How to Stay Sane During a Move
I just completed what is widely considered to be one of the most stressful events in a person’s life: moving! I’ve moved a lot over the years (this most recent one marks my fifth move in about three years), and while some have been easier than others, they’re always stressful and a little chaotic. And since Americans are moving more often now than ever before (an average of 11.7 moves during a person's life), that’s a lot of stress! Luckily, I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way that can help you avoid the mistakes and hair-pulling that I (and many of us) have endured in the past.
Before You Consider Moving
Before you start scrolling through Zillow and walking the Sunday open house circuit, get clear on what you’re looking for in a new place. Make a list of all the things you need and want in your new home and rank them based on what’s non-negotiable (need), what’s important for you to have (want), and what you would like but can do without (extra benefits that won’t make or break it for you). This helps to focus you during your search and protect against moving into a place that you later realize doesn’t really fit your needs. For instance, on my list, my non-negotiables included a washer/dryer and double-paned windows; it was important for me to have a good view out of the windows and be able to easily receive packages; and I would have liked to have a storage unit, but ultimately didn’t get one (and that’s ok).
When You’ve Found That Perfect Place
Now the real work begins! Here’s what I’ve found are some good things to keep in mind when packing, unpacking, and settling in.
Do What Works for You
When I was moving from Ohio to Colorado, I needed to fit everything in my car (luckily, I didn’t have any furniture). As we all know, the most common way to move is to get a bunch of boxes, load them up, and move them over. But boxes are cumbersome, heavy, and not the most efficient space-wise, and if I had used them, I would have been able to fit about 3 in my sedan (and I probably needed 15). So, instead, I packed all my belongings into Ziploc Space Bags, which meant I could fit a lot more stuff into my car, and the bags were much easier and lighter to carry than boxes.
The point is: move in a way that works for you and your situation. If the traditional way of packing your stuff up and moving it to the next place is too hard, heavy, or expensive, get creative! Moving is hard enough without added burdens and expectations around how to do it.
Plan Ahead as Much as You Can
Most of us know that we’re moving ahead of time, and we typically have at least a few weeks (sometimes a few months) to get ourselves organized. The best thing you can do is avoid waiting until just before the movers arrive to start packing up your house (unless they’re doing this for you, see below). Life can definitely get in the way, but you’ll thank yourself if you treat the move as a priority from the get-go and do your best to plan ahead. As soon as you know you’re moving, start cleaning out your space of things you no longer need or want, and pack up those items that you don’t use every day. Coordinate the dates and times of movers, furniture deliveries, and pet sitters in advance so that everything can go smoothly the day of and you’re not scrambling. As the move gets closer, let the post office know about your change of address so your mail doesn’t get lost, and set up any utility transfers so you don’t lose service. Anything you can do ahead of time will help you to more easily settle into your new place and make it feel like home.
Spend Money on What’s Important to You
Moving is expensive. But, it will actually help you more in the long run to spend money on those things that are important to you and can make your life easier while moving. This probably isn’t the time to cut corners or save a penny. Hire a moving company to pack up your stuff and move it over if you know you just don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself. Find a good cleaning company to clean your place after you’ve moved in if you know you won’t be able to relax until it feels clean. Work with a feng shui consultant or space clearer to align your new place so the energies in the home are good from the beginning. These services aren’t luxuries if they ease your mind and get you settled quicker – they are a vital part of your move.
Set up the Essentials First
This seems like an obvious one, but it’s really easy to get distracted when you’re unpacking and focus on whatever is right in front of you. Getting beds made, setting up the kitchen (at least dishes and glasses), and unpacking toiletries are probably more pressing than hanging pictures and arranging the books in the bookshelf. Getting the essentials set up first allows you to settle in and have some sort of routine while you go about getting everything else put away.
Take Your Time and Be Patient with Yourself
Moving takes a lot of energy and time, so don’t overdo it trying to get it all done in a day. It’s going to take time for you to unpack everything and put it away just how you like it. And where you put something on Day 1 may not be where you want to store it permanently. Have patience with yourself and the process. It will all get done, eventually. And, inevitably, something will go wrong or be challenging (because that’s life), so do your best to handle unexpected situations or difficulties with grace. When I moved into my new place, two pieces of furniture were delivered damaged and needed to be replaced, delaying my timeline by about a month. There was nothing I could do about it but be patient and breathe. Being kind to yourself will go a long way towards making this process less stressful and more exciting.
How have you handled a stressful or unexpected moving situation?