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Off Topic: Moving

Crafty_Manx | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

I know this is off the sewing, etc.- related topic, but I’ve recieved such good advice from the members of this forum that I decided to ask anyway.  Does anyone have any advice on moving?  We’re just about to settle the deal on our first apartment and now comes all the nerves: how do I pack?  should I rent a van to move stuff or ask my sister and friends for their trunk space?  should I worry about buying furniture right away or is an air mattress good for two weeks? what if this, what if that?

I’ve never moved before (my parents bought our house right before I was born) so I’ve never had to do anything like this and am completely clueless as to where to start.  I would appreciate any advice that anyone has!!!

Thanks in advance,



  1. sanderson | | #1

    Here's an idea from a librarian friend of mine.  She set up a "Dewey decimal" system for the new house they were going to with each room being assigned a number.  i.e. boxes to go to the kitchen were 100's, bathroom 200's, master bedroom 300's and so on.  She kept a master list with each box's contents.  Her reasoning was that if she needed something that had been packed but not moved yet, she would have a good idea on where to find it.  It also made moving day easier.  All she had to do was put numbers on the doors to the rooms and the helpers knew where to put the various boxes as they came in. 

  2. rjf | | #2

    Everybody has their own rhythm for moving.  For me, an air mattress for 2 weeks would be fine because some people need to be in a space for awhile before they "see" what it needs, what would fit where and maybe even what they can live without.  If you've lived in the same house all your life, you can see how easy it is to acquire things and how hard it is to get rid of them.  The Dewey decimal system sounds like a great idea and then you don't have to empty the boxes too fast either.  That way you'll have time to figure out what drawer to put things in.  But I think every house has a junk drawer, even when we don't call it that.  Mine is "the drawer under the microwave".   My husband's is called "the basement".     rjf 

  3. ChrisHaynes | | #3

    I was an Army Brat... I am the veteran of many many moves before graduating from high school (my 12th school)... and dear hubby and I have lived in 1 apartment and are in our 3rd house.

    1)  Find boxes...  try to get as many used boxes as you can.  Sometimes grocery stores and liquor stores let you take their unused boxes.  You may end up buying some boxes... but sometimes the specialty boxes like wardrobe carriers are nice.  note:  Books need SMALL heavy duty boxes (boxes that copy paper comes in is nice for those... you might ask for them at a copy center).

    2)  Buy a good hand cart.  Even when you are settled, these come in handy.

    3) This is a good time to sort through stuff.  You may decide to NOT keep many things (this was a habit due to weight limits when the Army moved us... now that my dad has been retired for almost 30 years I don't think he's ever thrown anything out, sigh).

    3)  Pack as much as you can as early as you can.  Sometimes it is helpful to move things in stages (renting a van is expensive, but lots cheaper than a moving company!).  That way you can set up as soon as possible.

    4)  If you do rent a van, or have folks help you:  BE READY when they come.  We have helped more than one person who had hardly even started.  It is very frustrated to walk into a kitchen with nothing is packed and there are lots of dirty dishes.  Be sure to have plenty of snacks and cold non-alcoholic beverages near by (save the beer for when you are all done!).

    5)  Definitely wait to buy furniture.  We've lived for a couple of months on an air mattress... and a couple of years with a packing box as a bedside table.  Though for this last move (10 years ago this month) dear dear hubby bought a bed and had it delivered to the house (during that move I was very very sick... I was laying in bed as the movers came and packed... and when it came time to move that bed, I was transported to the new house and the new bed --- another recommendation:  do not get so overtied that you develop bronchitis!).

    Yes, packing boxes can make good furniture for a while.  Also you may want to sew some things, especially window coverings (and perhaps floor pillows).  When we moved into this house we had a bid of $5000 to cover the window... since this was a "barely afford" house we didn't have the money.  An old mattress pad worked well for one window... and I have made almost all the window coverings, at about half what the bid was (and the interior decorator couldn't figure out how to deal with the french doors with transom... but we had Homespun Fabrics make ceiling hung curtains for them).

    You may even want to build some things.  This months Fine Homebuilding has a quick neat way to make bookcases FAST:


    (I'm trying to convince dear hubby to build us some shallow book cases to fit in the upstairs wall... the one that we are now stacking books in because we ran out of bookcases!).

    1. Crafty_Manx | | #4

      Wow, everyone has such good ideas!!  I like the idea of marking the boxes with numbers on the sides, that seems a lot easier than trying to squeeze the entire contents of a box into a small little rectangle of writing-space on the side.  I'm going to have to hunt around for boxes though; I can't get them from work (we're a medical company and all our boxes are marked "controlled materials" and the like; the don't let people take them home to use for moving and such).  I was hoping to avoid having to buy them, but we will see.

      I am definitely going to go to Borders or Barnes and Noble to look for a copy of Fine Homebuilding, just for that article on the bookcases.  You can never have enough bookcases (or books!), and we had just planned to stack all my college texts on the floor in a corner (until I can sell them off or donate them somewhere).

      I am hoping to catch a furniture sale (they usually have big ones around Independence Day), I guess we'll just deal until then.  The only thing I would want right away would be a table and chairs (who wants to eat off the floor every night?), which could do double-duty as a workspace.

      I didn't even think of a handcart!  You've probably just saved my back!!

      Thanks for everyone's great ideas!  I'm really hoping this whole move thing goes smoothly, but keep your fingers crossed.  I've still got 2 weeks (I'm going to start packing the non-essentials now), but I just get the feeling that there will be a lot of last-minute running around crazy!!!!


      1. carolfresia | | #5

        I agree with Chris--wardrobe boxes are pretty useful, because you can then just move everything from the closets into them, and then into the new closets, without having to fold, remove hangers, etc. Also, there are always some odd-shaped items than can slide into a large wardrobe along with the clothes (long skinny things, mounted pictures or posters, etc.) and save you packing big, weird things.

        What I've found is that it's possible to live with half your belongings packed, for a lot longer than you think! There aren't all that many essentials, but it's a good idea to pack essentials either together, or at least to label them as such, so that you can open 3 boxes and have a working kitchen, rather than 18 boxes and still have no spoons (I speak from experience).  Professional packers seem to use a lot of packing paper but not much sense when they load boxes, so surprising combinations, like the iron, and all the decorative ceramics from the living room, will end up together, along with, say, the adjusting pins from the weight bench. Or the tupperware will arrive delicately cradled in a huge nest of crumpled paper, while the precious model airplanes are tossed into the bottom of a carton underneath all the winter boots. I've used household linens to cushion breakables--saves on paper, is cleaner, and works really well.

        And the more you can reasonably part with and not move at all, the better! I wish I could take that advice...


        1. kai230 | | #6

          And the more you can reasonably part with and not move at all, the better! I wish I could take that advice...

          Excellent advice, as well as all the other tips! While you're packing up, keep a bag or box in each room for things that came from that room that you think you will/might give away/sell if you don't have time to make the decision before you move. Label so you can leave these in the garage or otherwise know they are not critical to the move-in.

          Best wishes for a happy time in your new place! Oh, and another vote for the airbed. It will take a while for you to see how the light comes in the windows, etc.

      2. ChrisHaynes | | #7

         "The only thing I would want right away would be a table and chairs (who wants to eat off the floor every night?), which could do double-duty as a workspace."

        I have used a table made of moving boxes with a piece of plywood on top... the chairs I have snagged cheap from a local version of a KMart store (which were then moved to bathrooms when we got the really good set from a nice furniture store:  two days before we hosted a nice Christmas at our house).  It also helps to get folding chairs, so that after you get nice stuff you can have some spare chairs for guests (which you can slip some nice covers over to disguise them).

        Oh, Carol, yes!  How true about packers!  When I was a kid I stored my Barbie stuff in an old dressing case with a mirror that my mother used to use in the 1950's.  I opened it up after one move and found that the packers had thrown in some tools (wrenches, pliers, screwdriver, etc) into it.  The mirror was broken and there were little bits of glass throughout my Barbie things.

  4. wop | | #8

        Just one last bit. I worked for a moving company, Bekins. If you use a moving company boxes packed by owner are not covered by insurance for damage. So either carry any valuables with you in your car or let them pack the boxes(Fine china etc....)


    1. carolfresia | | #10

      That was my reasoning behind having movers so most of my packing--we really had very little breakage through three moves (two cross-country ones), except for a lampshade and a couple of model airplanes. It was the disorganization of it all that got on my nerves eventually!

      What a great idea to use the fabric stash as filler! It's not lightweight, though--my movers were shocked when I pointed to my plastic bins of fabric and indicated the contents. They expected fluff, I guess.


      1. wop | | #11

            I don't say let them do all the packing. Just the breakables. If you do most of the packing of the boxes before they get there and then tell them"I need you to pack this" you limit the possible damage. Anyway we never had the type of situation you had .We packed by rooms so if it was in a room it will be together and the owner will know what was in that room and knows where he wants it to be unloaded. Also if it is packed by the company the movers are more careful with the boxes ,if it is PBO no body will yell at them if something gets broken so anything goes.


  5. SewingSue | | #9

    My husband and I are both retired Air Force and have a little experience with moving. Do all the packing yourselves if possible. We had to let movers pack us a couple of times and they were our worst moves. On one such move, I thought I had lost all the clothing that came out of my dresser and thought the only underwear I had left was what was in my suitcase. Finally found them all--packed with my husbands tools from the outdoor shed. How that combination came together is still beyond me. The legs to the livingroom ottoman were lost on another move. Like others have indicated, the tupperware wrapped snug in layers of newsprint and my antique sewing basket squashed in the top of a box with frying pans.

    Now the stash of fabric can come in useful. Use it as packing material to cushion items. I would use the fabric stash, linens, towels, etc. to fill in those odd little spaces to make the box all nice and squared off. If the boxes aren't filled to the top they are likely to crush.

    Top sheets on tension rods make good temporary drapes. Or fabric from the stash thrown over a tension rod. Done that too. Depending on the orientation of the window don't use fabrics that will fade easy or the sun can damage the fabric very quickly. More so down south but up north you can get sun damage to fabrics also.

    Use this time to clear the unwanted (needed?) stuff. Wish I could have convinced my husband of that. His answer was always, can do that while unpacking. Right.

    Best wishes. Envy you. We have been in this area for a little over five years and I am definitely thinking it's about time to go somewhere else. Staying in one place just doesn't seem right. Sue

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