What I Have Learned About Moving


I don’t like to move.  I really don’t .  I have a very strong nesting instinct, and I don’t like to have my nest disturbed.   When we moved into this home, I announced that I would never move again.  I’ve since learned that one should never say never.

This is the third move in our eight years of marriage.  I wouldn’t say that is moving a lot, and I wouldn’t say that I am an expert,  but I have learned a few things: most of them the hard way.

1. The transition is more chaotic than the actual process of getting from here to there.

As I said before, I have a strong nesting instinct.  I like for things to be kept neat, tidy, and organized.  However, when you are building a new home and the building schedule starts, stops, and then starts again leaving your target move date in limbo, there just really isn’t a way to feel completely settled.  Even this close to our actual move-in date I have piles of clutter that need to be dealt with, but the dealing with them at this stage is pointless because everything is very soon to be loaded into a box and transported to our new home.  My suggestion to this sort of problem: It is ok if the house isn’t spotless while you are in transition.   Cut yourself a lot of slack.  Maybe not as much as I cut myself:  sitting in my boxers till late morning putzing about on Facebook is a bit too much. Some slack though, is a good thing.

2. One should think ahead while one is still thinking clearly.

Make a list of those items you don’t want anyone else to touch, that shouldn’t go in the moving van. Things like your wedding photos, special mementos that can’t be replaced, fragile items that don’t belong in the same box as your pots and pans.

Make a list of all those contacts who will need your new info when your address changes. (I’m ashamed to say I have yet to do this one)

However, when the chaos of those last few weeks sets in: make sure you’ve put those lists in a place where you will remember and easily locate them.

3. One should start as soon in advance as possible, packing those items rarely used.

Items such as out of season clothing, the contents of your storage closet, kitchen items not readily used.

4. One should move at a comfortable pace.

For me, the thought of boxing  up the entire contents of my household is terribly overwhelming.  So much so that I want to go sit in a corner and cry.  I’ve found though that if I start early to avoid last minute panic, and pace myself, the job seems to break down much more easily.  I’ve found the following to work well:

  • Set the timer and pack as much as possible within that time period whether it is just fifteen minutes or two hours.
  • Decide to pack _ number of boxes.
  • Focus on packing one single area ie. a closet, a bookcase, or a pile of cds.

Allow friends to offer to help, and take things at a manageable pace.  The last time my husband and I moved, we took on more than we were able to handle at the last minute, wore ourselves out,  and made ourselves literally sick.  Two days after we unloaded our POD, our house was still full of boxes and wrapping paper while I was laid up in bed with a fever and the worst sore throat I’ve ever had.

5. I like to have three boxes available:  a box to pack, a box for trash, and a box to give away. 

When the give away and trash boxes boxes are full, stop and deal with them to get rid of the clutter and further narrow down what still needs to be done. This works well for me because a Goodwill drop off is within 2 mi. of my house, but you could always just load them up in the trunk of your car to be ready the next time you are out running errands.

It is helpful to remember that:  

Stuff gets broken, people get stressed.  Plan for it.

Things just break, and things just get lost.  It happens.  For those things that absolutely cannot get broken remember to add them to your list (see above) and a few days before the actual move, set them aside.  Plan to physically take them with you and mark them so that they aren’t inadvertently packed up with anything else. If you decide to pack them, Martha Stewart recommends wrapping them in brightly colored tissue paper so they can easily be seen amongst the wrapping and packing peanuts.
If you are able to plan ahead and have the time, freeze a few meals to have on hand and eliminate the stress of planning a meal and to avoid the extra cost of eating out.

Moving supplies cost money.

This sounds so obvious but it is one of those things you don’t think about until it comes right down to it.  Plan ahead so you don’t have to purchase a lot of boxes and supplies unnecessarily at the last minute.  All that paper and boxes though can be recycled and used as a great weed barrier in the garden of your new home. More on this in a later post.

Other hidden costs include:

  • The things you may need for a new home but tend to take for granted: closet rods, shower curtains, linens, additional storage shelving or furniture, curtains, etc.
  • Meals eaten out, or food brought in, the feeding of additional bodies who have offered to lend a hand.
  • A night spent in a hotel if there is a lull between your move-out and move-in.
  • Boarding any pets not allowed at said hotel.

What is your strategy for a stress free move?

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What I Have Learned About Moving — 11 Comments

  1. Have a first day box(es) for every bedroom. In there put towels, sheets, soap, toilet paper, shower curtains, alarm clocks, pillows, blankets, medicines, toothbrush-toothpaste, stuffed animals (for little ones) and anything else that you will need for sleeping the first night in a new place. They are last on-first off boxes and it was suggested that they get put in a bathtub when they are unloaded so that they don’t get buried behind other boxes. That way you know where that stuff is when you are beyond exhausted and don’t have to search through a bunch of boxes to find what you need to get to sleep.

    We just moved 3 weeks ago and it was so nice to know where to direct people to get beds made and bathrooms set up. We ended up with 2 boxes for DS’s room and 3 for our room.

    Someone suggested cleaning supplies, in there, but I cleaned prior to moving in.

    • Heidi that is an excellent suggestion. I wish I had thought of that. I have a mental idea of where all that stuff is, but it would have been great to have it all set aside. I like the idea of putting in the tub where it can easily be found later on. Hope you all have settled in. Congratulations on your new place! :)

  2. Those are very, very good ideas. For me moving to Australia I had to cull 90% of my belongings. This gutted me at first, but ended up being so freeing. It helped that 8 of my friends were getting married at that time and I filled up their newlywed homes with my stuff. :-) It makes me smile when I visit them. :-)

  3. 90% of your things? Wow. That must have been hard. We probably haven’t gotten rid of as much as we should have, but just the little bit that we did throw out/give away was hard for me to let go of. I’m always afraid I will need it later on down the road. I’ve decided that we are just going to gradually move things in, and when we run out of space, or decide we have enough, we’ll get rid of everything else.

  4. I like your ideas, this one in particular: “Set the timer and pack as much as possible within that time period whether it is just fifteen minutes or two hours.” SMART!

    • Yes it is very smart isn’t it? I wish now I had actually followed that self-imposed rule. :(

  5. I pack a suitcase of clothes for the week or two after the move, so even if nothing else gets taken care of, at lest I am dressed. Great list, I will have to remember your tips.

  6. I’m trying to enjoy reading the whole saga of your decision to become homesteaders. So far I find it quite enjoyable. Having a hard time however with my browser jumping and flickering. I’m thinking it might be related to the clever little device that mimics snowfall. Sometimes a good story is all you need.

    • Thank you for telling me about the snow! I really appreciate that and I didn’t know. Glad you enjoyed our post. :)