When it comes to moving, you can say that I have done it a bit too much for my age and I have done it many different ways. I have moved from Santa Cruz to San Francisco (where I had two different apartments) to NYC, to Oakland, to Columbus Ohio and now Austin Texas! Whew! When I made my first big move to NYC I did it in a…not so respectable fashion (I stayed up all night after a concert cramming all of my crap into two suitcases while rocking out to Cold War Kids…I totally didn’t forget anything **heavy sarcasm**). Not to mention the way back was even worse – think packing silverware in your carry on and trying to explain to TSA why you need to keep those twelve forks and promising you aren’t dangerous.
The second of my big moves was to Columbus and on a scale from 1 to hurricane of disaster it was…well, a hurricane of disaster. I had just finished my last class and we packed up a moving van and drove across the country (again, after staying up all night at a concert) which totaled 38 hours of driving and needing to stop and get an oil change in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Once we finally made it to Columbus the moving van never showed up and we had to fly back for my college graduation ceremony and our wedding. Yikes.
OK moral of these long a** stories? I know better now, and with our upcoming move to Austin I thought that I would gather my collective knowledge of what not to do and use it to tell you what to do. There are so many things that I have thought of that can make moving that much simpler and could have saved me from all the moving nightmares I have endured had I had the time to execute them properly! So A and I have made a pact that this time, since we are making our own schedules and can move as we see fit, we are going to do the following to ensure a smooth move:
1. Get boxes for everything
Ok, you are thinking duh right? Well hey, I am not the only person to ever stuff all of their clothes into a black Hefty bag and call it packing, only to have that bag rip wide open in the middle of Judah Street in San Francisco… OK maybe I am. But remember that the point here is to NOT be like me. Don’t be Annie. Get a proper box for everything, fold things for heaven’s sake, and get specialty boxes for specialty items, like wardrobe hanger boxes for items that you don’t want getting wrinkled and ruined.
Don’t forget that if you are cheap like me and put that under the pretense of being “environmentally friendly” you can snag boxes from places like Home Depot and McDonalds for free. That way you really aren’t creating any more waste in the world, and you are saving money. Just be sure you don’t get any produce boxes from the grocery store if you can avoid it, I have heard some horror stories about fruit flies….
2. Get a different color sticker for each room
This is one of my favorite Pinterest hacks I have learned. While having the contents of every box labeled is super important, it is kind of left up to the unpacker to decide what room things could go in (i.e. books could mean living room, bedroom, office etc) so put a color coded sticker on each box to indicate what room the box goes to. I am cheap so I made this template and printed it myself, but you can buy the tape versions here.
3. Pack an overnight bag for each person and a “first night” box
Don’t let the magic your first night in your new house be destroyed by not having being able to find plates or deodorant. Pack an overnight bag for each of you like you would if you were taking a trip, that way you know that your personal hygiene is covered. Also, pack what I call the “first night box”. This is everything essential you will need in your first night/morning such as (but not limited to): coffee, a few plates, some silverware, cups, towels, toilet paper, soap, matches, cleaning wipes, chargers for your electronics, and sheets.
4. Label the s**t out of EVERYTHING
I cannot say this enough, so I will say it again: LABEL EVERYTHING! There is nothing worse than destroying the excitement of being in a new home by not having a clue where anything is the second you’ve moved in. Recently we helped our friends Rachel and Rupert move into a new place and we all had a good laugh about how highly organized my friend Rachel is. She had put labels on the boxes that would not only say what was in the box, it also included instructions like: “Books, heavy, please support from the bottom”.
While we all joked around with her about it, it was immensely helpful as the person carrying the boxes. Better your chances of not getting your stuff broken and just label it clearly. Additionally (because I am a freak) I like to number my boxes and make a list on my phone so I can keep track of where everything is and what is in what box.
5. Get fragile stickers!
I cannot urge you to do this enough! I had a terrible run in with the moving company we used for our most recent move, where they broke a few picture frames (destroying some paintings and posters that friends had given us) but essentially said they didn’t have to pay for it because it wasn’t clearly marked on the box that there was glass inside. Kind of our fault, but you live and you learn. Put a fragile sticker (like these ones here) on all the obvious things like china, glassware and picture frames, but also on anything that you just want handled with particular care.
6. Get some space saving options
There is nothing better for minimizing your storage space needs than reusable, vacuum sealing bags like these ones here. They last a freakishly long amount of time and they can make packing all of your bedding in your “first night box” a much more realistic option. I use them for all of our throw pillows and our bedroom pillows and they all fit by some powers of sorcery.