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I posted part of this as a comment in hopeevey’s journal, then decided to stick it here. Hopefully, I won’t have to learn these lessons yet again next time around. What have you learned that isn’t here yet?
1) Declutter! Establish a place for giveaway stuff immediately, and empty it as often as you can possibly make a run to Goodwill or whoever will receive this stuff.
2) You will never have too many boxes. Take all you can get.
3) Small boxes (book size) are better than large ones. Nobody ever complained that a box was too light.
4) One good tape gun is worth 10 crappy ones.
5) Get more tape. You’ll need it, it’s cheap, and it’s better to buy it ahead of time than to have to go out to get more.
6) Have lots of permanent markers around for labeling. Make your labels short and clear, but put them on all four sides and the top of every single box. HOPE: KITCHEN: FRAGILE! works. KITCHEN isn’t enough, nor is FRAGILE.
7) Shun “miscellaneous” for all you’re worth. It’s a trash label.
8) Keep small sandwich/snack bags handy. Every time you take anything apart, put its hardware in a bag, label it, and tape it to the piece of furniture/equipment/whatever.
9) Recruit help ahead of time. Put the move on the calendar, seduce/sweet talk/convince people to help you, and don’t let them forget about the date.
10) Start eating through your groceries so you won’t have to move as many of them.
11) If at all possible, get REALLY precise measurements of the new space. Make to-scale drawings of your space, and cut out to-scale shapes for your furniture (make these out of card stock or something similar) and label them. Move the shapes around on the drawing ’til you have the right arrangement, then glue them in place. Put the page for each room on the wall in that room, so that your helpers know where the furniture goes.
12) Start packing as early as possible, or you’ll end up at the nasty “throw it in the box and go” stage.
13) The day you get the keys to the new place, stock it with lots of toilet paper, paper towels, hand soap, basic foodstuffs, and either some of your dishes or disposable plates, cups, and cutlery.
14) Go ahead and hang up shower curtains. You will not feel like doing so at the end of the moving day, but you will want a shower.
15) Put SOMETHING over the windows that must be covered the first night you spend in the new place. Again, you won’t feel like it at the end of the moving day. Redi Shades are great: cheap paper shades that hang up with their own adhesive strip, can be trimmed to fit just about any window, and give you enough privacy to get by ’til you put up real window treatments. At the very least, tack up some old sheets.
15) Hook up a phone and (if possible) answering machine right away.
16) Most people we know can’t stand to be offline long, so it’s probably a good idea to put a computer (if you have a spare) at the new place ASAP, too. If you plan to get broadband service, schedule the installation as soon as you know the place is yours. You’ll need to be there for the installation and have a computer available for testing the connection. Being online helps greatly when you want to get the number for the nearest pizza place and or need other vital information.
17) It’s far easier to do a major cleaning of the new place before you move in than afterward.
18) I like to spray bug killer around the perimeter of the house, inside and out, before moving in (as part of the cleaning). I’m regretting that I didn’t do so here.
19) Make up a bag for each member of the family and your pets. Put everything they MUST HAVE for 2–3 days in the bags: clothing, toothbrushes and toiletries, medications, favorite stuffed toys, pillows, etc. Those bags go in the car with you so that there is NO chance that you’ll lose track of them.
20) On moving day, get lots of ice for coolers for drinks and the food you take out of the fridge/freezer. Borrow coolers if you have lots of perishable food. (Hopefully, you’ve been reducing supplies for a few weeks.)
21) No matter what other drinks you have, make sure that there’s an endless supply of ice-cold, fresh water. Push everyone who helps you to drink plenty of water.
22) Schedule breaks at certain times. A 15-minute break every two hours or so for rest and rehydration is good, with breaks every four hours for a meal.
23) Cheerful music is good, but don’t make it so loud that you can’t hear each other speak.
24) It’s easier to do those minor repairs (patching nail holes and the like) and post-move cleaning at your old place after everything is out.
25) Try to set up some overlap between when you have to be out of the old place and when you can move into the new place. You’re going to want a day or two of rest after the actual moving day, then you’ll need to go back and patch and clean things at the old place.