Packing up is the downside of moving to a new place, but it doesn’t have to be
Along with the excitement of owning a new house or renting a chic new loft comes the challenge of moving out of your old space. But don’t feel overwhelmed by all the organization and shuffling of stuff. Packing up your belongings means more than just protecting your grandmother’s decades-old china and preserving your favorite college armchair.
Planning and organization are keys to a swift, hassle-free move. Take some time to consider all of the possessions that need packing and brainstorm the kinds of supplies that you may need. Boxes and tapes are musts, but think about other supplies that may smooth out the moving process, such as disposable tags to help label intended room destinations or identify the contents within each box.
Purchase a set of black permanent markers to address your boxes or box tags appropriately, and make sure to buy more than just one. A comprehensive packer will note what is inside each box so that, after the move, he or she will be able to locate essentials quickly and easily. Avoid unnecesssarily placing must-have items in obscure boxes. Your cell phone charger should probably not be put in a package of last season’s sweaters, for instance.
Tape and boxes are the essential ingredients, so make sure that you purchase enough and the correct kind. Ensure that your possessions are in prime care with a durable, heavy-duty brand of reinforced tape. Masking tape won’t cut it. To save time, invest in a cheap box cutter in case you have to find something before the move (it’s also useful during unpacking).
Check that the cardboard boxes you purchase will be durable and suit the variety of your belongings. Getting boxes from the local grocery store may be a fix for a light move, but professional packing companies like U-Haul offer a large assortment of boxes in many sizes and shapes, all made out of sturdy materials.
While you are there, look at rental options for trucks and vans. When in doubt, always choose a size larger than you think you need. Making an unnecessary second run after a long day’s work is on no one’s schedule. Check to see if the trucks or vans provide a moving dolly or cloths to protect easily scratched surfaces, breakable electronics or glass.
When filling your boxes, think about combining some of your belongings to make transporting them effortless. Use sweaters for padding dishes and glasses. Stock up on tissue paper or newspaper for all of your drinking glasses and stemware. And make sure not to stuff your boxes so fully that the weight is unbearable.
If you end up hiring movers or packers, be very careful in how you book the help. Eric Swecker recently moved across town into the M Streets neighborhood. Low on both time and cash, Swecker perused the paper and found a moving company offering an unbelievably low rate but the advertised price was unbelievable for a reason.
“I was flat ripped off,” says Swecker. “Not only did the company arrive four hours later than we had discussed, but the movers damaged my coffee table and bedroom furniture and kept hitting the walls of my old place, my new place and the truck. Then, when the bill came, it was way more expensive than what we had discussed, and the company came back with excuse after excuse.”
John Martin of Little John’s Moving Service knows what a bad moving incident can mean to an already harried customer. Martin advises that the customer makes sure to get pricing agreements in writing.
“All of the sudden, the price doubles,” Martin says. “Be sure to call a few companies and ask a lot of questions. Most importantly, get pricing quotes in writing, look for the fine print and make sure that the company sticks to their quotes.”
Research a variety of moving and packing companies to see what terms and conditions each offers. Discuss moving times and establish a mutually agreed upon window. And of course nail down how and when the arrangements are paid.
For those who decide to move themselves with the help of friends or family, the golden rule is to provide food and drink. Nothing says thank you better than pizza and beer.
Little John’s Moving Service, 214-780-0470.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, March 3, 2006.