Moving House And Kids
May 23, 2011 5:58 AM   Subscribe

Tips on moving! Have you moved across country / to a different country? With a wife and two kids? How did you organize it? I am looking for specific things that we need to add to our checklist / to-do list. Are there any good checklists out there already? We will need to line up housing. What did you forget about? What did you do that you shouldn't have done. How do you line up housing when your thousands of miles away. Specific packing / organization tips? I would like to prevent this move from becoming stressful. Please help our family move with the least amount of pain. Moving to Austin Texas if it matters.
posted by jasondigitized to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The best move advice that I ever got was to frontload the time without your stuff.

Specifically, if you're going to be without your stuff for 1-2-3 weeks, you should have that time happen when you're still in your old place.

This way, you already know the lay of the land - where the local pharmacy and grocery stores are, what parks your kids like AND you have an established network of friends and neighbors from whom you can borrow things.
posted by k8t at 6:01 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

We did this with our 2-year-old and borrowed an airbed and a card table/chairs, kept a set of plates/silverware/cups that we got rid of on our last day, brought our wireless router and sheets with us in our luggage. We gave away our pillows on the last day too. We had a pot in our luggage.

Our trip was tough because we were leaving a warm climate and moving to a cold one. So I shipped out coats/sweaters/etc and ordered things on Amazon to arrive the day that we got there -- cat litter, TP, paper towel, kid snacks, new silverware and plates.

We immediately bought an airbed, pillows, sheets, card table/chairs.

We stayed in a hotel one night - mainly because our flight got in pretty late - because we didn't want to mess with setting up an airbed while tired.

Our stuff came about 5 days later, as per our plan of frontloading the moving company. It worked out well.
posted by k8t at 6:04 AM on May 23, 2011

In terms of keep and move versus buying a new one.

Our move was paid for by one of our new jobs. Even so, I had an attitude of "why keep this $12 trash can when we can buy a new one in new location?" while we were packing. I thought that I was being smart. (And I was on a purging spree).

Well, upon arrival in new location, we easily spend a few thousand bucks on a bunch of stuff that we gave away in old location that we could have possibly kept (fan, bathmat, mop, curtain rods...)

Considering that we had our move paid for, we could have just kept the old stuff and saved ourselves money.

I don't know if your move is being paid for, and as I recall you're moving from a different country, so it might be more expensive. Either way, I'd sit down and think about how much everything is valued and if it is worthwhile to keep something versus buy new.

This question (which belonged to me) was incredibly helpful.
posted by k8t at 6:08 AM on May 23, 2011

One suitcase for each person packed with a set of sheets, a set of towels, toiletries and other necessities, necessary lovies for the kids and some toys, and several days of clothes. Even a pillow in the suitcase if it's very big, or take some pillows with you in the car, or a big box labeled PILLOWS or something ... anyway, know where to find the pillows.

I always have the beds placed first and have one person make the beds. Toiletries and towels into the bathroom. That way when people get tired you can take showers and go to bed. And wake up and have clothes. Most everything else you can deal with (you can always eat out, order pizza, get take-out, buy paper plates to tide you over), but beds, baths, and clothes are pretty necessary.

Last move I made I got flourescent office labels in addition to the "KITCHEN" and "BATH" and so forth labels for the movers. Anything with a bright pink label was "unpack/place first" -- dishes, computer stuff, stuff that other stuff lives in or on, a box of favorite entertainment items/books to read next, towels, etc. Bright yellow was "unpack second" -- books, DVDs, out-of-season clothes, etc. Bright green was "unpack third" -- out-of-season sports equipment, Christmas decorations, sewing machine, whatever. Things that were going to be stored half the year anyway or whatever. That was surprisingly helpful. We got all the "pink" boxes and items unpacked/placed right away, and then we could take our time with the rest, and it helped things move in an orderly fashion.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:18 AM on May 23, 2011 [3 favorites]

I moved across country with 3 kids 3 or younger. First thing we did was determine a general area to live. Then we researched schools. Then housing. We were recommended a Realtor that gave us a lot of local advise and contacts such as handyman, plumber, electrician, and the like. One thing that really helped us meet people was joining a local swim club. We moved in the summer before school (pre-school) started and before most mommy and me classes were going so meeting folks was harder yet they were all sitting by the kiddie pool at the local club. We had our kids stay with the grandparents for a week at the beginning while I unpacked the necessary things. We unpacked the kid's rooms first. Packing the kids stuff in clearly labeled boxes with toys and books separated out for easy access was important. Also, if you use pro movers, labeling the boxes with names of rooms and then having them put the box in the appropriate room when they arrive was a big help. Moving boxes from room to room sucks.

One thing that we did not do that I would do next time is analyze the cost of moving things like a couch versus buying one when we got here. We had a company paying for the move so the cost was not as big a factor, but it turns out that it may have been cheaper to make different decisions with respect to some of the old furniture we had. Also, we would have shipped books via book rate if we had been paying ourselves.

We were moving enough including putting two cars inside the moving van that we were the only items on the truck. We got the cell phone number of the driver so we could contact him and find out where he was and what his timing was for arriving.

Also, inspect your stuff when it arrives. No matter how careful movers are, things do get damaged. The time to make a claim is when it arrives. Furniture broken or the like. Take pictures of items before they are loaded onto the truck and you have a reference for insurance purposes.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:25 AM on May 23, 2011

When the mover does a final check of the truck and finds an oddly shaped thing that you don't recognize and he asks if it's yours, say yes. A week later, when you find out that one of the hand grips on the rocking horse is missing, it'll be too late to get it back.

Furniture arranging: if you're able to line up housing before you move, try to get exact room measurements (including the length of the odd short bits of wall; and if you have floor heat registers, add them to the floor plan). Measure the footprint of all the furniture you're taking with you. Then, make a scale drawing of the rooms and of the furniture footprints (either on Photoshop or on paper) and play with moving all the furniture around. You get to try out different arrangements without lifting all the physical furniture. The final result won't exactly match reality, but it will be close and only need some tweaking.
posted by bentley at 6:46 AM on May 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I asked a similar question a few years ago about finding a checklist. Someone linked to a Canada Post site that seems to now be gone but here is an archived page. I used to basically live in Seattle and Vermont so I did the x-country move once or twice a year on a smaller scale. My biggest pieces of advice would be

- If you want to minimize pain, seriously do the "sell everything and buy new things" approach for most stuff. This may cost you some money as k8t says but it is great for minimizing hassle
- Have a clipboard list with a list of what is in boxes [generally speaking] and have boxes just lettered A, B, C
- Have one or two "unpack first" boxes - you will need a shower curtain and towels and toilet paper and a bar of soap and some basic eating utensils and a trash bag for the first three hours, comfy bedding for the first night, familiar toys for the kids
- Carry really fragile stuff in the car with you if you're driving.
- If you can mail some other stuff in advance to friends or work it can also help you have some stuff when you get there
- Don't leave anything behind to get later

I stayed in a delightful Austin teeny AirBnB place when I was there for SXSW. If you'd like a place to arrive/crash that isn't a super8, drop me a note.
posted by jessamyn at 8:42 AM on May 23, 2011

Liquidate EVERYTHING that you can. ie. SELL ALL YOUR SHIT.

That GREATLY reduces the stress of the actual move.

If there is stuff you want to keep for sentimental, or whatever reasons...fine. But, you just don't need to bring your aunt's fine china when you first arrive in austin. Pack it up...and have someone send it out later when its presence won't be a burden.

Memail me for loads of advice. We basically planned it 3-4 months in advance (and it looks like you are right on track).

The most important thing is to be able to differentiate the important from the unimportant.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:38 PM on May 23, 2011

I moved from New York to Seattle with a husband, a cat, and one kid. It went like this:

The cat went first, flying with my wonderful in-laws. He stayed with them until we got settled.

We had movers in NYC pack up our stuff and store it, other than the essentials we packed in two enormous suitcases.

From NYC we arranged a short-term, furnished apartment in Seattle with an Internet connection so we had a place to move to. I found out the address ahead of time so we could do change of address forms.

We picked out a car (test drove in NYC) and ordered it from a auto dealer near SeaTac.

Our plane landed in the evening, so we spent the first night in a motel near the airport.

Mr Corpse walked to the car dealer from the motel our first day and drove it back to the motel, then we drove to the short-term rental.

After we found a normal rental we got the movers to bring our stuff there.

Important tip: you can't start packing too early.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:51 PM on May 23, 2011

Interesting timing as we just said farewell to close friends moving from the East Coast to Austin, just last night.

We made the move from Southern California.

The cost of our move was covered, but recommending what many others have already said - get rid of as much stuff as you can. Since making the 'big move' we've done three smaller moves since, and we found lots of boxes that were never opened in eight years! Hauled, carted, stowed, and re-hauled - all for no reason.

We had a family of three, the spouse and child went to visit her parents abroad for a few weeks while I did the final packing / cleaning, and then the initial settling in. Not for everyone but I was happy to handle the stresses of all that myself, also it reduced the burden of having the majority of your belongings in-transit.

For housing we found a rental house for 18 months until we could zero-in on exactly the neighborhood we wanted to settle down in. YMMV with moving twice, for us it was totally worth it. Hard to judge what a neighborhood is like with a weekend or two visiting temporarily. We had one weekend (paid-for) to visit and find housing; made a flurry of phone calls / emails via Craigslist for rental house showings, about six weeks prior to our target 'move date'. Ended up renting a place close to some friends in the area, which certainly their proximity was a godsend while we lived nearby.

Saved a bunch of money picking up free moving boxes off of Craigslist; you have to move quickly though! can help with choosing a professional mover; we had several very competitive bids. ABF (where you pack it / unpack it yourself) is another option. We found that the 'u-pack / they haul' large standard moving boxes were surprisingly expensive and not cost-effective. We ended up with United, and they were great.

Looking over my files, here's one checklist, here's another, and here's a useful ask.mefi thread. Accessing these resources and taking heed to a lot of this advice meant that there were no regrets (at least that I can remember now!)
posted by scooterdog at 6:55 PM on May 23, 2011

Moved across the country with 3 kids under 3. Based on what we did right and wrong: Get rid of as much crap before you leave as possible. Try to move boxes directly into the new house in their proper rooms. If you have a spare room, attic or basement, do not under any circumstances plan move all your stuff into that room and unpack from that room over time. Carry with you personally what you need physically and psychologically for say 2 weeks (even if your stuff is only supposed to be 2 days of a gap). Do NOT label more than one box "misc. items" (or equivalent). Pack an 'open first' box with a roll of toilet paper, and other items you think you might need relatively quickly.
posted by kch at 7:30 PM on May 23, 2011

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