My Top 5 Move Missteps

My family and I lived at the same address for 27 years – that changed about 3 weeks ago.

I mentioned in a previous e-Newsletter that my husband Bill and I decided it was time to simplify and shed ourselves of the extra work that a single family home with a big yard and pool demands – not to mention the accumulated clutter. I’m pleased to say all went well with the move. And we’re thrilled with our new condo home.

Fortunately, prior to the move, my husband and I were on the same page regarding breaking down the huge task of moving little by little. We kept lists of the tasks that needed to be done, and chipped away at it every day.

I may be a professional organizer, but I gained a keen respect for those who are “move managers.” I now understand how different our roles are at times.

One of the services I offer is preparing people to move by helping them sort, purge, and plan before the movers arrive. There is entirely different skill set that comes into play on the actual day of the move.

As I look back, I now realize that I wasn’t totally prepared to take on the role of my own “move manager.” Here are five missteps I made – keep these in mind the next time you move:

  1. Don’t bother with placing pretty little room stickers on all the boxes. I’m always looking for a reason to shop at the Container Store. They sell handy color-coded sticker packages for every room in your house. So, of course, I bought a couple of packages. This proved to be completely unnecessary (although they did support my need for color-coding while I was packing).The movers have their own system for marking boxes for their proper destinations in the new home. No color-coded stickers needed. Our movers just simply used a Sharpie to initial a “K” for Kitchen or “MBR” for Master Bedroom. Pretty efficient actually.
  2. Take pictures of the areas you want to reestablish in your new home. For example, when it was time to put our TV and additional components back together about two weeks after we moved; I wished I had taken a photo of the wiring.Redoing it, didn’t turn out to be a difficult as I feared because I had labeled each cable independently, but it would have been a lot less stressful to set up if I had taken a picture to document it in advance. Same with the china cabinet. When it came time to unpack the 10 boxes of china cabinet contents, I sure wish I had a picture of how it all fit previously!
  3. Don’t count on the movers to detail what’s in the box. Bill and I had packed about 80% of the house before the movers arrived. We left the kitchen and dining room to the movers. They are terrific at packing dishes and other fragile items safely – but they are not good at detailing the contents of each box. I was busy in other areas of the house and, by the time I realized this, 75% of the kitchen was packed. It was too late.
  4. Pack and clearly mark a complete “open me first” box. Since we were only moving six miles away, I skipped this step. Big mistake. Perfect items to include would have been our coffee pot, coffee, filters, a few sets of utensils, a sharp knife, hand towels, and trash bags! Believe it or not, it took me almost five days to uncover the coffee pot! (Which turned out not to be the end of the world because I am already well known at my new neighborhood coffee shop!)
  5. Get help on the day of the move. I thought I could manage the team of six movers on my own. After all, I was very organized, provided color-coded instructions in every room, and had most of the house packed already. I told my husband not to bother taking the day off because I had everything under control. Boy, was I wrong! Especially early on. The six capable movers were anxious to get started and they all needed direction from me. I should have had at least one other person with me who could address their questions, while one of us helped with the remaining packing in the kitchen and dining room. With an extra set of hands, the contents of the boxes could have been detailed, which would have helped tremendously once they were moved into our new home.

It’s completely expected that the unexpected will happen during a move. It’s never going to be perfect. Overall, it went well and we are already 95% unpacked. I learned some lessons that will be invaluable for the next time we move, which I hope is a long time away!

Here I am next to some of our empty boxes!

Here I am next to some of our empty boxes!

Ta-Da Tip of the Month

Throughout the packing and moving process, we learned so much. Here are a few of my most useful tips:

  • Pack your clothes in your suitcases. By doing this, you will cut down on the number of boxes you need, and besides, they are easy to maneuver.
  • Keep all your packing supplies in a small box. We used a box that was easy to move from room to room during the weeks we were packing, which included: Sharpies, packing tape, scissors, a box cutter, labels, and plastic snack bags to hold small items we wanted to contain.

    Packing Supplies

    Packing Supplies

  • Pack framed pictures in towels. Since we had a pool, we have a ton of beach towels. We used them to wrap all our pictures, which saved on wrapping materials.
  • Get comfortable with Craigslist. We were able to sell quite a few items on Craigslist, which was new to me. It didn’t take long to figure it out and proved to be well worth the effort.
  • Donate what you can’t sell. There are plenty of charities looking for items that you no longer want. Some will come to your home and take it all away at once. Others will take whatever you deliver to them. In addition, there is always to offer items for free to people in your local area.
  • Put your pet(s) in daycare. Overall, the move was probably emotionally toughest on our dog Jasmine. She knew big changes were happening, but had no idea what it all meant. For a couple of days and nights around our move we put her in daycare. It was safer for everyone that way.

    Here is a picture of Jasmine "helping" us unpack!

    Here is a picture of Jasmine “helping” us unpack!

I could go on an on about what worked and what didn’t. Now that we are all moved in and we have reflected on the process, we agree that for us it was better that we had a very limited amount of time to facilitate the move. It kept us focused and well ordered. Ta Da!

4 comments to My Top 5 Move Missteps

  • The ‘open first’ box with coffee & such is brilliant! And I’m a huge fan of packing in suitcases, and in rubbermade totes that can be easily stacked and stored later.

    After 5 moves in 4 years, I FINALLY figured out that it helps to have a small box of essential tools: hammer, small drill, various hooks & screws, and to label it “DO NOT BURY.” It was great to be able to immediately assemble my bed and shelves, so I could unpack boxes and put stuff where it belonged all in one step.

    Hope the new condo is great!

  • Great ideas Diana, not only for moving, such as putting all packing supplies in one box. Also taking photos of T.V. cables can be helpful. This Winter I vow to slowly start the process of getting organized for a future downsize.

    Thanks and enjoy your new home!!

    • It’s a great goal Chris. Breaking the task of downsizing into manageable chunks would be ideal. And if the Farmer’s Almanac is correct, we could be in for another winter perfect for indoor projects!

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