Whether you are in the military or not moving is no fun. Here are a few tips to help make the process a little easier...
Tip #1- Hang on to important moving boxes. TV, computer, china, etc. if it was expensive and came in a special box with Styrofoam that molds to it then try your best to not throw it out. I learned from my sister’s many Army moves that TV’s don’t do well when you or your movers wrap them but if you put them back in their original box they will last through many more moves.
I know that space is often limited so be creative with your storage solutions. Our china boxes are hidden on top of our kitchen cabinets, the molding along the top is just high enough to disguise them. They also provide a great platform to display accessories. The empty TV box is light enough to rest on the rafters in the attic and we break down and store as many standard boxes under the beds that we can. *Broken down moving boxes act as great drop clothes for paint projects too.
Tip #2- When you need more boxes, and you always need more boxes find free ones before you buy. Craigslist and SargesList are a great place to find free boxes. People are always moving and most people don't move as often as us so they want to get rid of their empty boxes. Before our last move I found a guy willing to give me as many boxes as I could fit in my car for free just because he didn't want to have to haul them off to the dump. Ask around on your military base and check with local military family groups too, I am sure you will find someone who will give or sell you their extra packing material. (When buying stuff off any classified add be sure to take someone with you and let a 3rd party know where you are going, you can never be too careful. There are a lot of crazies out there)
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Tip #3- Organize. This may seem obvious but the more organized you are the easier the move will be. Clearly mark the boxes that contain things you know you are going to need right away when you get to your new home. I like to pack a few basic pots, pans and 2 sets of dishes, glasses and silverware in one box together so that I don't have to search through several to eat a bowl cereal the first morning. Same goes for clothes and toiletries, pack a three day survival kit to give yourself time to get settled.
Label, label, label! A Sharpie is a movers best friend. On the outside of EVERY box, list the room it goes in, the type of items and the major things that you know you will need to find easily. It always helps to keep like things together
Tip #4- Keep it light. Even if you hire movers, at some point you will have to move boxes around so don't over do the weight. Pack heavy items such as books in small boxes and only fill them half way with books and fill the rest of the space with your lightest items such as pillows and towels. This is one area where you may find yourself mixing random things together but your back will thank you.
Use as few large boxes as possible and keeping most of your boxes uniform in size helps with fitting them easily into moving vans and storage units.
Tip #5- Everything soft is packing material. Bubble wrap and peanuts can get expensive and wasteful so get creative with packing materials. You have to pack your towels, pillowcases, blankets, sweaters, etc. anyway so may as well get double duty out of them. Try to keep them with the correct room as much as possible. Kitchen towels and aprons make great wraps for dishes and glasses, socks are great for perfume bottles and small trinkets, and throw pillows are perfect cushions for large picture frames. Old comforters and mattress pads can be wrapped around furniture to help keep it from getting scratched and dinged.
Tip #6- Contain your liquids . One of the most frustrating things to pack is liquids. Most moving companies won't take cleaning chemicals, paints, etc. but replacing every bottle of bleach, can of Lysol and jug of laundry detergent can add up really quickly so if you can salvage any here is how to transport them. First, don't buy anything new for at least a month before your move and make do with what you have. For the things you can't use up, close every lid as tight as possible and use ZipLoc bags, plastic wrap and rubber bands to help seal them. Use mop buckets and plastic bins to store the bottles upright then wrap the entire thing in trash bags and clearly mark which side is up. You will most likely have to move these items yourself and if you aren't driving to your new home then unfortunately you will have to start fresh.
Tip#7- Take advantage of the positives to moving. As stressful and frustrating as moving can be, it provides you with a great opportunity to clean out and purge yourself of any unneeded items. Start early and take small steps. Go room by room, drawer by drawer, shelf by shelf. As you go make 3 piles; Pack, Trash, and Donate/Sell. Get rid of trash as you go, letting bags pile up will just add to the chaos. Use a spare room, extra closet, or unused corner to store boxes as they are filled pack it first and use the space to store boxes as they are filled. Sell the quality items on Craigslist, have a yard sale or take them to a consignment shop and donate the rest to your favorite charity. Many will even come pick the donations up such as Habitat for Humanity and local women shelters. If you are in the military don't forget to ask your local Family Group if they know of anyone who is in need of any of the items you have. There are always soldiers and families that would love to have your old tube TV or basement sofa.
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Tip #9-Don't forget the other parts to moving. A few weeks before the big day, schedule your cable, internet, phone, utilities, etc. to be turned off at your current home and on at your new home. Give yourself a day or two wiggle room in case your move date changes at the last minute. You will probably have to be in the new home for many of these services to be activated so if you can't be there early be prepared to live without internet, cable and possibly gas for a day or so. Have your mail forwarded for at least a year and change your address with your bank, credit cards, etc. If you are renting, make sure to check your lease and give notice to your landlord that you are moving out. Most states require a months notice and if it is a military move they can not withhold your security deposit for breaking a lease early. But, if you don't give adequate notice and you do not have military orders then they can refuse to return your security deposit (trust me, I learned this the hard way).
Tip#10- Overlap your moving days. Whether you are moving locally, across the country or around the world, you should always overlap the end of your current and the beginning of your future lease. 3 to 5 days at least to be safe. You never know what kind of delays can occur, moving trucks can be held up, old tenants may not move out in time and landlords are notorious for not having properties ready. You never want to end up homeless with no where to keep your things.