Judging from the comments received on The Epic Move Part 1 I am not alone in my frustrations with moving and movers! Like I said before, I take full responsibility though. During the past three weeks (3?!!) I’ve had lots of time to think about what I would’ve done differently to make packing, moving and unpacking a bit easier. Especially since we still don’t have TV. ahem. (See Tip #1 below.)
Some of these tips will seem obvious. Some will seem unnecessary. Trust me on this, they are not. The more preplanning and planning you can put into your move, the better.
I wrote these tips as things that would’ve helped me, a 55 year old woman living with her 85 year old mother. Lifting a 30 lb. box up a flight of stairs, out the front door, up four more stairs, and up the hill to the garage, well, that ain’t happening here. I have a hand truck, a collapsible dolly, and any other tool I can find, but still some things I just can not do and have to hire someone to help me. If I had planned better, the movers would’ve done it when they were here and things would not be so hard for me now.
Okay, let’s get started.
1. Don’t assume you’ll get the same internet, phone or TV service. Do not take the website’s word for it. Call way in advance to schedule installation. It’s easier to cancel than it is to get service when you need it.
As soon as we knew we were going to take the house I went on Comcast’s website to verify service at the address. The website said yes. When I phoned them they said they’d have to send a crew out to ‘find the line’. Six calls later, I have no idea if a crew ever did come out or not.
We now use Verizon for internet and phone. We’re still waiting for cable installation.
2. Plan ahead where you want furniture and appliances. Take measurements, do a space plan, whatever you need to do. Sure, you might change your mind later but at least you’ll have things generally where you want them.
3. Get moving discs. And a lever, if you can find it.
I found EZMoves at Walmart but most home improvement stores have some type of moving discs.
4. You can’t have too many boxes, too much bubble wrap or too much strapping tape.
I wasted precious time going back to buy more of all of it. Twice. I assumed I had enough and ran out of everything.
Check Craigslist for free boxes in your area. You have to be quick but you might save a lot of time and money. You can also try the big stores. I went to Walmart at 10 pm, talked to the night manager who gladly saved boxes for me the next morning. It’s worth a shot.
I should also mention that after you’ve unpacked, the same thing goes – put your boxes on Craigslist. Someone will thank you.
5. The plastic shrink wrap that comes on a roll is handy for a lot of odds & ends. If you’re using professional movers they’ll have some, but they’ll also charge you for the time it takes to wrap stuff.
A small roll – about 6” wide – was only $5-6 at Walmart. The long roll was $20 and I didn’t even use it. I used the small roll to wrap TV’s, mirrors, computer screens, some of my artwork, etc.
Oh, and it definitely helps to have a second person when you’re wrapping something.
6. Anything that has a cord and/or charger, tape it together or use a ziplock baggie for both. Put your cell phone charger in your purse.
I’m still looking for the charger to my drill. Yesterday I wound up buying a new one. It was either that or wait weeks until every single box is unpacked.
7. Mark every box and label contents. Movers won’t read it, but you will after they’ve gone.
Tagging Boxes For Different Rooms
Ok, at first I went a little overboard and bought seven (yes, 7) different colored tapes so each box would be color-coded. Then I was going to put the associated colored tape on an index card and hang it next to the door or the associated room.
Seemed like a good idea at the time. Until I was at about Day 3 of packing boxes. By then I was lucky if I got the room on the box and a general description of what was inside. Forget 7 different tapes!
However, I came up with what I thought was a brilliant plan – two different patterned duck tapes. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. Simple, obvious, and even young male movers would see it.
Only problem was the brilliant plan popped into my head late Monday afternoon. There was no way I had enough time before Tuesday morning to tape each and every box. So I pass this tip on to you. Let me know if it works or not.
8. If you’re moving into a two story house (or more), get two different colors or patterns of duck tape and tag each and every box accordingly. If a large number of boxes are going to another location, say your garage or workshop, get a 3rd color or patterned duck tape.
Duck tape will also work for mirrors, couches, furniture, appliances, just about anything that you are not personally moving yourself. I would, however, protect your surfaces with cardboard or newspaper before applying the sticky duck tape.
9. Pack an overnight bag with a few days’ clothes, toiletries and any other personal necessities so you won’t have to worry about it when you’re tired. Maybe even a set of clean towels. Or your coffee pot.
I can’t tell you how long it took me to locate Mom’s Keurig that night. My coffee pot, coffee & flavored creamer were the very last things I packed moving day and they traveled with me in the car.
10. On moving day, keep your keys, medicines and important papers with you. Bills that need to be paid, phone numbers, work papers, anything that you might possibly need in the next week, or two, keep in a separate bag or box and keep it with you, not the movers. Any chargers you’ll need for phones, iPads, computers, etc – keep those with you.
11. Keep your pet’s needs with you too. Food, toys, beds, whatever they need.
Moving is terribly hard on most animals. Mom’s boston terrier, Sadie, was a nervous wreck. When the movers came Mom grabbed Sadie and sat in the car with her for the entire four hours it took to load the trucks. (Sadie has her own “car seat”). Sadie was as good as gold, as long as Mom sat in there with her.
12. Insist that the movers (or friends) place boxes so you can see the labels.
One outta five doesn’t cut it. You’ll need to see what’s in which box. And the more movers/helpers you have, the more chaotic it gets with boxes being stacked here, there and everywhere. As soon as you see them set a box down, if you can’t see the label, tell them to turn it so you can.
I’ve had to use step ladders to reach the top box of a pile of whoknowswhat. I’ve used dollies to move huge heavy stuff set in the middle of the garage. All because I didn’t stay on top of the movers.
13. Do a walk thru at ‘old’ house with the movers. Check closets, pantries, every nook and cranny.
When I went back to the old house the day after moving I had an entire carload of stuff the movers missed. I lost an entire day of unpacking because I had to continue packing what wasn’t packed and moved with the movers.
14. Do a walk thru at new house and go thru this entire list. Do NOT let them leave until everything is where you want it and how you want it. Especially if you won’t have help later on like us. Get your washer hooked up, the beds situated, everything you need help with, have the movers do it!
No matter what, you’re going to be exhausted. No matter what, the movers will be exhausted too. But don’t let your own fatigue cloud your judgment like I did. Make sure everything is where you want it and you can see the label on every single box before they leave. Every room, every box, make sure you can see the contents. Learn from my mistakes.
Look, moving isn’t fun or easy for anyone. But the bottom line is, it’s your stuff. It only matters to you. Whether you have friends, family or professional movers, be consistent with what you want done, and they’ll do it.
Hey, they want the move to be over with just as quickly as you do.
What tips did I leave out? Do you have any to add? Leave them in the comments! Any unpacking or organizing tips? I’d love some of those!
Bonita Robinson says
Mark all sides of boxes with description of contents and/or room and add arrows showing “up”. Takes time, but worked for me by not having to chase movers to turn boxes.
Verizon also has a hotspot for internet. When bundled with phone and other stuff, it really isn’t that bad. The one on my verizon phone works better than my home internet at times.
Instead of two kinds of tape, I bought a bunch of blank printable nametags and printed out sheets of “kitchen”, “books”, “master bath”, “crafting supplies”, etc. This allows you to quickly slap labels on all four sides of the box, and one on top if needed.
Floor plan is a must! And, make a little sign to tape on the wall/door of the rooms for the movers.
With nine moves under my belt (some involving live stock!) I can offer the following tips:
Use abbreviations in your labels K, DR, LR, MB B#1, Bth, etc., and as stated above, label all sides.
Keep your packing tape on your large scissors by taping the end of the tape over the blades of the scissors. You won’t lose either the scissors or the end of the tape.
Clothes stay in their drawers, and never move an empty suitcase. Fill with linens, towels, etc and label with the room abbreviations above.
Number your boxes with priority #. 1 is a box you’ll need day one, 5 is a box you’ll probably still have by your next move! Yeah, it’s ideal to carefully list the contents, but almost no-one does that for every box.
Movers are such a luxury, so if your life doesn’t run to the luxurious, it’s nice to know that it’s safer to slide even large furniture up the stairs than it is to carry it. Find a flat surface, put it on a towel and shove it up the stairs! If it gets away from you, make sure you get away from it.
Hard to believe it has been ten years since my last. I still have three unpacked boxes labeled ‘useless glass ware’ to deal with. Darn.
Use boxes that are broken down flat, to slide wall art into, then tape the ends. Protects large prints/paintings well.