How to get ready for the packers when it's time to move - and other horror stories
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
More by this Author
Not well-known facts about the wives of American Presidents.
America's views on crimes and punishment are altered by the passage of time.
For every American with a drop of red blood, a taste for Mom's apple pie, and a love of the game of baseball, West Point is a must-see.