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Moving 101

La Jolla Hygge House

When I say I’ve moved a lot, I’m not exaggerating. I moved almost every year of my childhood and then at 18 became a vagabond in which I lived all over the world for the next 6 years (out of two suitcases which made packing rather easy). In 1999 I immigrated to America and have since lived in 13 homes in 4 states – packing up everything from a studio flat to a house. And whilst in Ireland last month, I learned my Carmel by the Sea home had been damaged by storms and had to come back and pack up what was left and move out quickly.

Needless to say, I’ve learned a few things:

  1. For smaller, easier moves (for me this has been a 2 bedroom house & flat about 1100 square feet) I’ve found the best/easiest/most economical way to move is a combination of movers from eMove.com and renting a uHaul or Penske truck, driving it myself (Budget does not have ramps which makes moving difficult and longer). I used Atlas Moving Vans and had a great (but expensive) experience from my Seattle-Los Angeles move but a bad (and expensive) move from Los Angeles-Austin (including lost boxes, delayed delay, and a very slow unload with lots of things broken). Penske is more expensive for a self-move, however, for long drives (2 days or more), it’s a lot more comfortable.
  2. When packing use no peanuts. They’re not environmentally friendly so just don’t. I wrap some things in towels, in my linens, between pillows (like vases, lamps, bigger objects that are light) and then use bubble wrap for smaller things. And to close the bubble wrap I use painters tape – it keeps it shut but makes it easy to open after.
  3. I pack according to room and to type. So the bedroom will all be packed together, with bedroom lamps in a box, then linens in a box and everything very easily marked on the box (with a number which I then write in a Word File with a description). I never let a box go unmarked. This way when I unpack I know which room to put it in, if I need to unpack it right away, if it goes into long term storage and where everything is.
  4. I pack a few boxes with big red letters that say “UNPACK NOW” – these items are dishes, bathroom bits, medicines or food I need.
  5. I always unpack two rooms first – bathroom and bedroom – so I make sure these boxes are easily accessible during the move. You’re going to want to shower and sleep after moving!
  6. Don’t ask friends unless you are broke ass. I say this because moving is no fun. So unless you are prepared to let them go – don’t do it. Besides, if you hire movers, it’ll go so much faster because they know how to load and unload goods and also pack things into a truck much faster. I always make a Starbucks run for my movers and supply lots of water and food. This makes them happier and actually work better since they’re not starving.
  7. Fragile stickers almost never work for movers – they just seem to ignore them. So make sure valuables are really packed tightly and safely. Like I said, I wrap in bubble wrap then maybe a layer of towels or cushions. Then I make sure these boxes go in the mothers attic on the truck or that I see where they go.
  8. Which leads me to say that before the move, I stack like boxes together in an empty room. So all the heavy boxes are in one corner, breakables in another corner, light boxes in another. This way I can better direct movers when packing and loading up – it makes things move faster.
  9. I have a lot of rugs which I roll up together. So grab two carpets, put them good sides together, roll and then secure with string and put them in a large garbage bag (or two). I generally forgo rug bags – they’re an unnecessary expense and garbage bags work wonders on covering up a lot of things. I do, however, buy mattress bags – especially those with handles. It makes moving large mattresses way easier and keeps them clean.
  10.  Any furniture with slipcovers are stripped to the bones. That way the covers don’t get dirty or dinged.
  11. 11. Mirror boxes are a must for obviously mirrors but also for artwork. It really does protect them and you can easily cut two to fit larger pieces.
  12. If I have furniture with edges I’m concerned about, I’ll apply some painters tape so that the edges don’t get dinged when moving. And the paint doesn’t strip the furniture when you remove.
  13. I use moving as a time to purge. So whilst packing I’ll really examine what I need and want to move and start making piles – to throw out, to give away, to garage sale, to eBay. This gives me an opportunity to start fresh in my new home.
  14. For food, I pack it in coolers to transport but again, I get rid of anything old or stuff I could donate.
  15. If you have pets, either keep them in an empty room during moving day, at a friends or think about putting them with a pet sitter. You don’t want dogs walking around as they can get in the way and some movers are scared. Cats will hide with a lot of noise and moving so if you put them someplace, they’re easier to find. If you choose to put them in a room or a bathroom, place a HUGE note on the door that says, “PET INSIDE, OPEN DOOR SLOWLY.” Also make sure pets have food and water not just during the move, but once you have moved to the new place.

What are your tips?


1 Comment

  1. MonicaNo Gravatar
    June 3, 2008 / 7:43 AM

    When I was in college and didn’t have a lot of stuff but was moving a lot between different apartments, I invested in 6 really big Rubbermaid containers. I could fit all my stuff in them, I wasn’t searching around for mix and match boxes and they all stacked into each other for compact storage. Now that I own a house with a garage, I use them for extra storage.

    I would also recommend (if you have the storage space) to keep the original packaging for breakable or sensitive to movement items. I kept my the box my computer came in with all the custom-fitted styrofoam inserts so it was always really easy to pack it back up and not be worried about it getting jostled during the move.

    And amen to #6. 🙂