Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Everything I learned about packing up a house before a move

As a child, my family moved from place to place to place.  My parents tell me we moved about ten times since I was born.  Following jobs and chasing the dream home until my parents landed for ten years, then I moved out when I turned eighteen.  My parents then divorced and moved a few more times.  I ended up moving thirteen times after I moved out of my parents house.  From the beach in Maryland to West Virginia, back to the beach, traveling down the east coast with the carnival (that's a story for another day), back to the beach, back home, out to the city with a roommate, back home again, out again, and again and again and again.  So I am becoming quite efficient with the whole process.  My in-laws are moving and asking me for tips, they suggested I share my wealth of information.

As soon as you know you are moving, pin down a date and rent a U-Haul (this is the only company I have used, there are others available) if you don't have any friends or family with trucks, SUV's or vans.  If you reserve a truck on their website, be sure to call them right away to confirm the schedule.  They do over promise sometimes and call-in's get first priority.  You MUST have a landline or know someone who does to confirm your identity in order to rent the truck.  Someday I hope they change this, I only know two people with actual landlines.  Also, renting a dolly and two or three dozen furniture pads is helpful.

Call all strong friends and family to help you on moving day.  You can't have too many people.  The goal for me has always been to move everything out and into the new place in five hours or less.  I like to schedule moving at 8 AM.  I plan to feed and water the help after everything is moved.  Usually lunch and beers, whether fast food or home cooked, feeding the help has always been a priority.

Start collecting boxes and packing supplies.  Stop at local grocery stores, liquor stores and retailers asking for boxes.  Smaller boxes are great for packing heavy items, bigger boxes are good for packing linens, towels, toys, etc.  Get as many as you can, chances are once you get started, you will realize you need more boxes.  Save all newspapers, ask neighbors to save theirs for you too.  Save all old linens, towels, bedspreads, blankets, even tshirts.  These items will come in handy for packing breakables and protecting furniture in the moving truck.  You will need a permanent marker, tape gun with extra tape and a box cutter.

Time to get to packing.  Begin by taping the bottom of the box well.  The last thing that needs to happen is the bottom dropping out during the move.  Start in one room and wrap breakable items with paper or old linens, the key to avoiding broken things is packing them safely.  I will place non-breakable items throughout the same box and usually don't wrap them in anything if they aren't in danger of being damaged by something else.   Keep items from the same room together in boxes.  After the box is filled, tape it shut, mark the top of the box with the room it belongs in at the new house and start a location to place completed boxes.  Boxes should not be too heavy to lift.  Use small boxes for heavy items and for very heavy items, such as books, fill the box no more than can be easily lifted and fill the remainder with pillows, linens, stuffed animals, etc.  If you don't have any type of filler items, leaving the box partially empty is fine too.  

The order I like to pack up the house:

1. Decorative items
2. Rarely used kitchen appliances
3. Linens, towels, seasonal clothes (leaving out what is being used, of course)
4. Books, DVD's, CD's
5. Basement/Laundry room
6. Garage/Attic
7. Bathroom
8. Bedroom
9. Living room
10. Kitchen/Dining room

All TV's, stereos, computers and electronics are wrapped in comforters or blankets and transported on the car seat or trunk of the car.

Clothes hanging in the closet; using a large drawstring unscented garbage bag, scoop up a reasonable amount of clothing from the bottom still hanging in the closet and tie the bag shut around the hangers.  This way you can lift the bag out of the closet and all the hangers won't fall in the bag, then you can just re-hang the bag at the new house and slip off the bag.  Ta-da!

At some point you will run out of "like" items to pack in the same box, it happens to the best of us.  Just use what you can to fill the box and keep packing.  

The last week before moving you should be eating off paper plates with plastic ware and drinking out of paper cups.  Plan on microwave/oven meals, lunch meat sandwiches or take-away for meals.  

The day before the big move EVERYTHING should be in boxes and ready to load on the truck.  Nothing worse than to show up to load boxes and the homeowner is still trying to get boxes packed.

Women are key during the move.  Men need ladies to hold open doors, direct around walls and corners and to alert movers of potential trip hazards on stairs, floors, etc. 

Load up the furniture into the truck first, leaving a small walk space you can at least squeeze through down the middle of the truck, this will be handy later.  Use furniture pads, blankets, sheets to protect the furniture from banging around and being scratched in transport.  After the truck is partially loaded with furniture, start placing boxes in and around the furniture Tetris-like.  Remember that small walk way I mentioned earlier??  Mattresses and box springs are a wonderful way to help keep everything the way you intended.  Stand up your mattresses and fit them into the walk way or wherever else you need them to prevent box slides (like mud slides, only with boxes). Pack everything on the truck carefully, so as when the truck turns the first corner on the road, nothing slides around or topples off precariously perched items.  The trick is to find boxes that fit the space and squeeze everything together to prevent sliding and toppling.  I stack things almost to the ceiling to utilize all the truck space.  Remember, what you put onto the truck first will come off last.  I find placing all the largest furniture on first is most helpful, then fitting the rest on in leftover spaces.

I have moved in sunshine on the hottest days, rain, sleet and snow on the coldest days.  Weather is of no worry.   More importantly, men should stay out of the kitchen when the women are unpacking and women should stay out of the garage when men are unpacking.  My father kindly reminded me to mention this noteworthy piece of advice.

Good luck and if you have any questions, I would be happy to elaborate.  Happy moving!

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