Thursday, September 5, 2013

Movin' On Up (or Out or Over or Whatever)

So, my friend Jeanne is moving to Oregon.  It's a big move.  From a full size house to a wee trailer.  I won't give anymore details without her permission.

Anyhoo, it made me think about thrifty/frugal moving. 
I reread the entries on that in the Tightwad Gazette (if any of you do not have copies of The Tightwad Gazette, vol.s 1-3, get them (from the library or thriftstores, obviously)).
And of course, I've moved over 20 times myself and helped people move many times.  TIP: Do not get a pick up or fullsize van while in college unless you want to help everyone move.  They will help you move in return but in college, lots of them leave before they can fully return the favor.  Oh well.

So, I think these are the best tips and techniques for the move from the above sources and some from (The Dollar Stretcher):

1) Get rid of stuff!  If you find a box and don't know what's in it because you haven't unpacked it in the last several probably don't need it.  There may be some important papers in there, so  you probably need to go through it, or better yet, have a friend go through it and sort out ONLY the very important papers, cash and actual valuable jewelry.  The rest gets donated, recycled or trashed.  You'll save enough on storage and moving to replace anything else that might get chucked.  Let it go.  

2) Get rid of more stuff!  Find a friend or enemy  or street person and have them sit with you and say "get rid of it" while you  hold up item after item.  When I was home once going through things at the folks after a flood I'm thinking "what possible use is my kindergarten report card other than to remind me, 40+ years later, that I never could finish a project?”   Perhaps Mom didn’t want to throw it out the day after it arrived, but there must be some point at which one can let these things go. 

3) Even get rid of furniture!   Do you REALY need to keep that 2nd dining set?  (Okay, perhaps we don’t all have that problem but I have a few too many dining sets), that 3rd overstuffed chair?  Or whatever furniture you’ve got duplicates of?  Let it go.  Give it to a thrift store, sell it if you have time (but don’t store it in hopes of selling it later, the storage will cost you time, money and emotional energy and it’s just furniture).  My current theory is I have one butt, so how may seating options do I need to come between it and the floor?  One guideline I’ve seen is have enough or the appropriate things to serve your needs 90% of the time.  The other 10% of the time you can borrow, rent or make do.  That sounds reasonable.

4) Think about shipping things!  Do you have a friend or relative at your present location who could ship you things once you move?  The post office, UPS, even bus companies ship things reasonably.  If you have 10 more boxes of crap than will fit in your current vehicle, you could ship those rather than rent a trailer.  As you think about shipping them, perhaps there will be a few more things you can throw out.  When at the post office, remember parcel post.  Usually that rate will not be mentioned in the options they give you.  Ask for it.  Also, pack books and papers separately and ask for the “book rate.”  It’s even cheaper.  A second benefit of this is you can have things shipped a few boxes at a time and sort them as they come in.  Take just enough to camp out when you get to your new destination and then have things arrive over days, weeks or months.  You  may find some of it seems not worth having once it gets there.

5) If you need to rent a moving truck, shop around a bit!  Prices vary.  Ask the rental agent if there is a day of the week when rentals are cheaper or if there is a drop off point within an hour drive of your new home that would be cheaper than the closest point.  These things are especially helpful if moving to small towns.  Sometimes there is a “boonies premium” on things.  You might consider this for shipping as well.  Having a package go to the UPS storefront for pickup can be cheaper than a rural delivery, especially if the storefront is in a town you visit regularly.

6) If at all possible, don’t use movers.  They are expensive and they don’t care about you or your stuff.

7) When packing, consolidate but keep the boxes small enough to lift.  Most sites and books with tips recommend getting used boxes from liquor stores etc.  This is actually one item I now buy new.  The standard size flat-pack file boxes from office supply and department stores are excellent and not too expensive.  The advantages include the size (about right for carrying), the easy labeling, the easy stacking, sturdiness, not stinking of food/booze/other-former-contents, they fold flat again when you are done with them and can be stored under the bed or etc until the next move.  They are also good for storage and sorting at the new home. 

8) Don’t buy packing peanuts or bubble wraps or etc.  Pack dishes and other fragile items in your sheets, towels, washcloths, clothes, etc.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shown up at someone’s house to help them pack the kitchen (a speciality of mine) only to find that they’ve already packed the sheets and towels and other cloth items in boxes and won’t get them back out.  Wasted space and weight!  I can wrap an entire set of plates and bowls in a couple of sheets in one file box.  Works great.  Don’t forget kitchen towels.

9) Sort out a minimum of things to live with upon arrival and pack separately in well labeled boxes!  This should be higher up in the list but I can’t be bothered to rearrange the list.  Anyway, a few pairs of pants, a few shirts, undies, soap, cleaning rags, a towel and washcloth, a bit of cash, a plate, bowl and silverware for everyone moving to the new place, and similar things.  These all go in one box.  Maybe a rubber tub.  WELL LABELED and put in the vehicle in a very very accessible location.  This way if there is a break down, you pull this out and head to the cheap motel.  If there is no breakdown, you pull it out on arrive and you have enough to clean yourself and the place.  I like to also have a box of basic cleaning supplies (vinegar, baking soda, scrub brush, gloves, bar of soap) ready as well.  If you arrive and find that the cupboard is full of mouse crap, you can wipe it out, disinfect with the vinegar and keep going.  If you pack the cleaning supplies in a rubber tub you can use the tub as the water bucket.  This is another item to put right at the main door of the vehicle so it comes out first.

10) Keep an address book handy.  I know we all use our phones for numbers now, but you’re moving and stressed and will forget to charge the phone, lose the charger, or drop the phone in a gas station toilet that is not worth reaching into.  The address book is also good for breakdowns.  You’ll know someone who knows someone in the area where you are broken down.

11) Put aside enough money to order take out or delivery food upon arrival if you can.  If not, try to pack something you can just grab and eat.  You’ll be tired and cranky and dirty and the pans are packed god knows where at the last minute.

12) Allow 1 or 2 more days than you think you need for the trip. 

13) Think about alternatives to truck rental.  I know a young couple who bought a van to move with and sold it shortly after arriving at the new place.  This allows you to generate cash upon arrival AND allows you a bit of storage space if you need to clean out the new place or don’t have a place to land in the new town.  I did this once as well.  I owned a van and was moving many states away.  A beau (a bad beau but a beau never the less) and I were caravaning on the way down.  We parked my van full of crap at the house of an acquaintance while we looked for a place to live.  This saved driving two vehicles around the new town.  It also allowed us to clean the place we found (a total dump between a drug dealer and an alley) before unloading the van.  A few months later when the  money ran out, I sold the van for rent money.  Not my happiest hour but at least I got to keep living indoors.  You may also find someone who needs a vehicle driven to a new location.  If you’re moving to a retirement type area, Florida, Baja, put an ad in craigslist and put out the word.  There could be an elderly couple moving that way who’d like someone to drive their RV down for them.  You never know.

That’s probably enough for now.
I should confess that I’ve never used all these tips but I’ve intended too.  In reality I start out on this path, then just start sweeping 

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