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Taking Some of The Pain Out of Moving

May 16, 2017

We spend a lot of time talking about the joys of homeownership. There is one element, however, that might not seem as joyful. And that is the dreaded move. Yes, we just heard that combined sigh of agreement out there. Taking all of our things out of one place and moving it to another is right up there with a root canal. Without anesthesia.

But here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be that bad. Spoiler alert: Most of these tips involve being (and staying) organized.

Start Early

  • Begin the process as early as you can. Taking your time to go through your things allows you to be smarter about what goes with you.
  • Go through your old documents and start shredding them early. Click here for Kiplinger’s recommendations on how long to hold on to specific papers.
  • Use the move as an opportunity to pare down your belongings. In the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” Marie Kondo has a simple formula: Touch everything you own (including your clothes). If it isn’t functional or doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. It should seem obvious, but if you haven’t touched it in years, you probably don’t need it.
  • Set up a donation box in a prominent location a month before your move. Have family members fill it as they go, which should be easy(ish) as they realize they haven’t worn that shirt since high school. 
  • Once you’ve accumulated the pile of things you no longer need, have a garage sale (or use CraigsList) to make some money off of them. Invite your neighbors to do the same, as group garage sales tend to attract more attention. Yes, this is extra work, but now you’ll have the extra money you’ll need for the tips in the next section!
  • There are a number of non-profits you can call to come and get the things you don’t sell so now you have a tax deduction as well. Are we having fun yet?

Pack It

Okay, so now you’re looking at the things you definitely want to pack up and move to another house. Now what?

  • Crowdsource on Facebook or NextDoor.com for moving boxes and packing materials. This way, you’re also helping someone else get rid of the cardboard they no longer need. Then offer them up to someone else when you’re done. 
  • Fill up your suitcases, ice chests and other containers before you move them.
  • You can pick up end rolls (unprinted paper) from your local newspaper, which makes excellent packaging material.
  • You can also use your towels, sheets, pillowcases and blankets to pack breakables. Just try to keep them organized by room – dish towels for dishes, etc.
  • Use color-coded tape on your boxes (or use different colored plastic tubs) to let your movers (and friends) know what box goes in what room. You will most likely not remember by looking at the box. 
  • Consider making a color-coded chart your helpers can use when you’re not there to answer questions.

Move It

  • Pack up an overnight bag with a change of clothes, prescriptions, toothbrush, makeup and other essentials, and be sure you know where it winds up in the new house.
  • Consider hiring a moving company. They’ll even pack for you for an extra fee. Just make sure you’re organized, so you’re not paying them to pack up your garbage and move it to the new house.
  • If you don’t want to bug your friend with a truck again, you can rent a U-Haul starting at around $20 a day, plus mileage. When you consider that you might be able to move everything you own in one, or maybe two, loads, it makes the cost totally worth it. Just make sure you have someone on board who can navigate the oversize vehicle. 
  • If you have time and some money, Pods containers will allow you to move into a container over several days and move out of the container for several days. This allows you time to assess items on the front end and put them in their place on the back end.
  • This is a good time to take everyone up on their offer of “let me know how I can help.” And we mean everyone. Have Grandma spend time with the toddlers, while Grandpa is overseeing the packing of the tools in the garage.  
  • Be sure to feed and water your helpers if you ever want them to help you again!

Put It Away

  • Again, consider this an opportunity to put things where you actually want them, and organize as you go. Pro Tip: Michaels and Bed Bath & Beyond often have significant sales on organizational tools for drawers and cabinets.
  • If you have bonus time when you have control of both houses, consider getting your garage, yard and other non-essential spaces organized before the big move. This will help you avoid having stacks of boxes in your garage on the one-year anniversary of your new home.  
  • Assign your friends and family members to different rooms in the new house. Identify their skills and use them. For example, if you have a friend who’s an excellent cook (or super organized), put him in charge of your kitchen. Put your stylish friend in charge of your bedroom or living room. Then don’t criticize what they do – you can always move things around later if you want to.
  • One idea we like is having an art party after you’ve moved in. Identify the friends whose homes you admire and invite them over for wine and appetizers to give you advice on where to hang your art (and maybe where to put your furniture). This helps you get creative, instead of putting the same bathroom photo over the toilet in the new house.
  • Of course, Karma says you have to help them later since they have helped you.

We cannot promise these tips will make this process painless, so just keep telling yourself how excited you are about your new house. And the housewarming party you’ll be able to surprise your friends with in a few months!

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