We move in a week. Not overseas again, or even to another state. Just across town. Because our work in past years gave us lots of opportunities to relocate, we have not lived in a house that we owned for 20 years. This move is to a house we bought. Weird.
I’m taking a break from packing today. Hopefully writing will clear some of the emotions bouncing all around in my head, stirred by the memories of transitions of the past, and by touching all these familiar things I’m putting in boxes.
My husband calculated recently that in all the years of our marriage (30 this year), we have moved to various places and situations 22 times. Next week will be our 23rd move. Who does that?!
One day it would be fun (at least for me) to list those moves and talk briefly about each one. Moving stirs us up in so many ways, that our lives can not help but be changed. A lot depends on our attitudes and also on what necessitated that move. As I look at the list of all the moves, each brings sharp memories to the front of my mind – some tender, some funny, some perplexing, and some completely course-altering. That’s for another day.
Today, I’m reflecting on the move itself. We have friends from church and work helping us move this time. We’ve had a few experiences with commercial movers (both here and in Africa), but this time we’re going the low-cash, high-friend route. Signing up to help someone move is the substance of a pure heart. No amount of pizza and funny stories afterward balances out giving up your morning on a beautiful, Spring weekend. Helping people move is a true kindness, and we are grateful ahead of time. Since we’ve moved so many times, I thought you might like to know what makes for a good, low-as-possible-stress moving day. This list isn’t exhaustive, but these are what help me.
Moving House Tips
1) If you know well in advance your moving date, start early to plan your move. There are occasions when a move is abrupt. With that, you do the best you can (given the other tips – in a rather fast motion). More important than stuff management, if the move is abrupt, is consideration of those important to you in your current situation – your friends, neighbors, colleagues. It may be tempting to just deal with your possessions and arrangements to move, but don’t let those things rule your life. If the move has some advance notice, begin sorting and packing early, so time with people isn’t squeezed out in the last week or two.
2) Purging household possessions is often a part of the move. It’s advantageous, really. Anywhere we settle, even briefly, we accumulate stuff. It seems to glom onto us if we slow down. Moving is often an emotionally-laden experience. Purge what you can and pack the rest. As to what to leave behind, “There’s safety in a multitude of counselors.” You may later regret what you left behind. Not to say you still shouldn’t purge, because you should. What you donate or sell or gift becomes a blessing and a memory of you. We have left behind stuff in 4 countries…and still have a house full.
3) Pack seasonal and non-essential things early on, labeling the boxes well, so you’ll know where to store them and when to bring them out. Now, in non-essentials, if they cleared the purge, you must want them. So just label them in such a way that they don’t end up staying in that same box until the next move. Or gift them in such a way you can live with. One of my dearest friends is “holding” some of our stuff for us until the day we “settle” somewhere. She’s both holding onto it for us, and enjoying it “for us” while our lifestyle doesn’t lend itself that way.
4) Use small boxes. Our last move was with the help of a commercial moving company. These massive, muscular men brought all our belongings, accumulated from 3 houses where they’d been either stored or used over the years. My husband and I LOVE books. One of the young men, after hauling in probably an obscene amount of book boxes, said, good-naturedly to me, “Before your next move, you might want to buy a Kindle.” It didn’t happen, but we use small boxes, and with books, we pack the box 1/2 to 2/3 full, and then use light-weight stuffers to finish it off. Small boxes.
5) Inventory every box. Label in such a way that you know exactly what is in the box, what order to unpack it, and where it needs to go. You might also include details in your inventory that would be helpful to others who may be doing the handling, unpacking, and storing, depending on different situations and locations.
6) Agree on a division of labor of sorts. This will, by necessity, be fairly fluid, but in our household, we have a system that has worked for us all these years. I do most of the packing, and my husband does the terminal cleaning. Now some may think he gets off easy. Oh no! This so works for us. It goes with our gifts and suits us perfectly. You will work out your own system. He also tapes up a lot of the boxes, and carries most of them. By the end of a move, I literally cringe at the sound of packing tape being stretched off it’s spool to tape a box. 6) Pick a date/time to move that fits the needs of your moving crew. We asked our BSGs (Big Strong Guys) which day (out of 3 possible) worked best for them, and we set the move based on their preference.
7) Make dates to do the one-last-time savorings of your current town/country. As the day gets closer to your move, you’re going to get tired. You’re probably still juggling your work and other life responsibilities, with sorting and packing added in. Still take breaks such that you (and your family) can process the move, and make those last (sometimes sweetest) memories with friends…and the place itself. Say proper goodbyes to your friends and colleagues. Who knows? You may be back.
8) Pack a bag as if you were going on a vacation trip (even if you’re moving just across town). Include everything you’d need the first week (including your checkbook, work papers, toiletries, clothes for various occasions/weather). This lifts so much pressure.
9) On moving day, lavish your crew with love – food and drink (on both ends of the move), pickings from your stuff that will end up donated anyway, and organization. Their time is a gift to you – be ready for them!
10) At your new house/apartment, when the time is right and the proper people are still there (it may just be you and your spouse or roommate), walk about the house/neighborhood and pray over your new home. Make it yours from the beginning. Enjoy!
The Clumsy Guide to Moving House
1 Week Before Moving Day – I love to read helps from folks of different locales – makes me perk up
Tips for When Your Friends Help You Move
No Fail Tips for Keeping Your Friends Happy When They Help You Move
I don’t know why you are moving house, but it could be because you felt compelled of God to move…in obedience to Him. These verses have been a great encouragement to me through our many years of moving:
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s,who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. – Mark 10:29-30