10 Things You Should Do In the Month Before a Move
We’re moving soon. Like…really soon. Seriously. I haven’t talked about it much here on the blog, because honestly, I haven’t done much to get ready for it. For those of you that know me or have been reading this blog for a while, you know that’s totally not like me. Usually Greg and I are running around with our checklists and are researching schools and neighborhoods and looking up houses and making arrangements. But for some reason, we are having a tough time getting ourselves in motion to do the things that need to happen before a move. It’s not that I’m not excited. I’m actually thrilled about our next duty station…and am yearning for the settledness that will come with a longer assignment. Life will be good when we get there…I’m just not in the mood to move.
That sounds so silly because really…is anyone ever in the “mood” to move? After three years at a duty station, I am usually SO ready to go that I am sauntering around the house, pulling things down, and excitedly making plans. But this time…I’m tired. The memory of our move last summer is still so fresh, and I just don’t feel like going through it all again so soon. I wish I could close my eyes and then open them to find it all over. But move we must, and move we shall…and so this is my official kick in the pants to get on it already. I’ve shared a bunch of moving prep posts over the last year, but here are my top 10 things to do in the month leading up to a move. Things you maybe didn’t think about…and the things I’ll be diving in to starting today!
- Make a list of things to get done. Last year, I did several posts talking about the various resources we use to plan and organize our moves. Our Smooth Move Binder printables and downloadable Excel spreadsheet have been a huge hit with readers facing an upcoming move (especially military families!), and I think part of the reason I am dragging my feet a bit is because we have a pretty systematic way of getting ourselves and the house ready to move…once we actually start. Our Master Spreadsheet includes every single task we need to get done in order to get our family from point A to point B…from the large (find a house) to the small (put phone chargers in the cars) and everything in between. The clocks a’ticking, so it’s time for us to sit down and assign who, when, and how each item will get done.
- Start researching. A lot of the basic and nitty gritty prep work that needs to happen before the moving trucks arrive is captured in the spreadsheets/printables mentioned above. However, I think it’s helpful to call this task out specifically. While it’s true that a lot of things can’t happen until you arrive in your new location, you’ll be able to really hit the ground running if you’ve done some research ahead of time. Narrowing down neighborhoods, school districts, medical/dental offices, and more will help you make decisions and get settled faster on the other side. I am the type of person that usually needs to see things before I commit, but arriving in a new place with a vetted list of options and possibilities helps immensely. Google and curated review sites are a great place to start, but we’ve also found private Facebook groups and friends (more on that below) are the best source of good-quality information!
- Reach out to friends/family at next location. We are getting to a point where we’ve been doing this long enough that we now know people at a lot of the bases we might be stationed. Even if our research yields a pretty good understanding of housing, schools, neighborhoods, shopping and other nuances, we find the best and most reliable information comes from those who currently live in our next city/town. Reaching out to friends and family not only gives you the true insider scoop, but also re-connects you to those who might be able to offer you shelter (when you’re tired of living in a hotel), meals (when you’re tired of eating in restaurants), friends for your kids to play with, and items to sustain you before your stuff arrives. The month before you move is a perfect time to reach out, re-establish communication, and make plans to get together once you arrive!
- Make a final list of fun things to do in current location. When we move to a new place, we (almost always) arrive with excitement and high motivation to see and experience everything our new town has to offer. But after a few weeks/months, life settles in and our urgency to go out and do things dies down. Then without fail, we find ourselves in the last few months with dozens of things “we meant to do” but never got around to. In the last 6-8 weeks before you move, sit down as a family and decide what places and events you still really want to check out before moving. Get them on the calendar so you’ll be sure to make time for them amidst the busyness!
- Eat up your pantry and freezer foods. We’re moving very soon, but by the looks our our pantry and freezer, you sure wouldn’t know it! We still have a solid supply of pantry staples, snacks, condiments and freezer items that need to get eaten before we move. So that we don’t have to dump a ton of good food (or secretly stash it so the movers will pack it #ssshhh), this is the time to start baking (to use up that flour, oil, sugar, etc!) and planning meals that specifically use the items you already have. We like to use up a bunch of our pantry items by making freezable meals that we can eat in the final days (when items are boxed up or we’re too tired to cook); just make sure you freeze foods in disposable containers! Now is also a time to curtail your usual grocery shopping habits: instead of buying the large mustard, buy the small bottle; instead of buying a pack of 20 chicken breasts, buy 5; instead of buying…you get the idea! With some planning and forethought, you can really limit how much has to be thrown out at the very end!
- Use up propane (and other hazardous supplies). In the same way that you should start proactively eating up your food, the month+ before a move is also a good time to start using up your propane (grill up all your frozen meats!!!), gasoline, cleaning supplies and other hazardous items that can’t be moved and are tough to get rid of. Sure, you can give, sell and trash these items, but by using them up, you’ll get your money out of the products and be less wasteful!
- Schedule final outings with friends. Whether we’ve lived somewhere for one year or three, we always make good friends that we don’t want to say goodbye to. And while saying goodbye is never fun, it’s even worse to leave town WITHOUT saying goodbye. I often think I’ll see someone one more time for one last hangout and hug. But the final few days before pulling out of town are BUUUZZAAAY, and all-too-often we end up leaving without saying goodbye. I am learning that it’s really helpful to start scheduling final hang out times with my favorite people in the weeks before things get too crazy. And I suggest going a step further…say and acknowledge that it might very well be the last time you’ll see each other for a while and get your hugs and tears out of the way. Don’t book yourself up too tight near the end, and don’t promise to squeeze in one last visit with someone you’ve already said goodbye to. Those of us that move a lot know that it’s never personal. There’s just too much to get done and sometimes a lot of people to say goodbye to! Say your goodbyes early so you can focus on getting your family out of town at the very end.
- Prepare family/home/business for being without stuff. Eeeepp – this is where I REALLY need to get my act together. We’re heading into a situation where we have no idea how long we will be without our stuff. While this is one of the most stressful aspects of moving, we’ve nailed down just what we need as a family to “survive.” (I shared our “must have essentials” for living without your things here!). When you work or run a business however, it can be hard to keep things going during a move. By properly planning ahead of time, it is possible to maintain your online/business presence as necessary. In the month+ before a move, start to talk to your employer/business partners/coworkers/readers(!) about your move. Set expectations for what you can realistically achieve leading up to, during, and right after a move and do as much as you possibly can ahead of time so the business can run along “as usual” while you are moving/unpacking. I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to how to keep this little ol’ (but growing!) blog afloat in the coming months….more on that below!
- Purge out unwanted items. I am a really strong believer in purging and getting rid of unwanted things on BOTH sides of a move (before and after). You can read more on my thoughts on the matter here, but this is why in a nutshell. There are certain things in your current home that you may not love or even use right now, but might perfectly fill a certain spot/need/function in the next home. I suggest keeping these items and getting rid of them on the other side if/when you determine you don’t really need them. That said, there are likely certain things in your home right now that no matter how big a home you have on the other end, you just won’t want/need/use them again. These are the things you should get rid of before you move. If you are packing, hauling and loading things yourself, then you certainly don’t need to waste your energy on items you don’t want. But even for those of us whose moves are paid for and packed for us, it is still a waste: a waste of your time, a waste of the packers time, and a waste of money (for whoever is paying for it!). It’s too hard to purge when you’re filling boxes or the movers are knocking on your door…so give yourself plenty of time (like 4-6 weeks) to start going room by room and getting rid of the excess and unwanted clutter.
- Hold a garage sale. There are all sorts of ways to get rid of the items you no longer want, but I suggest having a yard sale right before you move, and this is why. Moving is SO expensive. From supplies and hotel fees to gas and new things for the new home, it often feels like you bleed money for a good few weeks before, during and after a move. We like to hold yard sales before and after moves to help ease the burden of all the excess costs. A few extra hundred dollars can pay for meals on the road or paint for your next home, etc. Yes…moving is a busy and stressful time…but if you can swing the stress and work of a yard sale to make a few extra bucks, I highly recommend it! (Get my best yard sale tips here!)
Phew…now I really feel behind!
I wanted to write this post, this week, for a few reasons. One, I haven’t done a Thriving and Surviving Military Life post in a while and moving is yet again on the forefront of our minds; and two…the reality that we are mere weeks away from a move is starting to sink in. I’ve been pouring so much of my time into the blog, new projects, and the Conquer Your Kitchen Crash Course in recent weeks, that we are woefully behind on all the things I have listed out here. Additionally, I really don’t want to the blog to come to a screeching halt the minute they take my computer and craft supplies away. All this to say I am taking my own advice and starting to plan and set expectations now!
Over the next few weeks (while I still have my stuff), I am going to be working super hard to make, photograph and prepare content that I will be able to trickle out over the course of our move. I LOVE and have been working SUPER hard to bring you three posts a week, but I don’t want to run out of content while we move/wait for our stuff. As such, I am going to cut back my posting schedule (temporarily) to just two days a week. This will not only give me a few more hours a week to get ready for our move, but also help me build up some content for you all so we don’t have a big and sudden drought here on the blog! This coming Saturday will be my last Saturday post for a while; I’m going to stick to a Tuesday/Thursday posting for as long and as best I can!!! As always, be sure to check in frequently, stay linked in to social media, and subscribe to my newsletters so you don’t miss any news, content or updates!
For those of you facing a move, I hope you found these tips and insights helpful. For my wonderful and dedicated readers…thanks for sticking with me through this busy time! And for my fellow military spouses or frequent movers, please share other tips and tricks you’ve learned in the comments below! I’ll see you back here on Saturday for our first “final” room reveal posts!