We're moving on up.
November 10, 2015 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Moving in a few weeks and looking for tips on how to make that day go as smoothly as possible.

SO and I close on our first home in a few weeks. Exciting! We're moving about a five minute drive away, from a 600 square foot apartment to an 1,800 square foot house. We have both moved a lot so we're already good at weeding out unwanted stuff and packing. Our movers have an excellent reputation, ditto our lawyer. Beyond that, we're looking for tips on how to make our closing/move as stress-free as possible.

So what helped make your moving day easier? What do you wish you had done differently? And lastly, how did you deal with unexpected hiccups on the day of your move?
posted by futureisunwritten to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Label all boxes with the contents and the room in which you want them to fetch up. If the use of each room is not obvious to all, maybe make them rooms A, B, C and so on. Computer goes into room D, which you intend as an office, etc.

Always get more boxes, tape and markers than you think you need.

Keep a measuring tape handy.

On the day, have more cash on hand than you think you need, for pizza and beer and possibly even for the movers unless you're paying them via some other method. Or you may want to tip them directly if they do anything above and beyond the basics.
posted by zadcat at 1:56 PM on November 10, 2015

Best answer: If at all possible, try to not move on the same day that you close. That will give you time to do things like painting, minor repairs (did the former owners have a painting hanging some place where you won't?), etc.

Start the move as early in the day as possible.

Pack a bag/box with "first night essentials": linens for the bed, toothbrushes, change of clothes for each person. Setup and make the bed as early as possible on move day. At the end of the day, you'll be able to crawl into a freshly made bed without taxing your exhausted minds/bodies.

Label your boxes and furniture with the names of the rooms they will go in (and, ideally, the contents).

Make a plan for pets. They should have a room to hang out in that won't be opened by movers. You can do this by either bringing them to the house and putting them in a bathroom or something early. When I moved last, we boarded the dog and kept the cats in a bathroom at the old house until the move was done.

In the US, all of the numbers involved with the home sale get summarized on something called a HUD-1 statement. If something like that is applicable to you, start pestering your closer and loan officer to get a copy of whatever that equivalent statement is for you as early as possible. It needs to be right so that you know how much money to bring to closing. Bring a chequebook to closing just in case the statement was wrong.

Congrats and good luck!
posted by sparklemotion at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2015

See if you can get the sellers to give you a walk through with a focus on idiosyncrasies and things that you don't have to deal with in an apartment. The previous owners of our house were out of state at closing and were kind of jerks anyway, but I really wish we had known things like-- the connector between the garbage disposal and the pipe is finicky and sometimes comes undone, the furnace may need to be reset when it starts getting colder, when the gas company reads the meter / that they sometimes leave the gate ajar (cue panic when puppy gets out), that sort of thing. The stuff that won't get picked up in the inspection necessarily but is helpful.

Also, not so much day-of, but make sure to budget/ plan for house stuff like a lawnmower, general yard stuff, even light bulbs and batteries (we go through way more than we used to), fire extinguisher, etc. etc.

One piece of advice that we got which helped is that the closing itself may be tense because of last-minute stuff. It helped us breathe when the title person was late because she was on the phone with our bank doing last minute stuff that we thought had been taken care of way before.
posted by charmcityblues at 2:06 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Make sure you have one box that is basically "Survival Box" - you can do this by room if you need to, or have more than one per room:

Kitchen - Paper plates, plastic cutlery, survival rations like granola, jerky, bottled water, etc.
Bathroom - Whatever you will need on night / evening 1 like a couple of towels, dopp kits, etc.
Bedroom - Favorite sheets/blankets/pillows, PJ's

And so on. It's never fun to dig through four boxes to find your paper plates, facial moisturizer, etc. More or less prepare to treat night one like staying away somewhere overnight so that you don't have to unpack everything you own in order to go to bed.

posted by Medieval Maven at 2:07 PM on November 10, 2015 [3 favorites]

Does your new house have all the appliances included? If not, figure out how to have them delivered before you absolutely need them.

If you're moving someplace where there's going to be snow this winter, buy a snow shovel/salt/etc. now before winter comes, because the places that sell them convenient to you may sell out when the first big storm comes.
posted by Candleman at 2:30 PM on November 10, 2015

On the "don't move the day you close" front, walk through the house and make a list of any changes you want to make, and then look through the list and flag anything that's going to be way easier to do before you move -- prime suspects are repainting rooms and doing anything with the floors (carpeting, new kitchen floor, etc). If at all possible, get those done before the move, or at least don't unpack those rooms until the projects are done.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:32 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: sparklemotion: "Pack a bag/box with "first night essentials": linens for the bed, toothbrushes, change of clothes for each person. Setup and make the bed as early as possible on move day. At the end of the day, you'll be able to crawl into a freshly made bed without taxing your exhausted minds/bodies."

And most importantly, a shower curtain, towels, and soap/shampoo. Ask me about the time I had to take a bath after a hot and sweaty day of moving and dry myself off with paper towels.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:37 PM on November 10, 2015 [4 favorites]

I always have a clear plastic "moving box" that contains essentials for executing the move itself: packing tape, Sharpies, any Ikea hardware/instructions, colored stickers, tape measure, the moving company contract...
posted by the_blizz at 2:41 PM on November 10, 2015

If you'll be helping out a lot yourself book a massage for the next day or so. Post move you will appreciate it. I was completely broken by my last move (which was pretty much a full day of walking back and forth from my unit to the moving truck and I'm usually pretty sedentary) and the next morning I really struggled to find a remedial massage place with availability.

It might sound unimportant and frivolous but fixing my aching legs really helped me then move on to the unpacking and arranging stage of the move. Otherwise i was going to be stuck at the owie owie owie stage for way too long.
posted by kitten magic at 3:35 PM on November 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nthing the "essentials" bags/boxes. Include towels, washcloths, everything you need to get ready for bed and get ready in the morning the next day.

I moved two weeks ago and made one for the kitchen too--two mugs, the coffee, one knife, etc. You might make a Day Before and Morning Of checklists for all those things that need to be packed but not until the last minute.

Remember to get cash for tipping your movers. Probably obvious but: be completely packed when the movers arrive.

If there's anything you're moving rather than them (like your Essentials boxes), put it all in one area or one closed closet or loaded in your car ahead of time so that there's less confusion.

Mentally/emotionally: accept that moving is always stressful. Being okay with the fact that there would probably be tears at some point during our move kind of took some of the pressure off for me.

Remember to set up your utilities ahead of time, especially anything that supplies your heat/hot water. Mentioning in case it's different than at your apartment--maybe you need to arrange an oil delivery or a gas account or something new you didn't have before. And you'll want a hot shower.
posted by purple_bird at 3:42 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

We color coded our box labels by room to make it SUPER obvious that they should be grouped together on delivery (pink: kitchen and dining room, orange: master bedroom, and so on). I think I labeled the box with all the coffee stuff on every side and we made sure it went on the kitchen counter the minute it came into the new house. We also packed our immediate-need clothing and toiletries in our suitcases and took those over ourselves.

Dunno if you've got pets. We put our cats in carriers in the old apartment, brought them to the house ourselves, and put them in the downstairs bathroom with the door closed, then introduced them to the rest of the house after the movers had gone.

We had bottled water and Gatorade in both fridges, and cash for the movers.

Also, nth-ing the "don't move the day you close" suggestion. We also scheduled three weeks between closing and the end of our lease so we wouldn't have a frantic move, but then our apartment told the new tenants they could occupy a week earlier than we'd put on our termination, so in the end we had a horrible day of moving all the things the movers didn't take (the potted plants, some lamps, and some other random stuff that hadn't gotten packed) and cleaning our apartment for inspection the next morning. Also we discovered a new electrical problem on our final walkthrough, and the sellers couldn't get an electrician out to fix it until AFTER closing, so that would have been hard to deal with.
posted by fedward at 7:32 PM on November 10, 2015

Go out and immediately buy a shower curtain for the new place. Put it in your "survival box." Trust me, after a day of moving the last thing you want to do is to try to shower without a shower curtain.
posted by radioamy at 10:13 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

My strategy for an organized move sounds really anal, and my husband made fun of me when we were packing, but then he thought I was a genius when we actually moved.

Get a pack of white mailing labels and a pack of multi colored labels (I think I used something like these Post-It full adhesive labels).

Use a sharpie to write numbers on the white labels, then number each box. I recommend putting labels on 3 sides of each box.

Create a Google Sheet and share with members of your household. As you pack each box, put the contents in the spreadsheet instead of writing it on the box. Compared to awkwardly writing in Sharpie on your boxes it's a) fast b) easy to move things around as you pack c) easy to find things when you're unpacking by just searching the spreadsheet d) less prone to losing Sharpies.

Use the colored labels to sort boxes by final destination. For example, all your pink labels get a K for kitchen, and you put those on the kitchen boxes. It makes it super easy for your movers to know where each box is going. Extra brownie points if you color code the cells in your spreadsheet.
posted by radioamy at 10:21 PM on November 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's expensive, but paying the movers to pack your belongings is a wonderful luxury. We've done this twice (when our move was paid for by relocation costs) and both moving companies were incredibly professional and did a much better job packing than I would have done. All you will need to do is pack one or two boxes of valuables and ... unmentionables... that you don't want strangers to handle. So if you can swing that, that's really the best way to make moving less stressful!
If not, we do a "first night" box that includes sheets, pjs, towels, soap, light bulbs, any meds we take at night, maybe a small snack, etc. Then a "first morning" box with clean clothes, coffee cups and coffee maker, coffee filters, coffee, makeup, other morning essentials. I also usually pack a box of paper plates and plastic silverware, paper napkins, to avoid washing dishes until the kitchen is set up. Include trash bags and paper towels and a cleaning spray in this bag. Moving almost always requires trash bags and it's annoying to not have them when you need them. Congrats on the new house!
posted by areaperson at 7:39 AM on November 11, 2015

Response by poster: Update: Fantastic suggestions all around. Extra points to the folks who recommended not closing and moving on the same day. Based on this thread, we moved the closing date up and scheduled the movers for the day after. Our house almost didn't close the day we intended, so this saved us a ton of stress and changing of plans.

Also, among other great suggestions, having a box just for moving stuff was incredibly useful. Thanks all!
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:21 AM on December 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

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