A year ago, my wife and I moved from California to Idaho, into an apartment while our house was built. It was one of worst weeks of my life, and I am surprised my marriage survived. I made these mistakes, so you didn’t have to, and can learn from the worst week of my life.
1. Throw it away
About a week before we were to move, we came to a startling realization: We owned way too much stuff. Boxes of books, bed frames, mattresses—enough for two moving trucks. We only had one moving truck. Math isn’t my strong suit, but that doesn’t look good. We were going to need to make a second trip, back to California, reload, and go back to Idaho—540 miles one way. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Remember to get rid of things you don’t absolutely need. If you haven’t used it in six months, toss it. Be brutal. Here’s a list of a few things you can skip packing. Two of those items—gifts we were too polite to toss, and old art, made it onto the truck. Since moving, we got rid of some of the gifts. The art sits next to my car in the garage, sticking out of plastic containers, and we’ve already starting hanging up new art.
2. Professionals are much faster at packing
All that stuff had to go in a yellow moving truck, which we affectionately named Sven. We packed what we could the first day. That night, we realized that, at the rate we were going, it would take at least all day to do the remaining packing. So we used an online service to hire a couple guys, who did the same amount of packing that took us all day in about two hours. They had Sven totally packed by mid-afternoon.
If I could, I would make every tip “hire someone to do the packing for you” after this move. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself.
On June 24, 2015, we left California—my wife driving Sven, and me driving her SUV. Fun fact: In 2015, Idaho was ranked second in terms of percentage of people moving into the state vs. moving out, with 63 percent of moves inbound. California, meanwhile, had a fairly balanced inbound-to-outbound ratio.
3. Plan on leaving early
Our goal was to leave early in the morning. We ended up leaving closer to noon due to poor planning. We completed the 540-mile trip just after midnight—something I don’t recommend. Being in an unfamiliar area at night, let alone dealing with traffic on the highway, was too much stress after a 12-hour drive. My wife was already tired from 10 hours of driving the truck,
4. See it with your own eyes
It’s not unusual for someone on a dating app to use an old photo that is flattering—or sometimes use a photo of someone else entirely. Except our person was an apartment.
The complex was also just across the street from a psych ward, and literally across the train tracks. The apartment was the right price, and we agreed to live there, sight-unseen. We had only spent a few weekends in Boise and didn’t know it wasn’t a great area.
To make matters worse, my wife scraped Sven against a parked car. Luckily, the only damage was to Sven. Remember: Opt for the damage insurance. When moving, it’s worth it. Our nerves were frayed, though, and it was now past 12:30 a.m. To recap, we were wiped out from driving all day, aching from what packing we did, and in a very unfamiliar area across from a psych ward.
We opened the front door and a decade’s worth of smoke assaulted our noses. When we tried to turn the light on, nothing happened. I looked to see if there was even a bulb. There was, and it was on—and was a blacklight. It pushed us past the breaking point, and we left the apartment after being inside for all of two minutes. She sat on the curb and cried while I paced the lot, weighing our options.
5. If it seems too good…
It was suddenly obvious why the management was willing to let us sign papers and give them a check the next morning—anything to get someone in the room and generate rent. This meant, however, that we were under no legal obligation to stay there, or pay them anything. Without a signed lease agreement, we decided to leave, sending a nice email to the management regarding our decision.
6. Always have a backup plan
We were officially homeless, in a city where we knew no one. The clock struck 1 a.m. as we called the hotel we usually stayed at. They were full, but knew of a hotel downtown that had a vacancy. We called and secured the room. They even had a parking lot across the street where Sven would fit. We crashed for the night.
As soon as we were awake, we were searching the internet for apartments. What we found was either too expensive or wouldn’t lease for only six months—when our new house would be ready. My wife found an apartment that had been full when we originally looked for a place a couple months prior, but had just opened a new building, at a price we could afford (but only one bedroom instead of two), and could get us in with a six-month lease after a background check. Our luck was changing.
7. Is there a doctor nearby?
We had already rented a storage unit and had used a size estimator to figure out what to take. My mother-in-law, who lived with us, was staying in California for six months or so, but then joining us out in Idaho. We took some of her stuff with us, figuring we could use the space in the apartment. But now we had a smaller apartment. The unit was going to be a tight fit.
We started unpacking things from the truck by ourselves because apparently, we don’t learn from previous experiences. It was also the hottest week of the year in Boise; June 27 and 28, it was 106 and 110 degrees. On the outskirts of the metro area, where the storage facility is located, it was 113 on June 28. Though it was hard work, moving two mattresses and other heavy pieces of furniture, and it was hot enough to melt us, plus coupled with getting little sleep after a long day of driving the previous day, we pushed through. Until I dropped a wooden hutch on her ankle. There was a lot of blood.
Despite getting bandages from the storage complex owners, we needed a doctor. And it’s amazingly hard to find an open doctor’s office on a Thursday afternoon in the middle of summer. We arrived at the nearest office 10 minutes after closing, begging to be seen, but the doctor was sick and had gone home early. It took 20 minutes to find another Urgent Care. We left at about 5:20 p.m., and decided we were eating in. We ordered delivery. Never forget this is an option. Scope out pizza places, fast food places, or anything on GrubHub. It’s worth it when moving.
8. Professionals are much faster at unloading
Did I mention you should hire people to load and unload? Weary, hurting, and ready to be done, we hired more guys to unpack what was left of the truck into the storage unit. They made quick work of it. When they were done, we hopped back in Sven and drove back to California—luckily leaving in the morning and making it back to our old house by dinner time. We didn’t bother trying to pack the rest ourselves, and again hired professionals to pack the rest into Sven the next morning. And then it was back to Idaho. I drove my car, with our cat as co-pilot. She meowed every 30 seconds for 12 hours.
9. Be prepared to celebrate
It was now June 27—the official start of our lease. One more round of professionals unloading Sven into our new apartment, and we were done. When they left, we cracked open a bottle of whiskey and used our fancy champagne flutes, that we used at our wedding. We could finally relax. Somehow, we were still sane. We didn’t give up or kill each other. We yelled at each in stress. We cried at the circumstances. My wife bled (admittedly my fault.) But we persevered.
What have we learned? Hire professionals when packing and unpacking moving trucks. If at all possible, see the apartment or house with your own eyes before agreeing to sign a lease. Always have a Plan B, even if it’s staying on a friend’s couch. Always know where a local doctor’s office is located, and office hours. Damage insurance on the moving truck is worth it. Scope out places that deliver food. And have your favorite alcohol and fancy glasses ready for when it’s time to breath a sigh of relief and celebrate.
Source: 30dB.com – Moving House
“Ok, Social is stating the obvious here but at 62% negative and the top three sentiment expressions being stress it’s safe to say moving your home is typically a mess.” – Howard K. 30dB
Photos courtesy of author