1. The “Open First” Box
I asked for tips on my Facebook page because I am easily overwhelmed by chaos. I never know where to start and what to do. I’m a big picture person so I know where I want to get, I just have a difficult time mapping out how I’m going to get there. One of my friends recommended an “Open First Box”. I SHOULD have packed it immediately (minus toiletries), because this was exactly the box that overwhelmed me at 2am the night before moving day. Here’s what you do: pack a couple pairs of PJs for everyone in the family, a couple of outfits, toys, and everything else you KNOW you are going to need night #1 in your new home. For us that was also a frying pan, a small pot, sheet sets for each bed, towels, a general cleaner and cleaning rags, sippy cups, and some pre-packaged snacks. The Open First Box will look different for everyone, you know what is important. It might seem crazy to pack this box FIRST, but do it. You will thank me later.
2. Hire Help
We are fortunate that Kyle’s company offered us $3K for our move to Raleigh, but it wasn’t quite enough to cover a moving company so we decided to do it ourselves. He moved up a month before the move so I was left with the task of packing the entire house and being single mommy to 3 children. I put out a call for help every day to my friends to come help me pack. And…you know, spend a little time with me before I had to ship out. A few people came but let’s be honest, nobody likes to pack. I was also tasked with scheduling the U-Haul and begging friends’ husbands to help us load the truck. When I went online to schedule the U-Haul, I noticed that they have loading and unloading services! They have contracts with local providers who will come load and unload your truck for an hourly fee. 2 Men and a Truck offer the same service for about $125/hour for 2 men. The people that we hired in Savannah through Moving Help were AWESOME! The gentlemen were extremely efficient, so nice, and aside from being a little late, very professional. We paid them $50/hour for two men to load our truck. It took them less than 4 hours to load our entire 4 bedroom, 2000sf house, for a grande total of $200, and I didn’t have to lift a finger. STEAL! IF you’re moving to or from the Savannah area, I HIGHLY recommend the guys at U Call We Haul. It was definitely the best $200 I’ve EVER spent.
The people that we hired in Raleigh were SLOW. They got fantastic reviews online but at one point, I went out to get lunch for the kids and Kyle and when I came back, one of them was sitting in a chair on my front lawn. NOT acceptable. In any event, they were paid $150 total and unloaded our truck so that we didn’t have to. When you’re living in a 3-story house, that’s invaluable. Despite their apparent laziness, the job got done and again, I didn’t have to help.
So while you may not be able to afford someone to pack for you, load a truck, and drive it for you, there are LOTS of options for moving that still allow you to drive your own truck and not have to lift a single thing other than your over-active toddlers. Make sure you read LOTS of reviews and choose the best company for your needs.
3. Clean While You Go
I’m not shy about the fact that I’m not the best housewife on the planet, but I didn’t want our tenants to move into a dirty sty. As I unloaded the kitchen, I scrubbed cabinets and drawers inside and out. We dusted baseboards, blinds, and fixtures. We cleaned out the oven (well kinda…I put it on a self clean and then forgot to wipe it out…sorry y’all!). It was nice to know that once a room was packed, it was also clean and we never had to touch it again. I’ve rarely moved into a place that didn’t have nastiness in the cabinets and drawers and I really didn’t want my tenants to have to come in and gag at 2.5 years of hair and toothpaste caked on the bottom of the bathroom drawers. GROSS.
It also save a lot of time on the back end, knowing that once the truck is loaded, you’re done and can move on with your life. Or in our case, go to the new house where the previous tenants didn’t clean so well and start the whole process over again.
4. Invest in Good Boxes & Colorful Tape
In the past, I balked at spending $9 on a wardrobe box and would have never purchased boxes from any company. Instead, I was at liquor and grocery stores peddling their used boxes. Our clothes went in garbage bags or the back seat of a car and required trip after trip after trip to load and unload. Some things didn’t even get boxes and there was always lots of loose junk. This time, we purchased wardrobe boxes, extra large boxes, small boxes, and everything in between. We also invested in 2 space bags, and mattress bags for every mattress in our home. Packing our clothes was a CINCH. Unpacking our clothes was even easier. I will never, EVER move without the aid of boxes. U-Haul has a box buy-back program, so if you buy too many boxes, they will buy them back at 100% of cost so that you never have to worry about buying too many boxes. They also sell used boxes at some of their locations for a fraction of the cost. Also check Craigslist or Freecycle in your area for used, free or reduced cost boxes.
Another fantastic investment is tape that is not only color-coded, but pre-labeled with room names on them. It might sound like a complete waste of money but it was a lifesaver for us and for our movers. The unloaders didn’t have to ask which room every box went into. We taped the door jam of every room with the appropriate tape and all they had to do was match the tape on the doors to the tape on the boxes. Easy peasy. It also eliminated a ton of confusion when it came to unpacking. It was worth every penny.
5. Pack the Kitchen First
This sounds like yet another crazy Banana Hammocks & Tutus idea, right? For me, the kitchen is the absolute most daunting room to pack. You use the stuff in your kitchen EVERY day and you get into a vicious cycle of clean and dirty dishes, and the inability to pack the kitchen because it is always in use. I came up with the absolute INSANE idea of packing the kitchen first and replacing all of my dishes with paper, and all of our silverware with plastic. I kept out a pot, a pan, and a cookie sheet so that I could still cook, but everything else went into boxes and out of my sight. Because the kitchen is usually the most chaotic room in my home, I wanted to eliminate as much chaos as humanly possible. It wasn’t the easiest 2 weeks without my kitchen stuff, but we survived and I was grateful that the last room to pack was NOT the kitchen.
And free tip #6: Start early. Don’t start packing on moving day. Start packing early and pack, pack, pack, pack until everything is in boxes. Hauling boxes is a lot easier than juggling loose items into your new home.