Experiences / Tips & Advice / Travel

Smooth Sailing: 11 Tips to Make Your Move Easier Before You Move

11 Tips to Make Your Move Easier Before You Move

Well, hello from beautiful Los Angeles! And seriously, I’m not just saying “beautiful” because it’s a nice thing to say, I’m saying it because it was like 70 degrees today and I could walk outside in shorts and flip flops. I don’t want to speak too soon, but I could certainly get used to this.

As far as moves go, mine went pretty well. My things were all packed two days before the move, the U-Haul was just the right size and I made it down in one piece. Low drama. Honestly, the most eventful thing that happened on the way down was my cat getting carsick and puking all over the cup holders. The poor guy was so nervous! After a pit stop to clean up, though, he passed out. And now that his cat tower is up and I’ve given him lots of treats, I think he’s forgiven me and he hasn’t got a care in the world.

Pukey cat

Okay, enough about my cat. Can I just tell you how relieved I am?! All this moving business has been occupying literally all of my brainspace. Between job-searching and tentative apartment-searching and packing and meeting up with friends one last time, I have had little time for anything else. There have been days I’ve been so stressed that I have just randomly started crying. I’m so thrilled to finally be past some of that (and I’m sure my parents who have accepted a few teary phone calls are as well).

Of course, I realize this move is relatively new info for you. I mean, I only announced my plans to move last freaking week. While it might seem sudden, it really isn’t some hasty decision. I think this move went so smoothly because I handled a lot of things beforehand instead of waiting until the last minute to do it all. Here are 11 things I’d suggest to someone moving that will make the move way, way easier:

1. Reach out to your contacts early.

A few months before my move, I started emailing people I know in Los Angeles (or people I know who know people in Los Angeles). My main discussion points were:

* Announcing my move date and hopes to get to know my friends even more — “I will be in LA starting February 1st and I would like to hang out with you!”
* Getting general advice about LA. — “What tips do you have for someone new to Los Angeles?”
* Putting out feelers on apartment/room postings — “If you know of any housing situations, please send them my way.”

The most important part of this email is the first part, so be genuine. You should you be less worried about the advice or the housing tips, because usually the best in both of those categories will come from people who know you and care about you. Also, these people will be your first few friends in the city! Why hang out with people you’re less than thrilled to be having out with? Only contact people you’re actually interested in meeting up with when you’re in your new location, and be proactive about scheduling something with them — reach out shortly before your move and shortly after you arrive, too.

2. If possible, visit the city and scope out neighborhoods.

If you’re able to spend some quality time where you plan to move before solidifying plans, that’s preferable. The idea of a place is sometimes more appealing to someone than the city itself. Of course, certain moves won’t allow for this, and that’s totally okay, too! It’s kind of exciting, actually, and while I’ve never done it myself I very well may in the future. But if you’re able to visit and do nothing else, just check out neighborhoods you might want to live in. What ‘hoods resonate with you? Where could you see yourself living? Where can you realistically afford? Do you feel safe in them at night? I did a little neighborhood hunting in December and it will totally inform what places I search (and don’t search) for a place to live.

Palm Trees

3. Start thinking about a temporary living situation early on.

Unless you’re moving into an apartment or house that you’ve seen in person and also know the people you’ll be living with, I’d strongly caution against trying to line up something too permanent too soon. You have oodles of options to arrange something temporary while you adjust. Do you know people who would let you sleep on their couches for a bit? Are there a few AirBnB options that are in your price range? Did someone you had reached out to provide a lead on a sublet? The sooner you start looking into the possibilities, the better you can budget for your move. I think it’s totally possible to find cheap or free options, but it does require work and maybe a bit of charm. 😉 Seriously though, this is so not a last-minute task. Line things up early, be absolutely the most polite and helpful guest if you’re staying somewhere for free and set aside some cash in case plans fall through.

4. Accept help if you need help.

I’m a perfectionist, so handing off certain tasks to other people can be hard for me. I know they’ll do a good job and everything will be fine and dandy, but um, why can’t I just do it all? The problem is that moving is a huge undertaking, even if it’s just you moving. I don’t own a lot of stuff and my move was only a few hundred miles, but I still needed help! If my roommates hadn’t given me boxes to pack with, I may have been stuck throwing everything in trash bags. Instead of stressing about looking at room postings on Craigslist, my mom is combing through them for me. My dude and his roommate are allowing me to stay with them for a bit until I sort things out, which is a huge lifesaver.  When friends and loved ones offer to help you with something, count your blessings and take them up on it. They are awesome and love you and desire nothing in return, although maybe buy them pizza and a beer later as thanks, okay?

5. Purge your belongings and sell stuff before you pack.

My bedroom in San Francisco was spacious and comfortable, but the second I started packing things up and stacking boxes, I felt like I lived in a tiny little 5X5 storage space. On top of all that mess, do not also try to set things aside for selling or donating. Do this well beforehand, instead. It will make packing feel way less intimidating (less stuff to rummage through!) and you’ll already be pretty familiar with what you have to box up.

6. Sign up for mail forwarding with USPS to change your address.

Do this at least 14 days before you move. Some stuff might slip through still, and you’ll definitely still need to call banks, magazine companies, credit card companies, etc. to change it with them directly. But when you’re burdened with the stress of moving, this is a great step to take to feel totally on top of it (even if you’re not #storyofmylife).

Moving boxes


7. Research every single option for getting your stuff from Point A to Point B.

When I moved out to San Francisco from the east coast, the only things I could afford to take with me was whatever fit in my two suitcases. This time around, I was traveling with more stuff and thought about what would work best. Should I get storage in SF and just take a portion of my belongings to LA to start? Should I purchase a PODS? What size U-Haul would I want? Would shipping my things with UPS be cheaper? Take some time and research every option, no matter how expensive you imagine it will be. Think outside the box, too. I saved hundreds of dollars on my U-Haul rental by renting it in Los Angeles, having my dude drive it up, driving back down together and then returning to the same location.

8. Start packing early.

Last minute packing is stressful, and for my past two moves, this has made my life so much easier. For about a roomful’s worth of shtuff, I start a slow packing process about 2 weeks before my scheduled moving date. I gather boxes and pack one or two boxes per night, and usually have one or two weekend days filled with packing and cleaning. Just start with the belongings that you know you won’t need for a while, items that are seasonal or home-y touches that you can do without until you arrive in your new place.

9. Stock up on the right supplies.

Good boxes, packing tape (complete with dispenser), bubble wrap or newspaper and sharpies. Having plenty of these supplies is far better than skimping and ending up with boxes that fall apart or with broken valuables. Clorox wipes, paper towels, sponges and Spic and Span (or other cleaner) are the minimum cleaning supplies to have on hand, too.

10. Seriously consider hiring a mover.

I did not hire a mover for this particular move, although I have hired a mover in the past (a 5th floor walk-up is no joke) and I did give it some serious thought this time around. It not only makes life easier and makes it way less likely you’ll end up with a sore back, but it saves you a buttload of time since movers are pretty efficient. Also, you won’t smell like a high school football team’s pile of jerseys afterwards. Yay! If you’re moving on the 15th or at the end/beginning of the month, make sure to contact your mover early (2 weeks to a month).

Fridge display


11. Say goodbye properly.

When I left New York City, I failed to do this and in turn, I feel like I failed my friends. I didn’t announce that I was leaving and it wasn’t until I was way out on the west coast that most of them figured out where I was. Shitty! I sure was ready to bolt, but feeling like I’d hurt my friends made me feel pretty bad about myself.

I won’t lie, saying goodbye is not fun. It is mildly depressing and incredibly hard and friends will react in a wide variety of ways, from excited about your new adventure to a little bitter that you’re leaving. Hang on to those positive vibes, and know that any responses which make you feel a little sadder are simply because the other person is hurting at the thought of not having you around as much! Which is completely understandable, no?

This time around I did a proper goodbye. I hung out with friends one-on-one and did a couple of little goodbye shindigs with bigger groups of people. I love my friends and adopted San Francisco family, they wanted to see me off and wish me well, and I know they have my back even hundreds of miles away. Your friends will feel the same!

What’s been the most helpful thing you’ve found to do before a big move? What’s been the biggest move you’ve ever made? What problems have you encountered when moving?

Photo credits:
Daniel Longoria
Death to the Stock Photo

7 thoughts on “Smooth Sailing: 11 Tips to Make Your Move Easier Before You Move

  1. Throwing out/donating anything I wouldn’t use/hadn’t worn in a long time was definitely the best thing I did. Luckily, we had movers paid for by an employer, but we still ended up ditching most of our furniture because we moved into a rented place. (And moved to the UK from the U.S. So most of our appliances were useless to us). Good luck settling in!

  2. I find that letting people help is the hardest. I’m very anal about packing and unpacking, but when I moved in 2013, I was so mentally and emotionally exhausted that I just let people put things away. Usually, I insist that they don’t need to (almost rudely). But it took no time at all with so many of us pitching in. Definitely a good lesson for me.

    Also, labeling boxes by room and color coding by importance is a huge time saver. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • When I moved residences within San Francisco, I had about 5 friends come out to help me — it was by far the easiest move ever and by 1pm or so everything was unpacked in my new place. Power in numbers!

      And yes, labeling boxes somehow makes the adjustment period and the unpacking much much better. I really like the color coding idea! I use a number system. I put the number on the box, and write down in a notebook what is in each box number. It works well for people like myself who have a studio’s-worth full of stuff.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  3. Pingback: The Pretty And The Mayhem: 22.02.2015 | Pretty Mayhem

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