The Move: What’s worse, death, taxes, or moving?

Dear Readers, today I’m happy to bring you a guest post by a good friend of mine Water Professor. Water Professor is a very eloquent and funny writer and I have been bugging him for a while to delight you guys with a guest post. It so turned out that he was forced to move out of his apartment creating a comical situation that would be perfect for a guest post.

So without further ado, I hope you enjoy this post!

Hi there, my name is the Water Professor and I am a disciple of the Handy Millennial.  I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a lot of his handiness in person and I can vouch for his advice!  But today I would like to capture the spotlight for just a moment and tell you a little bit about moving.

If you haven’t seen it, check out the movie Moving starring Richard Pryor.  This image (below) of trying to hug your stuff when a dolly is falling out from under your feet is the typical experience of people moving!  But it doesn’t have to be like that, as long as you exhibit some handiness and preparation.  In fact, the experience of moving is a great way to make lemonade out of some proverbial lemons.

Background to My Story

My own story bears that out!  I moved to College Town (I really am a professor) and originally lived in an apartment from Large National Apartment Company who was charging mansion prices:

but in reality just gave me a small place with some granite countertops (think Expectation Inflation as the Handy Millennial says).  I lived there a year, and when my rent inevitably went up, I looked around town (with the help of Handy Millennial actually!) and picked an apartment with a nice, local apartment managing company.  The apartment was bigger, about half the price of the old one, and somewhat near my Professorial office.   Let’s call it Modest Apartment. Gone were the granite countertops and the sinks had some rust in them (did you know its possible for a sink to rust?) but hey, it was half the price.  I liked the place, though, so “All’s well that end’s well”, right?

Turns out that my new modest apartment was owned by a business developer who lived far away, and he tragically passed away in an accident.  His children didn’t want anything to do with running a far away apartment complex, and so they sold the property to, guess who?

…the Large National Apartment Company!

Oh no!  Unbeknownst to the residents at the time, this Company had designs on demolishing the apartment eventually and making it look more like their other properties in College Town. This of course means DOUBLING the rent. But, I figured that I was getting a bargain in rent and so why not stay for a while – at least until I saw the wrecking ball swinging outside my window!

Of course you must realize (I didn’t) that resigning yourself to stay while the complex is being rebuilt means you will get kicked out at the worst possible time.  Three years later, I am settling in to a new college semester and I get a notice on my door that “building improvement” (read: demolition) is occurring in only 60 days from the current date.  And thus my moving adventure began.

But as you’ll see, with the following helpful advice you can hopefully turn the lemons of a moving experience into the lemonade of having a fun new place to live.

Finding the New Pad

Looking for a new (rental) place

Some of the advice I’ll give you is specific to renting but I assume at a high level it’s probably similar to buying too.   I thought about the following criteria when finding a new place: (i) cost, the primary motivator.  I was getting a rate at the Modest Apartment that was hundreds of dollars per month less (half the going rate to be precise) than anywhere else in town.  Ideally, I would find a place that was the same price or only slightly more expensive.  I did branch out and look at more expensive places but I would say cost was the biggest determinant. Saving money on rent is almost like putting money in the bank since you can save the money you would have otherwise spent on rent. Then you can let the saved money grow more money for you!  Just look at some of Handy Millennial‘s posts on compound interest if you’re not yet convinced!  (ii) location, another important factor.  Luckily, there do exist a lot of places in College Town where you can bike, walk, or bus to the Campus.  Considering that my College charges $50 per month for a parking permit, plus the wear and tear on your car, moving to a place not too far away from work was a big incentive.  (iii) space, an important factor but probably the least important of the three, as I’ll explain.

Zillow and Apartments.com were nice resources for me, and I especially liked their map feature that allowed you to see exactly where the apartments were.  Sign up for alerts on these websites if they allow them, because you’ll find that new apartments / homes to buy come on the market really dynamically especially if they are listed by their owners.

A final piece of advice on this front is that you should request to see the actual unit that you’ll be moving into, if you can.  I ended up picking a place we will call Mountain Apartment Complex that has a cute “theme” of being like a mountain resort but in the middle of College Town.

The first unit I saw in Mountain Apartment Complex was in quite poor condition, since the tenant allowed the floor to be a scratching toy for her dog.  Disheartened, I almost walked away, but the leaser assured me there were nicer units, and sure enough the unit that I saw and eventually chose was so clean it was almost as if someone didn’t even live here before!  Now I am only a 5 minute walk away from Campus as well as having easy access to many businesses and public transport options. The best part is that my rent is only $100 more than Modest Apartment (the nicer view helps too!).

Preparing the Move (Ugh)

Get Rid of Your Stuff

Between moving from the Corporate Apartment and the Modest Apartment, I made what turned out to be a very grave error.  I didn’t end up getting rid of any stuff in between those two moves!  And since Modest Apartment actually had more square footage than the last place, I ended up acquiring more things and not paying attention to what I put where, in the various drawers and cabinets.  So that was a big problem since Mountain Apartment is much smaller than Modest Apartment was.

But turn that frown upside-down, Mr. Clown!  It turns out that this was a great opportunity to de-clutter my life.  This has a deeper philosophical meaning, actually.  Before you think I am crazy, pull up that Amazon.com browser tab you have open in the background and pick up this book This book, by author Marie Kondo, is taking the world by storm, so much so that you can probably get the gist of it just by hearing about it in newspapers and radio (even if you’re not paying attention!).  Do go get the book, but the basic idea is that you should spread all of your things on the floor of your home and ask each item “Do you bring me joy?” If so, you can keep it.  But if not, thank the item for its service and get rid of it.  Yes, I am serious — have a conversation with your items and make sure to give them a spirited send-off!

In all seriousness, having a critical “conversation” with your things can help you realize that we accumulate many things that we just don’t need… anymore… or maybe we never needed them in the first place.

For example when I first moved to College Town I went and got myself a shiny tea kettle, and I put it prominently on my stove thinking “adults have tea kettles.”  I probably used it about 3 times over the last 5 years, and the whole time I realized that I had about 5 different other ways to heat up water, and honestly I never even heated up water that much in the first place.

Clear out an area in your home to stack boxes, and start packing early!

Seeing a stack of boxes piling up can be a good motivation that you are making nice progress in the move.  Getting rid of some extraneous things by packing them can actually show you that you might not need items as much as you thought you did, since you can live perfectly fine without them in the weeks you are packing.

Make a pile of items to donate to Goodwill, and make trips to remove that stuff from your home as early in the move as you can.

This was some advice from my colleague Science Professor!  Taking out carloads of Goodwill items helped remove the physical objects from my place and motivated me to keep on doing it.  I noticed it might be sad driving to the Goodwill because you are thinking, “Hey maybe I need this annotated bibliography of important literature about the French Revolution after all”, but there is a true sense of liberation driving home from the Goodwill having unloaded a car full of stuff.  It might sound funny to say it, but take a friend with you on the Goodwill trip and tell the friend that they must see to it that you get rid of the stuff, so you’re not tempted to keep things!

Treat every move like it is a “cross country” move.

I’ve been thinking about this as a good strategy.  When we are moving from one place to another in College Town, it’s tempting to just say “Oh I can do it all in my car, I’ll just take a few more trips.”  Moving in a car is so much less efficient, in my humble opinion, than using a moving truck and getting some helpers!  You will end up wasting a lot of time trying to do little jaunts here and there, than just doing the move all at once.  Also, bigger moving trucks are not that much more expensive (they literally ask if you want to supersize your move!), it’s probably cheaper than the gas you will pay trying to drive across town a dozen times.

Use U-Hauls Boxes Guarantee.

Neither The Handy Millennial nor The Water Professor are sponsored, whole or in part, by U-Haul.  But a cool thing about U-Haul is that they do have a nice guarantee where they will buy back boxes if you don’t use them, so there’s no penalty for buying too many boxes beforehand.  Just to prove we are not in the pocket of Big U-Haul, I will also say I like Home Depot’s “heavy duty” boxes (you can of course be lazy and get them on Amazon too) because they are extra thick which means you can load them up with heavy items and they won’t break.  Which reminds me.

Smaller boxes will hold heavier things than bigger boxes.

I was burned by this logic once or twice when I was in college, where I was loading up a huge box with my entire collection of discount, ahem, liquids, only to have the box break midway through carrying it.

Really, if you use all Small size boxes you are going to have a safe move, especially since small boxes are much easier to carry in your hands.

Make the Actual Move

Rent the truck yourself, but then hire movers to load and unload the truck!

This has worked well for Handy Millennial and myself.  Renting a truck is easy, plus you get the pleasure of driving it yourself. You get to pretend you’re like this strapping bloke for a day.

Services such as MovingHelp.com give plenty of options for getting helpers for moving day.  I have been shocked at how efficient these folks are at helping.  Within no time, it seems, the truck is securely packed, and I can worry about trying to figure out where to put all my stuff in the new place.

Scope the new place and plan for moving day.

Think about: where will you park the moving truck?  Is there enough space to get the ramp extended so you can roll your items down the ramp?  Are there stairs you have to deal with?  What is the orientation of your new apartment?  Water Professor’s new apartment is kind of all in a straight line (think long hallway), so the movers needed a clear berth to be able to move boxes into the apartment.  Don’t block yourself in if you have a lot of things to move!

If you’re still with us, thanks for reading.  Now it is time for moving day!  Here are some tips for the day of, and for the eventual unpacking.

Think Ahead – Save Energy

Pack an “Essentials” box and label it so you know where it is and can open it first.

Things you might need on the first days of moving: tools (to re-assemble furniture), hardware (which is, uh, how you assemble furniture), toiletries for yourself, your shower curtain and rod (how often do we forget!), your awesome shower head from the last apartment, soap and cleaning supplies, bedsheets (the most frustrating thing on that first night is now to make your bed so you can finally sleep), beer (for drinking during the move! only after you drove the truck, please abide by the law!), a radio or Bluetooth speaker so you can blast some tunes while you’re working, food and snacks so you can have lunch on moving day and keep yourself motivated.  Another helpful tip is to use your luggage for this purpose, since it’s easy to cart around with you and more durable to throw around than a box.

Think about the priority of unpacking boxes, and mark boxes “open first” etc.

One counter-intuitive thing is that items that you’re going to put on shelves are really nice to unpack soon in your process, because it will free up floor space.  For example Water Professor, being a Professor after all, has a lot of books.  These book boxes are heavy and take up space if you just have the boxes on the floor, but it saves a lot of room by unpacking the boxes and filling the shelf.

Settle into your New Place

Get rid of stuff now too.

Just because you’ve moved in doesn’t mean that you can’t get rid of items!  You can perform another Marie Kondo test when you are placing items in their proper home.  Will I need this, really?  Does it bring me joy? Does it fit with the atmosphere of the new apartment?

Be purposeful about where you place things.

Just because something was in your old home, in a certain spot, doesn’t mean it belongs there in your new place.  For example, there are cube organizers that you can place horizontally or vertically.  I have something similar, and it was horizontal in my old place but my new place has higher ceilings and so it makes sense to have things vertical to take advantage of this.

Have fun.

Moving can be a draining activity, so make sure to build in breaks for yourself.  If you are too fatigued when you are unpacking, it can lead to poor decisions regarding getting rid of things!  Humans can get some brain fatigue when they have to make too many choices all at once.

Speaking of brain fatigue, your Water Professor has to get some Water ready to Profess about and so he will bid you adieu.  But not before thanking Handy Millennial again for this fun opportunity!

4 thoughts on “The Move: What’s worse, death, taxes, or moving?

  1. Man, after hiring out movers, I’ve got to say it’s the best thing ever. I hadn’t used them before and as my first time, it was much easier and stress-free than I thought. Having the energy at the end of the day to continue unpacking things was totally worth the cost of hiring movers.

    • Absolutely! It sounds like you guys had a more full service company. Your movers packed and wrapped too. When I hired them they neatly organized my U-Haul, I drove, and then another set of movers unloaded into the new place. Aside from the brute strength, organizing the U-Haul is a huge huge improvement. The loading set of movers did such a good job that the unloading movers took half the time.

      But overall, its just like you said, nice and easy! Never moving without movers again! Thanks for stopping by Dave!!

  2. Great writing style and humor.

    We’re moving in FOUR WEEKS TODAY (Ahhhhhh!!!). Since we’re moving a good distance away (370miles) and have a total of 100 years of stuff collected, we decided to purchase a 40′ shipping container. Load it up and pay a trucking company to move it. Then, when we arrive, we can unpack as required. Fingers crossed that it will be easier and cheaper (although not the primary reason for this method).

    Besos Sarah.

    • Hi Sarah! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I’m sure you will find it to be much easier than usual! Post back let me know how it goes!

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