Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dana's Guide to Moving, Part 1

Recently I made a comment on my Facebook status regarding helping a friend and his family, who had just bought a house, move. The responses to it on Facebook were so quick and furious that I thought the subject deserved a further look...

I have a talent for moving, though I loathe to admit it. First off, I have a solid build, which is helpful but not mandatory, and a distinct lack of fear of heavy objects. Secondly, I have mad experience. My first job after moving to California back in 1992 was with a Chevron-contracted moving company, Jack's Van Service. This experience with some seasoned truck drivers and movers gave me an insight to what really is a serious process with a true logic. If you follow the steps that I will be laying out for you over the next few days, you will save yourself an immense amount of time, stress and money. You'll thank me later (but I know you won't pay me)...

Step 1. You Can Never Be Too Prepared
Unless you are moving for very sudden reasons, you probably know for at least a month ahead of time you are moving. Use that time!

First off, make judgement of your current state of furniture, clothes, appliances and other assorted belongings. Ask yourself if your new space can handle all your stuff and if you are planning on replacing the old with new furniture for your new place. After all this, you should set aside a weekend day to have a yard sale of your castaways. Better to make a few pennies now and save time moving stuff that you are going to lose later. By the end of the day of the sale and you have stuff left, be bold and make offers like "all you can carry away for $5". Remember, the real goal is to get rid of stuff, not make a big profit.

Next, use those pennies earned to purchase decent moving boxes for important things and supplement them with empty boxes from work, stores and restaurants. Be sure to buy a pack of blank tag/stickers. As you pack, write with a Sharpie what is in each box upon a sticker and tag it at the same spot on every box. Trust me, you'll have an easier time identifying things later verses just randomly writing somewhere on the box (especially if contains fragile things).

Also, be sure to book your truck rental nice and early to get the best rate and ensure you get the right-size vehicle. Once you have your yard sale, you should have a good sense of what you need to move and hence a better idea of how big of a truck you will need. You may save a little money with a smaller truck but you may end up spending more time making multiple trips and more money on gas. Also, if they offer a dolly, take it. A flat dolly is even better than a truck dolly but one of them is better than none when moving heavy pieces a decent distance. I would also recommend buying a couple rolls of decent packing tape and some bungy cords or rope for tying fragile things down once they are in the truck. Also, gather up some old blankets (donations are good) to use as protection for things like glass table tops and televisions.

MOST IMPORTANT: Spend a little time every day packing non-essentials into boxes so that by moving day, you are all set for the move. Empty your bookcases and cabinets (You can't move full ones). Use your packing tape to tape down cabinet doors that can swing open. The last thing you want to have is your friends giving up a precious Saturday to help you move and you are not prepared. Even though you are not paying your crew (well, you should buy them a meal - pizza and beer suffices) their time is precious and you should respect that.

Finally for that last day of preparation, be sure to scope out your old place and new place for moving truck parking. If you are doing curbside moving, feel free to put some cones up or something the night before to block off the best spot to load/unload your life.

Coming Next: Moving Day (Couples will need to read this one)

1 comment:

  1. Packing Tape: Good for boxes, lousy for anything else. Use blue tape (an easy release masking tape commonly available) if you need to hold doors/drawers shut. It sticks enough to do the job but not so much that finish comes off the funriture.

    Yard Sale: In lieu of, consider donating your unloved possessions to Goodwill or the like. It is much easier, less time consuming, you get to feel good about yourself and it is tax deductible. Alternatively put "Free. Please Take" signs and pile by the curb.

    Boxes #1: In addition to the labeling the contents, label the boxes with the room you would like them to end up in at your new place. The last thing you want is to be shuffling boxes around after moving all day.

    Boxes #2: Don't pack books in boxes bigger than a file box unless you are built like Arnold or are partners with a sympathetic chiropractor.

    Boxes #3: The goal is to have everything packed by moving day. Be honest with yourself and only keep out the things you are really going to need in the time leading up to moving day. The last thing your helpers want is to see you spinning slowly, possibly majestically, around in the living room in a state of near catalepsy surrounded by your thoroughly scattered wordly possessions.