Moving Day- From One Home to the Next

(OR: 18 Tips To Avoid Packing Away Your Sanity)

Back in September, Strider and I successfully completed our first out-of-state move: 350 miles, a lot of cardboard, and exactly 2 weeks in which to make it all happen. When faced with this exciting challenge, naturally I approached it with a characteristic lets-get-planning mentality. Though many friends and well-meaning acquaintances groaned when sharing their own tales of moving horror, we found it much less gruesome than most. So if you're looking at making a similar transition, here are 18 tips we found extremely helpful!

First of all, if you're like us and live in an small to medium sized apartment with no children, take heart in knowing that the moving process is already infinitely less complicated for you than many others! Which is all the better for getting a good system refined before larger, more complicated moves later on. 

1. Declutter First: 
Before/as you start packing things up, weed out unnecessary items that can be outsourced instead of hauled along. If the idea of a last-minute yard sale is nightmarish to you (like me), opt instead for gifting to local friends or donating to the many charities inevitably nearby - just make sure to save donation slips for end-of-year write-offs.

2. Scavenge, Don't Buy: 
For boxes: try Craigslist, community Facebook pages or, my personal favorite, your local liquor store. Though we aren't store patrons, they are usually happy to off-load tons of boxes -- most are relatively small but extremely sturdy and great for packing items like books that become difficult to carry in bulk. For padding: use towels, extra clothing, and spare blankets. Only purchase bubble wrap for items worth it like dishes and delicate glassware. Even with these, line the box with a towel so the bubble wrap is only around each item, not filling box gaps.

3. Get Your List On: 
Though many people recommend color-coding boxes by room or labeling each box with its contents, I found that a little more effort goes a long way. First, pick up a pack of adhesive labels (we used these). Next, either grab a sheet of paper or print off the template version below. Make a numbered list for each room; most rooms are fine with 1-15, except the kitchen, which you should definitely number much higher. Now, write on the labels to make each correspond to a list item, ex: Living Room #4. As you pack, place a numbered label on the box and write a detailed contents list on the sheet. It sounds like extra work, but it really isn't and has a huge payoff in the end! This sheet will be an easy and direct reference point when you start to unpack everything weeks later and it will save you from an even larger mess of opened boxes. Don't forget to make a few "Miscellaneous" labels for items at the end that may not all come from one room or have a specific destination. Once you're finished packing, this list is much easier to reference when looking for individual items than walking through and reading the contents on each box. 

4. Think Russian Dolls: 
Use larger items to hold smaller ones - crock pots can hold spices or small kitchen linens; plastic pitchers are great for holding long utensils like spatulas and wooden spoons. Also try collecting all your trash cans and see if you can fit them together - we managed to get all of ours inside the kitchen trash.
5. X Marks It: 
Instead of multiple rolls of colored tape for each room, use one color (or leftover painter's tape in our case) to make large Xs on your boxes of extra-fragile items. As finished boxes get stacked up, keep these in a separate section for easy identification. (See tip #11)

6. Minimize Spills: 
Control spill-able items such as cooking oils, detergents, and shampoo by placing plastic-wrap under the caps. These can also all be packed together in one box with arrows on the outside to indicate keeping it upright. Even still, I recommend using a large trash bag to line the inside of the box, tying it shut before taping up the box.
7. Set Luggage Aside: 
Use luggage and duffle bags to pack an easy-access bag of clothes and essential toiletries for the first few post-move days. Extra unpacked bags can also be nested together in what we affectionately call "bag-ception."

8. Leave Hang-Ups Alone: 
Use trash bags to bulk pack hanging items. Simply divide hanging clothes into similar categories (ex: Strider's vests/pants, Sarah's dresses) then label the trash bag accordingly before sliding it over the bottom of the hanging items and tying it off at the top. You can usually get around 10-12 hangers per bag and unpacking is a breeze.

9. Utilize Filled Drawers: 
Don't waste time emptying and packing dresser drawer contents. Pull the drawers out (still filled), move the dresser into the truck, replace the drawers, and use stretch-wrap to secure the drawers inside the dresser. Bonus: also use stretch-wrap with silverware trays to keep everything clean and collected.

10. Quick-Grab Home Essentials: 
Don't forget to fill a box or basket with cleaning and unpacking essentials for when you get to your new digs. Include: box cutter, scissors, trash bags, disinfectant wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates/cups/cutlery, hand soap, etc. Naturally, you'll still need these as you finish packing, but don't forget to set them aside as you go. Here is another brief list of moving essentials during the first few days in your new place.

11. Keep Things Handy: 
Utilize car space for "essentials bags", uber-breakables, and irreplaceable items like photo albums and heirlooms. Keeping these items of out the moving truck entirely means peace of mind along the way. It also means less to go in a truck = using a smaller truck = less $.

12. Unpack with Method: 
When unloading, place boxes in each room where they belong. Unpack one room at a time, using your master packing list to know which boxes must be unpacked first.

13. Bag the Bits: 
Use zip-seal sandwich bags to corral cords and small parts. Label each bag before filling and stow them all together in one box or in a toolbox. This is particularly helpful for curtain rod pieces and electronic mounting hardware.

14. Eat Your Way Out: 
Make a meal plan for your last two weeks in your old place creatively using up as much pantry food as possible. Though the meals may start to look a little interesting in the end, you really can get down to the bare minimum. For too-difficult-to-transport items, ask nearby friends if they'd like to take them off your hands. 

15. Clean Your Way Out: 
Especially for renters, make sure to clean as you go. Getting a full security deposit back will come in handy for your next place. Tip: to get furniture lines out of carpet, place ice cubes on top and leave to melt overnight, vacuum the next day. Once clean, take photos of each room to document any damage/lack thereof. Also photograph your new place before unloading vehicles if renting again.

16. Leave a Trail: 
Make a list of all the places that you'll need to notify of your move, starting with a Change of Address with the post office (with at least two weeks notice). Include: banks, credit card company, employers, doctor's offices/pharmacy, Amazon, mail subscriptions, etc. If you've met the next tenants/new owners of your home, leave a few forwarding address labels for them to use if anything comes through and isn't automatically forwarded.

Better yet, if you have your new address, go ahead & order a set of awesome address labels like these (so cute!):

17. Many Hands: 
Don't be afraid to ask friends and family to help with the move and save yourself the cost of hiring professionals. Just remember to be a team player yourself and offer food or a future favor in return. Important: make sure to have everything packed up before they arrive!

18. Most Importantly - Don't Miss It: 
Enjoy your new adventure! Yes, moving can be a lot of work, but grab a bottle of sparkling cider and toast to all the memories you made in your old place or christen your new home and all the memories soon to be made!

Any other tips to share from experienced nomads? 
Happy Moving!

This post is part of the Modern Simple Homemaking series.
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