How to move quickly?
June 28, 2008 2:48 PM   Subscribe

We're moving! Any tips on doing so quickly and efficiently?

We were going to renew our lease, but right before we did we magically found a bigger, nicer apartment for about 60% of what we're paying now! But now we need to be out of here by the first!
Anyone have any tips/lifehacks on making the moving process as quick and painless as possible?
posted by clcapps to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I am a believer in paying a moving company to do the move.

It's a few thousand dollars, but your stress level will be greatly reduced.
posted by Argyle at 2:56 PM on June 28, 2008

Oh hell yes. Moving companies--good ones--are indispensible.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 3:04 PM on June 28, 2008

Argyle: "I am a believer in paying a moving company to do the move.

It's a few thousand dollars, but your stress level will be greatly reduced.

Indeed. I have moved home several times, and the first few times I was too cheap to hire movers, and each time I moved it took me a day just to move my stuff to my new house and then the second day would be spent unpacking and setting up the new place. The last time I moved I thought "fuck it" and hired a moving company to help me. I had all my stuff here within 3 hours and my partner and I were set up and watching TV by that evening. I would totally do it again.

If you can't afford movers, best thing to do is start now. Get yourself as many boxes as you can; fruit and veggie shops usually have a tonne of them lying around. ut as much stuff from one room as you can in the same box(es), and mark them as 'Bedroom1', 'Bedroom2, Living Room' and so on. This tip is useful for yourself or the movers, should you hire them, as it will help you set up a lot quicker once you're in your new place.

Once you've boxed everything up (should only take you a day if you work at it), start moving as much as you can of the smaller/lighter boxes over to your new place yourself (but keep the heavier boxes at home... more on why later). Fit as much as you can into your car. The reason being that whether you hire movers or whether you move your stuff yourself, on moving day moving all your big stuff (like TVs, refrigerator etc) will go a lot quicker. If you've hired movers, the added benefit is there will be less time spent packing stuff into the truck which means money saved for you, if they charge by the hour.

Get yourself some really strong, sturdy and importantly big garbage bags. Throw as many of your clothes as you can in each bag and tie those bags up tight. Best thing to do is to get a label or a label-maker and label each bag as 'Jumpers', 'Winter-clothes', 'Socks', 'T-shirts' and so on.

If you're going to move your stuff yourself, start looking for a truck to hire for a day now. Get up early on moving day and pick it up. Now, remember earlier when I said you'd want some heavier boxes to keep at home? Here's why. When you move stuff like tables and cupboards and wardrobes into the truck, they have a lot of empty space inside. This space is wasted inside a truck where your main aim is to carry as much stuff as you can to save trips. That, and wardrobes need something to ground them and stop them moving when they're inside a moving vehicle. Put the heavy boxes inside your wardrobes and other larger furniture.

Tell your friends today that you'll be needing their help on the 1st. Buy them lunch on the day, and for the ones that stick around till you're moved in at your new place, buy them pizza and beer/wine/drinks.

Good luck!
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:22 PM on June 28, 2008

It depends on how much stuff you have. If you are moving a full house worth of stuff, then probably a moving company is a good idea. If you have a smaller amount of stuff, just get your friends to help you.

Label boxes well so the unpacking is easier.
posted by number9dream at 3:28 PM on June 28, 2008

Your move might not be big/long distance enough to warrant it, but when the boy and I moved from Boston to San Francisco, we numbered every box and kept a list of what was in each one. That way, when we got to our new place and just wanted sheets, towels, and the coffee pot first thing, we could check and just open box 7, 11, and 13, or whatever. It helped us prioritize and organize the whole unpacking process so that we didn't have two dozen open boxes spread around.

For short distance moves, I've found that I really prefer trying to do something like two medium size trips with stuff over two days and then one big one on the last day. It makes the process take a little longer, but reduces the intensity of the process so that it doesn't happen all on crazy day at the end of which the boy and I are fighting and cranky.
posted by mostlymartha at 3:32 PM on June 28, 2008

Go round now throwing out stuff you don't need to move. Stop doing that 48 hours before you move -- you may regret decisions made under extreme stress. When in doubt, just take it -- a few extra things don't make much difference.

Do not sort stuff before moving it, pack everything from the same location together. Cookbooks belong with kitchen stuff, not with books. Even if something is out of place, it will be easier to find it by remembering where it was in the old place than trying to think which box it might have been sorted into. Labelling boxes by location is easier than listing their contents.
posted by Idcoytco at 3:37 PM on June 28, 2008

Whether you use movers or just move yourselves, cover any good furniture with cardboard of blankets. Do NOT believe any moving company that promises to cover all of your furniture before moving it -- I have moved 4 times in the USA and the (professional) moving company lied about bringing wraps and mattress covers, every time. Break down some large boxes and tape the cardboard over your table top and table-legs. Buy a cheap mattress cover from eBay. Assemble a load of blankets or comforters, to cover any wood cabinets in the moving van and prevent it being knocked and scored by other furniture.
Don't pack heavy stuff in huge boxes, or no-one will be able to carry it. Stuff the drawers of your chest of drawers with stuff - the movers/you will take out the drawers anyway to carry it, but these may as well contain stuff to be moved. As you pack, write the name of the room that stuff came from, on the box and (roughly) what is in it. Then it is easier to locate at the other end.
Finally, pack a big box with all the stuff that you will need in the first couple of days: a couple of saucepans, two plates, mugs, and bowls, cutlery, a can opener, corkscrew (yup - it is strange what people consider critical!), soap (and dish-soap), the shower-curtain, and personal effects. Pack this last, so you can find it easily when you arrive. It is strange how you lose the critical stuff, every, single move(!). I still can't find the can-opener from two moves ago ... :-)
posted by Susurration at 3:44 PM on June 28, 2008

My advice has been mentioned already, but it bears repeating. Start packing and throwing away unnecessary things right now. Add to that measuring and lining up transportation of the big stuff. Also, if you have any big stuff or electronics you'd rather get rid of than move, list them on craigslist right away.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 3:48 PM on June 28, 2008

- Take a few photos of the rooms before you start packing.
- Remember (this has already been said but is really important) - pack an "open this first" box of items you'll need right away! Such as: some clothes, toiletries, soap, sheets for the bed, a few bowls/plates and utensils, your address book, cell phone charger.
- Keep sentimental items with you and pack them well.
- If you can keep clothing on its hangers, do so. It will save you so much time - just put a couple of rubber bands around the hangers and put a plastic bag over everything.
- Once everything has been moved out of the place, make sure you really did get everything. I used to clean apartments and found drawers full of items left behind, even food left in the fridge.
- Take a final look, sweep up the place, and say goodbye. Don't forget to write a nice note to your landlord if you knew them.
posted by belau at 3:56 PM on June 28, 2008

Don't take clothes off the hangers- bundle them loosely around the hangers & transport them in marked trash bags, or throw a trash bag over a handful of hangers, like at the dry cleaners, and tie off the bottom (don't worry if you have to scrunch the clothes up to accomodate their length, one day isn't gonna wrinkle them that badly.

If you're moving stuff yourself, milk crates are good for packing books and kincknacks, as their size means they only hold a manageable amount of books weight-wise, and their rigidity means that knick knacks won't get broken (stuff the gaps with towels, plastic bags, newspaper, or something similar. Make sure not to go right up to the tops of the crates, so they can stack. Most women can carry 1, maybe 2 full milk crates at once, a burly man can carry 3, which means no matter who's helping them move, they can help move the stuff in milk crates.

You can get cardboard boxes from the liquor store- wine boxes (holding 6 bottes each) are a great size to hold books. Don't forget to tape the bottoms!

Pack a music source & (stereo, ipod speakers & extension cord, whatever) in an easy-to-access place so that you can set it up right away. Play upbeat music as you unpack- it really helps keep things moving!

Bring a pack of baby wipes to take care of dust- both on surfaces in the new place, and on stuff you're unpacking.

Pack a clean set of sheets, towels, your toothbrushes & soap, and some comfy jammies, all together in a specially-marked trash bag. Set up & make your bed soon after you get to the new place, and lay out the bedtime supplies. You'll be tired that night, & a quick shower, then falling into a fresh bed, will be heavenly!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 4:32 PM on June 28, 2008

For my most recent move, I got a lot of boxes from the liquor store that still had the cardboard dividers in them. The divided boxes were surprisingly good for packing small, non-uniformly-shaped objects like toiletries, small kitchen gadgets, etc., without making them into an impenetrable jumble, and of course the liquor boxes were perfect for packing bottles of wine and liquor. (When you're moving in a hurry it may be unwise to try to polish off the contents of the liquor cabinet in order to save the weight.) If we needed to pack larger objects, we just pulled the dividers out and tossed them into the recycling pile.

Since you're moving more than just one person, consider using a very simple tagging system, such as extra-sticky Post-its or bits of masking tape, to signal to each other "don't pack this item yet," if there's any possibility that you won't be completely on the same page at all times about which items need to go in the "open me first" box, which items you want to use between now and the moving date, which items you want to give special care to, etc.

If you have open dishes, baskets, boxes, etc. full of small items (e.g. change dish), you can wrap each one snugly in a foot or two of cling wrap and it should be intact at the other end of the move.

Cleaning supplies and small hand tools should be uniformly classified "pack last" if you'll be cleaning the old apartment and pulling out any shelves, picture hangers, etc. that you might have installed.

I agree with previous commenters that labeling boxes by (old/previous) location rather than contents is the way to go. I'd get even more specific than naming the room: not just "kitchen" and "bedroom" but "under kitchen sink," "top of dresser," etc. if you pack a lot of items from one spot together.
posted by Orinda at 4:35 PM on June 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you still have a box unopened from the last time you moved, that's likely something you can get rid of before you move again.

Once you use movers its hard to ever go back. Our in the city move cost us <>
If you have pets, keep them in a shut room with big note on the door so that they don't get out / lost in the chaos of the move.

Moving is always a good time to purge books you know you will just never read.

Find a copy of your last electric / phone / water bill, you might need it handy to get your new hook up
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:42 PM on June 28, 2008

Opps, something weird happened there, I meant to say our last in the city move cost us less than 400$
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:43 PM on June 28, 2008

Oh yeah, one more thing. Until my latest move, I always assumed that hiring movers was an all-or-nothing proposition. Maybe it is, in some localities, but I was able to hire movers just to deal with the most difficult parts of the operation (the large furniture and THE BOOKS) while we the not-so-well-muscled took care of everything else. It was a good compromise between saving money and letting the difficult parts be someone else's problem.
posted by Orinda at 4:49 PM on June 28, 2008

Hmm, well, the last time I moved, I moved on Wednesday and unpacked the last box Friday night. I live alone, and other than my movers the only help I had was from my mother. I asked her to work on the kitchen (which is not personal and is time-consuming), both packing and unpacking, while I did all the rest.

It's really not rocket science. Label the boxes. Have the movers put the boxes in the correct rooms. Pack/unpack room at a time. It helped that I am the reverse of a pack rat and am constantly weeding out my things — I hate keeping stuff around I never use. If you do tend to hoard and have the time, I recommend a pre-pack weeding and tidying of cupboards and closets.

Oh — get a mover that someone you know has used satisfactorily. Any thief can get into the "moving business" by acquiring a disposable cell phone number and putting up some fliers. The people who bought the condo I used to own called a mover that had put up a flier in a bus shelter. The movers turned out to be thieves who made off with several pieces of furniture and $1000 out of the new owner's purse, took a three-hour lunch which they demanded be paid for, and raised the initially agreed upon rates before they would unload. Meanwhile I had movers who took some extra furniture that was in the house I had bought to a women's shelter free of charge.
posted by orange swan at 5:21 PM on June 28, 2008

Definitely start early. Call up the utility companies now and schedule a service transfer.

You will need more boxes than you think. UHaul may actually be your best bet if you choose to purchase boxes - they will refund your money for any boxes you don't use, so just buy a whole mess of them and return the unused ones. Start hoarding newspaper, also.

Did you tell your current landlord you're moving? Most require 30 days notice - I have a friend that moved last weekend and his old landlord is charging him an extra month's rent because he didn't notify them about his move.

Take stock of your furniture and decide if it will all fit up the stairs at your new place (learned that one the hard way...).
posted by backseatpilot at 6:23 PM on June 28, 2008

One of the best tips I know is this: Upon arriving at your new place, make your bed first. That way, when you're ready to give up for the day, you don't have to deal with finding sheets, making the bed, etc. It's all ready for you.
posted by alpha_betty at 6:46 PM on June 28, 2008

Seconding Orinda. For our most recent move, we enlisted friends for box-carrying duty and used the movers only for furniture. It cut down significantly on the cost of the movers. Basically, you pay them for the time they spend, so everything you can do to be ready for them will make it go smoothly. In addition to labeling boxes with contents (or a number that corresponds to a spreadsheet) also label with the destination at the new place. It cuts down on "where does this go?"
posted by cabingirl at 6:49 PM on June 28, 2008

There's no such thing a shaving too much packing tape, too many markers, too many boxes. They scoffed at me for taking home soooo many boxes, but it's so easy to just keep packing, and not have to try to make do. Pack books in smaller boxes and pots & pans or other large things in big boxes. Better many manageable boxes, than a few boxes you can't budge.
posted by theora55 at 8:35 PM on June 28, 2008

Cool Tools recommends using shrink wrap (available from U-Haul or Amazon) for things like stacks of books, and also clothes on their hangers. One advantage is that you can see through it to locate something, another is that it is easy to dispose of.

And to repeat a key point others have mentioned -- don't make any individual box/package too heavy.
posted by Idcoytco at 2:27 AM on June 29, 2008

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