The past few months have revolved around moving, moving, and more moving.
I personally moved in early September (resettled in Houston after 13 years away!). Moving into my place made me feel like a home owner as I YouTubed so many “how to’s”, ruined multiple outfits from painting, became addicted to home repair shows, and maxed out my credit card at Home Depot (FYI: those last two statements are false). But I did have a few freak out moments when I had to figure out how to seal out all the bugs and drafts from my super cute (but still a garage) apartment. Some fun issues I had to solve:
- The Queen box spring wouldn’t fit up the steep staircase. Took the door off, tried every angle possible. Refused to budge that last inch. So, what did we do? YouTube’d how to saw it in half! It was actually easier than anticipated and the feeling of folding it (hamburger style) and easily walking up the stairs (after struggling for so long to force it) provided giddy relief. (The springs easily folded back into original shape when we unfolded the box spring and nailed the three cut boards back to the frame). #success
- The front door didn’t have a frame. It’s open to the outside wood and garage wood. On the left is a tapered 4-2 inches, the right about 1 inch, and the top an even 4 inches. Can I just say one word? Cobwebs. *shudder* Light shining through from the outside…which meant bugs. Lizards. Dust. When I actually saw this (…and how did I not SEE this on the first two visits?!), I panicked. Sleeping that first night was a dismal experience as I felt creepy crawly things all over me (and yes, that first move in day, we found multiple spiders). So, my wonderful parents brought some wood and tools from my brothers (thanks T&R), and we (okay, they, I just held the wood as it was being sawed) added insulation, then built a door frame. Then I caulked the gaps and painted. Oh, it looks so good (and no room for spiders to sneak in!). #happiness
- Also sealed and painted the baseboards white as well as the stairs. #perkmeup
- A/C window unit. I’ve never experienced one of these. It’s loud. I wondered about the cost of it running 24/7 (turns out, around $20-$30 each month…*high five to savings*). There are gaps where the accordion thing connects to the unit. Guess what? I sealed those too!. After a week, I was able to tune out the racket, but I am excited for these cooler nights when I can open a widow for air and have peace and quiet. #freshair
- Gas leak. I had the gas turned on 6 days after move-in (because you have to be here 8am-8pm). So, when the gas people arrived, they checked everything in my apt, then went downstairs to the garage. There’s a gas leak, they’ll have to call in a crew from CenterPoint. Crew arrived. Bigger than they can handle, need another crew. So, after about 4 hours, my leak was fixed. Wahoo. Then a few days later, I decided to use the broiler in my oven. Another gas leak. Centerpoint shut me down a second time. #joysofgas
- Storage: so, it’s a 475 sq. ft. apartment. Tiny. But has a full kitchen, a walk-in closet, a coat closet, and plenty of space for my bed, tv, dresser, and hope chest. I bought a shoe organizer and a hanging organizer for the walk-in. The bathroom didn’t have any storage so I bought an over-the-toilet cabinet. Works perfectly. The kitchen has brand new cabinets but not enough storage for all my kitchen stuff so I bought a tall pantry cabinet. I already had one of those six cube organizers, so that’s helped with a lot of my odds and ends (winter gloves/hats, electronics, workout gear, extra bath stuff I don’t use often, candles). Finally, I bought a cute table (off FB marketplace) to be my desk and then a three cube organizer to hold my work papers and extra Tupperware. #OrganizingSkills
I had a client who flooded during Harvey. As they were renovating the entire downstairs (lost everything), they decided to add on a walk-in closet, utility room, and office to the upstairs master. They hired me to oversee the packing and loading into PODS of everything upstairs. At Thanksgiving, I oversaw the unloading and placement of the boxes/furniture and then we spent the next few weeks unpacking all of the boxes and finding new homes for each item. Their additions were an organizer’s dream. So spacious. Filled with built-in cabinets, lots of hanging space, and bookshelves. So nice and easy to find a home for all of their belongings. The kitchen, dining area, and bar had plenty of custom shelving as well. Such a wonderful home to work in.
Another client was affected by Harvey. The renovations were finally complete and we were hired to unpack them into their beautiful “new” home. Here, they were able to move the majority of the furniture, dishes, etc. to the second floor, so our job was to mimic the set-up pre-Harvey based on photos taken throughout the years. All items were touched and decluttering/purging did occur.
Lastly, I helped a couple pack up the majority of their belongings in April, which they stored for the summer. Then in early November, I helped them move into their new Houston home. Losing an upstairs game room caused us to have to rearrange a lot of their furniture, but they finally have everything settled, and it’s looking great!
So, what have I learned from these moves (and multiple others I’ve helped with)? Plan ahead. Here’s how:
- Lists: Make a list of all of the accounts that you will need to turn off in your current home and set up in your new home (water, gas, electric, insurance (home, flood, wind, earthquake, etc.), trash, cable/satellite, internet, security alarm, etc.). Make a second list of all the accounts where you need to change the physical address (bank, anything attached to your credit card, USPS, subscriptions, cellphone, etc.).
- Declutter: Before. You. Move. I cannot stress this enough. This could potentially save you hundreds of dollars as (1) you may have enough to host a garage sale (or sell on Poshmark, FB Marketplace, Craigslist, etc.), so you’ll actually make money, (2) you won’t have to buy as many boxes, (3) you’ll possibly need a smaller moving truck, and (4) your movers will be done faster as they have less to load and unload. Go through all of your belongings, literally, every closet, every drawer, even the boxes you haven’t opened in over a year or that you “know what’s in there and you want to keep it all”. Everything. Then decide if you will keep, donate, sell, or give away. Also, check out Green City Recycler who accepts all clothing, shoes, household lines, belts, purses, hats, and toys, no matter the condition.
Lastly, categorize your items together before the packing (move all that winter clothing into your master closet, collect all office supplies together, put your Tupperware lids with the matching bowls, etc.). Also, check out this list of common non-allowable moving items, so you’ll know what to discard before your movers arrive.
- Free Boxes: Log into Facebook Marketplace and search “Free moving boxes”. This is an easy way for people to clear all the boxes from their home (to your benefit!). You can also post on FB after you’ve unpacked and are looking to remove the boxes. Just don’t list your specific address on the ad (private message it to the person coming to pick it up).
- Visualize: Once you know what you’re keeping, visualize the rooms in your new home, and what you will place where. Now, walk around your current home and label the furniture and all the boxes with the new room assignment (e.g. is everything in the Master going into the new Master? Do you have a sunroom that you didn’t have before and now half your living room furniture will be in there? Oh, no, there isn’t an office in the new home, where do all those boxes go?). I like to color code my boxes/furniture to assigned rooms (you can buy labels from Amazon) as it’s easier for the movers to see a color than to read each box. Be wary of placing the stickers on furniture (these ones are recommended for not leaving sticky residue on furniture or you can use color masking tape). Also, when taking apart anything, place all parts inside a Ziploc bag, label it, and then tape it to the largest piece. This way, you’ll have everything you need to set up the bed, dresser, tv stand, etc., without having to dig through any boxes. Lastly, make sure to label the box FRAGILE if there’s anything breakable inside.
- Personal Vehicle Packing: Make a list of everything you will need within the first 5 days (I say 5 days because sometimes there are delays and it’s better to over-prepare than under-prepare). Then box it up (or place in a suitcase) and transport it in your personal vehicle. This includes packing for a 5 day trip (clothes, toiletries, hairdryer, etc.), anything you store in your safe (important documents, mad money stash, nice jewelry, etc.), basic tools (hammer, nails/screws, screw drivers, pliers, box cutters), cleaning supplies (dish soap, sponges/rags, multi-surface spray, trash bags, hand soap), electronics (phones, laptops, e-readers, chargers, etc.), and daily vitamins/medications, sheets/comforter/pillows, towels/washcloths/shower curtain, toilet paper (most important!), tea/coffee (caffeine!), and to help you feel normal and somewhat civilized, a set of plates, cups, and silverware (or buy plastic silverware and Styrofoam plates for easy cleanup). You can also pre-purchase and cut shelf liner so the shelves are ready before the movers arrive. Lastly, keep some cash for tipping or last minute purchases. If you have children or pets, pack food, clothes, medications, etc. for them as well.
- Food: Ideally, you’re only moving an hour or two away and can deliver the food via cooler. However, if you are moving long distance, it’s best to whittle down the food supply in advance, so you do not have to throw anything into the trash. A month before you move, start planning meals around the food in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. The goal is to use the majority of what you have and only buy a few fresh ingredients. If you still have food left near moving day (and you don’t (or can’t) move it in your personal vehicle (moving companies won’t move perishable food)), consider donating it to a local food bank. In addition, don’t forget to store snacks and ready-to-go meals in your personal vehicle during the times when movers are loading and unloading. You’ll need a pick-me-up throughout the moving process.
- Storage Items: If you know you’ll be storing items in your new home, skip the moving box, and buy a bin to transport these items. Then the bin just goes into your garage, closet, etc. Plus it’s one less box to unpack!
8. Soft Items: You can use heavy duty trash bags to transport large soft items such as comforters, blankets, sheets, towels, etc. This will save you money on buying large boxes (30 bags for the price of one box…loving it) and be easy to unpack in the new home.
What tips or tricks do you find helps the most when moving?
What has moving taught you?