Oh No! I'm Moving Next Month!: What Present-You Can Do Now to Help Future-You

Two weeks to the move! I'll just pack this small box All-righty, what else Hm, looks like I'll need all this between now and then Welp, guess I'm done for now

I did it! I moved! For those of you planning a move now, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and there will be a time when you are done moving. I promise!

For me, there are three phases to the move process:

  1. 2-4 months out: Plan the rough outlines of the move - rent an apartment, hire movers, etc. This takes roughly a week.
  2. Spend the next 2-4 months worrying without accomplishing anything.
  3. Pack everything hurriedly the night before the movers come.

When I'm in the #2 phase, I know I should be doing something to help Future Me, who's going to have a ton on her plate in the #3 stage. But I'm frozen, because I can't really pack yet--I still need my things out--and I'm not sure what else to do. Of course, by the time I'm in stage 3, I can think of plenty of things I should have done!

With stage 3 fresh in my mind, here are some ideas, in case you're in stage 2 now.

KonMari Everything!
The less you own, the less you have to move. Take this time to make a pass through your stuff and set aside anything you don't want anymore, or won't want at your new place, for donation. If you a month or more until your move, you could even try selling things online or having a garage sale.

I always hesitate to do this because it seems like a waste to do a pass through my stuff when I know I'm going to be handling everything to pack it, but honestly, by the time I'm packing, I'm just blindly tossing things into boxes however they'll fit. I don't have time to think about each item, nor do I have time to deal with those items that I decide not to take. By the time you're in stage 3, it's actually easier to just take things with you than to figure out how to get rid of them, so it's best to take the time to get rid of things now.

Don't forget stuff that's usually invisible to you: stored items in the basement, attic, garage, shed, front hall, mud room, linen closet, etc.

Ask Yourself "Where Is This Going In My New Place?"
Make sure to include furniture and larger items in your KonMari process. These types of things often get a pass, especially if they fit nicely into your current home layout, but it may be that less or different furniture will work better at your new place.

Consider if there's anything you should replace before you move
Conventional wisdom is that you should wait until post-move to buy anything new, and, of course, that's usually correct. However, in our case, we were moving from a first-floor apartment to a third-floor apartment, so it actually made sense to get some larger items for the new place (like a new mattress) prior to moving since it was easier to bring large shipped items into the apartment from the old place, and we were hiring movers anyway. Now that I'm at my new place, I'm a nervous about getting anything else that's big, since we'd have trouble getting it up the stairs on our own, so I'm awfully glad we did that. If you're moving to a place that's hard to get into, or you have concerns about receiving packages in the mail, it may actually make sense to get some new-apartment stuff prior to the move.

Avoid the temptation to overplan a new apartment design
With the above said, definitely avoid buying new decor or storage solutions for the new place until you are actually on the scene.  Stage 2 can be a dangerous time of overplanning due to daydreaming about the glorious fresh start you're going to get at your new place. In stage 2, created elaborate pinterest boards for all the rooms of my new apartment and created a wish list of dozens of items. Now that I'm living in the new apartment, I don't want or need 90% of what I pinned.

Accumulate Boxes
During stage 2, keep your eyes open for opportunities to gather boxes. Put on your move-goggles and notice when local businesses put boxes on the curb. Take them! If a neighbor is moving in, ask if you can have their boxes when they're done. As stage 2 progresses, get more proactive, and begin asking grocery stores and liquor stores if they have any boxes you can take off their hands. Don't underestimate the number of boxes you will need--no matter how many I have, it seems I always use all of them. Your stuff will look a lot less compact when it's all out of drawers and cabinets.

Cook and bake all the weird stuff
Baking stuff was the first to be packed, for me, because I don't bake often, but if I'd been smart, I'd have kept it out a little longer and baked stuff in it. Cleaning out the pantry later, I discovered a ton of obscure ingredients for "I'll make that some time" plans that had never come to pass (or that had, but I hadn't used up the ingredient). It would have been worth it to do a pre-move pantry pass and baked up some ingredients before packing away my equipment.

Use up your pantry
As stage 2 winds down--say, 2 weeks from your move date--grocery shopping must cease. That means you stop caring about running out of stuff, and you plan meals around the things you already have on hand (and want to use up). Don't ration--use things up ASAP. Don't bother leaving ingredients for making meals on the day before your move. Just plan to go out or get take-out, since, at any given time, you may have packed up all your dishes and cooking stuff. You'll have too much on your mind to worry about the timing of what you pack when. Even if you have a simple kitchen, I don't think it's realistic to save all the kitchen stuff for after dinner on Move Eve.

Arrange a grocery delivery for your new place (well after the movers leave)
One of my best decisions was to order Peapod to be delivered on my move day. We were exhausted and famished after the move, and, since we'd done a pretty good job of using up our pantry, we didn't have the ingredients for a meal really. We especially didn't have those fresh ingredients that make for a quick, easy meal.

On your first grocery delivery at the new place, make sure to get all those little things you rarely get (but will have used up prior to the move), like condiments. Don't forget toilet paper!

A friend recently had a nightmare move with movers who were 3 hours late, so be sure to leave a margin of error, if you do this. It would suck to have your grocery deliverer trying to come to an apartment you're not at yet.

Load up a flash drive with non-Internet-dependent entertainment
One thing I didn't think about was the likelihood that there'd be a gap in my Internet service. Most of my entertainment now depends on the Internet, including Netflix and podcasts. And when you're doing something mundane, like packing or unpacking, having some entertainment on in the background can be really useful. Plus, it's comforting having your favorite dumb movies or shows on hand to make you feel more normal and relaxed when you're taking a well-deserved break. Take this time while you still have Internet and any media sources unpacked to set aside some of your favorite, non-Internet-dependent entertainment. This might include a flash drive of downloaded podcasts, an e-reader stocked up with library books and downloaded favorites, a disc wallet of your favorite CDs and DVDs, a book, a grubby pile of crossword puzzles, etc.

Pack a "don't pack" bag
Your last few days at your old place, and your first few days at your new place, you will be physically near everything you own, but you can't guarantee you'll be able to find anything you need. So, before you pack in earnest, set aside a suitcase which you can live out during The Dark Time. Make sure to include:

  • 3-5 days' worth of clothes. Don't forget whatever you'll need for the first few days at the new place, including work clothes. Make sure to include shoes and accessories.
  • Toiletries (your toothbrush, etc.)
  • Medications
  • Phone and charger.
  • Wallet
  • Keys for both places
  • Checkbook, or however you'll pay the movers. (Check what payment types they accept, and make sure you get a money order or cashier's check ahead of time, if you'll need one.)
  • Cash to tip the movers.
  • A pen to sign things.
  • The Holy Moving Trinity: scissors, packing tape, and Sharpies
  • Some spare paper for making signs (NO PARKING, FREE, TRASH, etc)
  • Your laptop, if you have one, and its charger
  • Earbuds
  • Entertainment (see above)
  • A roll of toilet paper, in case there's none at your new bathroom.
  • A flashlight, if there's any chance your electricity won't be on yet.
  • A water bottle - I usually have one on me anyway, but it's especially useful if you're not sure where the nearest cup may be. If there's any chance the water will be off at the new place, fill it ahead of time.
  • A few basic snacks (granola bars, gorp, etc.) for low-blood-sugar moments when the fridge is empty.
  • A compact dish and utensil set could be useful if you have something convenient lying around, like a to-go kit or a camping mess kit. If you don't mind disposables, consider getting some paper plates for the days surrounding the move.
  • Cleaning supplies - okay, you don't need this in your go bag, but you should set them aside since they'll be the last things you pack. You'll want to clean after you pack up. I kept out my broom and all-purpose cleaner spray bottle. A roll of paper towels was also super useful for us even though we usually avoid disposables, because otherwise we'd have had a bunch of dirty rags to pack at the end.

I've been very detail oriented here, but the weird thing about moving is how detail oriented it forces you to be, at least for a few days. You're forced out of your usual auto-pilot, all assumptions are off, everything you know is wrong, and, invariably, you discover you have absolutely no idea where a pen may be. If you're staring down a move in the near future, I hope this message from the other side has helped!


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