When we moved last year, the majority of our belongings made it to the new place unscathed. The only casualty of note was my bed frame, an IKEA buy from a few years earlier that we were incapable of taking apart on our own and the mover claimed could be moved as is. It could not, and shortly after they left our place we discovered that it had essentially been ripped in half in their attempts to get it into our second-floor walk-up.
So, what is the "right" way to move? The New York Times recently talked to a few professional movers to get their thoughts on the matter, some of which echo my own.
Many of us will pick up and re-locate at some point. Even knowing it's a pretty common adventure, moving is the third most stressful event in a person's life, after death and divorce. Here's how to deal with it.
Plan in Advance
Before this move, my official moving strategy had been "throw everything in a box" typically seconds before I threw it in the back of my friend's car to move to my new home. While there were definitely some last-minute packing adventures with this most recent re-location, I actually started packing a month before the move and paid special care to how I was packing up my belongings.
In general, unsurprisingly, you want to pack things in such a way that they won't get damaged, and will be easy to locate once you're in your new place.
We divided my old apartment up into sectors and packed in sections, making sure that the boxes we packed were both light and contained like items. Yes, your bedroom stuff might fit in the kitchen box, but you're really just making things complicated for yourself down the line.
Come up with a packing "plan" and stick to it. I hate packing, but when we broke it up into sections it didn't seem nearly as bad. Packing for an hour each night is a heck of a lot easier than frantically packing for the 12 hours leading up to the movers' arrival.
Wrap Those Breakables
Wrapping every dish in your cabinet, and especially every pint glass (I think I have 100) is obnoxious. It's also necessary. Pack those boxes with the idea that they're going to get thrown around. They might get dropped. They might get dropped down a flight of stairs.
Wrap things in bubble wrap, or kitchen towels, or something. We used liquor boxes with dividends to move some glassware which made things a tiny bit easier. The idea is to not leave anything up to chance. If it's important enough to move then it's probably important enough to protect.
The New York Times also suggests that dishes should be packed on their sides, not flat. You'll want to remove the coffee pot from your coffee machine, as well (seems obvious to me, but apparently some people don't do it), and you need to secure the swinging arm in that grandfather clock you want to move. The big mirror you have? Move it between a few mattresses.
Come Up With a System
Two friends of mine just made the trek from New York to San Francisco. Two of the most organised people I know, they had created a spreadsheet of what was in each box they moved. For instance, "Box 12" might be "dishes and the punch bowl."
When it came time to unpack, they weren't digging through the 45 "kitchen" boxes to find what they were looking for, they just had to look for the right box number. This method also makes it super obvious if the movers lose a box, and lets you know exactly what was lost. I aspire to be this organised.
Divide Ahead of Time
The New York Times article also brings up the hazards in moving when you're moving away from the person you're currently living with. Whether it's a significant other or just a roommate, make sure you've successfully divided up your property before the movers arrive, not after.
It's not their job to take sides in who really owns that coffee table, and if you don't have things figured out ahead of time you're setting everyone up for a huge headache.