Monday, April 16, 2012

An Expert's Guide to Moving

Kathy and I move from our current house to our farm on April 27, so we have just one weekend of packing to go.    Nancy P from Dallas posted a spectacular comment that is so accurate and timely I had to share it broadly:

"K. and J. - You may enjoy my 30 day packing calendar, written from my experience.

DAYS 1-5: We are lovingly admiring and discussing each of our material possessions while discarding what we no longer use. We’ll have a garage sale and make trips to Goodwill to donate unused items. I’ll wash, dry and organize objects to be sold or donated. We have plenty of boxes, bubble wrap, Sharpie pens and packing tape. Boxes are organized in categories based on their contents. We write a detailed list of the items in the right-hand corner of the top of the box and carefully seal it with packing tape.

DAYS 6-10: It is not realistic to cull through all of our belongings in 30 days. We’ll cull and reflect when we unpack. We’ll also have a lot more time when we unpack to plan a garage sale or make trips to Goodwill. A detailed list of contents of each box is not needed, so all boxes are now labeled only with a general category in the upper right hand corner. I’m segregating my son’s possessions so he can go through them himself. Things are starting to look a little messy around here. I need a GPS to locate that cup of tea I keep misplacing!

DAYS 11-15: It is increasingly unproductive to sort and categorize items before boxing them. So with the miracle of bubble wrap, we’ve taken a new approach: We can simply dump the contents of an entire drawer in bubble wrap, stuff the bubble wrap in a box, and label the box with the location of the drawer, like 'Master Bathroom: far left cabinet, third drawer down.' We’re able to safely pack in bubble wrap the entire contents of drawers and closets in no time at all. We’ll just sort and categorize the contents of these boxes when we unpack.

DAYS 16-20: Bubble wrap is overrated. You can only fit about ½ as much stuff in a box when you use it. And it takes forever to cut the size you need. Plus - you pack items between the bubble wrap layers, and many of these things will fall out from the layers and break as you unpack, so what’s the point? I’m trying to be more pragmatic. After all, these are only material possessions. As Bertrand Russell so eloquently stated 'It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.' And as I so freely and nobly state 'Do we really need two full sets of martini glasses, anyway?'

DAYS 21-25: Rather than box up and move things of value that we don’t want, we will simply leave them behind for the new proprietors. I doubt the new owners will mind that we leave them items with inherent use and value - like that 30 pound Folgers coffee tin full of nuts and bolts in the garage. The value of the nuts and bolts aside, the tin itself is an antique. And we haven’t even opened those tubs of frozen yogurt in the freezer, which would make a thoughtful housewarming surprise. We’ve also learned that we don’t need to tape every box, because they are just being stacked on top of each other, so we only need to tape the top one.

DAYS 26-30: The realtor stopped by and declared that we can’t leave anything behind for the new owners. 'It all has to go,' she said with that little smug look that I have grown to dislike. So all the rest of this stuff is going out on the curb, and whoever wants to pick it up can have it. And if my kid wants his things…well…he’ll just have to come get them, or they will also be out there with the rest of our clutter. How did we accumulate all of this worthless stuff? What could we possibly have wanted with 73 packets of soy sauce? The realtor also found my misplaced cup of tea somewhere in the front hall. I did not appreciate the face she made; very unprofessional, if you ask me. And by the way, you do need to tape up each and every box –but I’ll spare you the details - and before I tape up my next box, I’m just throwing the Sharpies in there with them. Because at this point what am I going to write in corner of the box, 'Lots of other crap'? I’m overwhelmed…I really need to take a break…Damn it, I packed the martini glasses!"

Although I've never owned a martini glass, we'll be in Days 26-30 next weekend and I suspect I'll need one!


Claudia said...

I have moved about seven times and found it hilarious. Several times we had professional movers and they packed books in with the lampshades. It was a company move and I am glad I did not pay for that one.
I found moving is a good vehicle for getting rid of unused treasures.

Healthy Mary said...

Yesterday, I took 15 boxes from my recent move to help generate some packing momentum for my niece. She and her then new huband moved into the house with a few wedding presents and a bed. This move is their first, and now includes the remnants of life with two children. I surmise, there is an accumulation ratio that parallels life engagement. If you have time to ponder your "stuff", you don't have time to do and experience. This theory however, does not explain the box neatly marked by one of my helpful packer friends, "Quinoia, quinoia and more quinoia".

Unknown said...

Made me laugh out loud on a Monday morning. Thanks for that!

Brad said...

Like the early Bill Cosby skits, this was really funny as I could totally relate!!

The curbside garage sale is one of my favorite tactics.

Best of luck

Unknown said...

I'll save this in case I get the crazy idea to move...very funny!

Abraham Gurivindapalli said...

I moved 5 times in the last 9 years across multiple states and every move we end up thrashing atleast 20 boxes of stuff. It is a hectic and tiresome task.

This article made me laugh after the frequent moves i have gone through.

All the best for your move..

John Feikema said...

Makes me afraid to move.

David said...

Love it! Or is it laughing to keep from crying? Having lived in my current house for 26 years, the prospect of cullling and preparing to move is almost "my worst nightmare." I like to think that I'm well organized and would do everything according to "days 1-5" but I'm sure the other stages will inevitably occur. All the best on your move and Kathy's healing.

Ravi Kumar said...

All the best for the move!

Dave said...

In the process of packing to move. This article was sent to me by a friend. So spot on. We have lived in this house for 14 years during our kids formative years. Tons of stuff have accumulated that we now are disposing of. Every time I go to Goodwill with another load, I feel lighter. And Craigslist has been a Godsend in offloading stuff that has value that we no longer want. I can't wait for no more yard work, no more property taxes, no more snow removal, etc. Travel and freedom, here we come! Right now, we are just slogging through all the stuff we no longer want or need. Just remember, no hearse has a UHaul following it.