A Good Move: Lessons From Moving House on a Weekday

Whew! It’s all over. I’m now installed in my new place, with my very own home office that I don’t share with anyone else. (I promise I’ll show you how it looks when I’m done decorating it). But let me tell you, getting here wasn’t easy. It involved three days of frantic running around between old and new home, a few sleepless nights, a lot of money and the near-exhaustion of my body, as well as ordering a friend around for those three days.

Because of the rules of my old building, I had to move on a Thursday, in the middle of the week. Being the only one with a flexible schedule, I took responsibility for the move and managed everything, from early packing to hiring movers and doing extra trips to bringing leftover items. Having never moved on such a scale, I learned some hard lessons that I would now like to share with you.

New home drawing of house

Lesson 1: Pack early

I’ll admit it: I’m a very last minute person. From university papers to work deadlines, I’m someone who tends to perform under pressure. (It’s a bad habit, I know, and I’m trying very hard to plan myself out of it!) I told myself I would start packing early, and I did do a few boxes, but mostly everything was still out when moving day came.

Trust me: you want to pack early, and as much as possible. We don’t use nearly as much stuff as we think we do. We wear the same clothes, we use the same dishes, we dirty the same towels. That DVD collection mostly looks pretty, with Netflix around. You could easily live your life with just 15% of the stuff you currently own. Early packing is a great argument for minimalist living!

Especially for a weekday move, when family and friends are less likely to be able to help, early packing is a must. It’ll be messy for a while, and you’ll have to walk around boxes if you don’t have a lot of space, but it’ll save you a lot of last-minute packing, which ends up looking like throwing whatever’s left in the kitchen into a box in random order, just so your movers can do their job, and leaving stuff behind to “pick up later”. (I forgot the frying pans!)

Lesson 2: Get help

The last two moves I went through were small: everything I owned could fit in a bedroom and a corner of a kitchen. I didn’t have much, being a bit of a bohemian who would change cities every 2 years. I had no idea how much time and energy it would take to move 2 people, one of whom is a collector of many things. I needed help.

Even a single friend made all the difference in the world. A song from my childhood, loosely translated, says “When there are two it goes twice as fast, when there are three it goes thrice as fast…” It’s no truer than in the situation of a move. When you’re doing mostly everything yourself, even the relief of one more person helping you can make the difference between success and failure.

Lesson 3: Hire pros

I know: professional movers cost a lot of money. But the amount of work movers spare you, especially in getting all the big furniture pieces in and out of the truck, is worth every single penny. Had I had an army of burly men and a 10-footer at my disposal, maybe I could have done without them, but in this case, it would have been impossible had they not been there. And in the end, they cost me less than I thought it would.

Again, the situation of a mid-week move made calling on friends difficult. To choose a good mover, ask for references among your friends and colleagues and get quotes from many companies. Also, don’t always go for the cheapest: I chose a company that was slightly more expensive than others I had called, but the move went without a hitch and everything made it to the new home in one piece.

Lesson 4: Find time to rest

The move took three days to finalize. On the first day, I made seven trips to the new house (happily only a few kilometres away from the old) to lighten the load on the movers (and save money). On the second day, I assisted the movers and made one more trip in the evening. On the third day, I made one final trip (yes, there was still stuff left!–see early packing lesson above) for the walk-out inspection, to throw away things we didn’t want to bring and to pick up the last few things.

After these three days, my body hurt so much that not moving was more painful than not running around with bags and boxes in my hands. If stopped for more than 5 minutes, getting back up was nearly impossible. I got very little rest and ended up needing 3 days to recover.

When planning your move, make sure you find time to rest. You will demand a lot out of your body, and it needs rest to function properly. Nap, get a good night’s sleep, stop when it hurts. Those boxes can wait a few minutes.

While my move went very well, considering how unprepared I was for it, I know it could have gone a lot smoother had I packed a little more ahead of time and had I planned my days a bit better. Although I’m happy it’s over and wouldn’t do it again for at least a few more years, I did learn a few valuable lessons about moving house.

What are your best tips for moving quickly and efficiently? What have been your moving challenges and how did you overcome them? Share your stories in the comments!

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