After moving four times in six months I’m ready to dig my feet into the dirt and stay grounded for a good long while; however, if I do need to move again it will be much smoother than the start. I’ve learned a lot from this past half-year of constant packing, unpacking, repacking, and lugging boxes from one place to another. Here are five things I’ve learned that will make your next move more manageable.
1. Give yourself time
Plan out what you think will be enough time to get everything done and then double that. Seriously.
Back in the spring when I made up my mind to take the leap from Massachusetts to North Carolina I debated about whether or not to make my final day in my apartment July 1st– the day after the last day of the school year and my last day of work before summer vacation. I reasoned that I’d have weekends for the month of June to get things packed and settled and figured that would be more than enough time. I’d thought that I’d gotten rid of so many things already, there wasn’t that much to move. So said moving-novice Carmela of May 2015.
I left most of the packing for the final week of June and the final days turned into a frazzled frenzy of repeated trips to buy more boxes to store what felt like a never ending supply of stuff cluttering up every crook of my home. I didn’t make it out by June 30th and by the end of the day on the first I felt like hiring a trash collection agency to come and cart it all away.
You don’t know how much you have until you move. I heard that cliche from so many people before I started the move, but I didn’t think it would apply to me. I live simply. I’d pared back for the past three years. Still, it proved true and I would have been much happier and relaxed if I’d planned for more packing time.
2. Ditch the Boxes
Okay, so you’re going to need some boxes, but moving day will be easier if you don’t pack everything.
This past move I ran out of boxes and started piling things into my reusable shopping bags. Since I did most of the moving with my car, the bags were perfect because the (non-fragile) items could be moved and shaped and made to fit into the corners of my trunk. There were some items that I left unboxed and unbagged like my round and awkward salad spinner that would have taken up half a box by itself. On moving day I placed everything around my car, popped the trunk, and began loading things in like Tetris pieces. With everything laid out I was able to find items to fill every space fully.
3. Give Yourself a Gift
When I ran out of newspaper while packing fragile items late one night I started ripping up pieces of old wrapping paper to use instead. The wrapping paper was thicker and stronger than newspaper and provided more protection and padding. There were some boxes that I didn’t unpack until this final move, six months after the first. Tearing wrapping paper off items that I don’t remember packing was like being a child on Christmas morning. Everything was new, surprising, and exciting.
After having made the third move on my own with just my tiny car and six 30 mile trips from one place to another, I was eager to accept an offer from a friend to help me move. With his truck and my Tetris skills, we were able to take everything in a single trip. Even though we had everything unloaded in half the time it would have taken me alone, the real gift was the laughs we shared while lugging things around.
As we emptied the last of the boxes from my car, my friend found a pair of walking polls that I had good intentions of using while hiking, but had instead found a permanent home in my trunk. I laughed so much that I nearly dropped the boxes in my arms when I turned to find him walking brisk circles around my living room with the walking polls in his hands and the concentration of an Everest climber on his face.
If you can, find a moving partner who shares your sense of humor and make each other laugh as often as possible.
5. Move in Alignment
I have no doubt that part of the reason this final move was the easiest in a lifetime of moves was that I was ready to go and happy with where I was headed. Make sure your move is for the right reasons and that you feel good about where you’re headed. The slightest bit of doubt or uncertainty will be exacerbated by the stresses of moving. Above all else, listen to your heart and allow it to lead you home.