Wife and I are moving to first house in September. Looking for advice!
August 11, 2019 8:41 PM   Subscribe

Moving to our first house in September. Need major advice from those who've been through it and what you've learned!

My wife and I bought a house in July and we close in September. With over a month away we're beginning to pack and prepare but I'd love to get some of the best advice for how to organize, pack and generally move.

Some details:
-the move is about 15 minutes apart in Central New Jersey
-haven't decided if I'm going to utilize one of those PODs or not, or just a moving van
-Not moving a ton of furniture - basically a guest full bed mattress frame, and box spring, a big bureau, kitchen table + chairs, office chair, small entertainment center console, and a 65" LCD tv. More boxes of stuff packed from engagement / wedding
-Planning to order new bedroom set and couch plus entertainment center to be delivered directly there after closing
-I have a lot of friends who have volunteered to help out on the bigger move day to load /unload the truck (say about a dozen people who are serious about helping)
-got a ton of free boxes and bubble wrap from people who've recently moved
-bought colored dots for the boxes and plan to keep a master spreadsheet of tools by color and number for delivering boxes

Would love advice on:

1. Lessons you learned from your move
2. Anything you'd do differently knowing what you know now
3. Tips on downsizing, what I should toss /keep
4. Finding a good and reasonably priced moving company or based on what I'm moving should we just go with a rental truck and do it ourselves?

Any and all advice welcomed were really new to a whole new place of our own and I want to make this as smooth as possible given the time we have. I've already started to try and downsize possessions from teenage and 20s etc.

Thank you!
posted by PetiePal to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know what your budget is, but honestly, the best advice I can give you is: if it's within your means, thank your friends for their potential kindness, decline their offer, and then pay a moving company. Moving is a gigantic pain in the butt, and with the stress of buying a new house, it's so much easier to just pay a mover and let them do all the heavy lifting of your stuff.

Here's a hypothetical situation. Your friends pick up your 65" TV, and then drop it as they're getting it on the truck, breaking it beyond use. Who pays for it? How much will your friendship suffer over that? If you hire a moving company, they're licensed and bonded and insured, so if you suffer a breakage like that, they pay for it. That alone is worth the price of admission. Then you add on the lack of sweat and toil on what's already a stressful day, and the price of movers becomes a whole lot more reasonable.

Specific to how to pack:
- Pack a box full of "need now" items, like TV remotes, connection cables/chargers, snacks, hygiene stuff, and other things you might want in the first couple hours of your residency in your new place (basically, think of it like what you'd take on an overnight trip out of town). Take this box in the car with you, don't put it on the truck/in the pod.
- Make sure some of your dishes are accessible quickly - unpacking will take a while, and scrambling around looking for forks, plates, etc, even if you order takeout at first, is not fun.
- Same with linens - after your day of moving, you're going to want to shower then sleep (yay first night in your new house!). Hard to do that when you're scrambling to find a towel and sheets.

Good luck, and congratulations on the new place!
posted by pdb at 9:01 PM on August 11 [19 favorites]

My best advice is: paint and do repairs before you move in all the stuff!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:32 PM on August 11 [13 favorites]

For both POD-type containers and moving trucks, make sure you look into parking regulations at both your current residence and destination. PODs may need a special parking permit if you are going to leave it on the street or blocking a sidewalk. You may want to get a special permit to put up official, enforceable no parking signs for a truck.
posted by muddgirl at 9:32 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

...if possible or necessary in your jurisdiction, of course.
posted by muddgirl at 9:33 PM on August 11

The above is good advice, but since you're only moving 15 minutes away I wouldn't worry about most of it.

1. I don't mind moving myself, or others, especially if they have even a vague ability to plan.
2. Touching on #1, get your shit together! Most of the people I've moved have no game plan whatsoever, and that is absurd. Get everything sorted before the move, preferably in nice obvious places.
3. This is an opportunity to get rid of things. Use it. You don't have to pare down, but for me even considering the things that have come into my possession is often a useful exercise.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:36 PM on August 11 [1 favorite]

If you have your friends help please be finished packing when they turn up on moving day - looking at you, my dear cousin, who had assorted people turn up who were then spending the next two hrs finishing packing instead of loading the van!

if that is the extent of furniture and distance I’d stay with doing it yourself with friends.

When deciding what to toss be realistic how often you have used an item in the last couple of years. The answer should present itself.

Regarding your new furniture purchases- find out how long you have to wait for these deliveries. It sounds as if you’v got a bed and table and chairs anyways so it would not be too difficult to make do without these things for a bit.

If you want to do any decorating or more significant work or put down any new flooring the time to do that is before your stuff moves in. All DIY is infinitely more easy if you do not have to work around a house full of stuff.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:30 PM on August 11

Clean it thoroughly before you move.
posted by kingless at 2:28 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

1.) Make a quick mental tally of how many items you have, how much space they take up, how long they will take to pack and re-assemble and how much they weigh. Now double all those figures. Possessions mysteriously breed when you move them.
2) If you fail to filter out the stuff you don't really need before your move - then not only will you have to move it - but you will then have boxes of it - that you keep telling yourself you will get around to unpacking - cluttering up some corner of your new home.
3)If you have a burglar alarm at your new place, make sure you know the code to turn the thing off. Likewise for how to turn off water, gas, etc.
posted by rongorongo at 2:59 AM on August 12

Go into the house and take account of how many trash cans, curtain rods, shower curtains, and other house-related accessories you will need. That way, you might be able to cut your initial 80 trips to Target and Home Depot down to 75 trips.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:33 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]

Are there window coverings in the new house?
Believe it or not, sometimes there aren't, and you're faced with a couple of days of very revealing life in the new house, until you can at least get some blinds put up.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:03 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Will you have overlapping possession? If you are insistent on moving yourselves, then move your fragile stuff first and leave the sturdier goods for your friends to move. That’s also when you should also bring over your must-have-to-survive stuff.

However, if you can afford it, hire movers. DO IT! You may have a dozen friends show up but they won’t have the experience, strength, or proper equipment of professional movers. I hired a team of 4 men for a 2 bedroom house on a hill with mediocre access to move into a house on the flat. At 1pm, the 4 hour mark, not only had they moved everything into the correct rooms, but they reassembled beds and dining table. And because they did all the actual heavy lifting and ran the job like clockwork, I wasn’t the least bit tired and had waaay more time with full energy to pleasantly unpack and revel in our new home.

Re-key the locks and change alarm codes.
posted by lemon_icing at 5:19 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

You presumably know this, but feeding your friends after a move is customary. Pizza and beer is common, but check in with folks re: dietary restrictions and preferences.
posted by pyro979 at 5:35 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]

Unpacking and settling in at the new place is much easier if you've thought through what goes where. Then you can pack the boxes based on where the contents will go in the new house, rather than where they were in the old house.
posted by DrGail at 5:48 AM on August 12

If you have stairs in either place, I definitely recommended using movers. On moving day, try to have most things in the room closest to the exit. It makes loading the truck so much quicker. Also, think about what order things should be loaded into the truck so the stuff that goes on first is closest to the door.
posted by Kris10_b at 6:17 AM on August 12

Buy toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, trash bags, trash cans etc and have them at the new place before moving day!!!!
posted by rglass at 8:05 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]

If there is carpet in the house, hire some professional cleaners to get a deep clean done before the furniture arrives. You'll also need 1-2 days to let it all dry. Put some shield runner down in the high-traffic zones so you can load in without messing everything up.
posted by JoeZydeco at 8:51 AM on August 12

I'd consider scrapping your color coding plan. If I'm one of your friends carrying a box into your new house, I don't want to need to consult a spreadsheet. Label your boxes on 5 sides (skip the bottom) what's in the box and what room it should land in in the new house. So "Books - Living" or "Dishes - Kitchen" or "OPEN ME FIRST - THINGS FOR FIRST DAY."
posted by craven_morhead at 9:02 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]

I've done a lot of big moves (interstate, cross-country, internationally) and here are my pro tips:

- if it is financially feasible for you, pay for professional cleaners to deep-clean your new place before you move in
- if it is financially feasible for you, pay for professional movers to move you. bonus points: pay for them to pack/unpack you as well. If they unpack, they also take away all the boxes/padding/etc, which is nice
- order a bunch of consumable supplies (trash bags, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, dish soap, shower scrub, sponges) on amazon and have it all delivered so it's there when you arrive and there's no digging through boxes to find your toilet paper
- bring a pair scissors/pocketknife when you go over to start unpacking
- have a clearly labeled "open first" box with caffeinated-beverage-of-your-choice supplies (may include appliances), a couple of power strips, scissors/pocketknives for opening stuff, any medications you might need during the day, towels and basic toiletries. drive it over yourself.
- schedule your utilities now to turn on the day of your move (or even better, the day before). schedule your internet installation now, too; don't wait til the last minute or you'll be waiting for a week or two, especially this time of year if you happen to be in an area full of college students
- prioritize setting up your bed and getting clean sheets on it. everything else can wait as long as you can get a good night's sleep
posted by olinerd at 9:45 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]

Before you move in you should get the exterminator to come and spray for roaches. It is so much easier when all of the cracks and spaces are available.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 9:48 AM on August 12

Deal with cleaning 1st. Painting is 1,000 times easier now, will take way less time in an empty house.

In the Open Me 1st box - sheets and tacks for covering windows,unless you have adequate curtains i bathroom & bedroom. Tack anything to the top of the woodwork, no visible mark & stronger.

Helping friends move is a bonding event unless you have tons of (fragile) stuff and/or a piano. Your friends have cars, you don't need a pod, you do need a van. Provide coffee and muffins to start, then beer and pizza/Asian takeout, as is customary.

New house! Marriage! Congratulations! But also, stressful. Be good to yourself and others.
posted by theora55 at 11:14 AM on August 12

If in doubt, throw it away. I have umpty boxes of crap that I've moved from place to place intending to sort through it "when everything calms down." Each move there's a new box of crap to add to the ones from previous moves. Everything calms down, but the boxes remain unopened. Turns out that calm isn't what's lacking. What's lacking is the desire to sort through yesterday's junk. Fire it into the sun.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:43 AM on August 13

Can't express enough how important it is to hire professional movers. Moving is one of the most stressful things in life and there's a million decisions to make on packing, decluttering, and preparing a new house for move-in readiness that you will absolutely thank yourself for making the investment.

As for your friends' generosity, I'd say it's worth recruiting a few to help with some things:
- day-of logistics and oversight. I've had movers get addresses mixed up in a less than 10 mile distance move, resulting in an hour lost. A friend of mine had her purse and laptop stolen when she stepped away from her car to talk to the movers at the back of the truck for only 5 minutes (in a suburb of SF). If your bed or furniture has tricky assembly instructions, a friend will be helpful to direct the movers if needed. Make a day-of logistics sheet and share the same thing with your friends and the movers.
- valuables and other sundry stuff - you may want to take care of these yourself, and these (hopefully not unwieldy) items can be transported by friends. Some movers don't handle plants or wine/alcohol, so you might find having a helping hand worthwhile.
- take a careful inventory. Doing this while packing was a bit time-consuming but so incredibly valuable when you're exhausted and looking for that one thing 2 days after your move but can't remember exactly which color-coded box it was in. Day-of, you can use that list to verify that everything got moved and nothing is unaccounted for.

Another tip I'd recommend is to keep a separate box of tools, extension cords, wifi router, etc and, along with the Open Me 1st box, get that to your new home early in the morning so it's ready for use as soon as you arrive.

Good luck and congratulations!
posted by hampanda at 1:52 PM on August 13

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