How to move out and move in, plus cats
April 17, 2022 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm moving to the apartment of my dreams. However, since nothing in life is an unmixed blessing, there are a whole bunch of things to take care of, on a pretty tight deadline, and I'm turning to the Hive Mind for help/tips/tricks/inspo.

All my previous moves have been with minimal stuff, but I'll be moving half a decade worth of accrued stuff this time (furniture, air-conditioning units and other heavy electronic items, kitchen stuff, TWO STUPID CATS), and I'll have to do this solo (female, mid-thirties, if that matters). I'll have to move by end of April at the latest as per the new lease. My scattered questions as below:
(A) Within this tight timeline, is it worth it to attempt a quick declutter prior to moving? If yes, how do I approach this? Predictably, the move is coinciding with a busy time at work and taking time off would be next to impossible. At best I'll have a weekend to do stuff before scheduling the movers.
(B) One of the bedrooms in new apartment is painted a hideous colour (cat sick+bile). I should get this repainted before I move in, right?
(C) New apartment has many virtues but has significantly less shelf space than old place. I am moving upwards of 200 books (and still buying!). What would be a cat safe option for the books, that's still aesthetic and accessible?
(D) two of the rooms face out to the sea (killer views!) and are very windy, but it's a super hot+humid city otherwise. Any pointers as to where to place the 2 Aircon units? (Apt is a standard 2BR)
(E) How to make this transition easy for TWO STUPID CATS, one of whom is outdoor/indoor and is definitely going to miss his old stomping grounds?
(F) Any inspo for furnishing/decor of a longish living+dining room? How do I segment the spaces?
(G) General decor ideas, if any, that are cat-safe.
And the last thing that I'm very troubled by -
(H) I currently employ a cleaner who comes in daily. She's a single mom with 2 kids and the wages I pay is definitely significant for her, and this sudden loss (I'd been on the waitlist for this place for years and the entire thing happened very suddenly - and it's too far for her to come to new apt) would be hard for her. How do I make the transition as painless as possible? Glowing recommendation? Cover the wages for x number of months? (What is x?) Offer to cover edu fees for the kids for a bit (I happen to know that's a big chunk of her expenses). Of course I'll ask her what she needs, but perhaps there are ideas I could bring to the table as well. Please note that I'm comfortably off and want to do the very best possible thing for her under the circumstances.
Any and all ideas for any of this stuff (and stuff that I may not even be thinking of yet! What practical aspects of moving am I missing? Please let me know!!) would be gratefully received.
posted by Nieshka to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Since cost seems not to be the controlling factor, and you have a lot of work stress, I would focus on 1. Painting the new place pre-move and 2. Having movers. If you don’t want them to pack (or to pay for it), then packing becomes your new hobby. Everything else can wait until later when you are all in the new place and you have more headspace for decorating.
posted by janell at 11:57 AM on April 17

Other may have differing opinions, but mine, regarding the kitties: be VERY careful when moving stuff in and out, especially if you have help from others. Crate them, not just shut them behind a door... because someone WILL accidentally open that door and let them out. If they're not used to crates, start having one or two and cozy for them to hang out in, now.

And once you move... indoor/outdoor kitty needs to stay inside. Either permanently, or for at least a good long while, imo. ESPECIALLY if this is a city-ish area, which it sounds like it is. Kitty needs to re-set their "home" location. After a move, there is a VERY high chance of going missing.

If the kitties would need crated for any length of time, and they get along decently, consider having carriers to move them in - and get or borrow a LARGE dog crate, bit enough to fit both a little box and snuggling spot, and put them in that. It can make life a little easier.

As for the actual moving - have bins or boxes that are different or very clearly marked from the others that you put your I NEED THIS NOW items in. Essential kitchen, bathroom, and cleaning stuff, some towels & bedding. Try very hard to keep control of - move it in your vehicle if possible - at least a week's worth of clothing, especially for work, but also casual and downtime. Don't forget socks and undergarments. Gather that like you're going out of town for a week or two, and include toiletries and electronic devices. Any essential paperwork, have it so you can lay hands on it immediately. And be very careful in how you mark boxes or bins. Too many types of labeling un-stick themselves.
posted by stormyteal at 12:05 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

I've moved country and/or city 7 times in the last 14 years and this is what I'd do in your position:

A) Decluttering takes up substantial brain power so I wouldn't attempt it on a tight deadline. Plus, once you move in and settle into your new place, you'll be in a better position to assess what you want/need to keep. I'd wait.
B) I'd leave it for now because moving out is stressful and I'd use it as your dump stuff room as you're figuring out your decluttering/sorting out your stuff. Once that room is empty, you can paint it and delight into turning it into a wonderful space.
C) I would store your books in Hideous-Colour-Room until you've moved in and sorted out a bookcase/shelving that works for your space. Less accessible and definitely not aesthetic but gives you time to get the right piece of furniture/shelves that work in your new flat.
D) Not sure. However, my instinct would be to wait to see which rooms get hot and when so that you install the units where you need them. Others might have more experience here.
E) My cat has needed a space to hide for a few weeks until she got comfy. She hid in a cupboard for weeks during the day and then came out to socialise at night (fun times). If you have a spare bathroom plus a hallway, I'd give them free rein until they settle. I played with my cat A LOT when she was out of her hidey hole and used one of those laser toys to help her vent her pent-up energy.
--I'd recommend a cattery for a couple of days if possible, so that the cats aren't there when the movers get in and so that you've prepped their space before they get in. Yes, it's stressful for them but not as stressful as being around when people are messing up their whole environment.
F/G) A couple of things that have really helped me in the past is to have a box or suitcase with house decor stuff that I loved that I could set up straight away so that my new space felt more like home. For me (post-cat) this meant soft furnishings, pillows, throws, colourful things, a few trinkets. By far the thing that helps the most is to sort out the living room first and hide the mess elsewhere so that I have at least one space that feels clutter free and calm.

--Also, the movers we've used in the past have labelled all the boxes clearly using permanent marker and based on the room they found them. So a bit like: clothes/bedroom 1; kitchen/pots. If they do this, then it's very easy to find the things you need. It really helps to be around to direct/answer questions. Nevertheless, agree that it's a good idea to pack a suitcase or two with the things you'll be using immediately.

Good luck! It's great that you're able to move into an apartment that you already love so much. I hope you and the kitties are very happy there : )
posted by mkdirusername at 12:17 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

For moving with the declutter in mind, but not actually undertaking it yet, you could make sure you’re well-stocked with boxes, buy a roll of duct tape in a specific color, and use that to tag boxes that you use for “think about donating these books/linens/kitchen items after move-in”. Have the movers put them all in the same room (bile/catsick?) or the same corner (least-pleasant or least-useful corner of long room) and then you can address them without having to sort through everything else. (I’m guessing you’ll also label by room, and so you can sort through Tchotchke Potential Donations on one day and Kitchen Potential Donations on another.)

I use a color like this to clearly denote Handle With Care as well, as a visual shorthand for movers. If you do that, I’d pick a bright for the Handle With Care (neon yellow, green, or pink) and something duller for the Potential Donations (black, blue, dark green), so that they don’t get mixed up.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 1:00 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

On your wonderful employee, I’d pay as many months of wages as you comfortably can (I’d aim for 3 at least), write up and print/sign a stack of recommendations, and potentially flyer your current building or local grocery pinboard to see if you can help her find another regular gig.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 1:03 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

If you can afford it, I highly recommend getting a room in a pet-friendly hotel for the night--check in early and settle the cats so they can be there while the movers are doing their thing at the old place, spend the night there with them and then bring them to the new house once the movers have done their thing at the new place. I did this on my last move, and it was great. It was much less stressful for my cat, and actually really lovely for me to spend a night in the relative peace and calm of a hotel in the midst of a hectic move.

Do you know anyone who might need a cleaner who lives in your old neighborhood? In addition to the great suggestions above, I'd think about whether or not you have any ways to match her with someone you know will treat her as well you do.
posted by dizziest at 1:53 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]

F) for my smallish but longish living/dining room, I tried a bunch of configurations over 8 months and have ended up with exactly the configuration the previous owners had, which was breaking the space in half with two lounge chairs in the centre. Even so, nothing about it worked until I got a sideboard, which has transformed the room. In that time I've also reversed my ideas about which wall to put bookcases/art on and which wall to have the TV/projector on. The answer to C) might end up being "built-in bookshelves" but I guess what I'm saying is maybe hold off on that for a few months while you get a feel for the place.
posted by happyfrog at 4:11 PM on April 17

As severance, I would pay 1 month for every year they worked for you with a minimum of 3 months.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:41 PM on April 17

Do the de-cluttering only if you can ruthless and have no or little attachment with the things. You also have to see what you will do of the extra stuff - sell, discard, donate, or just leave as it is? I actually do all of this and while it may be not most practical idea but I usually get someone to do the dropping or discarding - just because I don’t want to worry about it.

Having said that I definitely declutter even if I’ve 3 days to move. Especially books. I recently cut down from ~450 to around ~200. Donated most of them to NGOs running libraries. Govt libraries take them too but that often means dealing with jerks and entitled of Govt employees. But I do declutter books often. There are always books I won’t read/finish/want anymore and since I know I’ll buy more I tell myself I’ve to do that.

I start dumping things I don’t need in the hall. I start it 5-6 days before I move out. In fact I end up doing this many times but this way I don’t have pressure to do all of it in one go. Some days this, someday that - books, undies, furniture, gadgets, wires, tools, paper, plastic, boxes, jars, bottles, tees etc etc. Then they’re sent to garbage, give away, donate to NGOs if appropriate. In my experience a lot of stuff is taken by folks to are from the movers and packers.

And the last time I moved I learnt my leasing - let others worry about my packing, moving, unpacking but in front me - me hovering around (except few delicate stuff that I do on my own and in advance). Depending on your country it might be a very costly option but where I live it’s not. And unlike earlier now I book the full service.

B. You might get a better idea if you have your setup around but then painting will be messy.

A shelf with glass panels. Saves the books as well. But I’m allergic so never had to deal with pets.

F. I would use open shelves to partition the space. Actually I would keep that empty because I personally like open spaces where I live. Somehow it helps me breathe better. I try to keep things - out of sight, out of mind. Besides if it’s long and narrow then you might not want to do a lot with it anyway. I keep my reading/writing desk in the hall and TV and a recliner. I hate sofas.

If it’s an apartment then finding an alternate place for employment by word of mouth would be great. There’s always demand for helpers whose employers are trying get them placed. That’s a glowing recommendation in itself. I try to pay 2-3 months wages anyway (and I ask them whether they’d want to take anything I won’t be carrying to my new place). It also depends on how the equation was to be honest. It sounds insensitive I think but taking up the fee part would be a responsibility and while it’s noble you should see for how long you want to carry it forward and whether whenever you stop it could that be disruptive for helper’s kids’ education and finances.
posted by amar at 11:03 AM on April 18

For the cleaner, is the new place too far for her to come to you at all, or just too far to go every day? Could you pay her the same amount to come in once a week for a while during the transition?
posted by doift at 6:39 PM on April 18

What makes your cats stupid? Please be kind. It will be far more traumatic for them than for you.
posted by cyndigo at 5:07 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]

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