How to get ready for the packers when it's time to move - and other horror stories

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God found Satan in the Book of Job roaming the earth to and fro. Thus became the experience of moving. And don't miss the point. It was Satan who was doing the roaming.

I have the greatest respect for those who work in the field of real estate and moving companies because I can't think of an experience in life froth with more frustration for everyone involved. Just thinking about it makes me want to put my head down until the idea of it passes. But people do it all the time, some by choice, some by the choice being forced upon them. I'm not sure which situation is worse.

As someone who has had the experience of moving from both sides of that coin (choice or force) I believe I have knowledge to share on the subject.

The first thing to know about moving is: don't assume your friends will help you move. This is where you really find out who your friends are, and even the best of them will only provide this service a limited number of times, and only if it is reciprocated. And whether they will help when you need them, and how you need them, and for as long as you need them, is highly questionable.

The second thing to know is: it is never too expensive to hire professional movers, and not just for the big, heavy pieces of furniture. The real time consuming, energy exhausting part of moving is packing all the little stuff, like everything in your kitchen and bathroom. It costs a couple of thousand dollars to hire a team to do this for you, providing their own materials, and getting it all done in a day. If you are moving because you just got a better job and a pay raise, use the first couple of paychecks to save yourself the hassle of doing this yourself, and arrive at your new employment with all your brain cells intact. Your new boss will be grateful.

If it is within your means to hire professionals, remember, you are the customer and you make the rules. Insist they mark each box by what room the items were in. Don't let them mix rooms together. This one act will do more to help you find what you need in the new location than any other one thing you do.

Also, never let a box be marked miscellaneous. There is no such thing. At least mark it MISC kitchen or MISC kid’s room. There is something in that box. Make the packers give you a fighting chance at having a clue what it is.

Keep a list of every box and check them off as they are both loaded on the truck and unloaded at the new location. The moving company should provide one that you and the supervisor will both sign when the packing is done. This brings me to the subject of manpower. Best case: never have more packers in your house than you can supervise. If you have three packers, try to have two people on hand to help you keep an eye on them to make sure they do follow your instructions. You don't want to get in their way, and you don't want to make enemies of the very people who are handling your dearest possessions. But if you allow a team of six workers to pack your house and you are the only one supervising, there is no way you can be sure things are being done the way you need them to be done. And you are the customer.

If at all possible, do a door to door move. Boxes are more likely to get lost and damage is more likely to happen every time your stuff is loaded and unloaded between the truck and the warehouse. Sometimes this situation cannot be avoided, but any time it can be, it is worth avoiding.

Now this is a matter of preference. Some people prefer to have their boxes brought into the house and placed in the rooms they are marked to go in. I prefer to have them unloaded into a garage or basement so I have the freedom to unpack at my own pace without the clutter of boxes reminding me I'm on the clock to get settled in my new place. There is an argument to be made for letting the movers unpack for you, but you'll pay more for that. The benefit is having useable living space immediately, and they take the mess of the boxes and packing materials with them when they go.

By all means, do have the movers set your furniture where you want it. Make good use of those hired workers while you have them for the heavy lifting.

Now for the horror stories. Good idea to pack your travel bags and put them in your car before the packers come. I once had a packed suitcase put into moving box. I didn't see it again for four thousand miles. Once I missed emptying a trash can in the bathroom and ended up unwrapping it in a MISC bath box at the new house. It was not a pleasant experience.

On the other hand, I had a neighbor unpack a houseplant once that successfully made the trip from North Carolina to Washington State unharmed. It had been closed up in the darkness of a sealed box for six weeks. She gave it a good watering and a new potful of dirt, and it was happy to be home again.

When we moved to Germany in the 1980s, we arrived to find the bookcase mirror for our master bedroom set didn't make it across the pond. The Army reimbursed us for the cost of a used part of a set, which wasn't much, and we spent three years without a mirror in the bedroom. OK, worse things have happened. But when we got our shipment from storage at our next post, to what should our wondering eyes now appear? The bookcase mirror that just spent three years in a storage unit back in the states instead of making the trip to Germany with the rest of our household goods. I don't think the Army asked for their reimbursement back, but I can't swear to it.

A friend in the Army recently moved from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Fort Hood, Texas. All her belongings went into storage while she and her helicopter pilot husband searched for a house to buy. When they finally accomplished that task and had their shipment delivered, 18 boxes were missing. Eighteen! This is why you never let the movers mark any box "miscellaneous" and why you ask them not to mix rooms. Trying to remember what was in 18 boxes is hard enough without even a hint as to what was supposed to be in that (or those) box(s) or what room they were from in the old house.

Moving can be full of surprises -just not necessarily full of fun. Satan and the roaming to and fro. Remember how all this started.

In print by Kathleen Cochran

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Comments 18 comments

The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Kath - That factored into my decision to go ahead and retire after 23 years of service. No matter how careful those movers were, I lost many of my treasures over the years and even with insurance by the time they depreciated some things they were essentially junk value.

Some things I accumulated in Europe were distinctly European and unless I was there they were irreplaceable.

Just a few thoughts on the experience.

Great Hub.

The Frog


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Moving was the worst part of the military. I remember crying over a pine cone Christmas wreath I made with a group of girlfriends at our first assignment. The packers had no idea what it was and threw it into a box with a lot of other loose stuff. With every box I unpacked when my soldier retired I said, I'll never do this again. Thanks for sharing.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Excellent Hub. I was usually excited about moving (although very sad to leave friends), but then that was because I was the military dependent-child, not the military wife who had to do all the work. To do this day, I get antsy and want to rearrange my furniture every so often, because for years and years that is what we did. :)


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

After we left the Army, every three years I'd start cleaning out closets, the basement, the garage. My husband would look me straight in the eye and tell me to relax, the movers weren't coming. I still go through the cycle.


oldandwise 4 years ago

Informative hub. I was an independent mover with Atlas Van Lines for over 20 years. Your move is only as good as your driver and owner operators generally provide the best moves. This because, all claims come out of the own pockets. Also hire a large moving company, they might cost a bit more but more reputable. Also consider asking for a prime fleet driver. These drivers (I was one) are considered the best of the best and priorty load.voted up!


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

oldandwise: Fascinating to hear from the other side! Great advice. One thing I didn't include in the hub that you might find interesting: there seemed to be a direct link between my happiness with my move and the number of female packers I had. They understood the value of homemade things and keepsakes. Thanks for the comments!


iffcohome 3 years ago

best packers and movers in delhi

iffco home http://www.iffcohome.com


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

iffcohome: Good recommendation. Don't think I'll be moving to Delhi any time soon! Merry!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Hi Kathleen, I can certainly empathise with what you've said. My Dad was in the Navy and our childhood family moved a number of times. In first grade I lived in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and New Jersey. We lost our share of treasured belongings due to damage or just ridding ourselves of excess baggage. As a military family, we knew never to unpack the last box or we'd be certain to receive new orders. lol. Where I am now is the longest I've ever lived in any one place and yet I'm finding myself looking toward getting rid of excess stuff, "just in case".


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I sooo see myself in your comment! We've been retired and in the same house for 18 years. Every three to four years I have to clean out the basement, the garage and the closets. I can't help it. My husband finds me doing this and reminds me that we don't get PCS orders any more!

Welcome to my hubs.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 21 months ago from New York

I haven't moved in 43 years and after reading this I remember why, not to mention the accumulation of "stuff" I have. My sister-in-law used to tell me I had to move once in a while, then I'd get rid of that stuff.

You offer very good suggestions, spoken from experience and handled with humor.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 21 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Til: I haven't moved in about 20 years, but every three years I get an overwhelming compulsion to clean closets, the basement and garage. My soldier/husband notices and reminds me that orders for PCS don't come any more!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 7 months ago from America

I am moving. I'm to old for this. My mind is going in a million directions trying to figure out what to keep and what to get rid of. I also have a barn full of stuff. My kids are to busy to give me much help or to far away. My friends are to old. I really do need movers and should check into the price. I would hire someone to help but that is why I'm leaving here I can never find anyone to hire. I will get it done I always do I have 4 weeks to do it. Enjoyed reading your hub.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

moonlake: What a situation! Do you go to a church that might have a youth group looking for a project? Boy Scouts looking for community service? I know how overwhelming it can be.

One suggestion resulting from our experience cleaning up after a flood in our basement: When you are deciding what to keep, ask yourself who will be the next person to go through your things, deciding what to do with all of it? It so helped us to look at our keepsakes through our children's eyes. What are they going to value? It helped break through the emotional ties that bound us to things from the past that only meant something to us. Good Luck!


moonlake profile image

moonlake 7 months ago from America

Kids are coming this weekend to help and all the weekends until the move so that is good. It will get done now. I'm getting rid of so much stuff.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 7 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

moonlake: My condolences for what you are going through. My congratulations for what you are accomplishing. Good for you to have kids to help. One thing I've learned as I've gotten older and watched several friends get left with the family home: Don't be the last family member standing! Good Luck.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 5 months ago from sunny Florida

Been here, done this more,many more times than I wish I had. You have included some important tips to keep in mind....

Angels are once again on the way to you. ps


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

pstraubie48: Actually, I haven't done this in 21 years! But I did it a lot before that!!! Another 20 years worth.

We're thinking about downsizing for retirement. We'd rather spend those monthly payments on travel. My only hesitation is the idea of - OMG! - MOVING!!!!!!!!!!!

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