Minnesota, Virginia, London, New York, Las Vegas, and Seattle.... uffda. In all of these places I've had to move in and move out by myself. I've learned quite a few lessons on packing, moving, unpacking, furnishing apartments, up-sizing and down-sizing. Sometimes I've had a car, and sometimes I've done this totally car-less. If you're faced with the task of moving on your own, don't worry, you can do it! Here are my top tips I've picked up along the way...
1. Shop Target "Home" section in person, but ALWAYS buy online. Get a free Target RedCard to get free shipping at 5% off everything you buy. If you see a mirror, a lamp, pillows, blankets, chairs, furniture, etc. in the store, always order it online. You'll save money and cut out the stress of transporting everything yourself. I don't have a car and this is how I buy everything from pillows to dog food to toilet paper.
2. Pick out furniture in person, but order directly from the factory! Write down the UPC or style # and search it online. The wholesaler will usually come up. Call them to negotiate free delivery, no taxes, and get a great deal since you're paying the wholesale cost, not the retailer's 50%+ markup. Check out how I saved $400 on my sofa in my article, "10 Tips for Buying a Sofa."
3. Don't move trash. Seriously, so many people move things they'll just throw away once they get to their new place. Only move things that you love and that are useful. The worst feeling is packing something cumbersome, moving it, and unpacking it, and realizing you have to put it back to your car to take to the dumpster or donation center. Talk about inefficient.
4. Compare dimensions before you move. If you don't know the doorway, hallway, and room dimensions, make some phone calls beforehand! If your items are too large then either take them apart before you pack them up or don't move them. The last thing you want is to scratch up the walls of your new place or scramble to find tools to disassemble furniture outside of your doorway when you're stressed out.
5. Set a deadline for unpacking. Many people are excited to move into a new place, but by the time they've finished unpacking and can truly enjoy the space their lease is already half over. I usually give myself 48 hours to complete the unpacking and initial decorating.
6. Don't fear Craigslist. Remember how desperate you feel to get rid of things when your moving day approaches. You're willing to practically give things away if someone will just come take it off your hands. In your new city there will be people in that exact position. You never know what people need to get rid of. I bought a great TV from an "industry girl" in Las Vegas. The apartment might have been dark and filled with marijuana fumes, but the TV works great. I like to think we rescued it.
7. Intentionally purchase either a) forever pieces or b) disposable pieces. Mentally categorize the item before you buy it. Forever pieces are an investment you know you will move with you to the next place (i.e. televisions, certain furniture, beds, and apparel that transitions to multiple climates). Recognize a disposable piece when you see it, and don't over-invest (i.e. bath mats, shower curtains, trash cans, climate-specific clothing). This becomes very important for long distance or overseas moves.
8. Reconsider buying something you cannot move yourself. When I buy furniture I ask myself, "Dylan, can you lift this?" You never know when you'll find yourself in a tricky situation without help.
9. Distribute weight evenly across boxes. Initially it sounds like a good idea to pack all your books into one box to keep them organized. You'll regret that when you're struggling to carry a 75 lb box up up the stairs.
10. Don't move food. I've seen people literally transport multiple boxes of canned goods and pantry items. Think ahead the month before your move and use up as much as you can. Bake for your coworkers and neighbors. Make dinner for friends and family. Donate the rest to the food shelter.
11. Spend the month before moving collecting boxes and newspapers. The biggest waste is spending hundreds of dollars on packing materials from Lowes that you'll just throw away. A moving company might offer to provide the boxes and packing materials, but there will be a large markup, so if you're paying for the move out of pocket I would avoid that option. You can usually find free boxes at work, from neighbors, at grocery stores, department stores, or in your local dumpster.
12. Keep important personal documents with you and within reach. You never know when you'll need insurance paperwork, passports, birth certificates, social security cards, titles, etc. Don't ever put these things in a box during your moving process. I always kept an "important document" file folder in a tote on me at all times.
13. Save every single receipt. Save receipts for everything related to your move, even if you don't have a company or organization reimbursing you for moving expenses. You'll be so glad you saved these when you do your taxes in the spring.
14. Photograph every corner, crevice, ding, and scratch in your new place. Send your landlord or property manager a file of all images on the same day as your walk-through so that you get your full damage deposit back when you move out.
15. Tackle one task at a time.... one box at a time, one piece of furniture at a time, one room at a time, one trip to the car at a time, one purchase at a time, one contract at a time, and one decision at a time. Anticipate the next step you will take, and don't get into a mental frenzy by thinking about how to climb the huge mountain ahead of you. Instead think about how to be the most strategic in the task or decision at hand.
Many more moving tips to come! This is only the surface.
, by Dylan Jahraus