Moving? Hints and Tips

These hints and tips come from many moves to and from college, from one apartment to another, and finally into my own home some years ago. I once was told by someone who helped me move that that was the easiest and most organized move she’d ever done. Here’s how I did it.

Moving into a new place can be a grand adventure. It can be exciting. It can also be an unmitigated headache and the source of many screaming matches. It all depends on how you prepare and execute — in other words, the secret to a clean move starts before you put a single box in the truck. I’ve gathered some hints and tips that have helped me settle in quickly and without fuss.

Color Coding

If you’re moving into a dorm, you probably don’t have enough stuff to make this helpful, but if you’re moving into an apartment or a house, this can be a lifesaver. Amazon offers color-coded moving tape from multiple vendors that lets you identify what room a box should be brought into. This visual aid will speed up box loading considerably, whether you’re hiring movers or bribing friends with beer and pizza.

Be sure to color code the box with what room it’s going into, not what room it’s coming out of.

💡When you pack, tape the box shut with ordinary moving/packing tape, then put the color-coded tape on top of it. These color coded tapes can be expensive, and you don’t want to run out of a particular color.

Have a Directory

On move-in day, you should have a means of telling people bringing in boxes which color box goes to what room. There are a couple of means of achieving this, depending on your situation. I’ve used both methods, and they both work.

(1) Acquaint someone in your moving party with your color scheme and which room is which. Have that person stand or sit just inside the door – or even hold the door open, identify the color on the box, and tell the carrier which room the box goes to. This is a great option if your elderly grandmother absolutely insists on helping you move or your best friend broke her ankle last week and wants to help anyway.

(2) If everyone among your moving buddies is able-bodied and you’re shorthanded, this may be a better method. Go into the new place while everyone else is starting to unpack the truck, and take your colored tape with you – or better yet, have the colored tape stuck to pieces of paper ahead of time and bring them with you on move-in day. Tack the sheet of paper that has the color for that room stuck to it to the door jamb leading into the room, in such a way that it can be readily seen.

💡 Learned the hard way: A lot of these color-coded moving tapes don’t come off readily. Don’t stick them directly to furniture or walls, as they may tear paint or varnish or leave sticky residue behind.

The Open-Me-First Box

No law says that a box can only be marked with one color. The larger packs of tape include rolls of tape that read “Fragile”. I’ve even seen one that included a “Heavy” roll.

Set aside a color that you don’t use for any other purpose, or establish another method of marking a box that is visually obvious. Neon duct tape is a fun choice, but choose something loud. This color will be used for boxes that are to be opened first, and should be marked with this color in addition to a destination room marking. Boxes with this marking should be placed in the room separately from the main box pile.

Boxes to be opened first should contain things such as:

  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Paper plates and cutlery
  • Your checkbook/credit cards
  • Phone chargers
  • Medications
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Anything else you’ll need the day you move in

Pre-Prep The New Space

Depending on your situation, this may not be an option, but if you can, I recommend signing your lease papers / closing on your house a week or so before move-in. Doing so lets you do several things that will make your move-in day and your first night in your new pad easier and more comfortable.

Address Any Issues: Signing the papers early gives you time to go through your leasing checklist. Walk the place and make sure that everything is in working order, that nothing is missing/broken/stained, and address any issues. If it’s an apartment, open a maintenance ticket and have them address it before you move in. If a house, you’ll need to address it yourself.

Set Up The Bathroom: Having the keys to your new space lets you bring in your shower curtain, bath rug, toilet paper, and so forth in ahead of time. More than once, I’ve hopped out of the moving truck and dashed straight for the can before bothering to open the truck. Having the toilet paper already there was very helpful.

Bring Up Your Internet: Millennials/digitals, this one is especially for you. Depending on your cellular data in your first days can be costly. You won’t be able to establish your Internet service until you’ve signed the lease / closed on the house, so if you’ve already had your Internet installed, you’ll have WiFi on moving day. Your friends will appreciate your foresight, and so will you.

Bring In New Stuff: Are you buying new furniture? If so, consider bringing the new furniture in a few days ahead of the moving truck and place it/assemble it. This gives you more room to do assembly if needed, and saves you space on the truck.

Stock the Fridge: Cold drinks are better than warm ones when you’re hauling boxes up three flights of stairs in July, and there’s nothing like cooking breakfast your first morning in your new pad.  You’ll need to locate your closest grocery store in short order anyway, so why not do that one evening before you move?

Take A Good Look Around

Do this before you move in if you can, or as soon after you move in as you can. Mark your location, pin it in your GPS, then go driving around. Get a sense of where things are. In particular, you’ll want to locate (and maybe visit):

  • The nearest grocery store
  • The nearest Target/Walmart
  • The nearest mall
  • The nearest dry cleaner
  • All local exits to the highway – knowing more than one is helpful

You’ll also want to time your new commute. What time do you have to get up to be in by 8:30 AM / make that 8:00 AM class?

Observe your neighbors, and say hello if you’re comfortable. They’ll give you clues as to the quirks of the neighborhood and you might just meet some new friends.

For example, in one place I lived, the grocery store was always slammed on Sunday, and I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, I noticed that a good number of the local women wore long skirts and covered their hair, and a good number of the men either wore yarmulkes or the traditional brimmed hats. Oh. This is an Orthodox Jewish community. Knowing a little bit about the rules around Orthodox Judaism, I looked for people walking in the neighborhood during the day on a Saturday, and thereby located the synagogue. (Orthodox Jews do not drive on the Sabbath, as it’s considered work. The Jewish Sabbath is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.) This also meant that the best time to grocery shop was Saturday morning, NOT Sunday as it would be in a Christian community. My grocery shopping got a lot easier after I figured that out.

It’s also fun to get lost. You’ll find interesting things about the neighborhood that only the locals know, like that hole in the wall that serves amazing Thai food or a tiny jewelry shop that fosters cats or who’s got the best pizza.

Be Realistic

Consider who you have available to help you, and how much stuff you have to move. You might not be able to get it all done in one day. Be realistic about what you can get done in a day — take what you think you can get done, and halve it. If you’re shorthanded or have a lot of stuff, consider splitting the move into two days.

Plan not to work in the dark if you don’t have to. That’s how people get hurt.

Start early in the morning, if you’re moving in warm weather. Daytime heat will suck the life out of you. The more you can have done before it really starts to get hot, the better off you will be.

Schedule breaks.

Hydrate. Did I say hydrate? Do it again.

A Final Word

Good luck! Enjoy this — it really is fun to move into a new space. I hope this helps you have a smooth and stress-free move.