind parting ways with things if I know someone else can put them to better use and it'll be a few less things to schlep on moving day.

Label boxes accurately. This becomes more difficult as you get down to the wire, but trust me. I know first hand the box you label "Stuff" today will be your headache tomorrow. It's also a good idea to color code fragile items. I label all fragile boxes in red and the rest in black. If you have a large family or a lot of rooms you may also want to consider more colors to code boxes.

Get creative with packing materials. There is no need to spend money on boxes and packing material. Save freebie newspapers, penny-savers, tissue paper and boxes that come your way. Go to a grocery store when they stock the shelves to get boxes for free. In my area, they stock late in the evening, usually on Thursdays. Try to get there before they crush the boxes. Also, if you aren't using a moving company, keep old blankets and tarps you may have on hand to use as furniture pads in the truck.

Prepare what I call a "First Last Box." This should be the last box you pack up in your old place and it should be the first you unpack in your new place. I keep a couple of days worth of essentials in this box, including toiletries, medicine, toilet paper, soap, bath towels, clothing, basic cleaning supplies, pen, paper, scissors, pocket knife, flashlight, eating utensil, plates, bowls, cups, a kettle, snacks (like popcorn), tea bags, instant coffee, cell phone charger, a book and a couple DVDs. Think of it as a survival kit.

Photo Credit: Betty Kane
Always keep a pen on you during the moving process.
Pictured here are machines at the
 DMV charging .25 cents for a
pen so you can fill out forms.
 Department of Motor Villains? You bet! 

The last bit of advice I can give is to take a little time to try to relax, or calm down at the very least. My new kitten Flint reminded me of that, as he's seen here snoozing on my shoulder. 

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