Making it my business: how moving can suck less

Making a big move as easy-ish as 1, 2, 3.

My husband and I recently went through the terror and pain that is selling and buying a house at the same time. Our house was on the market for just under three months, but the closing on both our old and new houses happened in a matter of three weeks. On top of that, our realtor informed us that we had hit every obstacle possible during the process, and never had he experienced such difficulty before.


But, with all of the chaos that went on with the buying and selling, we were pretty determined to make the whole moving process as painless as possible.

Before I tell you how we did this, let me preface it by saying one thing: moving sucks. There is nothing fun about it. It’s stressful, time consuming, and guaranteed to make you (specifically me) crabby for days. Expect it to be horrible and hopefully you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Part 1: Recruiting help

If you’re like us, you probably can’t afford to pay people to move you. I had been saying since our move into our first house (which was actually quite painless – I was just 22 and bratty) that never again was I moving myself. To me it was worth paying money to not have to deal with the headache. Funny how impending parenthood and a soon-to-be larger mortgage change that perspective.

From our experience, most people are more than willing to help you move. The key here is giving just enough notice for people to plan to help out, but not asking so far in advance that they forget.

We sent out an email about two weeks before the actual move happened, begging people for help (and possibly making frequent reference to the fact that I was largely pregnant and therefore physically unable to do much of anything). After getting initial responses, we sent out a reminder email about three days before the big day. We gave a date, a time, and promised sustenance. And do you know what happened on our moving day? At 6:30pm sharp, 15 people arrived at our house and loaded all of our belongings into our POD in 30 minutes. THIRTY MINUTES. And all it cost us was $60 in pizza and beer.

Part 2: Taking the time to do it right

Let’s take a minute to clarify something right now. When you ask people to help you move, that means you are asking them to carry boxes from your house into a truck and into another house. “Moving” does not mean “packing.” There are few things that drive me more crazy (or really drive my husband more crazy because he gets asked to move people more than I do – see the reference to my inevitable crabbiness above) than arriving to someone’s house, ready to do some heavy lifting, to find them in the early stages of just getting things into boxes.

Your friends are not there to help you sort through your junk drawer and determine what should go with you and what should go in the trash. It’s up to you to get that finished well beforehand.

Prior to our move, my husband, my in-laws, and I went through absolutely everything we owned, making piles of what would go, what would get donated, and what could get laid out in the alley behind our house for the dumpster divers. It took us hours upon hours to do this, but we ended up not bringing a bunch of unnecessary crap with us from the old house to the new house. More importantly, by the time our friends arrived to help us move, our belongings were packed away neatly and labeled in such a way that complete strangers would know where to set things in our new house. This not only made the unloading of our POD much smoother, it’s made locating our belongings a complete non-hassle as we slowly unpack. Non-hassle is what we’re going for here – for you and for those who are being generous enough to give of their time, energy, and sweat.

Part 3: Filling in the powers-that-be

Believe it or not, the physical move from one place to another will most likely not be the hardest/most annoying part of the changing-of-residence process. The real pain in the ass? Letting everyone know about your move. I’m not talking about friends and family – that can be solved with a couple phone calls or a mass email. I’m talking about “official places” or, as most of us know them as, “people that are supposed to get money from you on a fairly regular basis” or “big scary government agencies who scare you with their officialness and incompetence.” Don’t assume that changing your address with the post office will take care of everything. Here’s a handy, dandy list of people/organizations you should to contact directly to let them know about your new digs…

I know that list seems overwhelming – and I’m probably forgetting a few. But, the best thing to do is to tackle a couple each day until you’ve run down the list. It’s particularly helpful to make a note of when you called, who you talked to (and their employee number if they have one), and what you discussed. I know it sounds OCD and neurotic, but the documentation will better equip you to do some massive pwning later on if necessary.

So there you have it. If you’re moving soon, this information either helped you get better prepared or scared the crap out of you. Either way, I hope at the very least we all learned that the inevitable feelings of doom and gloom that come with moving can be somewhat squelched with a little planning… and pizza and beer.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Or pizza and caffeine-free diet coke depending on how pregnant/straight edge your attendees are.

  2. Scott Burger on said:

    I just get a kick out of ‘the Fan hop’ at the end of July when many young people change their leases from one apartment to another.

  3. Scott Burger on said:

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