Don’t Get Dragged Down by Moving Day!

Two movers

Top 5 Tips for Self Movers.

In our blog last week, we discussed strategies for moving day – one of the key parts of the downsizing process. When executed poorly, moving can cause unnecessary and unwanted stress for seniors and boomers.

It can be difficult enough if using professional movers and move managers to assist during this phase of downsizing; but for those who choose to be self movers, there are added challenges if a solid plan is not in place. We are not big fans of trying to move yourself for many reasons, but we do realize that for some seniors and boomers, budgetary constraints may make moving themselves necessary.

If your moving budget is limited, or you simply feel confident in your own ability to get your things moved to your new retirement destination on your own, we’ll discuss the top five ways to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

Tip #1 – Plan, Plan, and Plan Some More

Would you leave for a weeklong vacation in some far-off tropical paradise without planning in advance? The answer is most likely no, especially if you want to have plane tickets and hotels in which to stay when you arrive. Moving day should be no different, especially when doing the work yourself.

Part of being well organized is having your belongings packed and ready to go by moving day. Packing in a rush never ends well, and often results in things being lost or broken during the move. Essential packing materials include boxes, packing paper, and tape that is made specifically for moving, a black marker to write the contents of each box on the outside (for easier unpacking) and sandwich bags for keeping smaller items – such as hardware for furniture – from getting lost during the move.

When establishing a plan for the move, the general rule is to begin the process at least six weeks in advance of the actual moving day. This is especially important if you are downsizing from a five-bedroom home to a one-bedroom apartment in a senior retirement community. Part of the planning process includes choosing a moving company, especially if you are moving during a peak moving season such as the summer months. We discussed tips on how to find a reputable moving company in last week’s blog. If you opt to rent your own truck and do the moving yourself, the same rules apply. Be sure to reserve an adequately-sized truck for your planned moving day, and be sure to have enough help from friends and family to load and unload the truck.

Create a list for how you will proceed with the moving process, complete with dates to start and finish each task.

Tip #2 – Purge, Sort, Save and Sell

The purge, sort and save phase of downsizing is arguably one of the most difficult and time-consuming steps involved. Not only is it necessary when moving from a larger home to a smaller space, but it also will make the process of packing for the move far easier.

When going through this process, make four piles: save, donate, sell and discard. Essential items you wish to take with you should be placed in the save pile. We’ll talk about how to further sort and pack those items a little later. Items that are still in good shape but unwanted or unneeded should be placed in the donate pile. The sell pile can include items that may be ideal for an estate sale if you are working with an estate sale agency. Anything that is unwanted or unusable should be tossed in the discard pile and disposed of properly.

Conducting a massive attack on your belongings will have the biggest impact on your packing experience later.

Tip #3 – Categorize and Classify

Once you have purged yourself of things you no longer want or need, the next step is to categorize and classify the remaining items for the big move.

Some people prefer to pack their belongings and label them according to the room in their home in which they will be unpacked and used. While this might seem like the best way to pack, it can actually be cumbersome and possibly risky to the items when it comes to surviving the moving process if you pack items by room rather than by category.

Create items – and piles – for clothing, books, dishes and eating utensils, linens and other items. Spend a day just sorting and categorizing items in each and every room of your house. You will thank yourself for it later. Not only will it make packing easier, it also will make unpacking in your new space a more pleasant experience.

Tip #4 – The Right Tools for the Job

Once belongings are sorted by category, the actual packing process can start. Packing requires packing materials, and most importantly, boxes. However, not just any box will do.

When choosing boxes, select ones that are specifically made for packing, so that they will hold up well and protect their contents when stacked in a moving truck. Boxes with a rating of 32 ECT or higher are ideal and can be found at storage facilities, truck rental companies, hardware stores and moving companies. While it might seem like a great idea to get the largest boxes possible to save time and money, moving them will be a chore. It’s best to select small to mid-sized boxes, which are easier to pack and load/unload into a moving truck.

Want to be eco-friendly and save money on buying packing boxes? Visit your local liquor store and ask if they have any boxes you can take off their hands. Boxes used to ship liquor bottles in bulk are sturdy and are ideal for packing a number of delicate items, such as dishes, figurines, and other household collectibles.

If you prefer to be eco-friendly, or just have items you are afraid might get ruined during a rainy-day move, plastic bins may be a viable option to cardboard boxes. Buying plastic bins is an option, as they can be reused for storage purposes later. For those who do not wish to buy, there are several companies that will rent plastic bins designed specifically for moving. They include Bungobox, U-Haul, and Bin-It.  The pros to using plastic bins are they are durable, offer added protection for valuable items and are easy to carry and stack in a truck.

When it comes to packing items like the big screen TV or computers and monitors, it’s best to move them in their original packaging if possible. While it may seem likely that a large, flat-screen TV would be safe enough in a regular box if it’s just making a 30-minute trek across town. But that’s not necessarily the case. If you don’t have the original packaging, you will need to pack the item a little differently than your other possessions.

Your first option is to buy a box from EcoBox, which will closely mimic the original packaging for the TV. These boxes are sold with instructions for use, so follow them to the letter.  If you’d prefer to avoid the expense of buying a box, you can also wrap the TV in a layer (or two) of bubble wrap, followed by a soft blanket. Regardless of which way you pack it, be sure to store it in the moving truck in an upright position. While it is untrue that flat-screen TVs cannot be store lying down because it will damage its components, it is more likely the TV will get damaged in other ways if it is laying flat in the moving truck.

It’s better to buy more packing supplies than you will actually need in case there is a last-minute change or item discovered on moving day that was not anticipated. It’s better to have them on hand than to need to make a last-minute run on moving day, which can slow down the entire process and make things difficult for professional movers who may be on a tight schedule. 

Tip #5 – Pack with Purpose

It is generally a very bad idea to wait until the night before to start packing items. Even if they are well categorized, the actual packing process is tedious and tiring. You can start the packing process weeks in advance by first packing non-essential items. Keep packing items a little each day, waiting to pack only those items you can’t do without until the day before the big move.

Be sure to pack yourself an overnight bag that contains a few days worth of clothing, toiletries and anything else you will need to find in a hurry (such as medications).

Other things you will need to do for each packed box:

  • Label all boxes on the outside with a comprehensive list of all contents inside. It will make unpacking a lot easier.
  • In addition to labeling each box with its contents, also assign each box a number. The number will signify the order in which the box is to be loaded onto the moving truck.
  • Pack heavy items in small boxes so as not to make boxes too heavy to reasonably carry.
  • Protect fragile items with bubble wrap, packing paper or soft blankets. Store breakable items such as dishes and collectibles in a vertical position for maximum protection.
  • Take pictures of how all of your electronic devices are connected prior to unconnected and packing them. It will make reconnecting them in your new location much easier.
  • Load heavy items – such as furniture – into the moving truck first to prevent shifting during the move, which can damage other items.

In next week’s blog, we’ll discuss some practical tips for unloading your items into your new space. Check back next week to learn more!

Have some practical self-moving tips you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about them in the comments section.

Mary Spann

Mary Spann

Mary Spann is the founder and president of Upside of Downsizing®. In addition to her 26 years in construction, interior design, and home staging, Mary also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, making her uniquely qualified to assist with the downsizing process. Mary learned the key components of construction and interior design at an early age. Her father was a prominent custom home builder in Minnesota and Texas, and her mother was a successful interior designer and a real estate broker.
Mary Spann

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2 responses on “Don’t Get Dragged Down by Moving Day!

  1. Steve A

    The older we get, the harder it is to move! Not only from a physical perspective, but also from the accumulation of the stuff we get over the years! As professional movers, we couldn’t agree with you more in regards to the pros of hiring a moving company that knows what they are doing. But, we’re also aware that even the cheapest of movers can’t always accommodate everyone’s budget. Something to consider as an additional tip is “there’s no such thing as a FREE move”. If you’re enlisting the help of others, there is almost always some form of exchange that takes place to let your friends/family/neighbors know you appreciate them giving of their time and energy to help you move. This can come in the form of a home cooked meal, bottle of wine, or exchange your time somehow. If you’re a retired CPA, maybe you can offer to help with financial planning, taxes, etc. in exchange for help moving. Just a thought!