Moving is highly underrated. Both in time and treasure. I’ve helped several friends to move and here’s what I’ve noticed that you should consider before moving.
0.5 The PLAN
(It’s best to have the PLAN in the #0.5 spot so that you can sneak up on the #1 item.)
Create a PLAN for the move. Write it down. Stick to it. Even if you are wrong, because once people begin to doubt you, they’ll start to argue and that is a time suck. Be willing to take advice, but don’t let anyone tell you what to do. This is why you do not invite your dad to the move.
1. Packing takes 20% longer than expected
OK, you’ve heard this before, but no matter how you plan, packing will take 20% longer. Even after you read this, you might think, “I’ll just increase the time by 20%.” Wrong. Because it will take 20% longer than that. It’s a losing proposition. It is in your best interest to schedule five hours to pack so that it will only take six. (And don’t think you can plan on five minutes of moving so that it will take six. Fate is not stupid.)
2. Pack Everything
Put as much as you can in boxes. It makes packing the truck so much easier. Leave stuff in drawers if you want, but make sure you cover with cardboard and tape. Take this opportunity to throw out all your lamps. They are hard to pack and just not worth your time. DO NOT PACK THINGS IN SUITCASES. It is a well know fact that suitcases are the number one item that get lost both at the airport and in a move.
3. Don’t Pack Everything
Screw that last bit. Take the time to get rid of stuff. Have your friends take stuff. Call the local charity that will haul it away. Put it on the curb so the local junk-truck-guy can come by and take the good stuff. Especially those lamps.
4. Color Code
In the end, you will be much happier will all your crap in well marked, color coded boxes You can write the details of the box in small letters, but use large words or color to help guide the unpackers to the room they need to go. The night before the move, go to the new house and make signs with arrows. Color code rooms and doors. This will alleviate you standing at the front door of the new house, blocking the door deciding what the hell you were thinking last night when you wrote KT BT 9 FR on the box.
5. Rent the bigger truck
Rent the biggest truck you can get your hands on. Find a friend with a Commercial Driver’s License if you have to. Two trips SUCKS. Spend the extra money because you will save it in the end with mileage and time.
6. You can have too many people to help
It’s easy to understand that if you are the only one moving your furniture, you are screwed. But is it possible to have too many people? YES. One of my favorite economics terms is “diminishing returns.” It basically means that the more people you throw at a job, at some point, the amount of work that can get done is reduced. When you have too many people standing around, they will have the time to stop and criticize your PLAN. If you invite too many people to help, divide them up into smaller teams for continued packing, labeling, cleaning, lifting or send some over to the new place to get rid of them. Have them buy the beer and put it into the new refrigerator. Part of your PLAN should be a list of things for the ne'er-do-wells to do while the real help is doing their job.
7. Inside help / outside help
Your job during the move is to coordinate. Try not to get stuck moving anything. You should be able to freely move in and out of the house. If you have the personpower, have someone in the house, who is familiar with the PLAN, that can guide the movers or get you in a hurry if there is a question. You can then be near the truck to help with loading, unless you suck at Tetris.
8. Tight Pack
If you are crappy at Tetris, I would suggest getting a friend who has move experience to pack the truck. You want a tight pack as this means less damage and more stuff on the truck. Have room outside the truck for staging items that should go on later or when you have a futon shaped hole to fill.
9. MOVE EVERYTHING NOW
Damnit! I’ve seen it a hundred times. Towards the end of the move, little stuff is still lying around the house and the owner will say, “I’ll get that stuff later.” Don’t do it. MOVE IT NOW. You’ve got the people and the truck. For fragile stuff also have a fleet of cars that will be going to the new house. Just do it now. If you are moving across the country, you might want to keep personal items or papers with you, just don’t overthink it, champ. Move it now.
10. Don’t Feed in the Middle of a Move
Hungry people work harder. Full people nap. Don’t schedule your move around a meal time. Wait until the move is over to order the pizza. Even if it is late. By then, people will be sick of you and they will leave so you can order less pizza. Only keep cold water at the house you are moving out of. Make sure that beer is only at the new place so they have a goal. Drunk people drop shit and argue with you.
11. Don’t get fancy
Provide water. Provide Pizza. Provide Beer. Don’t try and cater. Don’t even think about cooking out. Your friends knew this when they volunteered to help. They will move someday and you will get the same crap from them.
12. Unpack Now
If you do not unpack a box, it will remain packed until you move again. This falls in line with Move Everything Now. People are there. Unpack.
You need to thank your friends for helping. If someone loaned you a truck, fill it with gas or leave a $20 in the glove compartment. A real friend will not take money if you hand it to them, so if you really need the $20, try to hand it to your friend instead of putting it in the glove compartment. Thank your friends that night and the next day for their help and apologize for being a dick and not listening to them and not having beer at the house and for making them work so late.
14. Take the next day off work
You will definitely want to take then next day off from work. All the stuff that you are too tired to take care of at midnight will be there for years unless you take care of it immediately. If you go to work, you are going to come home, exhausted, to unpacked boxes and no cable. If you take the next day off, you can sit around and unpack boxes while you wait for the cable guy to show up three hours late.
we just moved last week... everything you say is 100% true. I lived it all. Spot on. Thanks man
You recently commented about a post on my blog referencing Blogger, so I figured I would check out your site. I love it-and I wish I'd read this article before any of the 8 times I've moved before!
I like your sense of humor...I'll definitely be back.
Regarding #8... I helped a friend move once and another friend of his was the "Loadmaster" in charge of fitting things in the truck/requesting what to bring out next. He literally said "bring out all the odd shaped stuff first, we'll get all of that on, then fill in the holes with the boxes." I looked at him for a few seconds, blinking. "Have you moved before?" "yeah, plenty of times." "Since college when the 'odd shaped stuff' was literally a single futon?" "well..... uhhh..." We swapped roles without him knowing it. I just kind of took over as Loadmaster at that point. We were in our 30's by this point, so the moving friend had all sorts of furniture, tables, chairs, credenzas...
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