17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

From the Tales Inbox: Calling on the Experts!

Most of you Tales Girls have made multiple moves, so I thought I would call on the ranks for a little moving advice. My husband and I are moving ourselves with the help of family and a huge trailer from Utah to California. So, what are the best ways to pack appliances, books, a whole house? What are the things you have experienced and learned in your moves?

First-Time Mover

P.S. Sharing of moving tips is definitely not limited to the site contributors. Come one, come all and share your tricks!


  • My DH's aunt found this really big box and thought it would be perfect to hold all of her books. She filled that sucker up to the tippy top. No one could pick it up. I probably would have done the same thing....so my advice: Heavy stuff in smaller doses.

    Also, my DH moved every 2 years with the exception of the past 4 years when we have stayed in the same apt. He firmly believes in completely unpacking and settling in to your home within a week at the most....and I have to agree, it is nice to just tackle it head on and move in already.

    Good luck.

    Oh...also DO NOT use Uhaul...they don't guarentee trucks....bizarre and frustrating and stressful all at once.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 11/14/2006 07:00:00 PM  

  • When you say you're using a trailer, do you mean that you're driving it yourself? Might I suggest using PODS? We just moved from CA to UT and they were fantastic! It's a little bit more, but you pack it, they move it and drop it on your new doorstep whenever you want - as late as 1 month away, as soon as 2 or 3 days after it leaves your old house. Not having to worry about driving a big huge truck was AWESOME.

    The rest of the packing? I learned the pros don't use bubble wrap - you can buy unprinted newsprint at tons of places. For our boxes, I found a guy on Craigslist who would sell me 3 boxes of any size for $1 each, which was a STEAL. So call around and you can save tons.
    posted by Anonymous Julie P at 11/14/2006 07:16:00 PM  

  • Kage is right about UHAUL. They completely suck. We have had multiple problems with them on several occasions, and I have vowed never to use them again. We've had some burps with Budget, too, but at least they pretend to be accomodating. UHAUL people just shrug and charge you for imaginary storage units you never rented.

    I've moved about a million times, and I'm still lousy at it. I would suggest, however, packing up a box with extra sheets, towels, a a change of clothes for everybody in the family, anything that you think you would want right away in your new home and label it BOX#1, or something like that. Put it in someplace separate from the rest of your boxes. That way, you can at least get your bed made very first thing, and have towels for a shower that first day without having to dig through a mountain of boxes.

    Oh, and it is vital to pack books in smaller boxes, because they get really, really heavy. That's one thing we do know.

    Besides that, my best advice is to get somebody else to do everything for you.

    And moving in within a week? Yeah, right. I've been here 4 months, and there are still unpacked boxes sitting in my garage. If they are there in a year, I'm chucking them.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 11/14/2006 07:20:00 PM  

  • Oh, another thing--you can get boxes at grocery stores, and the paper towel boxes are the best. If you call them, or talk to somebody at the store, you can get them to save the morning boxes for you. We did an entire cross country move without buying a single box. Also, you can try freecycle.com. You can often find people giving away moving boxes there. That's how we got rid of all our boxes this time, the ones that we paid other people to pack. Best money ever spent.
    posted by Blogger Heather O. at 11/14/2006 07:23:00 PM  

  • You can play moving truck companies off each other. When one gives you a quote, call another and see if they'll beat it. Then call the first one back. The price dropped pretty rapidly with just a few phone calls.

    Also, if you're renting a truck, try different drop-off locations. We found that if we drove 30 minutes to drop off our van once we got here to California, for some strange reason the price was about $400 less. I have no idea why, but I didn't argue.

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger Gina at 11/14/2006 07:49:00 PM  

  • We moved 1200 miles, four years ago, with an eight month old. I still get the shakes when I think about it!

    Regarding boxes: I went to Noah's bagels and asked them if they would save me boxes for a week, and they were happy to- the best part, all the boxes were the same manageable size- so muy easy for stacking. We still use those boxes... as a matter of fact, there are still some boxes in the basement, four years later, that I haven't unpacked!

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger tracy m at 11/14/2006 09:00:00 PM  

  • If you're willing to put in the work, I would extend Heather O's Box #1 suggestion to an entire detailed inventory of what is in every box, especially if you have a lot of stuff. I did this with our first overseas move and it made unpacking at the other end so easy. As soon as I thought of something I needed, I looked it up on my list, found what box it was in, located that box, opened it and had the item I needed. None of this waiting a few days or a few weeks (I WISH I could unpack in a week) to get to that bathmat. In addition, you can spend your first hours and days unpacking essentials (like dishes and glasses) and save the luxuries (books, Christmas decorations) for later.

    Granted, I was able to make this inventory because someone did the packing for me--I just stood there and watched what went into each box. But, if you can make it work, it's worth it.

    Also, it's always a good idea to carry things like envelopes, stamps, pens, scissors, tape, tacks, etc. with you--unpacked in luggage or something--so that you have them when leaving and arriving. There's nothing more annoying than having to buy things that you already own but can't get to because they're on a truck. I always have a few file folders too because there always seems to be so much paper to organize when moving in or out.

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger sunny at 11/14/2006 09:56:00 PM  

  • Purge...Get rid of everything you don't use, need, or want. You don't want to unnecessarily pack, transport, and unpack something you're just going to throw away when you get to your new place. This helped tons in our last move!

    I always like to tackle one room at a time. It makes it seem less overwhelming. And label, label, label every box, so you know exactly what's in it.

    Keep your travel bags with things you'll need for your trip in a SAFE place. You do not want your clothes and toothbrushes getting packed in the truck!

    Put the things you will need first at the back of the truck (bedding, cleaning supplies, etc.).

    I agree with Kage...get it unpacked and put away as soon as you can. It will make your new home feel much more peaceful.

    Oh...in my opinion it's much easier to load everything up in the truck and move cross country than across town. Seriously. Our last move was from the neighboring city and I can't believe how many trips we made. I really think packing it in the truck and unloading it once, although overwhelming, was a bit easier. So...you've got that going for you!

    Good luck!

    One more thing...ask for help. You'll be surprised at how many people are willing to come over and help you pack for a few hours, but they can't unless you ASK. (This is hard for me, but it is something I'm learning to do.)
    posted by Blogger Namona at 11/14/2006 11:08:00 PM  

  • unfortunately, I've moved a lot! two ideas:
    label a box (oh, and LABEL those BOXES!) "first box to open'- put in it things like a can opener, rags to wipe off the top layer of dust at the new place, toilet paper!, etc)
    and - figure that something will go wrong, maybe even horribly so. But that is just part of moving.
    posted by Blogger Muum at 11/15/2006 05:29:00 AM  

  • we used something similar to pods, ABF go to u-pack.com and they will give you a quote, and depending on the day of the week you want it dropped off the better the price so the more flexable you can be with the date the better. They drop off a 28 ft trailer (I think that's the right size) and you have already estimated how much you use but if you use more they charge you by the foot. it cost us about $1100 to move from WA to UT we used about 15ft of the trailer. And when we got there we called and they dropped the trailer off. Also buy shrink wrap it was a life saver for me you can find it at most storage places and sometimes at Costco.
    posted by Blogger moddy at 11/15/2006 09:35:00 AM  

  • I agree that long moves are often easier than cross town. Advice,

    1) Purge! Get rid of things, via garage sale, craigslist, di/goodwill or dumpster.

    2) Get boxes that are all the same size. Free is nice, but you can get used boxes, or other things relatively cheaply. Having the boxes the same size means they stack easier and more compactly.

    3) Size matters. Small boxes are better than big ones. But you need the assortment

    4) LABEL - use a different color sharpie, or better yet, a special color sticker for each box, with contents clearly labeled. This helps in sorting at the new place. It also helps the helpers not throw around crystal, or be surprised when they pick up the box of heavy stuff.

    5) DO NOT MOVE FOOD. If you are moving in a month, use up all the canned goods you have in your pantry. Sure you might have tuna mac a few times, or perhaps some random combos, but it will cut down on your grocery bill and minimize your moving.

    6) Pick up moving supplies - newsprint is great, so is foam sheets for dishes. Plastic wrap is a must, wrap it around all your wood furniture. It protects from scratches, and if you do it right makes moving easier.

    If you move a refrigerator or other heavy item, make sure you have a heavy duty dolly.

    Moving a piano? Pay someone, OR hire a piano dolly.

    7) Think twice about moving appliances. Washers are never the same after a move, so unless it is brand new, think about selling it with the house, or selling it there. Not hard and fast ,just a guideline.

    8) Trucks - Uhaul - think twice about this. When we called the day of our LD move, the truck we rented wasn't avail. No sympathy. They are great for local, but see if you can get budget/ryder for close. Also, if you go the drive it yourself route, consider getting a diesel truck if avail. With the price of gas as it is now, a diesel truck could save hundreds in fuel.

    9) I would second the PODS suggestion. You don't have to drive it, you are able to take your time packing and unpacking. Also, while it may be more, think also about the cost of driving the truck in fuel (on our Utah COunty to Las Vegas move the gas was like $200 plus at $2 a gallon). Also, if you have 2 cars a pod means you don't have to rent a tow dolly
    posted by Anonymous jay s at 11/15/2006 09:52:00 AM  

  • We have moved 6 times in the last 5 years, as a couple. I won't claim to be a moving expert, but I have found out what works best for me. We had medium boxes for things like pictures, blankets, pillows, linnens, etc. small boxes for books, some kitchen things nick-knacks, etc. and cube (12x12) boxes for everythiong else, with the exception of a few odd sixed boxes for the odd sized things. We just suck it up and buy the boxes we need so I can make sure that it's what I want. (we just save all our moving expese reciepts in one place so come tax time its easier to claim) I label all 4 sides of every box with a brief description, and the top with a very detailed description. I buy a big thing of butcher paper and a lot of packing tape (from costco or office depot)to wrap things in, and use linnens to pack breakable stuff. I do all the packing myself, I am too picky the way I like things packed, labled, what put where, etc. We shop around for the cheapest truck co., we have found in the past that Penske is comparable to other places, and they drive/ride really well. We get rid of things each time we move, but somehow by the time we need to move again, you couldn't tell we got rid of anything. We take out washer and dryer, it's cheaper to take than to go and buy new. I can pack my home in about a week (but I prefer to start the packing as far in advance as I can, I start with the things we never/hardly ever use, then the things we can live without for a month, things in the garage, closets, etc.), and have it unpacked in about a week, it does feel really nice to be settled and out of boxes to where you have a functioning home. Moving is stressful, packing is stressful, all these suggestiongs are good ones, now you just have to figure out what works best for you. Take time for yourself, even if you just set a timer and do a little packing at a time, take a break, and then go back to packing. And ask for help, if your not a control freak when it comes to packing (like me)
    posted by Anonymous js at 11/15/2006 10:56:00 AM  

  • I have also moved 6 times in five years, including 3 (very long) cross-country self moves. I haven't really read all the comments, so, sorry for any repeat advice -

    Do not drive a truck. Go to upack.com, its reasonably priced and so much easier, both moving out and in. I have found on a really long move its actually cheaper than rent ing a truck. Especially do not use Uhaul, their trucks are a death trap.

    Get rid of everything. Well, everything you can. When you are movning in you will find yourself throwing even more stuff away. This includes furninture - if you hate it or have been thinking about replacing it anyway, just get rid of it. Have a garage sale, donate it. Buying new furniture can sometimes be cheaper than having to get a bigger truck or another Pod. But, also sometimes not, so don't get rid of anything you are just oging to have to re-buy on the other end. Moving is expensive enough.

    Get your boxes online, and use good boxes. I have bought them at packing.com and there are tons of others also - just google. It is WAY cheaper to buy them this way, then at uhaul type stores. You can bum boxes off of stores sometimes, but I usualy didn't have time to do this or wasn't able to get enough. Utilize all your suitcases and storage boxes you already have.

    Go to the grocery store and grab stacks of those free greensheet things to use for packing. Or ask everyone you know to give you thier newspapers. Also, use clothes and blankets for padding.

    Saranwrap. Go to Costco or something and get big huge rolls of it and wrap it around chairs, paintings, your mattress etc. I foudn this to be the cheapest way to protect stuff that doesn't go in boxes.

    Always use the smallest box possible. Only use large boxes for blankets and other unbreakable items.

    Label your boxes! Even if you are moving yourself, this really helps when you are moving in an need to find something.

    Make a file now of everything you need during the move - docs for your house/apt, car, kids, pets etc. I always pack my suitcases or make a closet a designated 'dont pack' section also.

    Make a box with toilet paper, shower curtain, towels, and blankets/air mattress labeled and in the back of the truck or in your car if you do upack, or your first night and morning will not be fun.

    Give yourself plenty of time to pack. It takes way longer than you think, I start weeks in advance with all the stuff in closets etc that I never use. The kitchen especially is time consuming! Also give yourself plenty of time to clean. Try to have supplies lined up you can borrow so you can have yours packed. If you do a pod especially, you may be cleaning after they pick it up.

    The one box to splurge on is a dishpack for your glasses.

    I bring my pantry. Like I said, packing is expensive enough without rebuying ALL food - so I pack all my cans/non perishables. Pack it in a small box, it gets heavy :) Line the bottom with newspaper, and just tape things like salt shakers.

    Get paper plates/cups. That way, you can pack all your dishes. When you leave, pack these with your blankets, shower curtain etc. so you have them on the other end as well.

    Go on the website of every restaurant you frequent. Sign up for their email thing, they usually have coupons. Your going to be eating out ALOT.

    If your driving, map out your route and book hotels NOW. Nothing worse than getting stuck in a dive. Get AAA (they have hotel discounts too). Bid on priceline, you will pay so much less for the same hotel.

    Change your address as early as possible, USPS is slow in forwarding. Call early to shut off all your utilities, this speeds up getting any deposits back.

    There are lots of moving checklists online, at moving sites like upack or uhaul. They are very useful in helping you remember everything you have to do BESIDES packing :)

    Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous Veritas at 11/15/2006 12:24:00 PM  

  • You're received some great advice. I would only add that if you know where you will be moving, contact the EQ Pres. in the new ward and ask if they can help organize unloaders/unpackers for your arrival. We have done this several times and it is a nice way to meet the members of the ward in a more personal setting as well as helping you to unpack faster!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/15/2006 12:33:00 PM  

  • Not to be too negative, but my husband and I have moved I believe 7 or 8 times in 10 years, both on our own and with movers.

    One plus/negative (depends how you see it) is- with doing it youself you can't complain about those crappy movers if something gets damaged. You only have yourself to blame, which for me was less annoying.

    After both types of moves though, I pick MOVERS over doing it ourselves by far! No amount of money saving was worth it after you have been married a while and have a house full of stuff... it's just too much work. So if it's not to late... sign up for movers!!
    posted by Blogger Rachel H at 11/15/2006 01:05:00 PM  

  • There are some great comments on here, so I hope that these help you out.

    We have moved 7 times in our 9 years together, twice across the country, so we're good at this now.

    I agree with just about everything - here are a few more.

    I can't way enough about paying someone to move your crap. If you have the money just do it. Pack a few boxes/suitcases yourself (like the box you'll need at the house that first night) and leave everything else to the professionals. We had an awesome company move us from NYC to the Bay Area - it was expensive but worth EVERY penny.

    When I move or am away on long trips, I have my groceries delivered the day or day after I get home/move in. Safeway delivers in most areas - charge is usually $10 or less. This also is worth every penny. I create a shopping list online, pick the day and time I need it delivered and that way I know I will have essentials for my family when I get to my destination. LOVE delivery.

    If you have kids, pack their rooms last and unpack them first. If the kids are happy, you will be happy.

    Ask for help- you can't do it alone and people like to help.

    Good luck!
    posted by Blogger chloe at 11/15/2006 01:57:00 PM  

  • If you do drive cross country in a truck (we got a Penske), and get help in order to drive your car as well, don't get your father-in-law to help. He could very well drive you insane over the course of several days in very close quarters.
    And when you move in? Get someone else to do all of the work. After we bought our house, I was not available when the night came to transfer the stuff from our apartment to the house (school,) so I missed the ward members moving our stuff. And then my mother-in-law and her sister came out and painted our entire house before we moved in and then unpacked for us. I would definitely recommend that. It kind of makes up for the insanity with the FIL.
    Although we couldn't afford it, I would definitely recommend paying someone else to pack and move you. It would be so much easier. If we ever do a move as big as the cross-country move again, I'm demanding movers.
    posted by Blogger VirtualM at 11/15/2006 02:51:00 PM  

  • Thanks so much for all of your advice, I have made a list of everything I need to do. Suprisingly I think I'm doing well...besides having someone else pack & move us. Dh is starting school (reason for move) and we don't have the $$ right now. If anyone else thinks of anything feel free to let me know, I need all the help I can get.
    posted by Blogger Jessie at 11/15/2006 08:32:00 PM  

  • What a timely post. How I wish we were first time movers. Next month we are moving for the eleventh time in eight years. My one big piece of advice actually stem from the complaint I get from my husband on moving day that I usually get- Don't wear flip flops (you probably don't have to worry being in Utah). Our biggest fights are on moving days when I am usually wearing flip flops and end up tripping/falling as I try to make it down the stairs with large boxes or furniture.

    Costco has moving boxes for sale online for a pretty reasonable price.

    This time we are lucky enough to be able hire movers, which is tax deductible and a sanity saver. Good Luck!
    posted by Blogger trimama at 11/16/2006 08:34:00 AM  

  • One thing that may have mentioned already - LABEL LABEL LABEL!

    Write the room it goes in, and what it is

    Write Fragile on 3 sides if its Fragile - the Priesthood can get a little rambunctious

    If you have large framed art - try to buy boxes for it, or maybe batting or something to reinforce.

    We had professional movers move us last time and it was wonderful!
    Good luck!
    posted by Anonymous EmilyS at 11/16/2006 02:15:00 PM  

  • Something that I have learned from sad experience, is to make a list of ALL of the people/places you need to change your address with. Including doctors, dentist, etc. Bills do end up getting lost in the mail/never forwarded...and it's frustrating to get a bill from the collection agency because the bill never made it to your house!
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/17/2006 03:52:00 PM  

  • The only advice I have was not mentioned by anyone (unless I missed it?)...

    LABEL ALL ROOMS. No, not the boxes --I mean, you should definitely do that, but I mean the ROOMS in your new house.

    My SIL had to move everything herself (my brother is in the Army) and not only did she label the boxes with contents, but she labled what room they went in, and then she put signs above all the rooms in the house (i.e. Master bedroom, bathroom, bedroom #2, office, etc.). That way, the EQ and others (like my husband) who helped move in boxes just came right in and right out. My DH was so impressed because a simple thing like that cut down unloading time by 2/3rds.
    posted by Anonymous Anonymous at 11/19/2006 10:41:00 AM  

  • A lot of these comments will be repeated, but there are also some great ideas from Flylady!
    posted by Blogger Mrs. M at 11/23/2006 08:26:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home