It is summer in Manhattan, which means the sun is shining, the temperatures brush nigh to the triple digits and students and citizens alike ply their friends with offers of cold beer and pizza in exchange for moving help.
Beer and pizza will not make the venture of moving any more enjoyable (or less sweaty), but these tips just might.
1. Your friends are not professionals.
If you have four or more large items of furniture that you can not move on your own, you should think about hiring professional movers. It may be cheaper to get your friends to help, but what will happen if they damage your grandma’s antique dresser that they “totally — no, really, I’ve got it” dropped down half a flight of concrete stairs? Who is going to pay for the repairs if it goes crashing through a wall at the bottom?
Hint: it will not be the friend who was so desperate for free food they offered to do heavy lifting in more than 90 degree heat. And the cost of replacing damaged property can very quickly outpace what you would have spent hiring two guys and a truck for a couple of hours.
Plan ahead, though. Many people move during the summer months, so book a company for your moving day at least a few weeks in advance.
2. Small boxes are more efficient than large tubs.
I get the appeal of throwing everything in a room into one large bin. Packing is finished faster, and you have less total boxes. But then you are stuck with nine 80-pound storage bins instead of 30 smaller boxes you can carry on your own.
Also, plastic bins are pricey. It really is not worth buying them unless you can use them to store other things in your new place. Who has that kind of storage space? Probably not you.
Unless you plan on repurposing them as a TV stand slash dinner table (seriously, what is wrong with you?), skip the bins.
3. Label by room, not by content
Your life will be a lot easier if you already know while packing what items are going in what rooms after the move. Box items accordingly.
Barring some drastic reorganization, things in one room before the move will end up in an equivalent room after the move. Whether or not you have time to reorganize before the move depends on how far in advance you planned.
The last thing you want is to be anxiously fretting about is where your Nicholas Cage action figure collection will look best while you are up to your eyeballs in packing paper and cardboard.
4. Too much stuff to move? Congratulations, you are now a minimalist.
Have too much stuff and worried about fitting all of it into your new place? Worry not! In each room of your current location, put all of your things in a large pile in the center of the floor. Instead of picking out items to donate or throw away, choose items to keep. Work from the assumption everything in the pile will go unless you make the deliberate choice to keep it.
Still too difficult? Employ the “six month rule.” If you have not used it, worn it or looked at it in more than six months, it automatically goes into the donation or trash pile. If you have a lot of stuff to donate, contact a few local charities to see if you can schedule a special pickup, and then enjoy your tax write-off (and your extra storage space).
5. Make an “open me first” box.
You can label it however will help you remember what it is for, but this might be the most important box on the moving truck. This box is the first one you will open when you arrive at your new place.
It will contain all of the essentials everyone always inconveniently forgets: toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, wet wipes, light bulbs, extension cords, a power strip, heavy duty trash bags, a new bottle of hand soap, a nail file, several water bottles, a package of picture hangers, a small hammer and a retractable box cutter for each person assisting with unpacking.
Oh, and do not forget $20 in an envelope for takeout. You know deep down in your heart you are not going to feel like unpacking all of the dishes or making a trip to the grocery store on the day you move.
6. When it comes to unpacking, remember “OHIO.”
This acronym, “OHIO,” stands for “only handle it once.”
Avoid setting something down on a table “just for a few minutes” until you can think of somewhere to put it or shoving an extra box in a cabinet “just for now.” Before you know it, “just for now” turns into “where did I put that again?”
Once an item is out of a box, commit to putting it away exactly where it belongs the first time to avoid extra work later.
The more organized you are in the unpacking process, the more quickly you can enjoy the excitement of living in a new place without feeling bogged down by the stress of unpacked boxes.
Moving may never be fun, but a little bit of planning now will save you undue stress later.