7 ways to survive your next move — and stay sane

Up until the last two weeks, I was one of those weirdly fortunate people who could count on one hand the number of times I’ve moved in my 26 years of life. In chronological order, my moves are:

  1. From my first home in Illinois to the house that is still occupied by my parents and the place I will always consider home, in Wisconsin.
  2. To my college dorm freshman year.
  3. My first college apartment my Sophomore year of college.
  4. A duplex I lived in my Junior and Senior years of college.
  5. Into a beautiful Victorian mansion-converted-duplex that I lived in for three and a half years after college.

Unlike my partner, Joe, who has moved four times alone in the last three years, my life has been relatively stable in that I always loved the places I lived, and all for different reasons. I didn’t have a concrete reason to move.

In spite of the peculiarities of an old house or living with other personality types, I didn’t move unless I had to—which usually comes about due to financial reasons, a career change, or to live with a significant other.

So, because of my, shall we say, lack of experience with moving in general, I had no qualms going into my sixth move in my life: moving in with my significant other, Joe.

I shrugged it off as a necessary hassle and wasn’t in the least bit concerned about the act of moving itself. I was looking forward to living with Joe and not having to worry about where I would be sleeping, if I should be packing a bag for his place, etc., etc. And I didn’t even stop and think about how little help we actually had or how heavy items were, if they would fit into our new place, those kinds of things.

But now that I know all of the things that should be avoided (which is probably super obvious to normal people, but I still feel like it should be said), I figured I would share my newfound knowledge with you all.

So, without further ado, here is the grand list of HOW TO STAY SANE DURING YOUR NEXT MOVE.

  1. Don’t try and move around the holidays because the holidays are for merriment and stress-free activities. Your back, your wallet, and your friends and family will thank you. Our lease was originally for December 1st but we extended it to the last week of November so that we could get a head start. Joe’s work schedule wouldn’t accommodate a day during that week to move so we picked the Saturday after Thanksgiving. A really not so brilliant idea, considering many of my friends and Joe’s were still out of town with family, and my family (wisely) was out of town at a Badger game that day. Even though it was a holiday weekend, our bellies were still full from Thanksgiving food, our heads were still reeling from one too many beers the two evenings before, and our brains were not mentally prepared to handle the logistics of maneuvering large furniture.
  2. MEASURE, MEASURE, MEASURE. If it’s not already obvious to you, we did not do this. As a result of just assuming things could fit through a narrow, sharply angled staircase, we were unable to move our couch, bed frame, box spring, or kitchen table. Fortunately, we developed a rather nifty pulley system, and were able to hoist the bed spring from the ground to the balcony, and through the balcony door. While this seems clever, creating the pulley system and operating it took precious time and energy out of our day.
  3. If you’re not going to use movers, make sure you either A) break up the move, or B) have friends that you’ve recruited/bribed/incentivized with beer and snacks to help. If you don’t move over a holiday weekend, chances are you won’t run into the problem of not having friends or family around to help you. But, if the timing sucks — maybe it’s not a holiday weekend but all of your friends decided to go to Noah’s Ark the same weekend and didn’t invite you, but whatever, it’s cool, you’re not bitter at all — consider breaking up the move over two weekend days so that you don’t pull all of your muscles (just a few of them).
  4. Take breaks and drink lots of water. Speaking of muscles, I pulled more muscles in my body than I knew even existed that day (or at least it felt that way). If you do end up in a situation where you both are so gun-ho about just getting it all done, then make sure you take lots of breaks, hydrate a ton, and allow yourself to rest and move at your own pace. And if you don’t end up in that situation, still drink lots of water, take breaks, and allow yourself to rest because that’s important in all aspects of life.
  5. DON’T DO WHAT I DID AND JUST HIRE MOVERS, ALREADY! I mean, here I am. I survived, yes. And is our place darling? Yes. But the move would have been so much more enjoyable on both of us if we had just left the heavy stuff to professionals.
  6. After all is said and done, and the dust clear, take it one box at a time. I’m definitely one of those people who unpacks my suitcase almost immediately after a trip. And my instinct with moving boxes is to do the same. But the reality is that it will take at least a month for everything to come together, and things will get moved around a few times before it feels right.

OK, so you’re moved. Everything might not be exactly how you want it to be but you’re home. You’re settled. And you can take a deep breath and remind yourself that the next part is the fun part.

This is the part where you get to decorate and unpack and familiarize yourself with all the nooks and crannies of your new home. You may move again, or you may not, but either way, the night after your move, my recommendation is to:

7. Locate the box with the wine glasses in it, take two out, open a bottle of wine, and cheers your partner, your moving buddy, your cat, whomever, to a job well done.

I’m 29 years old and here is what I know about myself: word enthusiast, dog lover, new-found cat lover, over-committer, and oftentimes, loyal to a fault.

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