Moving is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 most stressful things in life. While I agree that it's one of the most difficult things you can put yourself through, each time I do it I learn something new about how to make moving easier. I am currently in the middle of my eighth move in six years. Though I do it so often that it might seem like it's a hobby I enjoy, I actually detest moving. Unfortunately, this time I don't have a choice thanks to a 50 percent rent hike I can't afford.
Because we're not sure where we want to live, my roommate and I are moving into a summer sublet at the beach, and thankfully we had enough notice to actually prepare for this move. That being said, no matter how prepared you are, moving is still stressful AF. In fact, moving is as stressful as divorce, the Moving Mindsets Psychology Clinic noted on its website. I have only been divorced once and it was pretty amicable, but I have moved almost 20 times since I got my first apartment. Four of these moves were to different states. All of them were exponentially more stressful than my divorce. If you too are facing a move, here are some ways to make it suck less.
1. Declutter As Much As Possible
I have never read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but I get the concept. During this move in particular, anything that did not bring us joy went into a donation pile. While I have gotten rid of everything I own three times, I somehow still seem to acquire stuff. If you get rid of items on the regular, it will be a whole lot easier come moving time. If not, spend a day or two going through everything, and box up anything you no longer want.
We ended up with a pretty big pile, sold a few things to people we know, and then looked online to see where we could donate the rest. Because my late father was a Vietnam veteran, I chose an organization that provides assistance for Vietnam vets and their families. We scheduled a pick up online, and put the items outside on the appropriate day. Easy peasy.
2. Plan Ahead
If you live in a city where you need to find an apartment two weeks before you have to move unless you want to pay rent at two places, as long as you know you're moving somewhere, you can start planning ahead of time. I know how tempting it can be to put off packing and decluttering until you know where you're going, but doing some work up front will make that move a lot less stressful.
Start saving boxes from all of those Amazon deliveries, and pack up anything you don't need to use right now, like winter clothes and boots. Make sure to label your boxes so you know what's in them later. If you take things apart, put the small parts in a resealable plastic bag and tape them to the piece of furniture they belong to. The last thing you want to be doing when you arrive at your new place is tearing apart every single box looking for the bolts to put your bed together.
3. Do Your Research
During this move my roommate and I are in a bit of a unique situation. We decided to move to the beach for the summer, see how we like being so far from the city, and re-evaluate in September. Obviously, we didn't want to bring everything with us for a two-month move so we're storing the majority of our belongings. The good news is that these days, the storage will come to you.
After doing a lot of research, we rented a small box/pod type thing for a very reasonable price, had it delivered, filled it up, and had it picked up a week later. Even though it looks pretty small, it needs to be packed up tight so the items don't jostle, which basically makes it moving Jenga. We got everything in with room to spare. There are a ton of options out there, so be sure to look at Yelp, check for Groupons, and ask a lot of questions about hidden fees in order to make sure you're getting the best deal possible.
4. Decide Whether Or Not To Hire Movers
There are definitely pros and cons to hiring movers. If you can't physically lift anything, or you live in a six-story walk up, you're going to need help. Again, make sure you do your research. I have had great movers, and movers who broke a lot of my stuff. All moving companies tend to be expensive and some charge you for gas. This time we opted to rent a truck from a local company and haul the stuff we're taking to the beach ourselves since none of is very heavy. This cost us less than $100 for the day and includes 150 miles.
Instead of using a moving truck, you can also have a pod/box taken from one location to the next. Alternatively, apps like Taskrabbit can hook you up with people in your area who can help you move if your friends beg off. There's also Buddytruck, Dude I Need A Truck, Fetch Truck, and tons of other options that allow you to borrow vehicles and hire muscle. With so many different ways to get help moving, you'll definitely be able to find something that works for your budget so you're not held hostage by a high-price moving company.
5. Understand Your Move-Out Responsibilities
If you put down a large deposit, you're going to want to get that back. Before you vacate your house or apartment, have a conversation with your landlord about what's expected of you. For example, some landlords don't care whether or not you clean because they're going to hire someone, or maybe they're planning to replace the floor or carpet when you leave. Others are counting on you to clean your place like Monica on Friends so the next tenant can move right in.
You'll also want to ask if you're required to remove nails from the walls and fill the holes ahead of the painters. When you're finished with everything, schedule a walk through with your landlord before you leave. Ask how much of your deposit you'll be getting back, ask for explanations for any deductions, and verify when you can expect it. Some cities have strict rules about returning deposits. In Los Angeles it's 21 days.
6. Accept That It's Going To Take Longer Than You Think
"We're so ahead of the game," I told my roommate all week long. Clearly I had forgotten that just when you think you're almost done packing, you realize there's a lot more to do. Once everything is packed and ready to go, it feels like new items materialize out of nowhere. You find a drawer you've forgotten about that's full of random tchotchkes and a bunch of other overlooked things that need to be packed.
This is why the last few boxes you tape up might include a mixture of silverware, shampoo, and shoes. Additionally, don't forget to call and have the utilities turned off at your current place, and have them turned on at your new place. Finally, because the cleaning always takes way longer than you think it's going to, clean as you go so the final cleaning isn't as overwhelming. For example, you can clean things like the refrigerator ahead of time. This is what we did, and the only thing we had to do on the final day was sweep and mop.
7. Allow Yourself To Be Emotional
I'm not gonna lie, I had a mini breakdown last night. While I had to be out of my house yesterday, I can't move into my new place until Tuesday so I'm staying with a friend. What's more, exhaustion makes me hella cranky, meaning the slightest misunderstanding induces tears. That's exactly what happened. If you get emotional during your move, it's totally normal.
"Prepare yourself for the emotional fallout of moving. Whether you wanted to move or are forced to move the anxiety and apprehension is attached to the ‘unknown’ part of doing something new. Mentally reassure yourself why the move is important and why now," Moving Mindsets Psychology Clinic said on its website. "Remind yourself that with everything that is new comes opportunities to develop new friends, memories and grow as a person. Accept the move and focus on the benefits and possibilities the transition will present for you."
I know it's awful, and even if you do everything on this list it will still be hard. Things will go wrong. You'll spend more money than you intend to. You might yell at your friends. However, the more research you do ahead of time, and the more prepared you are, the less severe the emotional fallout. As someone who's moved almost 20 times, I can attest that the mental part of moving is 10 times more difficult than the physical part. Anything you can do to make it easier is time well spent.