How to move when you don't know when you're moving
November 15, 2017 6:31 AM   Subscribe

We will be moving in the next few months. Neither of us plan ahead well. Please help me understand what we need to do and when.

We have a four bedroom house. We plan to move into a three bedroom. We don't know when the move is happening. We both work and have a toddler. I'm fine with extreme purging and selling many things to reduce what needs to be moved. My partner is a packrat who hangs onto things for their hypothetical use. I have asked him to process all his own pre-marriage stuff for keep/donate/trash before we find out the move is a month away because I feel like having both of us working and a toddler means that we will realistically need the month to decide what we are keeping vs trashing and pack the rest of the house. I could be wrong in my estimates. So, if you knew you'd be moving in a couple of months, what would you do and when?

We do not know yet if we are going to rent a uhaul, usea pod service, or pay movers to pack on our behalf. It depends on how great a price difference we discover among those options. I'm not looking for packing hacks as that's been covered in previous asks. More like how to structure the entire process. We typically only have a couple hours a day to deal with it, and my partner doesn't see the urgency. Maybe I'm wrong in thinking there needs to be any urgency. Seeking war stories about these issues.
posted by crunchy potato to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I moved recently. Ohmigod, do I suck at it. And moving sucks. And I moved 3 minutes away.

One thing I suggest is joining one of the local yard sale pages. You place stuff for sale, leave it outside and say "put the money in the mailbox" and it's on your honor. It somehow runs WAY smoother than craigslist (which I have used a lot) and might make it easier for you to purge and for partner to willingly part with hypothetical items. (In big city probably would not work) You can start immediately.

You could also investigate if there is a donation pick up scheduled in your area. For trash you might want to get a bagster or get in touch with a trash pick up guy.

Keep track of important mail now. Write down phone numbers so you can update your address in a month. Don't get tricked on the change of address website for the post office. Internet searches can lead to a 3rd party.

I wish I had a great plan for you. I tried to plan it all out and make it run smooth but, nope. Still figuring it all out 4 months later.
posted by beccaj at 6:52 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

We need more details. It depends on where you are moving to (across town? Or a one-way trip across several states? Or what?), how much time you have, and how much money you can spend.

If I were moving again and could throw money at the problem, I would pack a bag with everything I need for two-three weeks, and hire movers to pack everything else for me and ship it ahead to a storage space. Then I'd move in and visit storage once a week until I had everything I wanted, then sell things at my leisure from storage or schedule a Goodwill pickup/junk pickup directly from storage.

When I moved cross-country, I found that it took way more time and energy than it was worth to sell anything (like, 10-15 emails to nail down a time to meet, and four of five people flake at the last minute, and for every reasonable message there's 20 from people who didn't read the ad-- I would pay $50 to make the armchair go away and save myself the time), so next time I'm donating everything I can and starting from scratch on the other side.
posted by blnkfrnk at 6:52 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

We are moving about six hours away. We can each spend a couple hours a day preparing, though my spouse works better with one mad dash at the end when you have no choice. We can spend maybe 2-3k on the actual move, possibly more if necessary but we do want to try to keep costs down. That said, I don't mind going into temporary credit card debt to save lots of arguments or stress. My goal is to sell or donate as much furniture as possible so only the bare minimum goes with us.

Bonus question. My mother is moving to the same area at the same time as us, and my spouse has stated emphatically that he won't share a moving truck with her because she micromanages a lot and won't respond well to any feedback to rein that in. Advice for communicating with her about that is also appreciated.
posted by crunchy potato at 6:55 AM on November 15, 2017

Just tell your mom the truth, which is that moving your household is logistically complicated and unpredictable enough that there is no way to plan to share a truck. This would be true even if all she had to add was a small valise and a sunny attitude. It's a nonstarter and it has nothing to do with her.

WRT to your husband. My deal with mine, a compromise we made to avoid breaking up years ago, (around 2003) over the packrat issue, was that I would not pressure him to throw away his crap IF HE ALSO MADE GOOD ON HIS PROMISE to check everything and be rational about it, ie not just move his boxes, unsorted, to the new house, on the assumption that they contained treasures. He was so sure that everything in every box was indispensable, blah blah blah. Well, the very first box he opened to check was full of ATM receipts from 1986. I made my point without even having to make it and things went much smoother after that. But my husband is also a fairly rational guy.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:17 AM on November 15, 2017 [10 favorites]

You do need to start now. It's easiest to go room-by-room and start with the rooms you don't use that have stuff in them that you don't need right now -- so for example, it's winter! Go pack all your summer clothes. Go through those (keep/trash/donate). Your instinct to do all this now is good because you know what you won't want to do in the throes of moving? Go to the damn Goodwill. It will be almost literally the last thing you want to do and you will still have to do it at the end, so you might as well make it a small trip.

Do you have knick knacks and china and stuff that you just have out to look at? Pack that stuff. You're not using it, you're just putting your eyeballs on it. Stage boxes in a little used space so that you're not tripping over them, and label the top and two sides of the box so that you can see what's in it. Do as much as you can ahead of time, because then you get to do it slowly and with less stress, and frankly you will move much less trash and little-or-never-used stuff if you have some time. You can pack together if that helps.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:22 AM on November 15, 2017 [9 favorites]

I was you - knowing in February that I was going to move cross country in August. I'm single, so to me, it was overwhelming that I had to do EVERYTHING by myself. To keep my inner head chaos in control, I broke down what I needed to do in timed increments like this (keep in mind this isn't an actual list, just an idea of what to do)

4 months before - Start purging / trashing / donating / giving away.

3 months before - Serious purging begins. I would dedicate some time every week to go room by room to get rid of stuff. Best to do this the night before garbage pick up so you can trash things that you know will be out of your hair the next day. I also kept an area where I'd stick
things to donate - I stopped weekly at the thrift stores to make donations. I started to research what things an inter-state move would mean, such as getting a new drivers license, switching health insurance, setting up mail forwarding. Start cancelling things like magazines. Call all your medical providers and get copies of your records. Start researching moving options - I ended up using a more expensive moving company who did an actual walk through of all my stuff and gave me an accurate cost ahead of time.

2 months before - This is when SHIT GOT REAL. Notify current landlord of departure date, get list of what they need me to do before I move out (i.e. specific cleaning list), make a list of all the utilities to notify and cancel (keep copies of all confirmed cancellations), buy packing supplies like boxes, tape. Keep purging / trashing / donating / giving away. Make a list of all your online stuff that you'll need to update with new addresses.

6 weeks before - start making a list of people you want to see before you leave for a last catch up lunch / activity. Banking / financial stuff - update new addresses. If you are moving cross country, map your route, pre book some hotels and what you need to have in your car for a long drive. Keep a list of stuff you no longer have but will need to replace in the move.

1 month before - Start packing decorative items not needed on a daily basis. Give notice at work. Do all that crap too. Got an IRA through work? Sort it out and anything else work related. Start attacking packing room by room. Keep a running checklist of all the things you need to do and update but always note WHEN you did things and keep confirmations (i.e. I had issues with the electric company billing me for dates way after I left). Start getting rid of perishables - things in the freezer, old spices, etc.

2 weeks before - if you can already get into your new place, start dropping off stuff you'll need on an immediate basis there (i.e. toilet paper, paper plates, cleaning stuff, someplace to sleep, etc.) Keep packing, keep confirming / reconfirming things like the mover, carpet cleaners, house cleaners(I did not do this, and the cleaning people did not show up on the appointed date - that was a panic trying to find a last minute replacement).

1 week prior - plan on what I needed on the cross country drive. Now this is very important - INDULGE IN SOMETHING. In my case, on my last day of my very stressful job, I booked a massage and dinner with friends within an hour of walking out the doors of that office. Best things I did for myself. I gave myself a week between my last day of my job and the moving date so I could fully concentrate on the move.

On the day of the move, have enough food / drinks for yourself and the moving guys. They appreciated it. Tip them - cash, baby. I found that anything I had left that I didn't want, they happily took.

One thing I was very glad I did was spend the extra money to hire housecleaners and carpet cleaners to do the major clean up before I left. By then I was too physically and emotionally drained to handle it myself.

Good luck, it was horrible to do it and made me realize how much CRAP I accumulated over the years that was just junk and memories. Take advantage of a move to clear your life of useless stuff. Then as I said upthread, don't forget to treat yourself to something nice for having survived one of the most stressful things in life you can ever do.
posted by HeyAllie at 7:24 AM on November 15, 2017 [11 favorites]

If you hire a moving truck or a pod service, bear in mind that unless you have a driveway where you can let them take up space for many hours (or days, with the pod), you will need street parking. In many localities, you need to get a street parking permit well ahead of time. (In San Francisco, it takes 6 weeks but the city will come with cones to block off your space for you.) So if you think you might want pods and you don't have a dedicated driveway, you need to get on this NOW NOW NOW.

The pod systems available may not be able to pick up and drop off on your schedule. U-Haul was the only one who could pick up and drop off for me on the schedule that I needed-- this is because the pods are DIY and you either pack and move yourself or the U-haul depot or hire people who do that for you. U-haul storage pods were the cheapest and most flexible option for me. They go directly to a storage depot and you either hire someone and summon them with the pod to your home or go there to move things to your new home yourself. They store the pods for you at the other end (it's something like $14.99/month for longterm pod storage) so you don't have to deal with it all immediately on the first day. Since you are moving six hours away, you could pack the beds, the coffee maker, some basic living stuff and clothes, and the TV in a trailer and drive that to your new home, while the pods follow you slowly and you can sift through them at your leisure at the other end.

Make a dedicated email address for selling and quotes from movers. Otherwise you will be buried in spam messages. Play movers off against each other--"U-haul said they could do it for $1800, can you beat that?" and make sure you're on the same page about when they will come get the van/pod/stuff. Some movers won't work on the weekend or have very specific places they will pick up from; read the fine print and make the associate on the phone go through it until it makes sense.

Another thing that helped me a lot was quitting my old job with two weeks to spare before the move date (the pod arrived, it got packed and sent, and I got on a plane the next day.) If you can have at least a couple days totally free at the end, this will rapidly speed up final packing and cleaning efforts. Also, if you can get a babysitter who can get the kid out of your hair for a few hours here and there, you can concentrate much better.

I would personally not sort or sell before I got there, because right at this moment you have time pressure (you have to be out at a certain date) and at the other end you don't (the only pressure is living with too much stuff, itself a motivator!) Dealing with the scheduling for sorting, selling, packing, donating, junking, and cleaning is too much. Cut selling out entirely for the moment unless you have someone with cash in hand who wants a specific thing right now.

If you need to save money and you don't care when it gets there, Greyhound shipping is the cheapest option for non-fragile items. You have to have a pickup address and a dropoff address, and it takes a long time. However, this is yet another coordination you have to handle.

As for sharing a van, "I'm sorry, we just don't have space." Or, "The movers told us this is how they have to do it."
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:30 AM on November 15, 2017

We moved twice before our kid was three and my partner's a packrat like yours. It definitely wasn't smooth so I can't say we had a perfect system, but these are things that helped us:

I got some nice moving boxes and brightly colored tape for (a) things we would want to locate/unpack quickly, like the coffeemaker, (b) fragile/important stuff we wanted to pack/handle ourselves, and (c) the kid's stuff. They were the last things on the truck and the first things off, and I unpacked them while the others unloaded the less-important stuff.

I packed 75% of my kid's stuff while she was at preschool but didn't move her furniture or pack her favorite toys until the last minute. She didn't seem to notice a less-crowded room, and I think this made it less chaotic/disorienting for her. My mom kept her at the old house until we had her room set up at the new house, and she had zero issues transitioning...All her stuff was in the same place, just in a different house.

We didn't pack the rest until the day before we picked up the truck. We hired two college kids we found through the local university's student employment office (paid $12/hour plus pizza and beer for two days...and they were amazing) to help with the rest. We all took turns packing and loading the truck. The fact that my husband knew that random college kids would be packing his stuff and that he would be paying them by the hour to do so motivated him to clean out unnecessary stuff and pack precious stuff himself in advance.

We sold and gave a lot away on Facebook buy/sell groups and learned quickly that it's way less of a headache if (a) you sell little stuff like toys in lots for cheap and refuse to split them, and (b) you absolutely do not hold anything for anyone, it goes with whoever shows up first. My husband usually wants a high price for his stuff and this was hard for him, so I encouraged him to try to sell stuff first and then I sold it all myself, much faster, by dropping the prices two weeks later.

Regarding the sharing a truck thing, unless one of you has a CDL or something, I would just say you're not comfortable maneuvering a bigger truck. There is honestly a huge difference in terms handling and maneuvering when you get a truck that's 12 feet longer to accommodate another person's stuff. Some truck rental companies' insurance policies won't cover truck sharing, too.
posted by xylothek at 7:41 AM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have made a long-distance move twice in the past year and a half. There is no better time than right now to start sorting and purging, and even to start packing things you know you won't need for the next 6 months. It will make the process SO MUCH EASIER when it's time to pack for real.

Also: hiring movers is REALLY EXPENSIVE. Like, when I priced it, it was more than $10K. Renting a U-Haul is going to be cheapest, but I found the sweet spot was to go with -- they drop a truck, you have 3 days to pack it, then they pick it up and deliver it to your destination (you can store on the way if you need to not have the truck arrive within a week of picking it up too, for a reasonable cost) and you have 3 days to unload. I have moved with them twice and recommended them to others and we've all had a good experience with them. Pricing is transparent, you only pay for the space you use, and everyone who works there is friendly.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 7:56 AM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

In general unless it is a very special item, the effort and payoff of selling stuff < dropping it off at Goodwill.
Exceptions include nicer baby/kid stuff. And maybe in demand furniture.

Also remember that stuff like half a bottle of Nyquil doesn't weigh much but is fairly expensive. Don't toss that sort of stuff unless it is expired. Think about weight/size versus cost. The opposite is for furniture. It might be cheaper to buy a new Ikea bookshelf rather than move one.

Last big move I did, I collected boxes. That was a bad idea. It was like Tetris in the moving van. Look into renting same size Tupperware.

When you pack, have a spreadsheet of box names and where it will live in the new house.

Have a diagram of where furniture will go in new house.

Pay people to disassemble and reassemble furniture on both ends.

Designate one room for box collection. You guys pack the boxes, the hired people put it in the truck.

Your hoarder husband is unlikely to change in the coming months. Convince him to evaluate keeping things with a price tag on it.
posted by k8t at 7:57 AM on November 15, 2017

If you are using movers, please please check reviews from people you trust as well as online reviews such as Better Business Bureau. Start researching several months ahead. I personally know of two people with horror stories.

One good friend was happy for a low ball estimate. Truck was completely loaded up and then they pulled out another estimate telling her that her stuff weighed much more than they thought and presented her with a bill for thousands more than the original estimate. The movers literally held her things as hostage until she ran to get a cashier's check for the new amount. The police refused to get involved because it not considered a criminal activity. We later found out this is a common scam but we learned it way too late.

The second friend had movers not respond to her calls and emails for two days prior to the move then showed up hours late. It meant the reservation she made for the freight elevator for her apartment building was missed which cost her a lot of money to extend the reservations.
posted by IndigoOnTheGo at 8:00 AM on November 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Some of this advice can be summarized by going by a "theme" - if the room-by-room suggestion doesn't work for you, you could pick things like "clothes, housewares, documents, yard stuff..."

My suggestion is that you do papers/documents first. It is frustrating and exhausting to go through that stuff at the last minute, but it's fantastic to do early, and is exactly the kind of thing that works well one hour at a time. Also, you'll be shocked at the volume you can purge. (Paper is HEAVY!) Buy a nice box/case/file and put your critical documents (passports, legal certificates, car registration, deeds, most recent year of tax returns) in to that. Those are the papers that will travel with you. If you lose everything else, those should be the documents that carry you through the next year.

It sounds weird, but start thinking about clearing your pantry, fridge, liquor cabinet and cleaning supplies now. These things are difficult or impossible to move, and sad to waste. Finish up all those Costco size packages and shoot for using up all your laundry detergent and Windex. Clear the old/expired/unlikely to be used stuff out of your fridge and freezer now.

Also, I know it can get expensive, but the two things we did that saved our bacon in those last minute sprints were to get childcare for the moving day, and getting hotel rooms (or staying with friends) the night before and the night after. The hotel rooms gave us a place to feel clean and relaxed, and to separate out the stuff that didn't go in the van, and was a nice oasis for the kiddo to play without being in the way.
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 9:20 AM on November 15, 2017 [5 favorites]

Your hoarder husband is unlikely to change in the coming months. Convince him to evaluate keeping things with a price tag on it.

The very best thing you can do right now is to get some estimates from movers. First, movers do book that far ahead. But more importantly, I think you might be in over your budget. A move 5+ hours with a 2-BR apartment that included packing cost me $8k.

That very crucial number might light a fire under your DH's butt more than anything you can plan or think or say right now. The less stuff you have, the less it will cost. How much is all.the.stuff worth to him?

And - he handles his mother. That's how it works, or should.
posted by Dashy at 9:32 AM on November 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

You don't have to wait for your spouse to go through his things. He might benefit from seeing you start packing and purging.

Lowe's and Home Depot have decent quality moving boxes in standard sizes that are not that expensive. Don't buy them too large unless you know it will be filled with pillows. Buy ten at a time and a tape gun, tape the bottom of each box and put one in each room of your house. Label it for the room it will go into at the new house. Make sure every room has a wastebasket or garbage bag in it.

Have an area for donations with a visually distinct box or crate. You don't want packed items getting mistakenly donated. Empty that area every Saturday. Have another area for boxes that are packed and/or things that are ready for moving. Things like lamps or small furniture with lots of parts should be shrink wrapped. There will be a roll of 8 inch wide shrink wrap in the same aisle as the moving boxes.

Only things you don't need until after the move go into a box. If you have multiples that you will keep, think about packing half now and half later. Use towels and clothes to cushion items, but buy real bubble wrap or newsprint for glass or china. Some liquor stores have nice boxes with crates inside for glasses.
posted by soelo at 9:42 AM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

And - he handles his mother. That's how it works, or should.

It's the OP's mother, not the husband's mother. So the OP is asking for advice on how to handle their own mother, as they should.
posted by andrewesque at 9:43 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have done two long-distance moves in the past 6 years.
We've used ABF both times, once with their pod-like moving cubes and once where you rent space on their truck by the linear foot. I've been very happy with them both times, BUT: they are cheap and the reason is that you have to either pack it yourself or hire local movers to do it. However, we've always found good local movers who can get the job done in a few hours and it's still much cheaper than a full-service moving company. Memail me if you want to know more about this.

Another idea: if you're only moving a 6-hour drive away, it might be cheaper to ship a lot of your non-breakable stuff through good ol' UPS. Clothes, blankets, etc. I did this when I moved for grad school, though at the time I was only moving a college kid's stuff, but it only cost a few hundred to ship maybe 13 boxes of stuff.

Absolutely try to spend an hour a day every single day that you can. One thing we did last move that helped immensely was have a box in each room for "I don't know yet" stuff that you can toss in while you're in the "keep or get rid of" phase. It's much easier to go through a full box of "IDK yet" at once than to make 50 separate decisions. And bonus, at least when I did this, was that the more I hated how much crap I had, the easier it was to get rid of most things in the "IDK" box.

Remember that you need a box in your car of stuff you need at a new place right away: toilet paper, bedding, shower curtain, towels, etc.
posted by nakedmolerats at 9:56 AM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

When I was packing to move recently, I encountered a lot of things I had hung onto for "hypothetical use." What finally allowed me to donate/toss many of these hypotheticals was this simple test: Can I replace it in less than 20 minutes for less than $20? If so, it goes. This meant a lot of the "just in case" extra kitchen gear (much of which was older versions of stuff I'd upgraded), extra tools, old odds and ends, etc went away. (The "less than 20 minutes" bit basically asks, "Can I find it on Amazon or at Target or Home Depot?")
posted by writermcwriterson at 10:26 AM on November 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Really good advice above. Joining the chorus to hire cleaners for the move-out and the move-in. It will make your life so, so much easier.

On the packrat issue - I really like KonMari's method of purging, because 1.) she takes into account how difficult it is for people to let go of things emotionally, and 2.) she gives clear guidelines for whether or not to keep something. If it's not useful or doesn't make you happy, dump it. That's it. Her method goes step-by-step through categories of things, not room-by-room. It's intense, but oh so worth it. I went through all of my possessions in about three weeks. Handling them by category made it much easier and less overwhelming. On preview - similar to writermcwriterson's "I dont' know yet" box.

Also, a first night box is essential. Keeps everyone happy when all you want is a snack (pack those!) and a shower (when you need a curtain).
posted by onecircleaday at 10:45 AM on November 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Don't use movers who will give you a quote without visiting your home to do a proper estimate.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

moving from a smaller place to a larger one was very easy. moving from that larger place to a new smaller place was hell. it'll be 2 years in march and i still have some boxes that are unpacked and just shoved in a closet.

i threw out/gave away like 50% of my stuff and there is still Too Much but this is probably a me problem and not a general moving problem.

stuff i did that worked really well and which i will do again:

- made a big list of all places/services where my address would need to be changed

- ordered packing/moving boxes from a retailer and did not waste time creeping around the trash looking for free boxes as everyone on this hellsite frequently suggests

- hired movers for the moving part but not the packing part

- every box was labeled not just with the general room they were for but also numbered, numbers went to a master list detailing precise contents

- set aside all cleaning products for day-of-move packing so it would be the last into the truck and the first out

- packing a day-of-move bag of personal essentials (clothes, shower stuff, medications etc) to carry with me in the unlikely event of the moving truck being hit by a meteor

things which did not work at all:

- buying a shredder to personally get rid of papers that could not be thrown away as-is instead of taking it to a place that does shredding, no matter what the cost

- cleaning the old place myself and not hiring cleaners (fortunately all wall dings and floor scrapes had been destroyed in the fire 6 months earlier so i did not lose my security deposit)
posted by poffin boffin at 12:08 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

We moved with a slightly less than 1-year-old child a few years ago, albeit across town instead of six hours. We were staging a house to sell, which it sounds like you aren't doing, but our timeline was largely the same. We started packing about three months in advance of our sell date, an hour or two most evenings, always after our daughter was in bed for the night.

First, right now, start collecting boxes or obtain boxes from your movers or purchase Rubbermaid containers.

Second, go buy a fuckton of tape, markers and/or stickers (however you're going to designate boxes), bubble wrap, and packing paper. More than you think you will need. We kept having to run out to restock bubble wrap.

Third, designate a very specific area for packed boxes. As I mentioned, we were staging, so we rented a small storage unit nearby because we needed it physically out of the house. If we hadn't been doing that, I would have cleared out a bedroom or a corner of our basement and indicated that ONLY 100% PACKED AND READY-TO-GO STUFF GETS TO LIVE HERE. I really needed that kind of compartmentalization, and this way I didn't have half-packed boxes sitting in every single room so the rest of the house stayed largely liveable and undisturbed even as cabinets and shelves and drawers were emptied.

Fourth, we went for all the low-hanging fruit, keeping it thematic as someone mentioned above. As you go, it becomes much clearer what you can live without. We started with out-of-season clothes, sporting gear, infrequently used cooking appliances, wall art and other knickknacks and sentimental objects, then moved onto books, physical media, paper files, etc. During the two months that 70% of our belongings were living in storage, there was only a single occasional we needed something from it (tax documents) and only three other times we wished we had something we'd already packed (nothing that couldn't have been purchased at Target), so trust that you can be ruthless with the process.

Every single weekend without fail, we transported what we'd packed that week to storage and the bags/boxes of donations to Goodwill. We also rented a Bagster at the beginning of the process, stuck it on the driveway behind the house, and arranged to have it picked up a week before we went on the market. We didn't care what became of anything in it because it was all trash to us, but the whole neighborhood took a lively interest in our castoffs and there was always someone poking around in it whenever we went outside.

When it comes to big projects like this, I am normally a sprinter like your husband rather than a marathoner, but I honestly have to say that sprinting is noooooo way to pack for a move, as painful as it is to have to work on it every night for months. Otherwise the whole thing becomes a nightmare of random objects jumbled together in unlabeled boxes and stuffed in black trash bags, rather than just the last few hours. :-)
posted by anderjen at 12:16 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

Third, designate a very specific area ... that ONLY 100% PACKED AND READY-TO-GO STUFF GETS TO LIVE HERE. I really needed that kind of compartmentalization, and this way I didn't have half-packed boxes sitting in every single room so the rest of the house stayed largely liveable and undisturbed even as cabinets and shelves and drawers were emptied.

Exactly. The perfect thing for you to do is get EVERYTHING out of one bedroom. Completely empty down to the wire hangers. Since you are going down a bedroom, this is a good exercise for how much you will have to downsize. Also, PACKED AND READY-TO-GO stuff can now go in that bedroom.

If you have a lot of books, get those plastic wrap wands, sort your books by size, and wrap them 6 to 8 at a time into little book bricks. They are easier to carry than super heavy book boxes, and they are handy for sticking into random open spaces in the truck.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:49 PM on November 15, 2017

In my experience, trying to keep donation stuff and packed stuff in separate rooms/areas quickly went out the window and didn't even seem possible in our living space.

One trick I used to keep donation boxes clearly marked from packing boxes was to use a sharpie and write on the inside flap of a sturdy moving box. Chuck stuff in. When it's full, transfer it to a "giveaway" box (protip, start saving all your grocery bags, Amazon boxen, etc. now - I just had a mountain o' boxes in a spare room), and then you can reuse the nice box for actual stuff and still mark the outside for real when you're done. It also helps when you start packing a box and mark the inside as "sweaters" and then realize halfway through that something else fits in there better.

Oh yeah: if you have any sheets or blankets you want to get rid of, hold onto them for now and use them to pad stuff.

We bought a comically large roll of bubble wrap off Amazon for pretty cheap, and damn if we didn't use it all.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:13 PM on November 15, 2017

We had very little time to prep for our recent move . We did a ton of freecycling. Anything not in immediate use got packed up. Each family member had a suitcase and a backpack and we mostly lived out of those for the last month. We kept out the bare minimum in the kitchen and mostly ate sandwiches and easy to prepare stuff. One box for important items and new mail that came in. Basically figure out what you actually need for the next few months and then just pack everything else.

We had a storage unit because we were staging the house to sell and I loved my storage unit. It was just so orderly. If you have a place very close by, I would rent a unit and take over a couple of boxes every night. Then whenever moving day is, you load up furniture from your house and moving boxes from the unit in the truck and your suitcases, kitchen essentials, important boxes etc into the car to go with you.

It might not be feasible for your partner to go through and process all his stuff. I'd focus on getting it into a labeled box to be dealt with later.

I'd also keep your mom's move separate as anything she does could delay your progress.
posted by TheLateGreatAbrahamLincoln at 5:44 PM on November 15, 2017 [1 favorite]

One idea: what would you think about trading "responsible time" with your husband? If he works better in a mad dash and you prefer to do a few hours every day, could you focus on these next few months (leaving him with the responsibility for the baby every night while you work) and then switch in the last few days, where he has to deal with all the last-second stuff? That's sort of how my husband and I do stuff (sans baby) because I hate the mad dash but he sort of thrives on it.
posted by dame at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2017

My rule for selling things is "if they pick it up don't let them put it down". I developed this rule when I first started yard-selling but it applies to online groups as well. Let's say for example you want to sell a dining table. Look at what other dining tables are being offered for, and then under price yours a little bit (not too much or people will wonder what's wrong with it and they will bypass your ad).

You have a tough row to hoe here because we're going into Christmas season so people are saving their money for that. If you've got a nice dining table or Grandma's china, post it like now, there are people who will find out in the next day or two that their family has nominated them to host Thanksgiving dinner and they will be scrambling to get their house together for hosting. Christmas decorations? Post them a day or two after the holiday weekend. Same with good used toys, and winter clothes.

Take a hard look at your stuff. Do you really like your couch, or have you secretly always hated it? Better to throw a little money at getting a new one than to waste money moving something you hate to your new home.

My other rule is if I haven't used it in six months, it goes. If something gives me a bad memory, like a gift from someone that I'm no longer friends with, I get rid of it (whereas before I would have kept it if I'd felt it was "useful").

Go room by room. Once you've gotten rid of the things you selected on your first go-round, go through room by room again. Get rid of most of your baby stuff. It will cost you more to move it than it will to replace it, and toddler will likely move on from most of their toys by the time you move. Is toddler in FT daycare? If toddler isn't home very much during the week, you don't really need that many toys at home.

Ask people not to give you or toddler physical gifts this Christmas. Maybe a membership to the zoo or the aquarium in the new city instead.

DON'T let your mother give you anything from her house that she "wants you to have" or "wants you to save for toddler" unless it's something really meaningful to you.

When I was downsizing (rather, seriously decluttering - we weren't moving) I found that at first I got very caught up in the idea of either making money, or in donating things to the "perfect" place where they would be the most useful. I soon realized that deciding what to get rid really wasn't the time-consuming part of the task, it was trying to sell things and trying to find and work with the "right" charity that took up the bulk of my time. I didn't turn out to make very much money (and on a per hour basis it was dismal), and some smaller charities actually put up a lot of barriers regarding donations that made them difficult to work with. Maybe that's a self-preservation thing for them as they might get a lot of not useful things, but with a FT job and small kids myself I didn't have time to waste jumping through their hoops. In the end much more stuff than I anticipated went to Goodwill. It taught me a good lesson about not buying so much stuff if my house was only going to be a storage unit for stuff that in the end no one else even wanted. I would have saved so much time if I'd been willing to start at Goodwill rather than keep them as my last resort.

It sounds like you're going to have to be in the lead vs your husband. Take care of the stuff that isn't exclusively his, and leave him to deal with his stuff. Ask him if he has a plan to pay for the move of this stuff that he's keeping. Share with him disposal or haul-away services that you find out about or use. Give him the contact information. Make him aware that if he makes you responsible for that stuff in anyway, you will dispose of anything that you deem should be disposed of, and that by making you responsible for it, he forfeits all rights to complain about anything you have gotten rid of.
posted by vignettist at 8:59 PM on November 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

Thanks all for this great feedback! I feel better equipped to manage the next phase now.
posted by crunchy potato at 3:51 PM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

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