Moving out can be an overwhelming and stressful process: organizing, packing, scheduling. I recently had to move from the mainland US back to my hometown in Puerto Rico. I don’t move often, much less cross country, and I’m no expert in the subject. However, in my engineering mindset, this was a great opportunity to learn and document some of the steps I took in trying to optimize the process. My moving goals were to save time and money, reduce work, and achieve peace of mind that everything was scheduled and packed as needed. Here I share 7 things that helped me out with the hope that others can also benefit from them, so let’s go!
1. Start ahead
First thing I did was start at least 2 weeks before my move out date. I made a small timeline of dates by when I needed to complete certain milestones: packing, cleaning, shipping. This made it easier to break work into smaller chunks and felt way more rewarding to be ahead of schedule. You also want to call the services you’ll use to move ahead of time to gather all the information required for moving and shop for the best offers around. You’re prone to spend more when you need things rush. In my case, I had to ship things via a freight carrier which requires lots of documentation, so calling ahead gave me time to prepare what was necessary.
2. Clean out
One thing that helped me get over the overwhelming feeling of “too much to do” and “where do I start?” was to simply empty all the drawers, closets and cabinets. This has 2 benefits. First, you start readying the place to leave it empty and turn it in. Second, it forces you to choose what do you really need to keep and what you can sell, donate or throw away. As a plus, if you’re anything like me, having things outside their place is a great motivator to store them in boxes faster just to hide them from plain sight.
3. Sell or Gift
Not knowing how to get rid of belongings that are still usable but you don’t need can be a burden. I didn’t want to simply throw them out. Luckily at my work, we have a Slack channel for selling, trading, and giving away things. Check if there is a similar group where you work. Another service that was helpful in selling things was Facebook Marketplace. If you feel charitable, a local GoodWill center can be a great way to give back and do away with what you don’t need.
4. Separate what you need from what you don’t
One important step is defining what you’ll keep with you when you leave the place and what gets packed and shipped to the new destination. In my case, I selected the clothes and gear I was keeping with me and everything else was packed for shipping (extra clothes, kitchen stuff, appliances, etc.). To make sure everything I was taking on the plane fit on my luggage and carry-on, I did a dry run packaging beforehand:
Once I was sure I had all I needed to survive those days between the shipping and receiving my things on the new place and that it all fit with me on my trip, I was way calmer about sending things on their way.
5. Leverage your community’s facilities
If you live in an apartment complex or community with a clubhouse or common area, this can help you out big time in the transitory period when you’ve shipped your things but still haven’t moved. Many places have a fully equipped kitchen available to residents. I was able to ship all my kitchen gear and still cook my own food using the common area’s kitchen. This saved me money from eating outside and enabled me to keep eating the food I still had in my fridge (no need to throw away food!).
6. Packing made easy
Materials: Plastic bags, Newspaper
I hoard and reuse all the plastic bags I get when I buy things. I also receive stacks of spam mail and newspapers in the mail. These came extremely handy when packing my things. I used them as a cushion when packing small objects inside bigger ones and to avoid the grinding of objects during transportation. With things like ceramic plates, I filled them with newspaper and stacked them to fix their position. Then I tightly wrapped them in a plastic bag. This saved me money by not buying padding or foam while still protecting my things.
7. Boxing up
Materials: Heavy-Duty moving boxes, Heavy-Duty duct tape, Box cutter or blade
Heavy-duty boxes were my main go-to for storing and shipping my belongings. They are cheap, relatively durable, and are sold in hardware stores (I bought mine at Lowe’s). I also reused some big boxes I had stored from a previous online delivery. Objects were compartmentalized inside the heavy-duty boxes using smaller boxes. I also keep the original boxes of many of the products I buy so I was able to use them to store items. Once a box is full it's easy to seal them up. Using heavy-duty tape, I closed up all the boxes with the following method:
This makes the corners and edges of your boxes stronger and closes the gap between the faces and lids of the box.
Note: If you intend on keeping a product box in good conditions for any reason, keep in mind that removing heavy-duty tape from a box without damaging it is nearly impossible.
With that, I was able to move in an organized manner and with the satisfaction of achieving my moving goals. Moving is tedious and can be a lot of work but hopefully, these tips work out for you as they did for me and make the process less stressful.