I’m not going to lie to you: moving is always stressful. But you can minimise the stress with organisation and planning. Here are 10 tried and true tips for making the process easier.Photo by John Moore/Getty Images
Like many people, my major experience of moving house happened in my early 20s. However, over the weekend I helped my best friends shift house in Melbourne. The disadvantage of moving later in life is that you have far more possessions to move, and (in many cases) the added complication of children. The advantage is that you’ve done it all before, so you’ve got a better idea of what’s involved.
1. Start chucking out unwanted stuff early
If you don’t start packing until the day before you move, you’ll end up panicking and just throwing everything into boxes without consideration. As soon as you know a move is on the cards, start the spring cleaning process. It’s much easier to throw stuff away than shift it, but if you’re trying to get rid of a lot of stuff, you’ll want time — whether that’s to sell it, freecycle it, give it away, or (in the worst case scenario) dump it.
2. Get measurements for the new place
Few things are more stressful than realising your cherished family heirloom won’t fit in your new living room. Try and schedule a pre-move visit to get accurate measurements of the main rooms. Also measure the width of the entrance doors, so you know what will (and won’t) fit through them. Picture by Ben Babcock
3. Weigh up using a removalist
If you’ve got lots of massive furniture, a bad back or an interstate move planned, then using a professional makes sense. If you have a lot fewer possessions or are only moving a short distance, then hiring a truck and doing it yourself can make sense. There’s no absolute rule; just consider your circumstances. Make sure you get quotes from multiple removalists if you do go down that path. If you hire a truck to drive yourself, take photos with your camera before you use it to avoid insurance arguments over any pre-existing dings. Picture by Vivian Evans
4. Tell your neighbours your moving date
As well as providing them with advance warning that there’ll be large trucks about, there can be other benefits: they might volunteer to help, or offer to let you make coffee at their place while the moving is happening.
5. Box everything you can up
Using boxes makes life much simpler and means you can carry more on each trip. You can buy packs of 10 archive boxes for about $20 at chain stores, or hit up bookstores for particularly tough boxes. When in doubt, use extra packing tape on the base of boxes to avoid unwanted splitting incidents. For really heavy items (like old-school vinyl LPs), plastic crates can be a better bet. Picture by John Bointon
6. Don’t use boxes or bags that are too large
Sure, it can be tempting to throw the entire contents of your wardrobe into a jute bag and lug it to the new place. But if the bag is too large, it will weigh too much, you’ll struggle to move it and it will probably tear in the process. Better to have two small bags than one large one. Picture by wetwebwork
7. Label boxes with their destination, not just their contents
With luck, you’ll have friends and family helping out with the move. That will work much more smoothly if each box is tagged with its destination in the new home. This is especially important if the new place is larger than the old one.
8. Keep cables and devices together
You don’t want to have your DVD player in one box and the cables to connect it up somewhere else entirely. Electronic gear often goes in the “I’ll move it myself in the back of the car” category; in that case, bag up the cables together after labelling them with masking tape or bread tags, so you can easily reconnect them at your destination.
9. Have a disposal plan for your boxes
At the end of the process, you’re going to have a lot of leftover boxes, so make sure you’ve got a plan for them. If you’ve got storage space, you can keep them and offer them to the next friend that moves. If not, a quick drive to the nearest recycling centre may be indicated. Picture by kimubert
10. Something will always go wrong
No matter how much planning you do, something will stuff up. Despite scheduling everything in advance and only moving 600 metres away, Telstra spectacularly failed in connecting any services whatsoever for my friends over the weekend and had no idea of when anything would actually happen. (Telstra likes making noise about taking customer service seriously but this experience suggests it has a long way to go in that department.) Similarly, a promised delivery of new furniture shifted from “definitely on Saturday” to “we have no idea when”. These irritations will happen. Don’t let them ruin the whole experience.
Obviously, this is a far from exhaustive list. What strategies do you use to ensure successful moving? Share them in the comments.