It’s a fact of life that moving is the worst. It’s like going to the dentist, standing in line at the DMV, and watching a Pauly Shore movie all rolled into one: Painful, boring, and you always regret starting it in the first place.
And yet, earlier this month, I found myself moving for the fourth time in five years. In Miami. In July. Needless to say, it was unpleasant. Ten minutes into packing up the first box, I was sweaty, cranky, and ready for a nap (you can just imagine how lovely I was by day four).
But despite its dreadfulness, moving is just one of those things that you have to suck it up and do (unless you’re able to afford movers, in which case I am unfathomably jealous of you). Luckily, there are some steps you can take to make each stage of the process a little less awful.
1. Gather the Right Supplies
You’ll need sturdy moving boxes, plenty of packing tape, bubble wrap or newspaper, and permanent markers for labeling boxes. (As opposed to ancient, fraying boxes, hockey tape, and highlighters that don’t show up on cardboard. Not that I know this from experience.) And stock up—you always, always need more than you think you do. If you overbuy, you can return what you don’t need, but there’s nothing worse than running out of tape or boxes right as you finally settle into the packing groove. You can likely get boxes for free from your local grocery store. Just call and ask what day they stock up (and throw out boxes).
2. Pack a Small Bag of Necessities
Moving is chaotic, and no matter how careful you try to be, it’s hard to keep track of where everything is. So, right before you get started, put the essentials (like a toothbrush and toothpaste, your medications, an extra outfit or two, and your wallet) in a gym bag. Take them out as needed, but always remember to put them right back—you’ll be very thankful you did.
3. Take Care of Utilities at Your New Place
Cable and internet providers are notoriously slow when it comes to setting up your services, so schedule appointments with them as far in advance as you can. Your electricity provider likely does not need as much notice, but you’ll still want to handle this early, lest you find yourself attempting to unpack in your new place by candlelight.
4. Be Selective
The one upside of moving? Packing all of your belongings forces you to take an inventory of everything in your home. So take advantage of this and get rid of the things you don’t want or need. The less you pack, the less you have to unpack—so do your near-future self a favor and trash, recycle, or donate the stuff that doesn’t really need to come with you.
5. Stay Organized
It’s tempting to just toss things willy-nilly into boxes, but you’re only creating more work for yourself later. Sort your things by room now, and you won’t have to spend your time running from room to room while you’re unpacking. Also label your boxes with what’s in them—no matter what you think now, they’re all going to look the same the minute you seal them.
6. Avoid the Urge to Clean as You Go
This is another mistake that ends up just wasting more time in the long run. Moving can be dusty and dirty, so don’t bother cleaning anything until your old place is completely free of boxes. Otherwise, you’ll likely just have to go back and clean it all twice.
The Actual Move
7. Get Help
This is one area where you really can never have enough assistance, so ask (or beg, if need be) some friends to come help you haul everything from point A to point B. Make sure to show your appreciation by providing lots of free pizza and beer.
8. Plan for Your Pet
Moving is overwhelming for your pet, too—he could become scared or anxious with all the commotion. Likewise, you don’t need the added stress of having him in the way. So, find a friend who doesn’t mind playing pet sitter for the day (at her home) so you don’t have to think about it. Hey, it will get her out of having to actually help you move!
9. Don’t Carry More Than You Can Handle
Yes, I know that actually moving is exceptionally horrible, and that you’ll naturally want to speed it up, but pushing yourself too hard will just wear you out more quickly and could lead to serious injuries. Moving is bad enough—don’t add a hospital visit to the mix.
10. Just Do It
By this point, you will most definitely be over the entire moving process, but you need to push through and unpack everything while you’re still in a moving mindset. Believe me—otherwise, you’re bound to find yourself with unpacked boxes sitting in the corner six weeks later.
Multiple days spent packing and hauling will likely leave you feeling pretty gross. Take a small break to refresh and get back to feeling like yourself—it will make unpacking seem a little more bearable.
12. Keep a Running List of Things You Need
While you’re unpacking and settling in to your new place, you’re sure to discover that you need some stuff (extension chords, shower curtains, cleaning supplies) and are due for a Target run. But unless you absolutely need something right that second, just keep a list of what you need as you go—it’ll save yourself from making multiple trips.
Following these tips won’t make moving any more enjoyable, but they can at least make it less un-enjoyable. So take a deep breath, accept moving for what it is, and know that it will all be over shortly. At least, until next time.