I’m not sure how many times I’ve moved in my life. I should pause for a moment and try to count…at least fifteen, maybe more. Some during childhood, some as an adventurous teen and a few – including a recent move overseas – as an adult. The latter did not involve the usual plethora of boxes and house hunting; I came with one suitcase (the maximum that the airline I flew would allow, yes it made for some rather creative packing) and had my accommodations all lined up. The “joys” of boxing up your life were replaced by all the formalities, paperwork, problems and stresses that come with moving from one country to another. Throughout the many moves I’ve made to date, a few things seem to hold true no matter if you are moving down the block or to a foreign country.
For starters, always make sure you can actually afford the financial expenses (and time) that typically come with moving. Even if you are just renting a house, there a lot of cost factors to take in consideration. You’ll have your new rent, damage deposit, hook-up fees, installation fees (if services are not in place), potentially the cost of hiring a mover, or a van that you’ll drive yourself. There can be expenses with new furniture, appliances, building maintenance fees and cleaners (this could mean a maid, carpet cleaners, etc) potentially for both your old and your new place.
Always get more boxes than you’ll think you will need! If your estimated number of boxes is around forty it’s a smart idea to try to get at least sixty. Good, sturdy boxes can often be sourced for free (or nearly free) from supermarkets, fruit packers, liquor stores, furniture and appliance stores, and some department stores. As you pack up your belongings you may encounter the “wow, I have that much stuff” situation and the last thing you want to be doing at 2am the day before you move is frantically driving (or worse yet walking) around town and searching desperately for boxes!
Enlist the help of friends and family. No matter how much you think you can get done on your own, it usually helps a lot to have a few pairs of extra hands around, especially on the day of the big move itself. You’ll want to have food and drinks (no booze though, that makes for the sort of move you’ll end up regretting for years) available for your helpers (as chances are these kind folks have given up their Saturday for you pro bono). Without coming across as the moving overlord, politely suggest or assign task areas that people can help you with. This can cut down on confusion, lost time and idleness.
One tip I’ve come to swear by is having absolutely as much done two full days before the move. Put some clothes in a suitcase or duffle bag and live out of that. Keep out only a plate or two (or just eat out/take-away) and leave the barest essentials in your bathroom. This way the day before the move you have the day “free” to take care of any last minute issues, and deal with those meddlesome problems that almost always seem to spring up when you move. As well, hopefully you’ll be able to get some much needed sleep before the relocation begins the next day.
It might sound cliché, but on the day of the move (and the weeks following up to it) try not to break a sweat over the small stuff. Prioritize those things that are most important to you, and your family (if moving with others). Keep a running checklist of everything that you’ve accomplished, from calling the bill companies to making sure the movers take a cheque. The more you plan, the better you’ll be prepared and more smoothly your move may go.
No matter the reasons behind why you are moving, a move almost always comes with stress and anxiety. But I can tell you firsthand that when you look back, and marvel at how you managed to pack up all that stuff and move with only minor hitches you’ll be glad that you moved, and even more happy that you were as prepared as possible. Now if I could only find that missing vase…