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Moving to a new place is an incredibly stressful process, especially for people without prior moving experience. It is so stressful that it’s commonly ranked just below death or divorce in terms of severity. It’s one thing to be a bystander when you’re a child, but organizing a move yourself is exhausting and difficult. However, when planned properly, moving house is one of the main ways to create a massive positive change in your sleeping conditions and overall lifestyle. In this guide, we will go over advice on how to plan your next move (pun intended), and avoid feeling overwhelmed and stressed out to an unhealthy degree. With a good plan, a detailed checklist and some effort, a move can be made much smoother and more tolerable. So let’s begin.
The Great Moving Checklist
One of the best ways to keep things moving in a controlled and steady fashion is to maintain a checklist that boils down moving into a set of steps. Decide what your moving date is going to be, and then start clearing the checklist at least two or three months in advance. It should give you ample time to find a good moving company if you choose to do so, and a buffer period for dealing with unfortunate events is never a bad thing. We will explain the steps taken during a move, so you don’t feel confused about which activities take priority early on.
- Keep track and organize by buying a notebook or open a document on your laptop or smartphone. It’s easy to get confused in a hectic situation like moving, so be smart about it.
- Sort your belongings and determine which of them you are 100% invested in moving. If you don’t truly need or use something, it’s a good idea to donate it, sell it, or get rid of it. Many households end up in a Hoarders-style situation because they get sentimental about old possessions when these items are more trouble than they’re worth.
- Find a moving company. The earlier you deal with this, the better. Sort through the companies until you find a handful of top candidates, then speak to them to narrow down your choice. Make sure you look up customer reviews, just in case an otherwise trustworthy-seeming company has a reputation for breaking or “losing” items. If you’re arranging a long-distance move, find a mover even earlier than you normally would.
- Search for packing supplies like boxes and tape. Boxes can often cost very little to nothing if you know where to look. A smart approach is to get in touch with furniture stores. These stores have a variety in terms of box size since furniture itself comes in various sizes. Print shops are another solid option since they often have a surplus of paper boxes that you can use to carry smaller items. Priority mail boxes that post offices use are a great idea too.
- Purchase a hand truck and other moving tools. These tools are often fairly inexpensive, and they can be a lifesaver while moving to a new place. You want a hand truck that can comfortably handle at least 150 lbs. Look out for extra-thick wheels as they make it easier to transport the goods without the risk of deflation. A scalpel or box cutter is another cheap and practical tool to get your hands on, to make the unpacking process that much easier.
- Set aside all your important documents. Passports, birth certificates, school records, everything. If you have a safe place to keep these items, consider storing valuables like jewelry with them. These are crucial items you don’t want to lose in the potential chaos of packing all your stuff, and you will probably be transporting them yourself for added safety.
- Measure your new home. All your stuff may be able to fit into your current home, but it’s very easy to overestimate the amount of space you’ll have in the new place by looking at the largely empty rooms. If you find yourself suddenly worried about whether all your things can safely fit into the new house or apartment, it may be time to do another round of sorting and purging. Only keep what you know you’re going to use regularly. Additionally, measure the walls if you intend on putting up wallpaper or doing any kind of early redecorating.
- Make bedding plans immediately. The last thing you want while unpacking is low sleep quality and bed problems. Determine whether your new home has room for your current bed, or if you want to make changes. If your mattress is close to or past its warranty expiration date, you should look into getting a new one. If you recently entered a relationship and are encountering sleeping problems due to your partner’s sleeping habits, there are mattress options that solve a lot of those problems. If you need to save space in your kids’ room, consider a bunk bed. Whatever your goal is, make that plan as early as possible to save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.
- Pack up currently irrelevant items. For example, if you’re going to be moving in the middle of summer, you don’t need to keep winter jackets and coats in your closet. You also probably won’t be reading most of your books, for the time being, so pack them too. Get things like this out of the way early, since it also helps you keep track of what remains unpacked.
- DIY approach. Some people prefer the DIY approach over dealing with moving companies. If you wish to take this route, renting a truck is the obvious first step. Most if not all rental companies charge roughly $1 per mile, and some of them come with miles included in the rental price. Getting included miles like that is only worth it if you’re planning on moving over a long distance. If you’re moving locally, then a cheaper pay-per-mile deal is your best bet. Make sure the truck’s insurance covers the most likely sources of damage, such as trees damaging the roof or similar problems. If you run into accidents and complications on the road, even if it doesn’t result in physical injury, you may find your wallet taking a big hit to cover the damage. Avoid that situation in the first place by choosing good insurance.
Just as with moving companies, rent your truck early in the preparation process. That way, you can snatch up good deals before they become unavailable, and avoid being forced into sub-optimal or overpriced choices. You may encounter special discounts if you’re a student or you’re shopping online, and those discounts can be generous (going as high as 50% or more in some cases).
- Ask your friends to help you move. Trying to move to a new place without help can be nearly impossible for some people. Everyone who has ever moved house can relate to how exhausting and stressful it is. If they’re available, ask your friends and to help you pack, unpack, or transport items. Make sure to treat them to a nice dinner and pay their fuel costs to show gratitude. Offer to help them move when the time comes.
- Transfer your utilities. Make a detailed list of your monthly services – electricity, gas, water, phone, television subscription, Internet, etc. Don’t overlook anything or you can run into complications down the line where you want to avoid them more than ever. Write down what’s on the meters, so that you don’t have to remember it during a hectic move. Fill out your address change form as well. Try to do all of this early, since you may have to wait for certain services to be installed properly, and you want that sorted out as soon as possible.
If done without preparation or planning, packing is a nightmare of lost items, confusion and stress. It’s very easy to misplace something or have a precious belonging damaged due to negligence and rush. As with everything else when it comes to moving to a new place, planning is key.
An important thing to do when packing and preparing to move is set aside all the things you’re going to need close-by during the whole moving process. For example, you’re going to need a few sets of clothing to switch between while you pack everything else and transport your belongings. These clothes should be kept in a separate suitcase that allows for easy access, and you should treat that suitcase as though you’re on a trip. Everything you use on a day-to-day basis is there, like toiletries and similar items. Once you’re done packing the rest of your things, you can simply close that suitcase and take it with you. This approach prevents you from accidentally packing something crucial for your day-to-day life.
Before packing anything, sort your belongings to make your job easier. A common approach (and one we strongly recommend) is sorting and packing items by room. This makes it very easy to later unpack and distribute those possessions in your new home. While you will typically have to make compromises and sort some things outside of their room-specific boxes, this approach also benefits people you have helping you, when combined with a good labeling habit. If you unload a box labeled “Kitchen – Plates,” you immediately know where to take it and unpack the items inside. It reduces stress and helps you unpack much faster than you normally would.
A lot of homes have some sort of storage room, and in dire situations, a regular room can be repurposed into one. If you have to pack a lot of extra sheets, pillows or similar items, pack them all together, so you’re aware of where you used to keep them, and how urgent it is to unpack them, as well as where they belong in your new home.
As mentioned above, labeling helps save a ton of time, if you are thorough and diligent. We recommend purchasing stickers that allow you to write on them, and marking the following attributes on each box:
- Mark the room the items inside belong to. This one is intuitive. Labeling like this helps whoever’s unloading and unpacking know which room they should go to and saves a ton of time and patience.
- Mark the weight. It is crucial for loading the packages into a truck since it prevents accidents where a heavy box is placed on a light one, causing potentially serious damage. Especially when you’re not the only one doing the loading, help your partners out by labeling for weight.
- Mark the orientation. By this, we mostly mean which side goes up. Much like the weight labels, the orientation labels are essential for managing storage space and loading/unloading trucks.
- Mark boxes with especially fragile contents. Another self-explanatory bit of advice, but one that is often overlooked. Boxes labeled as containing fragile items should be placed individually, and ideally secured into place by nearby heavy boxes.
The End of the Road – Moving In and Unpacking
It takes time to settle into a new home. The layout of the place is probably entirely different from what you’re used to, and you may not feel completely in charge. Unpacking properly isn’t very difficult if you’ve been following the advice thus far, but we still have some advice we want to share.
- Find a closet and use it early. While it’s not super-difficult to unpack, it will result in having stuff all over the place that may not have been distributed properly. If you have any boxes that don’t have to be opened immediately, store them in your closet to free up space elsewhere in your home. Once the crucial things have been properly unpacked and placed, you can take these boxes out and properly unpack them. Follow the same storage guidelines you would for loading a truck – read your labels for weight and orientation and obey them.
- Keep your furniture assembly manuals if possible. It largely applies to the period between purchase and your decision to move. Some pieces of furniture are big enough that they have to be disassembled before transport. It can cause problems when you have to put them back together again if you don’t have a manual or another kind of resource that walks you through the setup process. Luckily, most manufacturers can send you an email with a copy of the instructions. Try to secure that copy before attempting to move, as a part of the planning phase.
- Before you push your furniture into place, give it a healthy dust-up. Transporting your boxes and furniture often gets them slightly dirty, and you don’t want to have to deal with that dirt when other items are preventing you from moving individual pieces of furniture. Clean them before they’re in their proper place, so the biggest problem you have is dirt on the floor – which is very easy to deal with in comparison.
- If anyone helped you move, make sure to compensate them for their fuel costs (if they’re your friends) or tip them some cash (this mostly applies to moving company workers, but your friends will appreciate it too!). Treating your friends to some barbecue for a job well done also does wonders, since helping you move is a huge favor.
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Co-founder of Counting Sheep and Sleepaholic