Even at the best of times, moving can be a bit daunting. With all of the shifting of locations these days, we wanted to get some tips and tricks from our resident expert, Dream Teamer Carla Morris, on how to make the transition from one residence to another as easy as possible.
Where you live? That’s not just your “house.” It’s your home. You attach emotion to it, embrace it. That makes it hard to separate the feelings from the logistics of a residential transition, but we’ll do our best to give you tips to help you physically engage in a process that moves you forward with purpose so you can set up your new haven.
To start everything off, we asked Carla if there was a time of year that’s better for moving. In her opinion, “I don’t think it matters what time of year. The most important part about moving is to be organized.” And we’ll let her take it from there.
Step 1: Trash, Giveaway, Keep
Generally, people know they are moving way before they actually do it. So, from the beginning when you start thinking about it, there are things you can do that aren’t part of the actual move itself but will make the process that much easier.
When you’re looking to buy a home or planning to move, you can be organizing. You don’t want to live in packed boxes once you get to where you’re going because that’s unsettling, too. Begin with something as simple as starting in one part of your house — let’s say the kitchen — and go through every drawer and cabinet, throwing away everything that’s trash. That’s it. Whatever in that drawer looks like you really don’t need it — old rubber bands, pens that don’t work, whatever — just throw it away. Do that through your entire house.
The next thing is to do that same process with giveaway. You can also do this at the same time as trash, although some people get overwhelmed with doing both and can’t make a decision. That’s why if I’m moving people, I’ll go to that same drawer and say, “Pick what’s trash, giveaway, and keep.” And I have them do all three at the same time. The giveaway goes into a pile, the trash goes into the trash, and the keep stays in the drawer. When you go to pack, you’ve now gotten rid of all of the trash and the giveaway, and you’re just packing the stuff you want.
If you did the trash and you did the giveaway, you can now look at that drawer or space and say, “Is there anything here that I’m not sure about? Maybe I don’t want to keep it or maybe I do.” And now it’s easier to deal with that however you want because you’ve already separated it once.
Step 2: Pre-pack and Pack
You’ve gone through your whole house — garage, bedrooms, everywhere you can when you have the time — and you’re in a position where you’ve cleaned out everything; done your trash and giveaway. Now, you’re going to pack. When doing that, it’s really worthwhile to look again and see if there’s more you can giveaway or trash, because the point is to not hoard. If you want a clean, livable happy space, it needs not to be filled to the brim.
You can also start packing things you don’t use. This time go through the house and say, “Okay, I haven’t used this in the last year. I can pack it now because I’m not going to need it.” Maybe you’re moving in 6 months, a month — whatever. Take that time to look at that closet, that drawer, that bookcase, and choose what stays and what goes by saying, “I can live the next year without any of these books, so let me get them packed,” and you just box up whatever you’re not using. When you start packing the books or whatever, I always say make a place to store them that’s not in your home — your garage, or designate a room or some space you can give up — so you’re not living around boxes because that’s really unsettling for any length of time.
This means that when it's time for the actual move, all you have left to put in boxes are the things you’ve been using for that last month and you have very little to deal with. To me, if people could get into that process, it would make their move that much easier so that when you get to your new place, you’re not unpacking things you don’t want, you don’t need, or are trash.
Something I really want to suggest because not everybody knows this or remembers to do this, is to mark all of your boxes with what room they come from. For example, “Bookshelf, Living Room; Carla’s Sox, Master Bedroom,” etc. As I said, you don’t need to keep everything out while waiting to move. Those boxes that are the last ones you packed go on your truck last and come off first — remember, these are the things you kept out to use while waiting to move. This way, when you get in the new home, you’re unpacking the things you need first and all of those you didn’t will then get unpacked last. I also put stickers on the boxes to show how to unpack. I usually use little green, yellow, red, and blue dots. Green is “unpack right away,” yellow is “unpack second,” red might be “storage” and so on.
Step 3: The Unpack
You’ve sorted through everything, packed and labeled what you didn’t need for the last part of your stay at your old home, and boxed up and marked the rest. Now, it’s time to unpack in your new place the same way as your packing process, only backwards. You once again look through everything as you go and say, “Oh, maybe I’m not going to use this,” or “I don’t see how this is going to work here so I’m going to put it to the side to be trash or giveaway.” Then, you start making those piles — trash, giveaway, keep — on the other end.
You're in your new home and you begin unpacking by first taking those things out of the last boxes you packed. Those are the things you immediately put into the areas you wrote on the boxes. If you’ve done the labeling, you have all of that coordinated up front so that when you get to the other end, you know what to unpack first and you don’t have to go digging around for your sox (for example) and unpacking things you don’t need.
Often when you move you may not have all of your furniture and you don’t have a place to put things away yet. Let’s say your bookcases aren’t there or they haven’t been built, but you know where your books are because you’ve marked your boxes. Just place those things waiting for their new home in areas that won’t be in your way.
Many of the things you’re bringing to the new house can be put away before you even move in. When I’m moving myself or someone else, I generally take the kitchen stuff over to the other end ahead of time. I just leave a few things to use at the house, and I go and unpack the whole kitchen before the movers come. I unpack the kitchen — and the same with the bedroom — so I have what I need to eat and sleep right away on the first day, then the rest can happen.
Step 4: Put Away Plan
Once you move in, you need to unpack and put things away until you get it done. Don’t do the “month of moving” thing — you pack that way on the other end. When you get to your new place, you should make it home as fast as possible. Get rid of the boxes right away.
Unpacking is a chore but it’s the part of making the house your house; it’s your home now. If you’re working and you’re doing it yourself, designate a certain amount of time every day. Say to yourself, “I’m going to unpack for an hour every day until that’s done.” It’s just discipline. When you unpack depends on what works for you — some people are better at night, some people like unpacking as many boxes as they can before they go to work. Whichever you choose, do it every day until it’s done.
Bonus: Packing and Moving Yourself vs. Someone Packing and Moving You
Much depends on whether you’re hiring people or if you’re doing all of this yourself. If you’re packing yourself and you haven’t done the process of cleaning out, you can throw things away when you’re putting your boxes together. If you’ve hired someone else to pack you, however, you really want to make sure they’re not packing trash and giveaway. When that happens, you’re paying somebody to pack and move things you know you don’t want, and it’s expensive. That’s why going through the clean out process is super important especially if you have people pack you, unless you’re a person who’s already organized, your drawers don’t have anything in them you don’t like, and you keep everything perfect.
Another thing to consider is whether you unpack yourself or have other people unpack you. When you have others do it for you, it’s hard unless they know where everything goes already. Usually, as they’re unpacking, you’ll have to tell everybody what to do, where to go, all of that, and it’s a lot of work.
Feeling good in your new home
Leaving a home is emotional, even if you want to. That’s the part people don’t plan on. Moving, therefore, usually goes one way or the other. It’s super exciting — “We’re building a dream home” — or it’s difficult — “I’m getting a divorce.” Regardless, you’re leaving what you consider your home. A lot of people can’t process all that goes into their move because home is the key word and it’s difficult to detach yourself from home. That’s why it’s good to have all those other things figured out.
What I find is that because of how emotional home is, the move is either all over the place or it’s super organized. There aren’t that many people who live in that middle ground. It’s a state of mind, our psyche, which is so interesting to me. But that’s why I do it in my job because I know the value that home — not just a house — can bring you. I make home all the time because that’s what’s important to me and I find it so valuable to feel good at home.