There’s a rumor floating around that moving is one of the most stressful experiences in a person’s life, second only to the death a spouse. BBC debunked that myth in 2014, but that doesn’t mean moving is fast, easy, or cheap. I, personally, have moved six times in six years, and I faced new challenges every time. Fortunately, hindsight is 20/20, and I have six years of hindsight to share. Here are six lessons I learned from moving six times in six years.
Lesson 1: If you like it, then you need to put a lid on it.
I learned this lesson the hard way. Before my first move, I packed 24 shoes into one X-Large cardboard box. Halfway up a flight of stairs, the box split open and the shoes cascaded down the stairwell. Many were fine, but many more were scuffed. One pair of suede Pumas tumbled into a puddle. Now, I rent plastic bins. It’s slightly more expensive, but it’s better for the environment and for my shoes.
Lesson 2: Switch your utilities before you move.
I packed better for move #2, but forgot to transfer gas and electric services to my new address. I moved into my new place on a Friday, but couldn’t get a technician to come out until Tuesday. I had to shower at my sister’s, throw away food that needed refrigeration, and read books by candlelight. Now, I make sure to switch my utilities at least two weeks before I plan to move.
Lesson 3: Size does matter.
The best piece of moving advice I ever received was “order a truck that’s one size larger than you think you need.” Unfortunately, I was hellbent on saving money, and I decided to order the smallest truck. I ran out of space, made two trips with the truck, turned it in late, and was charged an outrageous late fee. Now, I use this cool tool to estimate the size of my moving truck.
Lesson 4: Acquaintances + Alcohol = Accidents
For move #4, I asked a few of my friends to help me pack the truck. They were so excited to help that they decided to throw a moving party. “Sure,” I said enthusiastically, “what could go wrong?” Plenty, it turns out. They ripped four space bags, spilled bleach on a leather recliner, and packed the truck worse than a two-year-old stacks blocks.
Lesson 5: Get rid of your crap belongings.
After the packing last packing incident, I decided to cut my losses and purge my belongings. I sold a whole bookshelf worth of books for close to $100. I sold boxes of old clothes for close to $200. I sold old video games, DVDs, and gadgets for about $125. I also donated a ton of stuff to Goodwill and claimed the donation on my taxes. Now, I use every move as an opportunity to purge.
Lesson 6: Movers are worth every penny.
After schlepping my crap around Tulsa for five years, I decided to hire movers for the big move to Oklahoma City. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I packed, and they lifted. I drank Starbucks, and they drove the moving truck. It was a match made in heaven. The downside? They cost me north of $300. Now, I use the money I made from purging to pay for movers.
It’s been a year and a half since my last move, and I’m finally starting to feel at “home.” Beyond the lessons about packing efficiently and hiring movers, I learned that stuff is just stuff. “Home” will change as new adventures arise. Your new place may not feel like home when you get there, but give it time. Until then, home is just a few memories away.