Ah moving… ain’t it a bitch? We’ve got tips upon tips for you, but here are six more from a couple of frequent movers.
For most of my four-year relationship, my partner Derek and I have lived together in some way. Our relationship progressed into keeping a home together. The transition felt natural, except for one thing: as college students, school necessitates us to move much more often than most homemakers do.
Last year, we lived with family in New England for six weeks during Christmas, and we lived in China for a month for school. The last two years, we moved out of our school housing to rent an apartment for just four months until school housing would open at the end of August.
We are thankful for the opportunities that school brings us, but we agree that a stable home will be the first thing we look for when we finish school. Moving every few months is exhausting, especially when we know that every move will be just as short-term as the last, at least in the near future.
Here are the six things I’ve learned to do, to make our constant moves a lot easier…
1. Orchestrate your moves well ahead of time
There’s nothing more stressful than coming down to the last week of April and realizing you have to move in the first week of May. Plan your moves weeks or months ahead of time if you can. Figure out who is going to help you, where you’re moving to, and when you need to move the utilities and internet to the new address. You don’t want to get home and start unpacking only to realize at sundown that you never turned the electricity on.
2. Maintain a spacious storage area
Chances are that every move will be different. Some spaces will be completely furnished, and some will come with nothing but a toilet. Know where to rent a storage space if you need to keep some furniture there for a few months. If you have a friend or a family member with an empty garage who offers to help, compensate them for the space. Space is precious and your furniture is expensive — you don’t want to throw it out just to replace it in a few months.
3. Cultivate relationships and connections that will help you in future moves.
If you’ll be moving frequently in the same area, treat your landlords well because you’ll probably rent from them in the future. If not, still treat your landlords well because you’ll need a recommendation for future rentals. Or because you want to be a good tenant!
4. Thank the people that help you
If your mom or a friend helps you every few months when moving time rolls around, make sure he or she knows how much you appreciate the help. Small gestures go a long way. Bake your helpers some treats once you’re settled in, or buy them lunch if you aren’t the baking type. Give hugs and high fives. If you can, return the favor sometime. Remember to say “thank you.”
5. Learn to improvise and save space
Our biggest space-saver has been forfeiting a real bed in favor of an airbed. We splurged and spent $300 because we know that we’ll be sleeping on it every night for parts of the year and it needs to be comfortable. Use collapsible comfy chairs, stackable drawers, and those awesome airless storage bags — whatever gets the job done and takes up less room.
6. Figure out what makes your space “home”
For me, it’s a clean kitchen. For Derek, it’s his video games and TV. For both of us, it’s our bed set up and ready for sleep, with the blankets and pillows in just the right configuration. Every time you move, unpack these things first so that if you don’t get through everything, you can still go to sleep feeling like you’re home on the first night. Moving is hugely stressful and you don’t want to spend your first night feeling on edge.
Luckily, there are some benefits to moving so often…
Because we don’t have the time to get attached to a space, we are flexible and can find something to love about every new home we move into.
We know how to keep our belongings sparse when it matters: no qualms about getting rid of junk that takes up space.
Most importantly, moving so often strengthened our relationship and we discovered that no matter where we are, we are happy because we are together. Our communication is great because it takes so much communication to set up a single move, let alone four of them per year. (This might be different for you: everyone deals with stress differently, and not everyone who moves a lot is in a relationship or living with a partner.)
Of course, it will be thrilling to move into our first long-term apartment together after graduation. Settling down will feel amazing after dealing with the stress of constant moves for years. In the meantime, we will take the stress with the blessings and remember that home is where you make it.
Any other frequent movers out there? What’s YOUR sage moving advice?