What is the best way to handle the last parts of packing to move?
February 23, 2015 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Movers are coming on Thursday to take almost all our stuff from our 1BR apartment to storage. Most things that can be easily boxed have been. Now I'm dealing with the home stretch of packing: the weirdly shaped stuff, the stuff I'd rather sell than store but that no one seems to want, and the hard decisions like what clothes do I pack for the next three months while the rest sits in storage. How do I accomplish this in three days?

I need a plan, but I'm feeling overwhelmed. My partner is helping where he can, but he's got to work this week to make sure we're financially covered.

What's the best way? Prioritizing by zone? Or by what needs to be on the moving truck and what can be thrown out after? Or something else?

Areas that haven't been packed or cleared of junk at all: my clothes, partner's clothes*, partner's desk*, bathroom, kitchen. All artwork is off the walls but needs to be wrapped and packed. No lamps have been packed. Window unit air conditioners are still in windows. Should I try to take them out, or have the movers do it?

*My partner is handling these.

How would you approach this situation? Hiring others to help is not an option.
posted by ocherdraco to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Right now: Go through your apartment and take EVERYTHING you can reasonably say you want to avoid putting in storage.

Later today: Sort through that pile and decide (mercilessly) what you can throw away.

Then: Throw it away.

The rest: If you can't sell it or give it away within a day or so, then put it on the curb and put up a Craigslist ad to give it to whoever comes to pick it up.
posted by xingcat at 8:46 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you can get a friend to come help it will make a world of difference, even if all they do is hang out and drink tea. For some reason, having someone else there snaps me into "just get it done" mode. If they're willing to pitch in and pack things (and say, "Seriously? You're keeping this?! Okay") all the better.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:59 AM on February 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

Clothes, pack like you're packing for two weeks, not three months. Assume you will do laundry weekly. So for each of you:

- Work clothes: Set out a max of 5-7 shirts/tops, 2-3 bottoms, 2-3 pairs of shoes, 5-7 accessories (ties, scarves, statement jewelry) for each of you.
- Everyday clothes: 5-7 tops, two pairs of jeans/cords, one nicer pant/skirt for each of you, one pair of walking shoes/boots, a pair of sandals/flops
- Three sets of gym clothes & your gym shoes
- Three sets of pjs
- A heavy coat, spring coat, and sweater for each of you & a set of hats/gloves/scarves for each
- Socks and undies for a week
- One comfort item (holey sweater, bathrobe, etc.)
- Remember you can always pick up something new along the way

Done with clothes!
posted by mochapickle at 9:03 AM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]

If it would help you for us to store some of your weird-shaped stuff (or if we can help otherwise) drop me a line.
posted by ferret branca at 9:05 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Do this room by room. As you go, create a donate pile. At the end, you can put everything out on the curb or next to (not in) your dumpster, and post a notice on craigslist and freecycle with a very basic description and location. Scavengers will definitely come and take everything.

1. Wrap the artwork. It's generally pretty easy - a few rounds of bubble wrap side-to-side and then top-to-bottom, and use packing tape to attach a few extra layers to the corners.

2. Packing clothes - your location says you are in the NYC metro area. If you are staying in that general region, 3 months takes you into spring. So pack all your winter clothes - and as you go through, put aside anything you don't see yourself wearing anymore (or that doesn't fit). As for spring clothes, pretend you are going on vacation for 2 weeks to a warm, but not hot, climate and pack whatever you would reasonably take for that trip. Anything that isn't winter clothes or vacation clothes can go into boxes for storage. You can worry about clearing out old stuff when you unpack if you're short on time now.

3. Bathroom - again, treat this like a long vacation. What would you pack to bring with you, either because it's not easily replaced or because it's too expensive to justify buying another when you have one at home? All of that stuff (medications, basic first aid supplies, general hygiene items, anything with an expiration date before summer) should go with you. Pack all but the most basic essentials now. Leave out only toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, small shampoo and soap, and daily medications. The rest you should just box up for storage, unless it's something you know you'll be replacing when you land in a new permanent location (old crusty scale, rusty hanging shower caddy, etc.) - in which case, put it in the donate pile.

4. Kitchen. Don't plan to cook in the next three days. Order in, get takeout, and eat things that are cold or can be microwaved in the container they came in. Decide whether you will need your dishes, pots and pans, or certain utensils in the 3 months your stuff will be in storage. If you will be living with someone else or in a furnished space that already has a working kitchen, pack everything. Don't waste time thinking about whether you'll make that one special dish that requires the food processor and a certain whisk and all that stuff. Just pack it and make due with what's available where you're going. Again, as you pack, ask yourself if you will end up replacing the item in less than a year. If so, it goes in the donate pile.

5. Miscellaneous. If you have large-enough boxes, you can take the lampshades off the lamps and put multiple lamps in one box. Then use some bubblewrap to protect the shades and box them separately. Any other large or oddly-shaped items should be clearly marked, wrapped in at least newspaper to prevent scrapes and scuffs in-transit, or use bubblewrap to protect more fragile items.

6. Air conditioners - if possible you should take them out of the windows and make sure there isn't any water left in them that will leak when they are tilted and carried. You can just leave them on the floor in front of the window, or put them all in one spot in the kitchen or living room. Movers usually charge extra if they have to do anything other that pick stuff up and put it in the truck, not sure about window units.
posted by trivia genius at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]

Pack as if you are going on a long vacation.
Store only items that have an emotional value (heirlooms / photo albums / art work)
Sell everything
Dump the remaining items.

Save the $$$$ for moving and storage and buy exactly what you need in your new destination.
posted by Mac-Expert at 9:17 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

You are going to have some misc. items, like junk in desk drawers and stuff on countertops. Buy a couple of rubbermaid totes and throw that junk in them. When moving you are under a LOT of stress and physical exertion that you are (probably) not used to. You have emotions attached to these things and it takes energy to decide what to take and what to keep. After a certain point you just don't care, so be ready for that point. When you hit it just throw whats left in the totes and go through them at the new place. You will come across stuff that you wonder what you were thinking moving this junk-throw that shit out then. I have moved a LOT and i have yet to plan it all out so that i never have anything i regret moving. I always have lots of junk I can't believe I bought in the first place much less moved. So just have a couple (or few) totes full of misc. shit that fills the nooks and crannies of all our lives.

BTW I do mean the totes not cardboard boxes. Boxes are great for moving regular stuff but they come apart if opened/closed a lot, don't always stack well, come apart if anything leaks in them, etc. Using the totes makes the easy to carry, easy to stack, can be stored for a few days/weeks easily without any worries about leaks/weather/whatever. And odd shaped pointy stuff doesn't tear through them and you can open and close them easily without wearing them out as you dig for that item you really, really need. I use the large (18 gal?) for kitchen items and a couple of small (12gal?) for toiletries.
posted by bartonlong at 9:31 AM on February 23, 2015 [8 favorites]

I've moved a lot in the past three decades... like, 25 times, so I have a bit of experience in this. :) If you have a freecyle in your area, there are tons of people that will come and take the stuff you don't want away. Most will pick up the same day you list it. That's how I usually get rid of stuff I don't want before I move.

When we moved last time, a friend of mine and I came up with a relatively clever way to wrap awkward stuff like artwork and broken down bookcases -- plastic wrap. Yep, just stuff some bubble wrap (if you have it, I used crumbled newspaper when I ran out) into any cavities, and wrap those bad boys up in plastic wrap. Wind it around for about three layers and bam! wrapped tight.

Think of clothes this way... take whatever you wear most often, work clothes, hanging around the house clothes, pjs, etc... And it all has to fit in one suitcase -- one for you, and one for your partner. One suitcase, well packed, should last you for three months. If you haven't worn an article of clothing in more than a month, pack it or toss it. You won't miss it. Don't surmise that you might need it. You won't. If an occasion comes up where you'll need it, you have the option to go to the storage and get it, or buy another. But for now, pack it or toss it.

Same thing with dishes. Pack the everyday dishes in one box, put the special stuff in storage. If you haven't used something in over a year, toss it. You don't need it. Sentimental and ornamental stuff goes into storage. And what trivia genius said, don't use the kitchen for the next three days, use that time to clean and pack.

I usually don't have air conditioners, so I can't help you with those.
posted by patheral at 9:34 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Pick out your three grudliest T-shirts and pairs of underwear and for the next three days, when you're done wearing them, THROW THEM IN THE TRASH. It is enormously liberating to just be THROWING OUT your clothes instead of trying to figure out how to wash them, etc., and now you're getting rid of gross clothes AND moving less stuff!

Kitchens are a good room to have a friend help with; they can wrap and pack plates while you sort stuff. Leave the lamps for the movers. Wrap your own artwork. Ditch posters and poster frames (they are easier to re-buy than bother storing).

I always pack one big suitcase with bed linens, towels, and toiletries sufficient for the two of us to use at the new place when we arrive (and a roll of toilet paper, and if I find them while clearing the kitchen, some random paper plates), and then one big suitcase with clothes that I can live out of for a few weeks. Or in your case a few months. And then my backpack or messenger bag or whatever with my computer, a couple books, medications, two changes of clothes and favorite PJs, etc., so I have all of that immediately to hand. That way when you arrive you can unpack the linens suitcase, make the bed, hang the towels, take a shower, and go the hell to bed. Or unpack until you're tired and dirty, but at least you know you've got the bed made and the towels ready for showering.

If you won't need linens for the next three months, make sure you pack those in a suitcase or box with a big label on it that says "MASTER BED SHEETS AND TOWELS" so you can find it and unpack it first when you get your stuff OUT of storage!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:46 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

First, get everything that you don't want to put in storage, and take it to Goodwill. If you don't want or need it any more, then get up and out of the way.

As for clothing, think along the lines of a capsule wardrobe. We really only wear about 20% of our clothing and 10% of our shoes. So sort those out, and put the rest in storage. I recommend cutting a hole in the bottom of a lawn and leaf garbage bag and putting it over your hanging items before putting them into wardrobe boxes and into storage. Throw a dryer sheet in there to keep it good smelling.

Use this time to get rid of clothing you don't wear.

The weird sized stuff, if it doesn't fit into a box, the movers can wrap blankets around it for the move to the storage unit. Then it can just sit there.

Get a tape gun, plain newsprint and boxes. The tape gun will revolutionize the packing process. Get a movers roll of plastic wrap and bubble wrap. Use bubble wrap on the art, and then seal with plastic wrap.

Do the kitchen now. As of today, you're eating sandwiches and take out from paper plates with plastic ware. The kitchen takes twice as many boxes and three times as much time as you think it will. Pack plates on their sides, rather than flat, that will minimize breakage. Don't wrap glasses, just get wine boxes from the liquor store and put the glasses into the slots. Do that with anything you can get away with. Do not store food. If you have unopened food, see if you can get someone to take it to a food pantry. Open stuff needs to be trashed. Do it now, not later, it will be overwhelming later. You will be amazed at how much shit you have in a fridge.

The bathroom, can you get everything into a laundry basket to be moved to wherever it is you're going? That's the easiest way of doing it. Either that or a rolly suitcase.

To save money and to make your life as easy as possible, have everything ready to go the morning of the move. Have the boxes as close to the door as possible, have the beds stripped and ready to go. If you have knock-down furniture, take it apart for moving.

I will say that if you have stuff built out of particle board, don't move it. No Ikea bookcases, or other cheap stuff. It won't hold up, it will look terrible if it does manage to hold it together and it will disintegrate in storage if it gets damp.

Get things staged for your partner to pack. He may have unrealistic ideas about how long he'll need to devote to the process. So build the boxes, get a file storage unit for his desk crap. If you can, watch him sort through it tonight to insure that it's done and ready. Don't leave this for the night before.

Have a special file for your important papers that you are taking with you. Birth certificates, tax forms, anything that would be a PITA to lose or replace.

Everything should be finished and ready to go a day early. Don't leave shit until the night before. That is the WORST! The day before the move there should be NOTHING to do. Take yourself out for a quiet day to decompress. Hang out at the library, get a massage, have a big salad for lunch.

I'd rather be up all night for the next two days, and sleep great the night before the move.

Good luck!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:47 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

If it were me, I would do one more full day of making keep/toss or store/have accessible decisions, probably focused on separating out the clothes and kitchen stuff that you will want to have with you. Then, I would completely relieve myself of the emotional stress and pressure of deciding whether to keep/toss/sell every item and just focus on the physical task of getting everything boxed up and ready to go out the door (especially so you can leave time for final cleaning). Unlike some folks, I think you're past the point of making decisions about "will I or won't I use this?"...I give you permission to put it in a box and decide later.

On preview, along the lines of what bartonlong suggested: get extra containers and packing materials and just put random things in boxes. True, it'll be annoying to deal with later, but it doesn't really matter, no one is really perfect at moving. If you find yourself agonizing over specific items, stop yourself and just throw it in a box. Designate the amount of tubs/boxes you want to take with your personally (ie. the amount of stuff you're not putting in storage) and if you have an inkling you might need something in the next 3 months, put it in one of those tubs.

Good luck! Moving is exhausting for everyone.
posted by dahliachewswell at 9:49 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for everything so far! One relevant fact I forgot to mention = is that we'll still be in the apartment on an air mattress through Sunday morning, so we have some more time for anything that isn't going to storage.
posted by ocherdraco at 10:00 AM on February 23, 2015

This isn't 100% answering the question, but I wanted to remind you that whatever you pack, whatever you store, and whatever you throw away, it will be fine. It's easy to overstress about doing the right thing with objects (I do it all the time), but it seldom really matters later.

Pack the odd-shaped stuff you truly care about, and really want to store.

For the next three months, keep out the stuff you love to wear. If you forget enough pajama bottoms or underwear, you can always buy a pair.

For the stuff you don't really want to store - DON'T STORE IT! If you don't love it now, you're not going to love it later. Just take it to goodwill or put it on freecycle (or put it as a single lot on craigslist and let someone else deal with it.)

It sounds like there's new fun things going on in your life, congrats!
posted by mercredi at 10:09 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

One relevant fact I forgot to mention = is that we'll still be in the apartment on an air mattress through Sunday morning, so we have some more time for anything that isn't going to storage.

Be careful with this. This is how I ended up driving across the country with an ice cream maker in my car.
posted by juliapangolin at 10:53 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Be careful with this. This is how I ended up driving across the country with an ice cream maker in my car.

This is how *I* learned that Goodwill doesn't accept exercise equipment, and that a weight bench counts as exercise equipment, and this is also how my perfectly good weight bench ended up in the dumpster outside Goodwill, making exactly no one happy.

Freecycle is great and people will come take your stuff but depending on what list you post to you might be in "moderation" mode if you haven't used it before, so your stuff might not show up on the list for a day or two. Which is why no one responded to my weight bench ad until I'd already moved. That stupid weight bench!

But the moral of my story is, sign up for Freecycle and have a plan for throwing things in the trash (like, if your building's dumpster is full will you lose your security deposit if you stack stuff next to it?).
posted by mskyle at 12:10 PM on February 23, 2015

Join a selling site on Facebook. I've been very successful selling all sorts of things I don't want or need anymore, and I rarely even seen the buyers. The item goes on the front porch with the agreement that the $$ goes under the door mat. I've never been stiffed on the $$, but sometimes people do flake and not show up, but it's a good way to unload things. Price things reasonably, or even LESS than reasonably and people will come running. Posting things for free always gets them gone. Good luck!
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 12:26 PM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

Be okay with throwing a lot of stuff into trash bags. (make sure you have a bunch of heavy duty trash bags)
Invite a friend over. Do not pack at least one thing that will play music loudly.
Play music loudly, consume caffeinated beverages (or dark chocolate). Pack with abandon.
Don't worry too much about clothing for three months - you'll make mistakes. It won't be the end of the world.

Good luck.
posted by sciencegeek at 12:41 PM on February 23, 2015

You would rather not store it? Take it all to AmVets, or Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. What they won't take, take directly to the dump. Life is too short.
posted by halhurst at 2:08 PM on February 23, 2015

Be okay with throwing a lot of stuff into trash bags. (make sure you have a bunch of heavy duty trash bags)

From personal experience, if you do this and you have any friends come over to help, make it very very VERY clear to them that "trash bag" does not automatically equal "trash". Grumble grumble beloved overly-helpful friend tossing out an entire freaking bag of stuff…
posted by Lexica at 6:19 PM on February 23, 2015

I always allow myself one or two boxes of random crap that needs to be sorted, tossed, restored to its rightful place of honor, or organized with other stuff. Packing is so chaotic and time is of the essence. Every time I've given myself permission to haul a junk box or two, the move has gone easier.

Whether you actually unpack and sort through junk box is on you, but at least you are doing it at leisure, not when you are preparing for movers or helpful friends with limited time.
posted by There Go the Warm Jets at 10:23 PM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Make sure you keep track of bedding and towels that you intend to use in the short-term. If you're moving a washer or dryer that will be immediately installed in the new place, that's a perfect place to store them. (This trick has been a lifesaver more than once in the dozen-plus moves I've made...)
posted by stormyteal at 10:23 PM on February 23, 2015

Every time I've given myself permission to haul a junk box or two, the move has gone easier.

This is a great idea because I will totally paralyze myself over decisions over junk, when it would be cheaper and less stressful to just send the damn thing and figure it out later.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:58 AM on February 24, 2015

I will reflect more fully later, but y'all, this is going about 10 million times better because of your advice. Thanks, all!
posted by ocherdraco at 11:03 AM on February 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Okay, despite going ten million times better, moving still majorly sucks.

Mefites, the transfer to storage is over, but now we're left with lots and lots of junk that needs to be thrown away before the cleaner comes tomorrow to clean the apartment at 10am.

Just looking at it is making my knees all wobbly with worry that it won't get cleared out in time. We've got three kitchen size trash cans to collect stuff, and a dolly we can use to tote stuff. What should we do?
posted by ocherdraco at 5:52 PM on February 26, 2015

Okay, on reflection, I think I'm freaking out for no reason. We're going to bed, and I'll deal with it in the (early) morning.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:35 PM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's hard to believe that a month has passed since the move.

I've marked as best answer a bunch of things that I used directly. (On the clothes packing front, mochapickle, we followed your instructions to the letter.) The one thing I didn't do, that I also marked as best answer, was enlist help from friends. I was just too stressed out to ask anyone for help, but that was my biggest mistake. It would have made things way way better.

Getting rid of the stuff we weren't taking was the thing that stressed me out the most, but it ended up being a non-issue, because the woman who was moving into our old place (who was much more connected in the building) let us leave a bunch of things that she then distributed among people in the building who could use them. I know that several items already have new homes.

Allowing myself to take a few boxes of junk to deal with later made things more relaxed as well.

One of the most stress-inducing aspects of all this was not having a car except for a few hours on a few days. Here in NYC, renting one for the whole week is a big expense, but having one available the whole time would have meant that some of the most stressful tasks would have been much simpler.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:29 PM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

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