Shortly after celebrating my three year move-aversary from my Arizona house to my gorgeous California resort-style apartment, I mentally calculated the fortune I’ve been putting into nothing since 2010. Since I couldn’t go back in time and buy a Tesla, I realized I needed to accept it as a sunk cost and get back into home ownership.
So after a wondrously brief and earth-shatteringly painless home buying experience, I’m now mere days away from owning a love-at-first-sight townhouse about five miles from my apartment.
After relocating on the company dime and experiencing the luxury of having an army of trained movers sprinkle fairy dust on my belongings and move them across state lines faster than I could say “bubble wrap,” I vowed to always splurge on packing services for future moves. But the task of moving down the street seemed easy enough that I decided vows and splurges are for people not paying Orange County real estate taxes.
Now that I’m knee deep in poorly packed boxes, I thought I’d share my lessons learned for moving nearby on the quick and on the cheap:
Throw your perfectionism out the window. You may normally be a my-coffee-mug-handles-all-face-to-the-right kind of person, but now you’re a there’s-a-space-in-this-clothing-box-the-size-of-a-meat-thermometer kind of person.
The more food you eat the less you have to toss. This might be the most fun part of moving. To unload the inordinate amount of butter in my fridge I made alfredo sauce and a batch of cookie dough. I also learned the art of making “kitchen sink” omelets.
The more wine you drink the less you have to pack. Just sayin’.
Everything is a box. First, visit Trader Joe’s and your local liquor store and load up on whatever they will give you (wine boxes are amazing glass separators). Next, become a packing MacGyver. Garbage cans? Box. Dresser drawer? Box. Hamper? Box. Bookshelf laid on its side? Four boxes.
Everything is bubble wrap. While not nearly as fun to play with, pillows, coats, towels and even Kleenex make excellent last-minute wrap for fragile items you want to just throw in a bin in your car and drive to your new place.
Get a tape gun. Even if you plan to move your entire home with old t-shirts and a laundry basket, get a tape gun. It’s awesome.
Label every box “fragile.” When your crystal vase is wrapped with a pillow case and wedged between your Monopoly board and a pair of Uggs, “fragile” is your best bet.
Keep a list. When your boxes all say “random” it may be tricky to remember what’s what. I number my boxes and keep a sheet that lists the one or two items I actually care about inside. For example, box #17 is mostly full of tin foil and Saran wrap but is documented as “DVD remote.”
Hire moving help. Friends offering to help you move is like friends offering to make something for your dinner party. They really want you to say no. You can hire moving helpers by the hour through U-Haul after you rent your truck. It’s cheaper than cases of beer and owed favors.
Do not pack the toilet paper. You might think leaving two rolls to ration until the move is plenty. You might be completely, annoyingly wrong.
Days from now when I’m anxiously watching my movers play Tetris with my belongings, I may wish I had gone the safe route and paid for the fairy dust. But I’m actually having a little bit of fun wielding my tape gun whilst drinking wine and eating cookie dough. Here’s hoping my crystal vase shows up in one piece.