So. You landed the dream job (on the other side of the country)! Or you and your partner decided on cohabitation!! (but your LES studio-cum-broom closet isn’t going to cut it). Or you finally decided to breakup with your messy roommate-from-hell (Location: TBD).
Whatever your reason, you’re moving. If you’ve done it before, you know that moving entails a lot of planning and coordination. Without mincing words, it sucks. If you haven’t moved before, bless you child.
Here at Looma we’re especially passionate about combating the struggles of moving from place to place, the stress of building a brand new home every few years – Looma was born from this struggle, and we want you to know you’re not alone.
For those of you trying to make moving suck less, this guide is for you.
Step 1: Declutter
If you’ve read our reddit guides about how to find your decor style or how to diagnose why your room looks so aesthetically “meh,” you’ll notice a theme – decluttering is important, but in the case of moving it’s obvious:
Schlepping crap that you should have ditched a long time ago to your new home is a waste of time and money. Do you really want to pack—and then unpack—that light-up bobblehead gnome you got from your ex’s roommate’s best guy friend? (White Elephant. Three years ago. Obviously.)
Of course not. Now, this may not appear to be the most pertinent tip for moving, but you’ll soon see why it’s so crucial. Let’s recap how you effectively declutter (using several tips from Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method):
- Going room by room, take out all of your stuff and put it on the floor. Sometimes we’ve had things for so long, they become invisible to us (and therefore harder to purge, because we don’t even register they’re there), so we need to change the context in which we see them so we can figure out what we really think about them.
- Do one complicated space at a time. Don’t pull out all the contents of your bedroom closet AND your attic AND your bathroom cabinets all at once; let those bigger spaces have their own moment, and your full attention.
- Be honest: Is anything expired? Hopelessly outdated? Something you thought you’d try one day, but never made the time for? Donate or chuck it. We’re going for “I LOVE this and I use it all the time,” not “I feel bad. What if this comes back in style/I have time for it again/that person one day asks if I still have their gift?”
- If you’re really struggling to let go of something, do this: Hold that object close to you, and thank it for its service. Yes, really. Tell it thank you, but you need to let it go to make more space for other things in your life.
Depending on how much stuff you have, this process could take weeks, so give yourself ample time to go through it all. Donate, sell, or responsibly dispose of everything you’ve deemed is not coming forward with you into your new space.
Step 2: Sell your stuff
If you’ve got a bunch of stuff to get rid of, or are making an international move, selling your stuff is a great way to offset the costs of moving. Some tips:
- Have at at-home “garage sale” first with your family and friends. Before you list anything online or set up tables for a garage sale, display the items you’re selling and invite friends and family into your home to peruse*. Serve drinks and snacks, have some music playing, and tell your guests to bring cash or install Venmo before they come, in case they spot something they fancy. If not, at least you’re having a party!
*Quick note on legality: AFAIK, there’s no federal law against selling stuff to friends and family out of your home, but do check your local laws to ensure you don’t need a permit (hint: It’s very likely you will need a permit to do a proper garage sale, though, so check with your local government before you host one of those).
- Pricing: For the items you know you want at least a certain amount on, (“I know for sure I wouldn’t take less than $50 for that big entertainment center.”) put a price sticker on it, to avoid putting your friends in an awkward spot, wondering how much to offer you.
But if you’d like to avoid the maddening task of putting a price tag on everything you own, tell your friends that “anything that doesn’t have a tag, make me an offer!”
- Selling online: Once your friends have cleared out some stuff, put the rest online. Facebook Marketplace and other sites like Craigslist, Kijiji, and eBay are popular choices. We recommend including phrases in your listings like:
“Pickup ONLY,” and;
“Must bring exchange cash because I cannot make change.”
This will scare off the people who want you to drive across town to deliver them the $5 dumbbells you’re selling, and the people who read your listing, but still show up with “Only $X less than what you’re asking for but is that OOOKKKKK???” (i.e. Giving themselves a discount you didn’t agree to initially.)
Speaking from experience, it’s amazing how 100% of people will show up with exact cash if you state upfront that you can’t make change.
Also, have canned responses. You might get dozens of messages in a day; save yourself some time writing unique responses every time.
“Hey [person]! Yes, the item is still available. Would you like to come pick up today?” (Don’t waste any time here; get right to the “ask” so they will pick up the item ASAP.)
“Great! Please come to [address], and be sure to bring exact cash, as I cannot make change. Thanks!”
Step 3: Acquire moving boxes for FREE
Did you know that certain retailers LOVE it when you take boxes off their hands? Liquor stores and bookstores receive dozens or hundreds of shipments in boxes every day, and since these boxes are used for carrying cargo that tends to be heavy and/or delicate, they tend to be sturdier and not too big or small.
Walk in and ask if they have any boxes you could have, and you’ll probably leave with a trunkload.
Step 4: Labels
If you can, save yourself some money and just tear up small strips of paper you were going to recycle anyway (writing on the blank back of the page).
When packing and labelling boxes, keep like with like: Don’t put stuff that you normally find in your bedroom in with your bathroom stuff.
Use descriptive labels! Describe the contents of the box beyond vague terms like “Kitchen stuff” to “Pots, pans and hand mixer,” and “Cooking utensils, eating utensils, favorite coffee mug.” It’ll save you tearing open dozens of boxes so you can find that one thing.
Alternatively (or concurrently?), number your boxes, and keep a running spreadsheet of what’s in what numbered box. (Example: “Box 11: DVD remote control; Throw blanket; Playstation; Playstation controls.”) Google Sheets is perfect for this, so you can download the app and carry the spreadsheet with you from room to room.
Step 5: Have a “First Night” box
Get a clear plastic tub (or a few) and stick all of those essentials you’ll likely need in your first night at your new place. Include the usual, like toiletries and clothes, but don’t forget about bed sheets, phone chargers, your checkbook, laptop, makeup, trash bags, shower curtain, cooking utensils, basic home tools like a hammer, TOILET PAPER, hand soap, etc. etc. The Spruce made a pretty good list here.
Extra tip for pet owners: Don’t forget your pet’s “First Night” stuff, too!
Step 6: Final touches
Clean your home of dust, debris and trash. If you’re cutting off the utilities, be SURE to empty the ice maker and leave the doors cracked open (that stale water smell never leaves a fridge).
Change your address (if you’re in the US, you’ll change it with USPS), and don’t forget to change your address with all of your online accounts that rely upon your address info (subscriptions, bank accounts, Amazon account, etc.).
And surprise perk for American Redditors: Did you know your moving expenses are tax deductible if you meet certain requirements? So save all of your moving receipts for tax time!
Moving is always tough, but these small tips can make it manageable. Once you get into that new space, you’re going to be focused on the fun stuff, like creating the bedroom of your dreams, or accessorizing your space with accents. Hang in there, and good luck with your move!