Moving Advice From A Modern Day Nomad

I have moved over fifteen times in my twenty-five years of life. Those moves have consisted of either an entirely new home, new school, new city/town, new state, and have even occurred throughout my college years. I guess you could say, by now, I am an expert mover—but the truth is, I’m not, and no one is.

Moving is difficult. It’s a process that usually begins well before you actually load up a truck with all of your belongings. The stages of moving can be daunting and time-consuming and sometimes distraught with emotions of uncertainty and the upheaval alone can cause some of us to be in a constant state of anxiety. But at the same time, the process is sort of cathartic. The ability to look over one’s belongings and evaluate what brings joy and what should remain is something that everyone should do annually, let alone whenever you move.

I moved to the bay area approximately two years ago and have moved once since then. Now, as my lease is drawing to an end, I am attempting to pack up both my and my roommates belongings and trek halfway across the country to Austin, TX, leaving behind my beloved home state of California, to reside within muggy Texas, all the while knowing, that throughout every move, I have incurred quite a great deal of moving experience. Below, I will impart my hard-earned wisdom, all I ask is that you share your own in the comments.

Advice #1: Assume You Have More Stuff Than You Think You Do

“We don’t have a lot of kitchen stuff, we can pack up all of that stuff the morning of.” This is by far the worst mistake anyone has ever said and is completely UNTRUE. You have so much stuff, especially kitchen stuff. Think of all of the stuff you have in your house, and then double it. If you feel like you have so much stuff that you might need to put some of the stuff in storage, know that by virtue of that decision, you’re deeming it unnecessary, simply get rid of it.

Advice #2: Get Rid of It

The one thing that is often most difficult for people, is purging items. In actuality, this is the best thing you could ever do for yourself. It frees you of emotional attachments and additional clutter. Marie Kondo type purging is necessary. (If you aren’t familiar with Marie Kondo, this basic principle is: you’re supposed to ask yourself whether your belongings bring you joy and if they don’t, you get rid of them. Personally, I find Marie Kondo to sound a bit like a serial killer so I don’t necessarily take her advice at book value. I do, however, apply almost similar principals towards packing: if you don’t love it, don’t pack it.) All paper shredding and Beacon’s Closet donating needs to be done well in advance.

Advice #3: Use Your Luggage

This is possibly the best advice I have ever received through experience. I mean everyone has luggage, and the truth is, storing bags within bags is not productive. Instead, opt for storing out of season clothing, extra blankets, duvets, etc. I once was able to fit my entire closet, sans shoes, in my suitcases.

Advice #4: Set Up Your Utilities Beforehand

Don’t be the person who travels halfway across the country, through the hot desert, without ac, to then arrive at your apartment, home, wherever, to find that there is no electricity, no hot water, and your moving truck has not arrived yet, so you end up sleeping on blankets on the floor. Trust me.

Advice #5: Either Unpack Right Away or Suffer The Consequences

I have ALWAYS been the person who takes the momentum of moving and jumps headfirst in all aspects. From unpacking to decorating, usually within the first week, I am fully set up. I have, however, had friends in the past who have lived in their apartment for over a year, and every time I come over it looks like a construction zone. Boxes are still lining walls, walls are painted in samples, and they spend half of their time complaining about the mess rather than just solving it quickly. Push yourself to the limit, suck it up, and then it’ll be over—you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor for a full year—hell maybe even longer. Even if this means that you can’t decorate right away, AT LEAST, unpack.

Advice #6: Moving Doesn’t Move Your Problems

Just because you live in a new space, doesn’t mean that everything that troubled you in your previous space has necessarily left you—although the idea does sound romantic. The truth of the matter is that nothing can fix your issues like facing them head first and dealing with them. Moving doesn’t mean that your problems disappear. Moving can improve some aspects of your life, but it does not, in my experience, fix the hard stuff. Your signif will not be less annoying just because you have 200 extra square feet. Sweeping views of a city will not cure your anxiety, although access to natural sunlight might cure some aspects of depression—you get the point.

A FEW EXTRA TIPS AND DO-DADS: 

Don’t bring plants into California.

Get insurance on the U-Haul in case someone sideswipes you. THIS IS A MUST.

Know that if you move into a five-story walkup you may one day resent that decision, especially when you are carrying groceries you’ve lugged fifteen blocks.

Lift with your legs. No matter how many times I hear this, I feel like I have still never got this situation down.

Know that if you live above a restaurant, you will smell that restaurant morning, noon, and night.

If you can avoid it, don’t drive your belongings cross-country, especially with a romantic partner. It’s probably equally affordable or even cheaper to have someone move them for you, and much less terrible for your relationship.

And finally — most importantly — if you see one bug, there are many, many other bugs, handle that situation, RIGHT AWAY.

Does anyone else have any tips or sage advice they would like to add? I’m on the brink of yet another move across the country, and the destination is Austin, TX. I hear its lovely, I hear its humid AF, I hear people watch bats. Leave your comments down below.