Lessons From a Life on the Move

2 Mar

I am approaching my tenth move in sixteen years.

Those are my own moves, rather than moves I have helped with, although there have been some of those as well.

What have I learned from all of this moving? I learned to expect to move again, no matter how contented I might feel in a given location. I learned to be prepared.

I realized that the next move was guaranteed to arrive sooner than I would like, and I learned that certain choices made while stationary would have both physical and economic consequences during that next move. I made my furniture choices accordingly.

My furniture purchases were based on how well a given item would fold, stack, disassemble or fit through a doorway, not to mention how easily the item could be lifted. I still have some folding and stacking oak shelves I purchased more than fifteen years ago, while other less manageable items have been left behind or given away. In some sad cases, awkward items were broken during a move. No wonder I became interested in minimalism!

Then, I became a wife and mother. I forgot some of the lessons I had learned in my life. I felt settled. I found a large (and still new-looking!) leather sofa at a secondhand store for $600. It just happened to match the almost-new leather chair and ottoman I had already brought home from another secondhand store for $150. It seemed like fate. I couldn’t resist.

Now, after just a few years, I am forced to consider how exactly we will fit that large leather sofa up the switch back staircase in our future destination…there is another side to fate, you see. You win some, you lose some. Hopefully we won’t need to lose the sofa. That would be a hard lesson.

Something else I learned from my moves is to start packing early. Moving is like going on a trip — one that lasts a very long time (although sometimes not as long as we hope). I never liked packing for trips. I always thought I might forget some crucial item, like pants. Pants are important. Restaurant signs used to say “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service”, but of course, pants (or a reasonable substitute for pants) are also expected. In fact, I am certain that pants are more of a priority than either the shirt or the shoes, despite what the signs used to say. (These days, signs are more likely to say “No Cellphones”.) I have not actually forgotten my pants on any trip, but I worry about these things. I can be a little bit forgetful at times, which is why I try to organize things so deliberately. I need to compensate for my poor memory.

My stress level and my mood on the days before leaving on trips were enough to teach my husband a lesson. Now he encourages me to pack a few days early. Sometimes he even brings my suitcase out. It helps. The very first trip we took as a family had a rough beginning. Now that I think about it, the middle and the ending of that trip were kind of rough, too. It started with my husband and the three boys sitting in the car for the better part of an hour. They were waiting for me to meet them after I finished work, trying to be efficient in their readiness.

Unfortunately, lack of communication was a problem that day. I was hungry after work and stopped for something to eat, without knowing they were already sitting in the car. The four of them were hot, fidgety, and cranky from being strapped in a parked car for so long, and I was horrified to find them there when I arrived. We left too late in the day, hitting some heavy traffic on the journey. Further crankiness ensued. I have heard that you don’t really know people well until you have traveled with them. I think it might be true. Lessons were learned on that trip.

At least traffic won’t be an issue in this move, as we will only be a few miles away from our current home. I wanted to start packing boxes as soon as I knew we were moving, although I knew it was unlikely that we would be able to transport anything for another four to six weeks. Starting early is my own version of efficiency. Now the boxes are stacking up, getting in the way, making the place feel a touch claustrophobic…but it is better than the anxiety of packing in a rush. At least, to me it is better — I shouldn’t speak for my family. But really, who wants a stressed out wife or mother? No one. A few stubbed toes might be worth it.

I asked some friends for their own moving tips and I got a few good ones.

My advice would be to label the HECK out of every box. Add the date and ALL the contents… unless you plan on unpacking everything immediately (unlikely, right?). I actually listed all the contents of each box on at least two sides of the box – not only don’t you have to unpack a box to find something, you don’t have to unstack all the boxes to find the right box!  ~J.I.

To move hanging clothes, cover 10-20 items (still on hangers) in a large trash bag and tie the bottom closed.  ~J.L.

Dust everything before you pack it, and always ask yourself, “Shall I pack this or donate it?” I put all small miscellaneous breakables in socks. Socks work better than wrapping in paper.  ~J.F.

I especially like the tip about socks. I have also read that towels and T-shirts are good for packing dishes, and like the sock idea, this helps eliminate paper waste, and allows you two pack two items at once.

Here are some of my other favorite moving ideas:

  • Pack one room at a time.
  • Label boxes “Open First” if you know you will be needing the contents in the first days after arrival.
  • Load the moving truck according to the order in which the large items will be moved into the house.  In other words, the last things into the truck will be the first unloaded, so they should be the ones you want to place first.  Pieces destined for the back rooms of the house are likely candidates for the back of the truck.
  • Pack a suitcase with changes of clothing and toiletries as though you were taking a weekend trip.
  • Take pictures of the wire hook-ups for your electronics to make it easier to reconnect them, and label all cords, wrapping them to avoid tangling in the move.

I already have many of our cords labeled, and I plan to wrap them carefully. No one wants to open a box and release that tangled nest of mysterious black snakes, their threatening metal fangs extended, dripping with the toxic venom of potential frustration. I look forward to more wireless technology in the future.

In the meantime, I will settle for some organization, a positive attitude, and the hope that our leather sofa will make it up that switch back staircase.

(P.S. If you are moving soon, there are some great moving tips to be found at movers-edge.com — 101 Best Moving Tips)

192 Responses to “Lessons From a Life on the Move”

  1. Lakia Gordon March 2, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    I really dislike moving. When I was younger we moved all the time! 😦 .. but thanks for the tips that you provided! 🙂

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      I don’t think anyone likes it, Lakia, unless they dislike where they have been before the move.

    • avarachan March 2, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

      very true. packing stuff, unpacking at new place, and getting it right? unfortunately unavoidable many a times. 🙂


  2. bigsheepcommunications March 2, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Hey, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!! As for moving, been there, done that, many many times. Best wishes for a quick and painless transition!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:05 am #

      Thanks, Big Sheep, always nice to hear from you. Also, thanks for the heads up on the FP, it totally makes my day!

  3. puertoricodigest March 2, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    I learned all of this through experience! However, downsizing is something I still do not apply, or apply incorrectly, leading to headaches…and back pains. I like the idea about packing with socks, though.


    Someone who has moved eleven times in eighteen years!

  4. countoncross March 2, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Great tips. I am a Real Estate Agent and these are the tips I give to my clients. Very good! -Thank you!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:11 am #

      Thanks, CountOnCross! I have heard that Real Estate Agents have good advice, but I have always been a renter, so I haven’t heard it myself.

  5. RL March 2, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    We’re still living out of boxes, following a recent move. Prominent labels have saved our sanity. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  6. J Roycroft March 2, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Good post. Congrats on FP

  7. Jennifer Avventura March 2, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    My life is so completly downsized all I need is my passport. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed. Great post. I’ve moved too many time to count and enjoyed each journey.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

      A passport and some pants? Haha. Thanks, Jennifer.

  8. jule1 March 2, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    I think color-coding boxes or marking them “Living Room”, “Dining Room”, etc. is a good idea. IF the movers will put the boxes in the designated rooms.

    Also, I think bubble wrap is a godsend. I guess the socks idea is okay, but frankly, I’d rather not have to wash all my socks when I get there, and unpacking random socks for weeks would drive me crazy. I’ll get my used boxes from grocery and liquor stores, but will definitely spend the $$ for bubble wrap.

    I’ve moved 10’s of times and most of my glassware was wrapped in newspaper. I never had any breakage, because I’m thorough, but since bubble-wrap appeared and is available to the masses, I’ve switched to it and think it is the best product ever for wrapping breakables.

    Good luck on your move. They are stressful, but starting early and labelng your boxes, plus some of the other suggestions you had, are key to making the move smoother.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

      Yes, color coding is great, too. Thanks, Jule.

  9. B.C. Young March 2, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    I don’t think I could ever move that much. Been in the same place for over 9 years now.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

      We’ve been here about six years, B.C. Once, I moved after only three months. That was the worst move because I had just finished unpacking the last box.

  10. Evie Garone March 2, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    Some great tips here! I’m not a big fan of moving and only did it once! If your being professionally moved do not leave the house until the movers are DONE…they can not be trusted to do as promised, from a sad and learned patron!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

      Only once?! I have never had professional movers, and I won’t this time either. Thanks for adding that tip, Evie.

  11. Sam March 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm #

    I actually (strangely) kind of like moving. I’m 25, and I’ve done it 9 times already. The two biggest were from the U.K to the U.S, and then recently from OH to FL…talk about stress! Some of our stuff was damaged During the trans-Atlantic move, some of it was flat out stolen, and the rest of it we sold/donated/gave away to anyone who would take it before we left! Thanks for these tips – I’m rarely as organized as I should be, and I’m looking at a move from FL to Boston, soon…

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

      Stolen? How disheartening! Thanks for the visit, Sam.

  12. barefinesse March 2, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    That is exactly how I feel about moving place to place … Starting early is what I do, but I get cranky when my boyfriend tells me to chill out. How is that possible when you know you’re moving in a month and have a bunch of little things you don’t need that can be packed? AhHHH such is life!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      It’s good to know I am not alone, Barefinesse.

  13. Carmen Ana March 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    I have move to 6 different countries ..4 of them with 4 children… 6 I shoud say .. includding my husband and the dog !!! as recommendation if you move around. By the things you would like to take from that place when you find them…. don’t wait for last minute shopping ! even if it will be in a couple of years.. you might not find it later.. or have the time to look !

    and the most important thing… remember to thank and say good by to the people who welcomed you.. helped you and made you live in tha place special ! supermarket cashier, doctors nurse, neighbors, etc… leave in peace !!!!!!!!! say goodbye to your favorites places too… and enjoy the ride !!!!!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

      We won’t need to say goodbye to many as we are not going far. That is a very kind thought, Carmen.

  14. Ascentive March 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    Good luck with the move. I feel every time I move its suck a stressful thing to unpack (I don’t really have problems unpacking).

  15. Snaps March 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Top tip. Use Evernote to keep records of everything – including snapshot photos of the contents of each box, so you can see “at a glance”, what’s inside – useful alongside a list to be able to visualise the contents.

    I’ve moved a few times over the last few years – and look set to be doing so again in the near future. Will be using Evernote a LOT to make quick lists, etc. and reminders.
    Btw – have no connection to the program – just find it really useful!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

      I have never heard of Evernote, actually. Thanks for adding your favorite tip, Snaps.

  16. thefengshuidiva March 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I have moved around a lot and I get rid of stuff every 6 months. Clothing, my kids clothing,their old sport shoes anything that hasn’t been used in 3 years..gets donated or to the trash. I go to the library to get books instead of buying for my kids because packing and unpacking books is a pain…one can only have so many book shelves..

  17. wovenstrands March 2, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

    I had to make two drastic moves in my lifetime. They were refreshing but had their negatives at some points.
    Thanks for sharing

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

      “Refreshing” Hmm. I like that, WovenStrands. I hope our move turns out that way.

  18. Maria Magkou March 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I appreciate your comment about packing early and above all living a life in preparation for a move. It took me 2 years living in another country after starting finally to a new piece of furniture because I was worried that it would cost too much to move the stuff and a waste. Perhaps in these mobile times someone could design more mobile type furniture and appliances for a mobile kinda life.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

      Mobile furniture is a terrific idea, Maria! I would definitely buy some.

  19. aunaqui March 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    Love your sense of humor.. the rambling in and conciseness of your sentences. I know how you feel about moving, because my mother was the stressed out, “I’m not happy so you’re not going to be either,” type. I was always a last-minute packer and a “just as soon as we get there,” wild and crazy UNpacker.
    Moving is an experience.. you grow.. you cry.. you smile.

    Aun Aqui

  20. gmomj March 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    You give excellent moving advice especially about labeling those boxes. I do that and I also keep a master list. I number the boxes, keep a list of whioch go to what room and contents. That list stays with me so if I am looking for something I can refer to the list and just need to locate the room then the number on the box.
    I also stock a supply of paper goods, plates,cutlery,cups and paper towels, so we can do without dirtying up the kitchen until things are put away.
    I find with each move I start packing earlier and earlier by several weeks to 3 months.
    Anything that hasn’t been used in a year, or has waited for 6 mths to be fixed goes to Goodwill or craigslist. I am merciless. I sell everything except the kids. At first I found it very difficult but now I don’t get attached to belongings and can give up almost anything that doesn’t live and breathe.
    Good luck with your move.
    I would determine whether that sofa will fit before you pay the labor to move it and if it won’t, sell the darn thing and use the money for something more practical. Ikea (I know it’s a cliche) has a well made comfortable couch that opens into a double bed. Folds to go through doorways and has a number of attractive covers that are machine washable. Just a thought.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

      Great ideas, Gmomj. Thanks for adding them. I have some Ikea shelves that I have taken apart and reassembled three times!

  21. makingup3000 March 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    My first thought was “army wife” or something of some sort and maybe that’s why you have to move so much. Anyways, it sounds like you have it down to a science and those are definitely great ideas. That really has to be one of the most stressful things to have to do. But it’s also a good way to get rid of “stuff”. Great post.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

      Nope, not an army wife, MakingUp. It has usually been for financial reasons, as it is this time. (Moving while doing taxes is even more stressful.)

  22. charlywalker March 2, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    I have moved so many times that “Tips” don’t even help anymore…
    I’m investing in disposable clothing….

    spread the humor: charlywalker.wordpress.com

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

      You don’t need disposable clothing, CW, just less clothing!

  23. Lindsey Akin March 2, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    One more packing/moving tip: get the date on your friends calendars early so they can come and help you!

    And I am looking at Zak and I when I say that!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      Ha. Well, when we know the date, you will know the date. =) We are still waiting for space to be available at the other end, so we have a place to put our life.

  24. anonnickus March 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I love the hope moving encompasses. It makes the stress bearable if not entirely irrelevant.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

      It can be hopeful, Anonnickus. I do like to shake things up sometimes, as with rearranging furniture. This is more stressful, though, because of space limitations.

  25. munchkn March 2, 2011 at 1:45 pm #

    Thanks for the tips! I’m an expat kid, or was until recently when I had to become an “adult” (oh no…). I’ve grown up moving countries, so I’ve got the itch to move every few years. These will be great helpers!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      “Oh no” is right, Munchkn — moving is way more difficult as an adult. =)

  26. kingkabuz March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    One of the biggest things for me while moving is to get a truck or van that can do most of it in one move. That way, you don’t have to waste your day going back and forth trying to get it all done, as the day goes on, and your borrowing somebodies truck, and wanting to get it back to them, or paying rental fees, and having a timeline… it goes on.
    having a truck rented, and two burly men to help move all the stuff is what I find key. Takes so much of the stress of moving out of it, as well as possibly makes it a little enjoyable… for me anyways.
    New things can be good sometimes 🙂 Exciting if you will!

  27. jamieonline March 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    When I moved from the UK to The Netherlands it was all slightly more complicated that a ‘usual’ move. I was keeping my house (but renting it semi-furnished); some belongings were coming to The Netherlands, some were going into storage at my Dad’s and the rest to my Mum’s. Like you mention in the post it is good to label all the boxes…. I did this with letters A, B, C, and then with numbers relating to the location. I kept a notebook with each marked box and a full list of their contents. It’s been very useful over the years for locating much needed items. It takes time to prepare but the results are extremely useful for anyone who is moving ‘with complications’.

  28. Jessica I March 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Hahaha, “Pants are important.” 🙂 My husband has also learned that getting my suitcase out for me, a couple days early, is good for everybody.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

      Good to know that I am not the only one, Jessica I.

  29. Sammy March 2, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Great post, I hate moving house but at the same time I love it.. although 10 times is a bit too many for my liking! Thanks for the tips though!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      Ten times is too many for my liking, too, Sammy. I didn’t count the moves during my childhood…

  30. cupcakejunky March 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    I moved from country to country quite a bit when I was growing up but we never had much to move so it wasn’t a hassle. Now when I move flats I seem to have accumulated so many books in particular which don’t look like that many on the shelves but when they are boxed up in the middle of the room there’s no room to move.

    Congrats on making it onto Freshly Pressed! I made it on there a few days ago but I’ve dropped off the end now. It was a lot of fun while it lasted.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

      Yes, CupCakeJunky, it does always look like more in boxes! It is so strange.

  31. jandlgarison March 2, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I truly wish I had been able to see this post last week! We just moved and these are some great tips. We also purchased a sofa over the weekend… hopefully the next place will be a house. *fingers crossed*

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

      I am crossing my fingers for you too, Jandlgarison.

  32. SpinnyLiberal March 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Great advice, especially this one:

    Take pictures of the wire hook-ups for your electronics to make it easier to reconnect them, and label all cords, wrapping them to avoid tangling in the move.

    Wish I read this 9 months ago. My advice would be. Don’t ever move.

    Congratulations on being FP!!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

      That is something people just don’t think about, Spinny — the cords! Thanks.

  33. CommentatorandPoet March 2, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    I have been in our current home for over ten years. I recently turned 69. It is my hope and prayer that I will die in this home. The tips you gave were great, but still I felt a thread of sadness throughout the article. I admire how you still maintain a postive attitude in always being prepared for another future move.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

      Thanks, Commentator. There is some sadness, yes, because I don’t want to leave here. I am an optimist and a pragmatist, however.

  34. AnastasiaVS March 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

    Thank you! Moving is not always fun!!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

      Thanks for visiting, Anastasia. (such a pretty name!)

  35. jillfeyka March 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I have moved a lot. Try not to wait until the last minute to pack and you will be much happier. Agreed: label everything and also make a spreadsheet to keep track, especially if you are hiring a moving company or shipping items. Give every box/item a number, content description and for boxes mailed, make sure you know how much the carrier covers for insurance, or what you may need additionally. SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! Not only are they needed for proof, but most times you can claim your move on your taxes if it’s job-related.

    Best of luck! Great post. Congrats on becoming FP!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

      Good ideas, Jillfeyka, thanks for adding them.

  36. Marcia Mayne March 2, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    It’s taking me more than a month to pack for my upcoming move. Each time, I pack a box I have to sit down = LOL!!!
    Thanks for the packing advice.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

      Marcia, I have been packing in baby steps, too. That makes it a little bit easier.

  37. Ryan March 2, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I love how simple, seemingly mundane activities like this bring about many opportunities to be creative. I think there are many more opportunities than people realise.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

      Ryan, thank you for your thoughts. Yes, I often write about the mundane! Moving, however, doesn’t feel very mundane right now.

  38. RP71 March 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    Moving is a task…have done 3-4 moves in last 5 years.

    But my parents did one every 6 months for a 3 year stretch…they had it down to a science…with labels and boxes…

  39. T.Ferrell March 2, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Hey There!

    Would just like to say I really enjoyed the blog, was a good read and very interesting, I hope you continue posting! And best of luck with future moves!:)


    Tim Ferrell,
    HR Manager
    CBA Solutions – http://cbasolutions.wordpress.com/

  40. crayou March 2, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

    Me too. I really hate moving because you have to leave a lot of things behind, like important things, like your dog, your friends and the places you love visiting… The only thing that I can do is keep in touch. Well keeping in touch is a lot easier right now because of the almighty Internet. LoL !!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm #

      The internet is heaven sent for social contact, Crayou. For that, and for researching trivia!

  41. GITMAN March 2, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    A little forward thinking a long way. Hat’s off to you for having the prudence of future planning. Keep making moves!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

      Thank you Gitman. I try to look forward, but also stay focused on the moment.

  42. hummingbirdinthetempest March 2, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I am new to the blogging world, but already, I have found this post which is very easy to relate to! My boyfriend goes through a move every two years, and believe me, I’m sure some of these tips would come in handy to him 🙂 thanks!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

      I’m glad you liked it, Hummingbird. Have fun blogging. =)

  43. Ava Aston's Muckery March 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

    Great moving tips, although I hope I never have to use them.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed.



    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

      Thank you, Ava! I, too, hope you never need these tips.

  44. Celeste Salva March 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    Peace and blessings

  45. karkeethinks March 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm #

    great post.

  46. I wish I was The Dude March 2, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    Nice post! And thanks for all the great tips!

  47. thevividwriter March 2, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Great article. Can associate. 🙂

  48. lionellin March 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm #

    Useful tips for our guys.

  49. The Compulsive Writer March 2, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    I laughed when you said you like to pack early and want to remember your pants. Because…well, I actually forgot to pack pants once for a trip. I thought I had it all figured out…then when we got to France (a place where shorts are poo-pooed) I had to buy pants! Happy packing….

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

      Thank you for your comment, Compulsive Writer. I once forgot shorts for a warm place and had to go shopping…I actually like skirts a lot, but they don’t usually pack very well, at least not the kind I have!

  50. stylistnc March 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    Great tips. I hope I don’t have to use them for a long time. Just thinking about it scares me.

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:01 pm #

      Thanks, Stylistnc, it scares me too, sometimes. The kids aren’t scared (because we are going to a place they know and like), and that makes it a little bit easier, since we don’t need to worry about their feelings.

  51. あまや@AMAYA March 2, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    What you wrote is really interesting, though I never moved myself, these lessons are worth knowing and I know how it’s like to learn more about someone when you’re traveling with them.

  52. doon po sa amin March 2, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    hello, there. 😀

    i like how you narrated your story about moving. and how your narrative packs in life’s little ironies and how we never seem to learn our lessons, haha.

    keep on writing. one day, we’ll get things right. or at least, we try and hope so… 😀

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

      Thank you, DPSA. Life is definitely ironic in some ways!

  53. Troy March 2, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Personal maybe, but I have to know why you’ve moved so often? Kind of a lot!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

      Troy, I have moved for different reasons. Some endings, some beginnings, some other changes. I was in college during many of the moves.

  54. simplyadrina March 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    I once had to move complete house to get my flat re-tiled. It was so frustrating. I had to box everything but the kitchen sink, and live off those boxes the entire week.

    Your move tips would have saved me some tears. Thank you.

  55. monicastangledweb March 2, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    I haven’t moved in 12 years, but before that I moved 13 times since college and vowed to stay put after my last move. Thank you for reminding me why. Congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • acleansurface March 2, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

      You should never forget the blessings of staying put, Monica! It has been very nice to have my post featured. I love hearing from readers.

  56. laliva March 3, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    I moved out of home a year ago, and the packing? It was a nightmare! I didn’t pack everything I own though, cause I’m moving again in few years!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:43 am #

      At least you know you will be moving, Laliva.

  57. stuffedsillysarah March 3, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    I can beat that – 19 moves in the last 20 years… I think I secretly love it but it infuriates the husband! I have learnt to declutter everything in my life so that each transistion is really simple. I have been in my current home for 3 months now, which is quite good going for me 🙂

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:45 am #

      Eeek. You definitely have me beaten,SS/Sarah. Decluttering is top priority, then.

  58. l0ve0utl0ud March 3, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    I have just moved to a different country, but the move was very easy, considering the fact that I only took one suitcase with me! I have moved several times in the past few years, and am starting the learn the art of the essential: only keep an object if you LOVE it or NEED it.

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      That sounds like an interesting lifestyle, LoveOutLoud.

  59. philgeland March 3, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Nice piece of writing and good stuff to consider.
    It also makes it easier for the people who help you to move. As a student I´ve been doing some jobs in this business. There is nothing worse than a “messie”.

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      Thank you, Philgeland. I have never had any paid help.

  60. Daisy Hat March 3, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    I feel the same way about moving… especially after having been a student for what seems like a long time… I’ve almost got to the stage where I truly just want to bring one cardboard box and live as simply as possible!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:49 am #

      It is the curse of a student, isn’t it, Daisy Hat?

  61. Jo Laycock March 3, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    This is really useful – I’m moving in a month or so and will be taking these tips with me. Love the ones about using clothes for plates and socks for knick-knacks!

  62. Hiroki March 3, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    Ah, I should have read this 6 months. In the last 6 months, my girlfriend and I moved like 6 times. Now moving into a new place is another issue…

  63. maryct70 March 3, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    Great post, and congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I can relate to the decline in organization that can happen when children enter our lives. I am always wondering where all their “stuff” comes from!
    Love the tip about the socks. I’ll keep it mind the next time I need to pack boxes of knick-knacks.

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:53 am #

      Thank you, Maryct70. My kids want to keep everything, and they want to keep it forever. Not possible.

  64. idiosyncraticeye March 3, 2011 at 4:14 am #

    First of all, congratulations of being Freshly Pressed and all the best with your move.

    Some tips I’ve picked up (though mainly from other people’s moves):

    Always have important documents packed separately, you’ll never know if you’ll need them and you certainly don’t want them getting lost

    Don’t pack way too early, wait until you’ve got a date (especially if you’re buying/selling) otherwise you’ll drive your nearest and dearest mad when they can’t find anything for the next six months

    Hangers are way too vicious for most black bags, take stuff off hangers and fold into the bags. Label them up.

    Always have a very large supply of food to tempt friends and family into helping, getting them to bring it is even more inspired

    Always, always, always pack the kettle and tea making accoutrements separately in an easy to get to place. Never pack it before the last person is out of the house either. Maybe that’s just for a country where people are obsessed with tea!

    Don’t pack your eggs at the bottom of your cool box, whoever is helping you unpack will not appreciate it

    Have a box/tub/crate of cleaning supplies to hand either for last minute use in the old place or sanitation of the new!

    Make friends with people who have vans and other large vehicles


    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:55 am #

      Thank you for your additions, Idiosyncraticeye. I like the one about friends with vans. =) We used to have a van ourselves, but it “went out to pasture” last year.

  65. Buy and Sell Antiques March 3, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    Interesting post,these tips are very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  66. Angel Wheeler March 3, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    Hey! congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  67. Aligaeta March 3, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    Thanks for reminding me… Moving means packing!

  68. Audio Field Recorder March 3, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    Well done – it certainly strikes a chord with me!

    The success of downsizing is being ruthless and not having an emotional attachment to everyday objects.

    It also helps by thinking ….’what if I had to move from a house to a canal boat’….. now that would be a challenge!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 10:58 am #

      Thank you, Audio. I have an aunt and uncle who moved to a sailboat years ago, and it was a real undertaking, but they love it.

  69. ksnapped March 3, 2011 at 7:42 am #

    Nice tips! I’m a gypsy myself, currently packing for my 5 move in 4 years…
    I loved your idea of taking pictures of wires. Brilliant. My own strategy at the moment is Less Is More – everything I own fits in my Mazda! (But I don’t have a family, so I don’t count…)
    Good luck on this move – fingers crossed for the sofa!

  70. dearexgirlfriend March 3, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    last time i moved i made a solemn vow never to move again until i could pay someone to do it for me.

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 11:01 am #

      Haha. Like my parents before me, I have never had a housekeeper or a professional mover in my life. Thanks for stopping by, Dearexgirlfriend.

  71. I Made You A Mixtape March 3, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    You have moving down to a science! Fabulous points here. Everytime I move I notice how much junk I have accumulated over the years. Once I have moved, I notice how much junk I have actually packed and taken with me… rather than gotten rid of it in the first place..lol

  72. James R. Clawson March 3, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I especially like the “favorite moving ideas” that you had on your post! Good Job!

  73. Margaret March 3, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Nice blog! I haven’t moved since 1978 and my family still lives in the house my grandmother bought new in the early 1920’s, but I live in fear of moving… so thanks for the tips.

  74. Addison March 3, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Ahhh! Moving is so stressful. I love the tips (especially the one of taking the photo of the electronic hook up, BRILLIANT). Even though moving brings on much anxiety, (at least for me) I love the change. My favorite part is being able to organize everything.

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 11:03 am #

      Addison, organization is so very satisfying, isn’t it?

      • Addison March 3, 2011 at 11:07 am #

        Very. Plus the feeling of accomplishment when you are finished.

  75. milkitchen March 3, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I will be moving end of this month. I have items that are still in the boxes from my previous move, items we are currently using and items we just bought for the new home. I was in a little lost of how to pack and categorizing them. Thanks for the tips on the packing and labeling. The hanging clothes in trash bag and dusting everything before packing them are excellent ideas. Thanks for sharing!!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 11:06 am #

      Good luck with your move, Milkitchen! Don’t forget to notify important companies you do business with, also. Sometimes mail doesn’t forward as well as we might hope…I once had my auto insurance canceled because I didn’t get their notices, although I got everything else.

  76. ournote2self March 3, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    Thanks for the tips!!! You definitely sound like an experienced packer!

  77. Jean Has Been Shopping March 3, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Wow, this is all great advice! I wish you the best in your move. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing.

  78. reversepunch March 3, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I love moving! I love being able to clean everything out, and throw things away, and label everything… this is coming from the neat freak side of me! I am looking forward to my next move!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

      You may be the only one looking forward to the next move, ReversePunch, but not the only one who likes organization.

  79. carolineheywood March 3, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    First, congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    Now on to business- I have also moved several times in my life (14 times in all 21 years of my life) and have learned a lot of lessons from watching my parents, and from when I finally moved out of my parents house.

    One of the biggest things that helped our big family moves was to color code. This was especially true when we moved from one country to another with the military, and enlisted help to unpack the truck. We used big circle stickers similar to those you see at garage sales, and the door of every room had a sign that said which color it was. That way those helping wouldn’t have to remember which room was mine and which was my sisters, they just had to know that the purple boxes went in the purple room, and the green boxes went into the green room.

    Also, something I implemented when I moved out of my parents house, instead of packing all my cords in one box, I opted to pack the cords, along with a picture of how they’re hooked up, with each of my electronic devices. For instance, for my computer, I neatly rolled my cords, labeled which was which, and placed all the ones just for my computer in a zip lock bag, and taped it to the PC unit. That way when I started to hook everything up, I didn’t run into the frustration of forgetting to actually grab all cords before sitting down to do something.

    Good luck on your move! Hope you keep your sofa!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

      Thanks, Caroline. Those zip bags are big help, aren’t they?

  80. twentysomethingwaitress March 3, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    I appreciate your attitude and sense of grace about moving…. I’m not used to moving at all and am very hesitant whenever I have to. I lived in the same apartment for the first 18 years of my childhood; the only break in this was the 6 months I lived as an exchange student in Sweden my junior year. I moved several times when I went away to college, but now that I have graduated and gotten my own apartment in the city I see myself living for the rest of my life, the thought of moving is so scary. It’s funny the thoughts that go through our head when a change is about to occur…I am considering moving to Spain for 9 months in September, and one of my first thoughts was, will I have to sell my couch? (My couch and I are pretty much soul mates.) I think the point of it all is that we can’t get too attached to anything in life even though hey, we’re human beings, we’re going to do it anyway!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

      What a nice comment, Twentysomething. Letting go is always an important lesson in life. Still, I hope you can find a friend to hold your couch for you!

  81. smilesndreams March 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I totally understand your frustrations on moving and packing and all that. I have moved cities and even countries a few times now. There was a time when I felt, why even bother unpack!

    But, sometimes you’ve got to take whatever life presents at you and move on. Good luck and congrats on being Freshly pressed!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

      Thank you, SmilesnDreams. I try to go with the flow.

  82. halfwayto50 March 3, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    I made my first move out of my parents house and into my first home a couple of years ago. We didn’t have much to move, but I didn’t like any of it! Someday the furniture companies with think of a way to make all furniture come in pieces or be collapsable. How is anyone supposed to get a huge leather couch through the front door??

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

      The worst furniture is the big items that you assemble in your home that will not fit through a doorway and can’t be taken apart without damage. I think maybe you are supposed to leave them for the next tenant! Thanks for visiting, Halfwayto50.

  83. Norquiza March 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    This is a very helpful article. thanks!!

  84. shenanitim March 3, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

    Wow, “Unpack First,” who would think something so brilliant could be so simple? And so often overlooked? Great post.

  85. mysoulforsale March 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    As much as moving stinks, it sure is a good way to clean and declutter… you have no choice! Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  86. SomerEmpress March 3, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Enjoy the adventures! I’ve relocated quite a bit, so I do understand. Those tips are indispensable. Some of them were new to me! Your attitude makes ALL the difference! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • acleansurface March 3, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      Thank you, SomerEmpress. Sometimes, attitude is everything.

  87. Ralph Griffin March 4, 2011 at 1:19 am #

    Thanks for the post although I have to say I kept waiting for the ‘real’ story to turn up. That is…why the constant moving? I thought the story was establishing the background for something much more sinister 🙂 Anyway, great post. I know that moving is a headache but I kind of love it too. The anticipation of being somewhere new and meeting new people. Speaking of which, my wife and I moved into our current apartment (in Sydney, Australia) 2 years ago. We just picked it out of the newspaper by random. Wen to visit. Liked it and moved in within a week. It turns out that they guy downstairs (in this small block of 8 units) is one of my uncle’s friends in the UK and I was supposed to meet him when I was a teenager to discuss options for moving to Australia, Bizzare!

    • acleansurface March 4, 2011 at 7:02 am #

      What a coincidence, Ralph. I love it when things work out that way. No, my life is not particularly sinister, just periodically chaotic.

  88. Thundercows March 4, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    In my life I had to move out couple of times and I have noticed, that there are always unexpected costs after moving out.To do a new home unexpected customization is a must: a shelf here, a new door there…Next thing you know you are spending extra 300$ for something you thought you won’t have to do.
    At these times it is always good to keep calm. The first purchase should be a green tea and getting a professional massage (from the all packing and unpacking).

    The most important thing is good neighbors. I wonder whenever they will be available on eBay.

    • acleansurface March 6, 2011 at 9:46 am #

      Someone just gave me some green tea, ThunderCows! I agree about the good neighbors.

  89. somethingnewplease March 5, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    Sometimes I feel that there may be this great myth or romantic idea that people actually move into one place and stay there instead of moving and moving and moving. I can relate to this because I’ve moved nearly every year for the past ten… I’m tired, and I hate the current place I’m staying in (there are trolls in the basement and no garbage disposal), but I think I’ll have to tough it out a year or two more..


    • acleansurface March 6, 2011 at 9:42 am #

      D, my parents have been in the same place for 34 years now, so they are living that romantic idea. Most people are not so lucky.
      (Watch out for trolls.)

  90. lunasealife March 6, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    “Pants are important.”


    I JUST gave away my huge double pillow top bed that I got for $350 to a friend in exchange for her old futon. The massive dark wood bedframe was getting in the way when I was trying to do yoga. I’m now sleeping on the futon mat on the floor and love it! I wonder if eventually I can get down to just sleeping on a yoga mat?! Hmmm…

    I want a simple, clean, minimal life. Have struggled with ancestral packratism my entire life. Wearing it down!


    Also, have you been to http://immediatism.com/ ?
    It’s my new all-time favorite blog. I think you’ll dig it. 😉

    Also LOVE the line: “No one wants to open a box and release that tangled nest of mysterious black snakes, their threatening metal fangs extended, dripping with the toxic venom of potential frustration.”

    You’re awesome!

    • acleansurface March 6, 2011 at 9:36 am #

      Aw, thanks, Lunasealife. I have not seen that site, but I will definitely check it out, along with your packrat post.

  91. ravenea March 8, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    Having moved many times in my own life, I can agree with this. Good luck in your move!

  92. pegoleg March 8, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    I SHUDDER to think of moving that many times. I’m the type who, if I ever decided to sell it all and live in a motor home, would need to tow a U-Haul to be my basement. (Congrats on being FP, and sorry to be so tardy to say so!)

    • acleansurface March 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      I think I have built up a tolerance for stress over the years, Pegoleg. I only shudder on the inside, now.

  93. Tammie Lynn March 25, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    Love the tips! I actually haven’t moved in a while and I am about to purchase my first home. These tips will really help in organizing for the big move. Good luck with your move!

  94. RedwoodPropertyManagement March 25, 2011 at 9:07 am #

    Great tips! And kudos on having such a positive attitude. As a property management company in St. Charles, MO we have seen many different “moving styles” among our tenants. While some wait until the final days to pack frantically, we have seen others start a month in advance. We will certainly be passing along some of your advices if a tenant is in need!

  95. Ali August 2, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Just found your blog and LOVE it. Also I am writing this from a week-long vacation where I brought 9 shirts, 11 pairs of panties, 2 pairs of pants and one sports bra… I need help in all areas clearly.


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