So it’s time to share my secrets with you. Sadly with things slowing down, it seems more people are leaving rather than coming to North Dakota. Either way if you are moving a family in or out, you are probably struggling with some logistical issues. North Dakota is not exactly easy to get to. Ok, maybe it is easy to get to but it’s not a place commonly driven through so finding someone to help you move that can just add it to their route is not going to be easy. I’m going to share with you how we did it. Our regular readers know that we moved just about everything with us. We left one storage unit behind but the rest came with. Moving a household is not easy. I’ve done it so much that I feel I should be a moving consultant. I know how to pack boxes efficiently, I know how to maximize space in a truck, I know how to find a better deal on the cost associated with moving. I’m going to offer my advice in parts. This part is going to deal with physical act of packing your home. In my next article we will tackle how to find that truck.
First things, first. This article is aimed at families, not individuals. While these things may work for an individual with minimal stuff, I am really appealing to those like me who have things that must come with. A houseful of furniture, art, a home office, and if your husband is anything like mine, a houseful of electronics.
Moving a household causes me to go through many stages, much like the stages of grief. There is anxiety, depression, anger, sadness…. oh it’s all there. Once the worst of that is over and I have accepted my fate, this is what I do.
1. Get your supplies ready. For me this includes moving boxes, wrapping plastic, sharpie markers, Ziploc baggies, Tupperware containers, wrapping paper (newspaper is fine but remember the ink will smudge) and wrapping tape. We get most of this at U-Haul. If you have time you can look around Craigslist to try and save some money. I never wanted to take the time to do that so U-Haul works for us plus it’s easy to bring back unused boxes. One thing that is crucial is the wrapping plastic. I used it for absolutely everything and I cannot move without it. Also, collect all blankets, comforters and towels that you do not need to use before the move and put aside. You are going to need everyone one of those.
2. Pick a day. Wake up earlier than everyone else. Brew a pot of coffee. Basically I go from room to room. I sit down with my coffee and a pen and notebook and begin to make notes based on what I see. What can I get rid of. There are always things to get rid of. I have pieces of furniture (like the one pictured) that I know I want to keep. There are others that can be replaced easily. Figure out what you want to keep, what you want to get rid of. Another thing that is a MUST if you are going to have someone else pack your things or move your belongings is to inventory what you are taking. Take pictures as well. If you have things that are valuable or cannot be replaced, document them. If the worst happens and something is stolen or your truck gets in an accident, you are going to be glad that you can accurately and specifically detail what you have.
2. Get two dedicated Tupperware containers, One should be 2′ x 1′ and preferably with a handle and the other should be about a lunchbox size, also with a handle. The purpose of the larger one is going to be for hardware, plugs, cables and anything you need to assume furniture as you unpack. If you take apart a bed and have a handful of bolts and screws place those in a Ziploc baggie. Use a sharpie to mark that bag regarding it’s contents. Make sure it’s secure and put it in the Tupperware container. Do this for special cables that you may need, your Wifi set up, electrical outlet plug covers, extension cords, even Allen wrenches. The smaller one is for medicines that will stay with you. Keep your medicine in there and anything your children and pets might need on the road. Don’t forget things like earplugs and cough medicine. Better to be safe than sorry.
3. Get a folder that can snap shut. In this I put all my important paperwork that will travel with me. Birth Certificates, car titles, social security cards, passports, ID’s. Anything you might need to apply for a loan, get a job, rent a place or register your children for school. Make sure you have it on you when you travel.
4. At this point you need to determine if you are going to need a storage unit. In an ideal world it would have been best if everything could come with us but because we had a business involved, we had to be strategic. So for us, we needed a storage unit. So for us, after we figured out what would be donated, we then had to make a list of what would be left behind in storage. Those are the things I packed first.
5. Find a dedicated space in your home where you can put packed boxes and wrapped furniture. For us we had a long living room/dining room. So we took one half, moved out all the furniture and started putting all our freshly packed things in this area.
6. Wrap everything on the walls first. Personally I have a lot of art, particularly canvas paintings with some glass framed prints. These are probably the most time consuming to wrap correctly. It’s a pain and it’s time consuming but the way I look at it is if I’m not willing to take the time and energy to wrap these correctly, what was the point of investing all that money? I have one really big piece of art that is not framed (see picture) so for this one I got a full size mattress box and cut it down so that the entire thing was enclosed and protected from dirt. You still need to be aware of pieces like this when you pack the truck or if you have movers doing it, make sure to put red tape on these pieces so that they know to see you about them. Don’t assume a mover will pack it correctly, supervise your special pieces.
For small pieces that are framed (with or without glass) I use some of those blankets and comforters I referenced earlier along with that plastic wrap. What we would do is lay one of the blankets down and fold it in half. Lay the artwork on top and wrap like you would a present. Using an extra person, carefully use the stretch plastic and wrap the whole thing. It may sound silly but you be amazed at how solid it feels and how well it protects everything.
7. Let’s tackle a closet or two. The very first thing I do is determine what can be donated. If there is one good thing about moving, it forces me to evaluate what I have and from there we end up donating car loads of things. Toys, clothing, furniture, kitchen stuff… whatever we have not used in a while must go. After I have gone through and pulled things to donate, I then determine what exactly I’m going to need to wear between then and the time we actually are getting on the road. Make sure to consider not just the weather where you are but the weather while traveling and what it will be like when you reach your destination. Make sure to take this into consideration with your shoes as well. Don’t leave out only sandals if you are headed into a cold state. It may take a while to unpack that truck and find your boots.
Put aside the clothes you are going to keep out until the end. From the rest pack only the pieces that are higher end or delicate. The rest I actually use for packing breakables. Instead of buying a bunch of bubble wrap I use t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters so soften my boxes. Sounds odd I know but it works. I’ve been doing this since we started moving every few years for the military. I never allowed anyone to wrap the contents of my home, I have always done it myself. This is one of my favorite tricks.
Start by assembling a box. Put a few pieces of clothing on the bottom and then wrap your breakables in more clothing and place carefully in the box. That’s it. I do this for pieces of art glass, figurines, pottery, anything that is breakable. I even use this method when wrapping small electronics like Blu ray players and alarm clocks. The only thing I don’t use this method on would be my kitchen dishes and glassware. Everything else gets wrapped with clothing. If you are worried this is going to be a jumbled mess when you get to your destination, fear not. If you’re like me, you wash all your clothes anyway.
8. Make sure to label every single box as you close them up.
9. What about those big TV’s? I do the same thing with them that I did with the artwork. I use blankets and comforters to wrap them and then I wrap it very well with the green wrapping plastic. I’ll repeat what I did for the art though, make sure that you pay attention to how these are placed in the truck. We always made sure that the TV’s were placed upright and along the side.
10. When it comes to larger pieces of furniture with doors I do one of two things. Some of my furniture like the large one pictured above have doors that pop off. Nothing to remove, it’s just the way the Germans engineer them (and it’s fabulous). So for those I take the door off and wrap them like I do my paintings. For those pieces like dressers where the doors and drawers don’t necessarily come out (and you wouldn’t want to take the drawers out anyway), I use the plastic wrap here. I wrap the entire piece of furniture with it, over the drawers so they won’t open until I cut that plastic away. It also helps protect the furniture itself. For more delicate or carved furniture, I might wrap sections in a blanket and then wrap in the plastic.
11. Remove all legs from your tables. Don’t try to move them without taking the legs off. You’ll ruin that piece.
12. The kitchen. The single most difficult room for me to deal with. In part because we will need to use it up until the day we leave and in part because I have more kitchen stuff than anyone I know. I use wrapping paper for this job (you can get a 10 pound box at uhaul). I wrap each glass individually and each plate individually. For the plates you will want to put something in between them like a small piece of cardboard maybe.
13. Clean Clean Clean as you go. If you think you’ll pack up everything and then just clean the house or apartment last minute, you’re kidding yourself. If you want to do a good job, clean as you go. As you pack the bathroom, scrub it down completely. You may still need to quickly go over it at the end but at least the deep cleaning will be done. Clean the appliances early on as well that way you only have to wipe them down on that last day.
14. I would be remiss if I did not at least mention your car. If you are driving your car as well, make sure you have a checklist of everything you will need to carry in the car. Make sure you have changed the oil and checked all the fluids including your windshield wiper fluid, make sure the spare tire is inflated and in good condition and that you have an emergency kit. Also make sure your registration and insurance cards are current and in your glove compartment. Keep a small amount of cash on you for tolls. Don’t forget chargers for electronic devices either. Our trip to North Dakota took five days. I had kids and pets with me so we took our time.
Now that you have everything packed and organized, how are you going to move it from one place to the next? Who’s going to drive that truck? What about my car? So many questions. I’ll give you my answers in the next post. That deserves it’s own post.