I can just hear Darth Vader mouth-breathing and saying over me, “The gypsy force is strong with this one.” With my dad in the military, my moving adventures began several months after my birth. Apparently my tent pegs are not meant to be in concrete yet, because moving is still a part of my life. With this experience, I offer 5 tips from a gypsy:
1. Packing Paper
This stuff can get expensive, but it’s necessary. (You can use your towels for some things.) I like to go to my local Recycling Station for newspapers. It’s most often FREE! Many are discards from the local news business. The leftovers are clean and plentiful at the Recycling Stations I have used. Of course, you can always hit up your friends and family for their discards too.
It’s getting more difficult to track down free boxes. Some stores are required by corporate to crush them. They can still be had if you do some calling around and asking. Boxes from liquor stores are some of my favorites for books and small “breakables”. My very favorite boxes are the “fry boxes” from Chick-fil-A. They are sturdy and the perfect small-to-medium-sized box. If you ask the manager nicely, they will often save them for you. Walmart’s banana boxes over in the produce area are great as well. Check Craigslist too. People give away free moving materials all the time. U-Haul offers a great FREE program called, “Take A Box, Leave A Box” at some of their locations. Google it to see if that program is in your city. U-Haul boxes are the best.
3. Color-coded boxes
This is for the extremely organized person. I never get this done completely, but whatever I do finish makes logistics go more smoothly. Pick a color for each room, and put that color sticker on every box that goes into that room. I usually put one on the side and one on the top. (Example, orange for the kitchen—all kitchen boxes have an orange sticker placed on them.) Then all boxes are unloaded to the appropriate color-assigned room in your new home. You can put either an appropriate-colored balloon pinned to a wall or door where the coordinating box goes or make a sign with the correlating color printed out in advance. It goes without saying that the Moving Organizer will need to put appropriate signage in place before unloading starts. Even non-readers can help unload a moving van and join in the fun. This is where smaller children can be included in the process, if you wish.
Placing Styrofoam plates and bowls between breakable dishes and bowls is amazing, and much cheaper than using the official ones sold at packing and supplies stores. I buy the generic Styrofoam goods wherever they are the cheapest. You can also use the bowls as space-fillers in a box where you have empty pockets that you can’t fill with other things.
5. LOFO Box is your “Last On – First Off” Box
I learned this one from my military-wife mom when I was a kid. This is a medium-sized box that is put in the truck LAST when you are packing the truck, and taken off FIRST in your new location. Clearly mark this box with LOFO in large letters on 4 sides of the box. In this box you will pack necessities for your arrival at your new home. We always packed a couple of rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, wet wipes, a can opener, sheets for the beds, a kitchen knife, plastic knives, forks, spoons, plastic plates & bowls, drinking cups, a shower curtain liner & rings from which to hang it, 3-4 bath towels, a flashlight, a measuring tape, a deck of cards, a pad of paper and a pen or pencil. Whatever you think you will need immediately upon arrival, without having to dig through the maze of boxes, goes into the LOFO box. My mom was also known to carry this box with her in her car, not on the moving truck.
Bonus tip—ask your friends and keep your ear to the ground for news of anyone moving before you. They might save and give all of their packing materials to you after they unpack.
Moving to a new city? Check out this post about meeting new friends once you’re there!