Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Moving: A Do-It-Yourself Guide (Pt 1 - The Lead-Up)

I found this great article written by Claire C, a real estate agent based out of Washington and I thought you might benefit from her personal experience. Please feel free to add your own tips on my blog!

Personally, I moved several times, too many to count and many times long distances. If there is one rule I learned early on is that the key to a good and smooth move is .... organization! And please, get rid of the stuff you know you won't ever use. Rule of thumb, if you haven't used it in the past 2 years, or you just don't like it anymore, there's a good chance you won't use it ever bye bye!

Think of it this way, would you pay someone to deliver a pizza to your house from the worst pizza place in town, knowing you will not eat any of it? Kind of the same thing when you pay a few strong men to come move a whole lot of boxes to your new home knowing you will never use any of the items in these boxes. Not a wise investment! So here are Claire's suggestions. I will follow up with the next installment as soon as it is available.

We're in real estate. We're in the business of selling homes to people who 99.99999% of the time are already living in a home they've made for a year or more, meaning that at some point, they're going to have to pack their lives into boxes, load a truck, and move to their new nest.

Many Realtors believe that the real estate process ends when the Escrow company closes the books, pays out the taxes and commissions, and gets the deed on title. There are a few quite awesome realtors, however, who pitch in with their buyers and sellers and help them when it's time to go.

Take it from me - I've moved nine times in the last ten years - moving is no picnic, and every hand helping is a hand that you are sincerely greatful for, whether you're putting cash into that hand at the end of the night or a Hefe.

As I'm in the middle of my tenth (yes, tenth) move right now, and since we're ramping up to moving season here in the great Northwest as schools let out and summer chases the spring showers away, I thought I might give some well-practiced advice on the art of DIY Moving.

The lead-up (2-3 Months Before the BIG DAY):

Although not everyone has the luxury of having two to three months before they know they're moving to get prepped, if one DOES have this blessing, he or she has a leg up that is priceless. During the lead-up, and separate from the real estate process (I can't go on about all of that - that's your jobs!), here are some items that need to happen:

1. In the Kitchen:

  • Go through the pantry, fridge and freezer and cull anything that's expired, freezer-burned items, sour or spoiled items, duplicate condiments, dressings or jars that you have NO IDEA when you opened them and can't remember using them last, and any definitely dead spices.

  • Donate any foods that are not expired yet but that you will not have time to finish before they expire.
  • Go through your dishtowels and toss the tattered ones into a bag marked "towels". More about this later.

  • Pack away your "good" china, any servingware that you will not use before the Big Day, and any linens that really won't see use til' the holiday season. This is a good habit to get into any time of the year.

  • If you find you have too many dishes, too many utensils, too many glasses, or too many mugs, put them in a separate donation box for now. These items, however mismatched or dwindling, can be used and very much appreciated at any soup kitchen in the city.

2. In the Laundry Room:

  • Cull any tattered or worn blankets and towels. Stuff them into the same bag above with your dishtowels. Take this whole bag down to your nearest animal shelter.

  • If you have multiples of bleach, detergent, softener or etc., that won't be used before the Big Day, pack 'em up. The idea is to have one open box in each room as you work so that as things get freed up to pack, you can simply tuck them into your box.

  • As you take things out of the dryer to fold, consider the wear on the garment that you're folding. If it's tattered, consider tearing it up for car rags or patches. If it's in need of repair or tailoring, put it on a hanger and hang it somewhere where you'll see it (to remind you to take it to the tailor). If it's just plain out of style or does not fit anymore, donate it.

3. In the Bathroom:

  • Go through the medicine cabinet and cull anything that's empty, unusuable, or expired. On the note of prescription pills: the old method of disposal (ie, flushing them) has proven to hurt the environment in many parts of the country. Instead of dumping them down the drain, take them back to the pharmacy on your next shopping trip for proper disposal.

  • Pack up multiples that won't be used until after the move, including feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, shampoo, soap, etc.

  • Be sure to look under the sink for these items, too! We often forget the items that are out of sight, and take it from a girl who has left some very important things behind: You never want to be caught without toilet paper in the new house.

4. In the Bedroom:

  • Go through your wardrobe and shoes and cull anything that falls within the lines of the laundry above - anything tattered, in need of repair, or just plain ugly on you.

  • Go through the linen closet and pull any mismatched sheet sets, random pillow cases, and lost throw pillows. Donate them all. it.

  • In the linen closet, take ONE pillow case from a matched set and tuck the rest of the set inside it for easy transport. This is a good habit to get into year round, and it makes sure nothing gets lost.

  • Consider the shape of your sleeping pillows. If your feathers are flat or your cotton isn't up to snuff any longer, make a note to replace them as you move from one house to the other. There's nothing worse than flat pillows when you're getting used to a new house's night sounds.

5. In the Living Room:

  • Otherwise known as the Abyss, this is where we spend the most time. Pick it up. As you're finding homes for the items that have wandered there from other rooms, consider EACH object and ask yourself, "Do I use this regularly? Do I love it?" If the answer is no and no, you need to get rid of that item.

  • Look around at your furniture and decide which pieces you REALLY want to take with you. This is a good time to make a shopping list for new furniture, too. If Gramma's rocker no longer suits your lifestyle and no one sits in it anymore, Craigslist is your friend. You need all of the items you don't want to take with you out a month prior to the Big Day.

  • Consider culling your media and electronics. Do you need three DVD players? Have you watched ALL of those movies recently? Do you love them all? Try looking at services like and Half Price Books to get rid of the ones you don't love. Remember: Books are heavy! Part with what you'll never read again.

  • Many of us have our offices in the living room. Shred whatever paper you don't need and that isn't important. If you have scanning abilities, digitize some of that paper! Purge, purge, purge!
    This may look like a lot of things to do, but remember, you have two to three months to get it done, and most of these little things only take a few minutes as you do them. In the long run, you'll make your move a much more happy process if you follow three simple rules:

Rule #1: If you don't use it regularly or love it, it needs to go.

Rule #2: If it gives you bad memories, it needs to go.

Rule #3: If it's in disrepair or it's begging you to let it go, it needs to go.

Other than that, you have plenty of time, so don't stress out! Moving is actually quite easy if you don't box yourself into it by procrastinating. (Tune in for Part 2: Getting it Together (and Enlisting Help!) )