Monday, March 18, 2013

Moving tips from a military spouse - or how to PCS like a pro

First of all...for those not in the know - PCS stands for 'permanent change of station'.  This is what we call any move for an assignment lasting over 6 months. 

Some of you may know that I am a military spouse which means that I have a unique perspective on moving. In fact, I have had a total of 3 cross country moves in 5 years.  Not the most I have ever heard of, but that is mostly because I do not move unless the assignment is going to be over a year.  My husband has moved 13 times in the last 6 years to give you an idea of how crazy it can get.

What I have learned from those cross country moves as well as the MANY do-it-yourself moves I have done over the years (8 total) are the following tips to make moving as painless as possible.  It's a long one...

1.  Book the truck as SOON as possible.

How many times have you gone to book that lovely orange and white UHaul only to discover that every branch in town is sold out?  Do NOT wait until Friday to book a truck for the weekend - instead book at least 2 weeks out to give yourselves more options.

2.  Hire, and/or beg extra help.

I am a firm believer in 'many hands make light work'.  There are many moving services that are connected to UHaul and can also be booked in advance.  How many times have you run into issues because all the people who said,  "sure we'll help you move" don't actually show up on moving day and you are suddenly stuck trying to haul a 42 inch TV down 2 flights of stairs by yourself.  So hire a couple or few professional movers for a couple hours and save yourself the headache.  If your friends also show up for the free beer and pizza you promised - GREAT.  The more help means a shorter day for everyone.

3.  Pack well in advance.

No one realizes how much CRAP they really have until they have to move it.  So my advice, start packing at least a couple weeks before you plan to move.  This gives you time to go through clothing, etc and make several trips to Goodwill WITHOUT feeling like you have to stuff everything into a box and take it with you.  Plus this will cut down on the very real possibility of needing to dumpster dive for boxes the night before and staying up until the WEE hours shoving things into toilet paper boxes.
4.  Hire a babysitter on moving day.

Find a reliable sitter and hire them to watch your kids on moving day.  It's worth the money so that your kids are out of the way, and not wreaking havoc because their new trick is to build a tower of blocks in the middle of the floor or opening and closing all the doors.  Save yourself the headache and let them have a fun playdate away from the action.

5.  Move all boxes to a staging area

This makes moving SO much faster.  If you move all the boxes you have packed in advance to a staging area like a garage or empty bedroom, the movers can clear them out SUPER fast which makes getting to the large bulky furniture items that much faster.

6.  Label AND take inventory on all irreplaceable/expensive items

Take the advice from someone who lost 12 boxes in her last move.  Movers didn't take the correct inventory and mislabeled some of the boxes, and now I am in the midst of a loss claim from hell for irreplaceable items like heirloom Christmas ornaments, business supplies, and collectible books.  Take inventory and move these items YOURSELF if possible.


Spend the 20 bucks or so and GET the insurance on the UHaul truck.  Many a time I have heard horror stories about the condition of the rental truck - big surprise they are not kept up like you would your car.  So save yourself the headache and get the insurance.

8.  Leave yourself at least a full day to clean the home you are leaving/or hire a service.

Need to turn in the keys on the 31st?  Well then don't MOVE on the 31st.  If you want any hope of getting back the potentially HUNDREDS of dollars you paid at the beginning for a damage deposit - make sure you have at least a full day to clean your previous dwelling.  More if you are responsible for cleaning the carpets.   Or save yourself the work and hire a cleaning service like Molly Maids.

9.  If at all possible, move your pets to the new location (or to a quiet pet-friendly hotel/pet daycare) BEFORE the movers arrive.

Moving is EXTREMELY stressful for pets.  Boxes start piling up, things start disappearing, new smells, etc.  This can make even the most easy-going pet really nervous.  So do your pets a favor and move them over to the new place BEFORE the movers come.  Secure them in a spare bathroom or somewhere else where they will not be disturbed by the movers.  If that is not a possibility - consider a pet daycare or having a friend cat or dog sit for the day.

10.  Buy a bottle of wine (or two...or three) and party trays so you will not have to cook for a couple days while you unpack.

Where the heck did the dishes go?  Have you SEEN the box with the silverware?  It's the end of a loooooooong day, your back is aching, your feet hurt and you are STARVING.  Save yourself the headache and get a couple of meat/cheese and fruit party trays so that you can grab a bite without having to figure out what box anything is in.  And crack open that bottle of wine or two and toast to your new place.

And finally a BONUS ....

Immediately upon arriving at your new home - Build and make all the beds.  This way at the end of the day when you can't lift your arms, you can just fall into a freshly made bed and sack out.

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