Friday Five: Five golden rules of packing

Boxes ready to move

My stuff (well most of it) is now on the way to Auckland. Things are a bit more real. The 19th move is under way. Wait, no it’s not. The 21st move is under way. (I just realised I forgot to count moving to Clacton-on-Sea and back when I was 23. NOMADIC.)

As moving seems to be the accidental theme for this week, I thought I’d round it off with what I’ve learned from the many moves I’ve made. Some of these things are gained from long experience, some particularly from this move, which is the first time I’ve willingly decluttered and downsized extensively before moving.

1) You have more stuff than you think you do.

Doesn’t matter how well you think you know your wardrobe, or your fabric stash, or yarn stash, or furniture, or books…there is always more of it than you think there is, and usually a lot more.

I thought my yarn stash was down to one 60l tub. Then I found the rest of it.

Bear this in mind when you’re getting removal quotes where the amount of space you’re taking in a container has a bearing on the cost (bonus golden rule about this at the bottom!). Obviously, with all this stuff, you could just sit there like Smaug in the Lonely Mountain but, if you’re moving house, you’re going to have to pack it. Which brings me to…

2: You can take it with you…but you shouldn’t take all of it.

Moving is a really fantastic chance to declutter. It gives you a great question to ask yourself- “do I need/want this in my life enough to pay to move it to my new place?” (‘do I have space for this in my new place- and do I love this enough to make space for it?’ is also a good question). I’ve sold almost all the furniture I own, with two notable exceptions: a big chest of drawers, and a sewing machine table. It took me ages to find a chest in the style that one is, at the right price, in good condition. I like the sewing table, it’s the right size for my sewing machine or my laptop and the right height to act as a little desk. Neither item was easy to find, thus, they go with me.

On the other hand, while I like my bed, and it’s comfortable, moving it to Auckland when I got it second hand on Trade Me for $100, isn’t really worth it. So I sold it, and am taking the opportunity to buy an actually new new bed at the other end of the trip.

If you’re decluttering by donating, it’s worth noting that at least in NZ (and I suspect other places too), charity shops will often have a truck so they can come and collect large donations and take them away. If, like me, you’re getting rid of a lot of stuff and don’t drive, this is a godsend!

Once you’ve worked out what’s going to the new place, and what’s just going, it’s time for rule 3.

3: You will need more boxes than you think you will.

Yes, even if you decluttered with a will. But the chances are, friends of yours have boxes. Especially if they’ve moved recently. Ask around, or if all else fails go and see if you can sneak round the back of a local shopping park and grab a bunch of boxes out of their skips. Or if you’re more above-board, go into a big shop and ask if you could have some. But it seems more punk rock to go sneak them out of the skip to me. It’s a mini adventure! You know, if you look at it the right way. Yes, you COULD buy fancy packing boxes from the removal company but if they don’t insist on it, free is better.

4: Books are heavy.

Books. Are. Heavy. Pack them in smaller boxes. Don’t ask me how I know. Put it this way, I learned the stupid way.

5: Set up your bed first.

You are going to be tired when you get to the new place. Plan accordingly. However motivated you THINK you’ll be to unpack, the absolute best thing I’ve learned is that the very first thing you should set up when you arrive is your bed. To that end, it’s a good idea to have, in a readily accessible suitcase, your sheets and pillowcases, and to make sure that your duvet and pillows are the first thing you find. You could pack all said bedding in a box, clearly labelled. In fact I’d recommend it- put it all in one place, in one box, so you only have to deal with one thing apart from the bed itself.

That way, no matter what, you’ll have a place to sleep. Once you’ve made your bed, you don’t even have to unpack anything else! You could just go get some takeout, and then go to sleep. Trust me when I say this thought will be incredibly cheering on moving day.

Bonus round- 6: International freight is competitive- make the most of this.

If you are planning a move to or from the UK, where the other end of the trip is Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, there is a lively and competitive market made up of companies who want your business. This means even if you hate haggling, you can usually get a good price for moving your stuff, from the company you want to move with. Don’t just look at price, see what you think of the company. Are they reputable? Have they got good feedback? (word-of-mouth recommendations for movers are worth their weight in gold). Get prices from a few different places, then go back to the company you want to go with. Tell them you want to go with them, but you were hoping they could match the price of the lower quote. If they’ll match the lowest quote, great. If they can’t but will reduce the price a bit, then hey, you can still go with the company you want to use but pay less to do it.

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