Moving is an exercise in dealing with our stuff.
Moving can evoke a plethora of emotions ranging from trauma to liberation.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American moves 12 times in their lives. You’d think that with so much practice, people would be better at it.
I lived in the same house for the first 18 years of my life. Since then, I’ve moved at least a dozen times.
I do like getting settled in and growing some roots, but I prefer the excitement of sorting through my stuff, lightening my load, exploring myself in a new environment and making the most of where I land.
A house is four walls. A home is all of the contents and people in it.
Relocating doesn’t have to be a drag. If we take intentional measures, moving can be efficient and enjoyable.
9 easy steps to take when it’s time to move.
1. Take out the trash. As were cataloging through the many objects of our home life, we will naturally undergo a weeding out process. When we come across things we don’t need, it’s important to let them go. We can throw it out or donate stuff, in good condition, to the thrift store.
2. Start a give away pile. This pile will start forming while we’re taking out the trash. Get rid of the pile often, drop off one bag at a time at the thrift store when we’re out running errands. Make a free pile in the front yard and watch the unwanted items disappear (one note of caution—be super duper careful that things we actually do want to keep are nowhere near the free pile. It stinks when someone accidentally grabs one of our treasures.)
3. Strategize. Take a good look around the house. Honestly assess of all of the objects we see. I always ask myself these three questions:
a. Do I love it?
b. Do I use it?
c. Is it broken?
After answering these questions, act accordingly.
Of course, if we truly love something we can keep it. People have sentimental attachments to objects —this is okay. Better yet, we can share our favorite treasures with our friends.
If we don’t use it, why bother keeping it? It can be of benefit to someone else.
I have a lot of projects. I love fixing stuff. But, do we really want to drag a broken or unfinished project along with us? Probably not. It’s okay to let these things go. There will always be more and better projects. I promise.
4. Get good boxes. This does not mean we need to go to the hardware store and spend a lot of money on our moving boxes, although that is one easy way to take care of it.
I prefer to find previously used boxes. Free and eco-friendlier!
Make friends with the produce manager at the neighborhood grocery store. They have access to all the best boxes. I particularly like the banana and apple boxes. They’re a descent size and have lids. The liquor store is another great bet for finding lots of free, smallish boxes. These are actually perfect because they aren’t too heavy when they’re packed.
Looking on Craigslist is another safe bet for finding good moving boxes. One trick I love, on a box hunt, is to keep my eyes peeled for moving trucks and signs of occupation. I note the address and during the next few days, I visit their recycling bin. Boxes galore!
5. Cry. Scream. Laugh. Moan. Moving can make us feel raw! Uprooting ourselves from a place of comfort can be unnerving. Whatever it is we’re feeling, honor that emotion. Go deep into our feelings and express them. Let our emotions flow through us so that we’re ready for the next step.
6. Start packing. There is an art and technique to packing. Stowing away our belongings can be done methodically, room by room.
a. Make sure we have packing supplies. Packing tape and gun, sharpies and old newspapers.
b. Pack our favorite treasures first. These are things we don’t use everyday, but definitely want to hold onto. Pack them away and enjoy the empty space.
c. Label the boxes. List the contents of each box and label which room it belongs in at our new house.
d. Be careful. If something is dainty, wrap it in newspaper, nestle it gently with other breakable objects in a box marked fragile.
e. Get busy. A house can hold many things. Keep at it. I like to have a goal of a certain number of boxes per day, so there is not a last minute rush of disorganization.
f. Pack the truck. Borrow a pickup truck from a friend and make lots of trips or rent a U Haul and make one big trip. Have the strongest folks carry big objects and let smaller friends carry boxes. Delegate a job for everyone.
g. Moving day bliss. Put a sign on the door to each room at the new house. All of our helpers will feel smart when they can match the room written on the box with it’s designated landing spot.
h. Unpacking. Everything is nice and tidy, in boxes and in the correct room. Just decide which objects we want to put away first (remember that all of the boxes are labeled with their contents.)
7. Find a new house. If we haven’t already found the perfect place to land, it’s time to manifest the home of our dreams. Make two lists. Title one frivolous desires. Name the other practical needs. Brainstorm and thoughtfully fill both lists. Choose a place that has at least a few things from each list.
8. Pull up stakes. Make moving day fun. Invite a lot of friends over. Seriously. Moving is hard. Furniture is heavy and there is always more to pack than we’ve imagined. Sometimes asking for help can feel uncomfortable.
Do it anyway.
Simply reach out to our community of friends and ask them to invite a friend. Maybe one of our buddies is really good at moving—invite them to get involved. Throw a moving party and make it fun. Offer the volunteers food and drink and good music. People have an innate desire to help—let them. They’ll thank you for including them.
9. Leave the house in better shape than how found it. For real. I always make a lot of home improvements when I’m living in a house. And, when I move, I make the house shine. I clean the fridge, the stove and oven, I sweep, mop, wash the baseboards and stairs, scour the kitchen and scrub the bathroom.
When I vacate a house, I leave it in pristine condition. If we’ve been renting, it’s a great way to say thanks to the landlord for letting us use the house—and maybe get a few bucks of the security deposit back. Mostly, it’s a nice gesture to the next occupant and a graceful way to say welcome home!
Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!
Editor: Renée Picard