My recent move went fairly smoothly, but more because of the hoard of friends my boyfriend produced to assist than because of any real organizational system on my part. This I regret, since the result was a jumbled mess that I'm still tripping over... Here are six observations that I fervently wish I had been more aware of three weeks ago.
1. Moving is about the best opportunity for purging available, so several weeks before The Event go ahead and start on that. Donate any items you don't like or use anymore, and separately box any others that you aren't sure of, but also aren't willing to part with yet. Keep that box sealed and just stick it in a closet somewhere at your new place; if in a year you haven't needed the contents, donate the whole box. You may not even remember what the contents are by that point... (such a great tip -- my guess is that it would work particularly well on kids). Few things are more exasperating than realizing mid-move that the box you're hauling down the stairs is half full of books you'll never read again...
2. If you're particularly worried about an item or two traveling safely (plants, your computer, antique books, the china piggy bank you got as a kid -- whatever it is for you) then move those yourself prior to your actual move. The peace of mind will be worth the extra hassle.
3. Pack up the "can't-live-without" items separately (or together rather). Think this category through from more than one angle, because it just might end up including some items that are less than intuitive, such as the suction-cup hook used to hang your loofah in the shower (who would have guessed that misplacing that little piece of plastic would be such a pain in the neck?). In hindsight, other items that would have been included on my list are: coffeemaker, coffee, measuring cup, tea bags, alarm clock, sheets, pens, and scissors. All of these went AWOL for a couple of days (or even a couple of weeks) post-move, and life was bumpier because of it.
4. Pack clothes and toiletries as though you were going on an overnight trip -- having those things consolidated and accessible will be invaluable. Particularly if you have to go to work at 7 the morning after the Event, and sleep too long because at that moment God is the only one who knows the whereabouts of your alarm clock....
5. Big plastic trash bags are great for loading up linens, plastic Tupperware containers, and other unbreakables that don't deserve the hassle of boxes -- use a marker to label the bags with their contents, so later you can find things easily.
6. Lastly... I recommend having drinks waiting in the fridge at new place -- whether you prefer beer or a bucket of frozen margaritas, you'll want refreshments for anyone kind enough to have helped you, and a cold one for yourself too (if you don't drink, substitute ice cream or something else similarly celebratory...) Moving can be a lot of stress and a lot of work -- reward yourself!
Note: Items 3 and 4 probably aren't imperative if you have a couple of days free after the move to organize and unpack, but if you're moving at the start of a work-week or things are otherwise hectic, I promise that both are worth doing.
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