I’m getting ready to move house…..again. I’ve moved several times over the last few years. First off to graduate school, then I lived out of a suitcase for a Summer as I traveled around the world, then in a rented room, back to my parents house, and finally into my apartment where I am now. I’ve enjoyed this apartment, but there are things about it that are driving me nuts, so I am thinking about moving. The question then is, as I look for a new place to live, what should I be doing about where I am at now?
Some things to consider:
Start getting rid of stuff early
I’ve only been in this apartment for a year, but I have accumulated quite a bit of stuff. My kitchen when I moved in was modest – one skillet, 2 pots, 2 knives, and some odds and ends. Since then, I’ve added a knife set, a few more skillets, measuring cups, a bread maker, a crockpot, and other miscellaneous kitchen things. Do I need all of them? Yes. So, what do I get rid of? I’ve been purging books, clothes, and DVDs. Now that I am committed to being a librarian, I can get books and media whenever I want and since I am no longer teaching as regularly as I used to, I can safely send a hefty chunk of my book collection to second hand bookstores.
Empty the pantry
I typically keep a stockpile of some basics around like olive oil, ketchup, peanut butter, etc. I’ve started cooking in ways that use those materials. The less I have to transport, even if the move is within the same city, the better off I am and not just because I will have to hire movers. Buying fresh is always nice and once I do move, having to restock the pantry will help me find the nearest grocery stores, etc.
I’m lucky, I work in a place that has a steady trickle of boxes going in and out which means that I typically try to bring two or three home a week. It doesn’t seem like many, but those are a few less that I have to buy when the packing really starts.
Pack lesser used items
I am not talking about packing in earnest but rather, packing up things that can be easily packed because I don’t use them often. In my case, this particularly pertains to books. As I go through my collection, the books are sorted into two different boxes – one box is going to the second hand shops, the other box is getting tucked into a corner once it’s packed, sealed, and marked with a Sharpie. In the case of my books, I have a very specific goal. I moved 50 boxes of books here. This next move is going to be 30 boxes of books and no more than that. To get to that number, I’m having to do a rigorous weeding of my collection, which I am happy to do now that I no longer need the collection I once had.
While I pack and start prepping my household for the move, I am doing research on where I might want to live, who I might want to hire to help me move, and where I can purchase boxes and other supplies. While I can get some boxes from work, there is just no way I will be able to get enough of them in the time frame I have in mind.
Right now, I have gone to a month to month lease which is more expensive, but allows for more flexibility. I aim to move in October. It will be cooler then and people will have finished moving around locally because of the beginning of the semester and what not. While it will cost me more in terms of rent for a little while, in the longer term, I think it will benefit me more because I will be moving “off peak” from the college students.
Build friendship capital
Sounds devious, but as I plan my move, I have been slowly building up favors and IOUs from friends. I don’t expect or even want my friends to move boxes but what would help is having a place to shower if the next place doesn’t have the water on, perhaps having help unpacking the books, or a portable meal that doesn’t require much thought to heat and eat. In my experience, people are happy to help if they aren’t going to be doing the back breaking labor of moving heavy furniture. Instead, I keep a list in my head of things that I might need like a place to crash, shower, or eat for a day or two.
Make lots and lots of lists
I make a list for everything and getting ready to move is no different. Right now, I have a list for things that I personally have to move in my car (electronics, delicate breakables, food items), a list of supplies that I need to accrue before I start packing in earnest (more tape, bubblewrap, garbage bags, colored stickers for box coding), a list of places that I am checking out to live, a list of places to take the things that I am getting rid of, and many more – some formal, some not.
Start spreading the news
I’ve liberally spread the word that I am looking to move. Many friends and coworkers have started saying things like, oh there is an apartment open in my building, or have you looked at the apartments on such a such road? As well as things like So and So Store is having a sale on tape! Since I am only one person, this word of mouth information is quite valuable. It’s actually how I found the place I am in now.
Being organized with your move is important. How you approach the time before your move might be even more so. It is this time of preparation where I think about things like, why am I moving and what is it that I really want in the next place (wood floors, a modern and larger kitchen), of the things that I own, what have I used in the last year and what can I get rid of? As well as other things like what kind of neighborhood do I want to live in and what else do I need (a bigger desk and another table).
You know the saying. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The same could be said for moving, but in this case, a longer preparation time will hopefully lead to a much smoother move.