11 Essential Moving Tips

Do you know that May is one of the most popular months to move? It’s probably because millions of students move back home or into their own places at the end of the school year… and also because no one wants to move in the dead heat of summer. Whatever the reason, take it from me: Moving is tough work!

Last week, I went to New York on a family emergency: My mother was moving from a big house into an apartment in the city; she was sick and frozen emotionally. She couldn’t bring herself to pack a single box. The days were ticking and during my weekend rescue trip, I was quickly sequestered (or maybe you could say suckered) into staying an entire week to finish the deed. It was definitely one of the most stressful weeks of my life, but a successful one at that… and I definitely earned some serious brownie points with mom. 🙂

After my experience, I felt compelled to share 11 of my best take-away tips, since moves like this are inevitable for all of us (and our beloved families) at some time or another:

  1. Buy the good packing tape! Cheap tape continuously gets stuck to the roll. You’ll spend more time gnawing it with your teeth and nails then you will sealing boxes closed!
  1. Buy different boxes for different things if you can. It costs more, but it will make things so much easier and safer! Book boxes are small so they’re easier to lift. Wardrobe boxes are huge with a bar to hang your clothes and coats on. You can even throw your shoes or bedding in the bottom to maximize space.
  1. Use a big thick black marker to clearly label what’s in each box and exactly where it’s going. For example: “Jan’s Bedroom Closet – Athletic Shoes.” Think about the mover (or a lucky friend or relative) standing with the box at the front door of your new place wondering what the heck to do with it. Make sure it ends up as close to its final destination as possible so you don’t have to move things twice, or worse case, not find what you need with you’re buried in boxes.
  1. Keep a list of all boxes so you have a full accounting of what you packed.
  1. Mark a handful of boxes “Open First” or “Open Immediately.” Pack all the stuff you need every day, like toiletries, underwear, utensils, current bills, pet food, etc.
  1. Separate things into 3 piles: Trash, Donate and Pack. Think about what might be helpful, useful or inspirational to others. We gave silk flowers, plants and medical books to a senior center, books to the library and old sewing equipment to my mom’s tailor (who was thrilled!).
  1. Take a shot at selling anything you can on Craigslist or eBay. Just take good heed of the scam warnings. And know upfront that people who apparently really want to buy your stuff can be really flakey so implement the “first come WITH CASH or DEPOSIT wins” rule. I tried to be nice and offered people first shot, second, third… and got screwed for being so thoughtful. Also consider posting signs up around your neighborhood promoting a little “moving sale” with whatever you have at the end on your last two or three days to clear out the final stuff. Many local charities will also arrange delivery of anything from furniture, TVs, computers, clothes, or if you’re really feeling generous, cars.
  1. Resist the urge to just throw stuff in boxes. Be thoughtful. Throw the junk and stuff you don’t need or won’t ever use out. The worst thing is transporting more boxes than you need to your new place, only to keep those boxes hermetically sealed for years because you just don’t have the energy to go through them or deal with them.
  1. About a week or two before your move, fill out all of your “change of address” calls and forms. Remember it might take some time to get your phone, cable, or other essentials reinstalled or set up so get those requests in early. Also make sure that your utilities and creditors know your new address before your billing cycle ends, or be sure to write the new address on the back of your bills when you send them in. (Something like that!)
  1. Leave a nice note to the new people moving into your old place welcoming them. Then leave them your contact info in case they need to reach you or end up with any unexpected packages… or visitors! Thank them in advance.
  1. If you’re moving out of an apartment or condo with a landlord, be sure to leave a good final impression. You may end up needing them for references in the future!