10 moves in 9 years, and what I have learned.
Have you ever thought to yourself, “Gosh, I love moving!” …Yeah, me neither. But somehow in 9-years of marriage, my husband and I have managed 10 moves and over 3,500 miles!
My husband’s career has allowed us many adventures (adventures is a term I use loosely, haha). Some adventures have been by choice and some have been out of pure and utter desperation.
We have experienced all the varieties of moves; from thousands of miles to just a few blocks away. Buying and selling our (big to us) home, to moving into a tiny 2-bedroom apartment; not to mention a few times, signing leases without seeing the homes until we pull in the driveway with the moving truck. AAHHH!
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We have lived in a camp trailer in a driveway, we have lived in a parents’ basement, we have lived in a lovely 6-bedroom home and we have lived in a dumpy mobile home with a mouse to human ratio of 20:2. The only thing, I feel, we have not experienced yet is moving to a new country; but… maybe someday.
But in all these moves and all the things I have learned; I hope that by sharing my experiences I can save you some cash or a temper tantrum from regret.
When you make the decision to move, the clock immediately starts ticking towards your moving day. So start gathering boxes and start packing the moment you know you are moving.
Now is also the time to start purging! Don’t save it for unpacking at your new home, because lets face it; you won’t. You will be too tired and overwhelmed to want to go through belongings and purge.
Just because you might be moving into a bigger home and there is plenty of room for stuff; doesn’t mean you NEED it. Check out this book for a more in-depth look at decluttering your life! I like to ask myself a few questions as I am going through things:
- When was the last time I used/worn this?
- Does keeping this make me happy or benefit my life in any way?
- Am I going to use this enough to keep it at the new house?
And the most important method when purging and organizing…
- Categorize and gather all similar items together in one location. This helps you see how much stuff you do have and helps you determine what is worth keeping. For instance, does my 2 year old really need 25 T-shirts? No… more clothes, means more laundry; and I hate laundry.
- Divide the shirts or whatever it is that needs organizing into more categories: Worn out or grown out, my most favorites, still in good condition, hand me downs.
- Decide whether it is even worth keeping. Chances are that by the time I have another boy, these clothes will be out of style or they are already too worn to make it even worth keeping. I donate a lot! There is no sense in keeping all clothing when I know I like to shop and buy my kids new clothes anyways. I only keep my very favorite outfits of my kids, everything else I either sell or donate.
Moving is also a good time to get rid of decorations and various household items that carry no meaning or purpose.
Something else I have learned to make things easy, is to find a small box/bin/crate and use this as your supply station.
Before you start packing; gather any items you might need for packing. Here are my typical contents:
- Hammer (removing nails)
- Nail hole filler
- Container to put all the nails in
- Duct Tape
- Packing Tape
- Permanent Markers
- Newspaper or Tissue Paper
- Bubble Wrap
- Saran Wrap
- To-Do List
- Apron (with pockets); wear it to hold your pen, marker, scissors and index cards for easy labeling
- Recipe Index Cards
- A renters best friend—Magic Erasers
- Anything else you think you might need.
This helps you stay organized and helps prevent you from accidentally packing something that you later need. You also won’t forget where you put the roll of tape when your hand is holding down the flaps of a box and you are stuck looking for the tape.
Do your homework
When considering a new job or a new location, do your research. Look up what the average living expenses are in the new area vs. where you are currently living. Research local schools, neighborhoods, food and utility costs. Just because a new job may offer more money, does not allows mean you will be pocketing more green.
We also take extra precautions when looking in a new neighborhood. Always check the United States Department of justice National Sex Offender Public Website.
You can easily search by zip code if there are any registered sex offenders in your area. You can also search for the areas crime rate and popular areas for crime. These are public records and we do this to make ourselves aware.
While moving to new places that you have never been to before, this can help you get a feel for the areas you may want to avoid.
Leading up to moving day; create a Google doc or spreadsheet to keep track of any important articles i.e.:
- Rental agreements
- Hotel reservations
- Road trip games; check out our Busy Bag ideas to make it more fun!
- Restaurant coupons for eating on the road
- Contact information for phone numbers of landlords, Internet, electricity, etc.
- Anything you might need while driving or as soon as you arrive to your new home.
If you won’t have data during your drive, you can either print off the info and keep a folder or clipboard in the vehicle you will be traveling in, or download it all on your device. This will make it easier to take care of business without having to rummage through moving boxes.
Barter and Invest
Most of our moves included renting a moving truck (EXCEPT for that time we had to move in a matter of days and we literally threw everything in boxes and stuffed it all in a 16 ft horse trailer! I do not recommend this method).
When dealing with moving truck companies the best deals are determined by where they are in need of trucks. However, you can still sneak in some extra savings if you work them against each other; in a non-conniving way, of course.
Each time we have done this we have been able to save hundreds, but it’s not always a guarantee and it’s not always going to be the same amount of savings. But it is worth a try.
Start by asking for a free quote from one company and making a reservation (most companies offer free cancellation up to 24 hours before). Then start the bidding war!
On one of our moves we were offered a 16 ft truck, a travel limit of 1200 miles for 3 days, for a price of somewhere around $1800. We thought this was a pretty good deal considering our cross-country venture.
We then called company #2 to see what their best deal was. At first their offer wasn’t going to be able to beat company #2, but when we said we were going with someone else, they asked what we had been offered, #2 turned around and offered us a 24 ft truck with 1200 miles for 4 days for $1400. Great! We thought.
So we called up #1 Rental to cancel our reservation, when they asked us why we wanted to cancel we told them the deal we were offered. They then offered us a 24 ft truck with unlimited miles, for 6 days and they would give us a dozen moving blankets with a moving dolly for $1,000. SWEET!
So we called up #2 to cancel our reservation. When they asked us why we wanted to cancel we told them the offer #1 made us. They then offered us the golden egg! 24 ft truck, unlimited miles, 6 days, 2 dozen moving blankets, a furniture dolly AND a car carrier all for $900 +tax!!
Company #1 was not able to match it so we stuck with #2. We were able to knock off almost a $1,000 off the original price!! And because we were only a family of 3 then; this worked perfect for us because we were all able to ride together in the rental truck while towing our car behind us, saving us money on our fuel costs too!
We have negotiated the same way with each move and the offers started out with one company offering us a certain deal and then bartering back and forth between another company and in the end going with the best deal offered.
We haven’t always gotten the golden egg, but we have always saved a pretty penny.
What you should know when bargaining:
- In order to get a screaming deal like we did, it matters where your truck is coming from and where it is headed. All these types of moving companies are linked together as a franchise. So if there is a location that is in need of the size of truck you are using they are going to give you a better deal because they need more trucks there. Does that make sense? We made our original reservation through our local dealer but it wasn’t until we called the customer service line from the website that the deals started rolling in. We feel they were able to give us a better deal because they were the corporate end and not 3rd party.
- Book online from the very beginning, online offers are already discounted rates. That way your bargaining starts off at an already discounted price.
- If you are an AAA member you automatically receive 20% off!
- Ask your customer service rep flat-out, “Is that the best you can do?” or tell them that you are shopping with a certain budget in mind and tell them what it is. They will try their best to accommodate your needs.
- Also, call every week until a few days before your move and just double-check to make sure you are getting the best rate possible. Prices may drop depending on the inventory of trucks and equipment.
Over the years we have also found it worth our time to invest in buying a hand dolly; makes moving heavy items so much easier, and if you can get a second one thrown in with your reservation, you can have your appliances and heavy items loaded and unloaded twice as fast.
We also purchased a pack of moving blankets for about $5 each (here is the best deal!). That way you can have stuff ready to go before the moving truck arrives. Not to mention if you get the rental company to throw in more with your reservation, you can ensure that your furniture and fragile items will not be damaged.
Another trick I’ve learned is using blankets, sheets and even towels to wrap your picture frames, mirrors or anything fragile in; saves you money from having to buy bubble wrap. I’ve bought bubble wrap in the past and I have always saved it for the next move, but it is expensive! So blankets and sheets are what I like to use best because you have to take them anyways, so you might as well make them useful.
I especially like this method for larger items. I wrap them by laying out the blanket and putting a frame down at one end of the blanket folding it over like a burrito and adding another frame. I keep doing this until I have used the entire blanket. Making sure there is enough padding in between frames.
I tape it to secure it and make sure no sliding occurs. I then place them in boxes to keep them from getting smashed. It works well and I have yet to have 7 years bad luck from broken mirrors.
If your move is anywhere from a few hours away to a few days away, you are going to need snacks to keep you going. For an easy solution get one of these and keep it in your kitchen for when you are packing up your food items, setting some aside for the drive. Snacks, treats, fruit that won’t go bad if not in the fridge, water bottles, and anything your family would enjoy snacking on in the car/moving truck while driving.
My MIL did this for us once, and it conveniently fit under the moving truck seat so it wasn’t in the way; and when anyone needed a quick fix I could easily pull it out. It was organized and less bulky, didn’t get smashed and since it was clear we didn’t have to dig around looking for what we wanted to munch on. I now do this for ALL of our road trips and camping trips.
This little trick will also save you money by not spending a lot of money on junk food at convenient stores; sugar high+ driving= food coma!
Pack the coolers in the moving truck filled with your fridge and freezer food; that way you can monitor the ice levels if you need to refill. It also works nicely for yogurt or fruit to nibble on during the drive.
Facebook stalk your friends, or your friends’ friends by searching the city in the main search bar on Facebook. Then at the top of the page there is a tool bar, click on people and you can see all your friends or friends of friends that live, have lived or worked in that city, then be bold enough to message anyone you find to ask them about the city and where they recommend living. We have done this with every move and we have never been steered wrong.
My husband even stopped into a local church once after going in for an interview; because there were a lot of cars in the parking lot and was able to talk with a few people and get some recommendations on rentals in the neighborhood. We ended up moving 1000 miles to that neighborhood and we loved it!
Set up your beds first, as soon as you finish unloading the moving truck. That way you have somewhere to crash when you are ready.
Make every house your home. No matter the length of your stay. Command Hooks can be your best friend whether renting or wanting to keep your walls nice.
90% of wall décor in my house is hung using these; all others are typically hung on leftover nails from previous residents. When renting, this help to get our deposit back, and makes packing up faster because I do not need to patch a gazillion holes.
It’s all about the attitude
Moving is always hard, even when you’re a seasoned veteran like myself.
If your move is temporary, and you know that going in, then treat it like a mini stay-cation! Now is your chance to go out and keep busy and explore new places. Find the things that make your new town exciting. Go shopping at the little local stores, eat at the hidden gems that only the locals know about, spend your days off together as a family and enjoy the fun to be had in a place you know nothing about. Even if you do not have money to spend, you can still enjoy new hiking trails, touristy sites and parks or lakes.
Take the cities public transportation and go to a local county fair. This is what brought my husband and me closer together.
One of our favorite family trips and memories was when we decided that instead of sulking about being stuck in Texas for the holidays because we couldn’t afford to travel home to see our families, we drove 5 hours to Sea World and spent Thanksgiving day with Shamu!
We had no one but each other to hang out with and to rely on (until we met new friends of course). Our extra time wasn’t stretched thin between family gatherings and thousands of birthday parties (which are great and I do love my family more that anything, but its nice to have a break once in a while); we could do whatever we wanted. And we are now blessed to have life-long friends that scatter the globe, not to mention free couches to sleep on when we travel.
But just know that there are always friends to make, new people to meet and new adventures to be had. My husband always laughs because I “arrive kicking and screaming, and I leave kicking and screaming”. Every. Single. Time.
What are some of YOUR favorite tips and tricks for moving?!