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Master Moving Hacks: 15 Tips for Staying Sane

It’s said that moving is one of the top stressors in a person’s life. I must be getting good at managing stress because I’ve had eight moves in as many years. When you’ve moved that often–with a change of cities involved at times–you learn a lot about time-efficient moving hacks that also help you to keep your sanity.

Here’s your checklist of fifteen moving hacks to make the transition much easier:

1. Boxes: Skip Kinko’s–everyone else has cleaned them out.

Head to your local community college’s duplicating services division (in other words: “the place where faculty take all of their handouts to be photocopied”). They’ve got your boxes–those sturdy, ultra-stackable photocopy paper boxes that have lids and don’t require taping. Beyond that? Check Craigslist or ‘freecycle’ sites where other movers actually post to let people know that they have boxes for pick up.

2. Always pack up the kitchen first.

Books and clothes only seem as if they take up a lot of time and space. The kitchen is actually the most complicated room to pack, especially with all of those oddly shaped mixers and cooking spatulas and food processors.

3. Don’t clean as you go.

It’s a complete waste of time–you’ll only get something dirty again. Hire someone to come in when the house is empty to give it a scrub down. It should cost around $100. It’s totally worth it not to have to clean the house after a sweaty day of moving boxes.

4. Rent a moving truck and a moving van.

The night before your big day, load up valuables in the smaller moving van–things like that antique vase, or that beautiful lamp–and make an early trip to drop them off in a safe corner of the new house. Do this so that you won’t spend the next day biting your lip because a friend is precariously balancing five things plus your beautiful glass vase, and you don’t want to nag her to be careful, but…well, she really should be more careful!

5. Get friends to help you move and give them incentives.

Treat them to pizza and beer. Make it such a fun experience that they’re willing to come back the 6th, 7th, and 8th time you move (now that’s loyalty).

6. Once everything is moved into the new house, unpack the bedroom first.

Sleep takes priority. After that? The kitchen (see #2–unpacking the kitchen will rid you of the most boxes).

7. As you unpack, create a ‘donate’ pile.

Don’t waste time with planning a garage sale; this becomes yet another thing on the to-do list. Just donate it, release, and let go.

8. Do a good deed.

List your boxes on Craigslist or freecycle sites so that other movers can grab a bunch of boxes in one place and move their stuff, too.

9. Create routines.

Once you’re in your new place, take a walk in the neighborhood every evening. Stress is alleviated when you have routines, and a nightly walk is one routine that you can control amid the chaos of a house where you can’t remember which box had your underwear in it. Nightly walks are also a great way to meet new neighbors.

10. Tie up loose ends.

About six weeks after you move, send a greeting card to your old address saying hello to the new occupants and asking if they would–pretty please?–forward any mail that the postal service will inevitably neglect to forward. This will really, really come in handy during tax season, when your W-2s are sent to the old address, despite your forwarding order.

11. Seek out the familiar.

If you were a regular yoga practitioner in your old neighborhood, seek out a new yoga class and make a point of going–regularly–to help ease the transition. Pull out a book you love and re-read it.

12. Seek out the unfamiliar.

If you always wanted to join a running group, but your old neighborhood didn’t have one and this new locale does, sign up and start going. Find a new coffee shop. Pick a random road, park the car, and walk down the street, taking everything in. Trying new experiences is a fun part of a move!

13. Cash in, if you can.

Is your move a tax-deduction? Save all of your receipts, because some moving expenses do qualify.

14. Throw a housewarming party as soon as you feasibly can.

It’s the only thing that will motivate you to get those last, little, niggling tasks done–like finally get the donations to Goodwill or finding the right bracket to hang that heavy picture.

15. Trust.

Most importantly, when you’re so sick of the process that you never want to put together another piece of furniture from IKEA again, remember that after a few months in the new place everything will feel just as familiar there as things felt in your old place.

The Bottom Line on Moving

The unease and anxiety that come with moving is a temporary state–and if you choose for it to be more exciting than anxious, it might even feel like a fun adventure as you get to experience life without the same familiar comforts. Who are you, in this new place? This is what is waiting to be discovered.

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