tips for planning an organized move

boxes

Dear readers, I’m moving! When, you ask? Well, tomorrow. Yes, after two glorious years of street noise, plumbing snafus and sleeping in a panic room-sized bedroom with my head basically sticking out the window in the night, I’m moving to another panic room in another walk-up (higher in the building, yay!) on another street in this crazy city. (Oh, New York, your wiles never cease to amaze!) I’m excited to get to nesting in the new digs but before that happens there’s just the detail of the actual move to contend with and that can be quite a process. Luckily, Rachel of the freshHOME blog recently conquered this territory (we also have the same bedding and wall color scheme, clearly I like to take my cues from her) with her move in March. While at it, she gleaned some tips from her readers that helped me to keep an organized move, so I’m sharing them here with some of my own:

– Number those boxes. Write numbers on all sides of each box and record the general contents of each in a notebook. This way you’ll not only be able to keep track of the collection, but also be able to prioritize unpacking and distinguish between the boxes even when stacked at the new place.

– Designate an “open first” box. Rome wasn’t built in a day and my new place won’t be, either, no matter how tiny. Navigate the chaos by setting aside a box early in the packing process for items you will want as soon as you arrive. By designating it early, you can toss things in as you think of them throughout the process. On Rachel’s list: A bottle of wine and a toothbrush. A kindred spirit indeed.

– Wrap fragile items in clothing. I bought bubble wrap, but it turns out my sweatpants do a better job for the low, low price of free.

– Plan ahead, purge your things. I took advantage of a serendipitously timed clothing drive at work to take stock of my belongings and get rid of the items I no longer needed or used. Another day was designated for going through papers, magazines and other small items. The result? A refreshed mental inventory of belongings and less stuff to haul to the new apartment.

– Take a break from the madness. Block out time to focus and pack and time to get away from the chaos afterwards. Doing so can go a long way to helping avoid the unproductive, aimless periods that tend to occur when the motivation wears off.

– Crowdsource for movers. We gleaned excellent recommendations from friends who were happy to share their experiences, both good and bad to inform our decision. Some also steered us to citymove.com, a website that allows you to post the details of your move, from number of boxes, to furniture size to your ideal price and crew size, and connects you with movers in the area who will then bid on the business. Reviews are included and the service is free; the only financial transactions you enter into are between you and the service you select. We ended up choosing a service off the site – I’ll let you know how it goes!

– Pack a takeout menu. Treat yourself. That first night will have a to-do list with more pressing items than preparing dinner in the cookware buried three boxes deep.

These are a few top-line tips, but I’d love to hear your tricks for surviving a move. What strategies have helped you pack? Anything you wouldn’t do again? Wish me luck! -–Sarah C.

For more move help, look no further than LifeHacker and these gems:
One Simple Move
The Moving Reminders Checklist
Five Essential Tools For Moving

(Special thanks to Rachel DeSchepper for her inspiration, The Home Depot for affordable boxes, my Syracuse University sweatpants for safeguarding my fragile items, including but not limited to my cabbage-shaped teapot, and the New York City rental and brokerage market for absolutely nothing.)

From our partners
Becca

I moved two months ago, and the best thing I did was to put colored dots on a couple sides of the boxes, one color per room, including basement storage. I stood in the apartment and directed movers (who carried boxes from my uHaul to my third floor walkup) to put boxes in the room they were supposed to go in.

It was awesome not to have to move boxes between rooms, and the colored dots let me see at a glance – and a distance – where things went.

One of the main reasons I love moving is the opportunity to go through everything, THROW CRAP AWAY, and organize. Good luck!

Pencils

Yes, wrap valuables in clothes–but not anything you’re going to want immediately, like your favorite jeans. I have a lot of linens, and several collections of breakable stuff (Pyrex, 50s lemonade pitchers, Fiestaware, etc) so I wrapped a lot of stuff in my old velvet drapes, in blankets, and used folded sheets as cushioning in the bottom of the boxes and tubs. And if you have anything really valuable, either at auction or sentimentally, pack it in plastic tubs (the rubberier ones, not the breakable plastic ones) and move it yourself. That’s what I did with my art pottery collection. I moved it myself, and put it in an out-of-the-way crawl space to keep it safe while we were unpacking and moving stuff around. And nothing was even chipped.

My other best advice is to keep a sense of humor. Things will go wrong, it’s inevitable, but be happy, you’re getting a brand-new canvas to decorate! ;) My last two moves were happy days, first was moving in with my boyfriend (later my husband) and the second was moving into our first house. And it’s been a year and we’re still not totally unpacked!

Sarah Christensen 2

Special thanks to my twin sister for recommending citymove.com, referring a great mover, providing extra boxes and moving tips, and making the suggestion of wrapping breakable items in sweatpants.

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