Make lists and labels your best friend
A little bit of organisation goes a long way to making moving easy.
From packing to finding the TV remote, some careful planning can help you with all stages of moving home. So what do you need to organise? And what is the best way to go about it?
As a frequent mover, you probably know the stresses last-minute packing. All of a sudden it’s moving day and only half your home is in boxes. You rush around, throwing in kids toys with kitchen bowls and later wonder why Mr Teddy is in with the good china.
The best way to avoid this is by creating a moving schedule. Plan out the days in the lead-up to your move so you know what needs to be packed by when. Maybe Saturday is the study and Sunday the kids’ rooms. This is also a good way to make sure you don’t pack anything you might need before the move.
Another important thing to keep in mind is labelling. While labelling boxes by room is a no-brainer, there are ways to make it more efficient. For instance, label boxes on the side as well as the top so you can still see what room they belong to––even if they’re stacked up or pushed against the wall. If you have no space on the box, use masking tape to write labels. And, if you’re really serious about getting organised, try an app like MovingVan. This lets you upload photos of what’s in each box as you pack, creating an online inventory you can later check and search.
Being strict about labelling will also help make sure your boxes are as room-specific as possible. While it’s tempting to wedge in books in random boxes, you’ll save yourself time (and confusion) if you stick to a system. In other words, try not to mix your pillow slips with your paper clips. If sorting room by room doesn’t work for you, you might want to pack by “like terms” (algebra anyone?). Put soft things with soft things, toiletries with toiletries and technology with technology.
But before you pack away your computer, TV and other electrical devices, take a photo of how they are set up. This will be a huge help when it’s time for Play School and you can’t remember which cord goes with which nodule.
According to Mark McCrindle, a key researcher of the Optus Renter of the Future study, in the average Australian household, each adult owns 1 smartphone, 1 laptop and 0.6 tablets––that’s a lot of cables!
Take care to pack each device and its extensions all together. Where possible, use the original boxes. Otherwise, you can always bundle wires in toilet rolls or glad wrap bags.
Finally, to cap off your organising spree, pack a box with everything you will need for the night and next day. After a big day of moving, you don’t want to be rummaging for your toothbrush or phone charger!
Let your imagination run wild
A huge part of moving into a new place is making it feel like home. Having a clear idea of how you want to use each room, what kind of mood you would like and where you want things to go will make a huge difference to how quickly you see your new home as yours.
To get a head start on the nesting, think about drawing up a floor plan. You might be able to get this from your real estate agent but if not, do a quick sketch of the layout of each room. Jot down where there are awkward corners or anything you might want to hide. You will also want to draw in windows and note down where you can find power points. Once you’ve got a good picture, start thinking about which rooms will get the morning sun, where you might get draughts, where the kids are likely to leave trails of dirt––and plan accordingly.
To help you visualise, consider using a program. For instance, RoomSketcher let’s you pick and choose different floor patterns, arrange furniture and gives you a 3D snapshot of what your home might look like. Other interior design tools, such as Planner5D allow you to place different electrical appliances and even play around with lighting. Looking around for design ideas on Instagram and Pinterest might also inspire you.
The idea is to really get to know the ins and outs of your place so you can start imagining life in your home. If you’re a frequent mover, you will know that it can take a little while to adjust. The earlier you begin planning and start to visualise your new place, the easier it will be to settle. The Renter of the Future report found that 46 per cent of people say hanging photo frames makes a rental property feel more like home while another 35 per cent said rugs were a nice homely touch.
McCrindle points out that the Internet also plays a part: “Getting back up and running quickly is essential in making any new property feel like home – bought or rented – and people these days need to be connected.”
This hack will also help you tackle any issues before they become bigger problems. Looking at your floor plan, you might realise you need more power adapters or an extension cord. Or perhaps there won’t be space for your grandmother’s antique mirror. If you can address this now, you will save yourself time––and potential strife––later.
The last trick to planning is about making sure your new place not only looks like home, it runs like home. That means updating your address, calling your telephone and energy suppliers and sorting out your internet. As McCrindle explains, “Part of moving frequently is being savvy and finding solutions that allow you to set up again quickly. Take an internet connection for example, reconnecting broadband with an Internet service provider can take a long time.”
You also might want to redirect your mail before you move so you don’t have to worry about missing important letters. By taking these steps now, by the time you arrive, you will be well on your way to calling your new home “home.”
Prepare to battle with clutter
It’s simple but true: The less you have, the less you have to move. If you’re a frequent mover, one of the most effective ways to help you move is to downsize. This is particularly useful if you’re moving into a smaller home. But don’t panic! Downsizing doesn’t mean you slash and burn everything you hold dear. Think of it more as streamlining. You’re not throwing things out, you’re cutting off the excess to get your household into leaner, fitter shape.
The first step is to do a mental comparison of your old and new place. Maybe your new home is bigger but has less storage space. Or perhaps it has more bedrooms but fewer bathrooms. Use this as a guide to mark out the areas that need to be downsized.
The next is to attack the general clutter. Sure, you might have space for the Ab Buster but do you really need it? And what about your kid’s three-year-old craft project with the glitter falling off––is that something you want to take with you? Be discerning. Look out for bulky items that get hidden under beds, the endless bits of paper and documents you’re not sure why you kept and duplicate household goods. You probably don’t need more than one blender.
Once you have miscellaneous clutter under control, zone in on your wardrobe. Ask yourself, have I worn it in the last 12 months? If I saw it in a store today, would I be likely to buy it? If the answer is no, it’s probably time you donate it to charity. While you’re there, begin separating your things into summer and winter seasons. This way will save you from unpacking winter clothes only to put them again into storage.
While it’s hard to let go of clothes you might, maybe, sometime want to wear, it’s even harder to get rid of sentimental things. Photos, high school awards, old letters and postcards are always going to be precious. The trouble is they take up space and for the most part, stay in boxes. Rather than bring them with you from home to home, you might want to think about digitising old mementos. This can be done by spending an afternoon with the scanner or outsourcing the job to an online service like Memories2Disk or ScanDigital. If you have kids, think about using an app like Keepy or ArtKive to safe keep your children’s artwork.
And remember selling furniture online, organising garage sales and even dropping off bags to charity takes time. You will want to start downsizing earlier rather than the later so you know exactly what needs to be sold, donated or discarded.
If you are still having doubts, keep in mind that according to McCrindle the average renter stays in their home for just 1.8 years––what do you want to be packing up in less than two years time?
Remember the fun stuff
Amid all the planning and preparation, it’s important to remember to still have fun. Yes, there’s lots to organise. Yes, there’s lots to do. But isn’t it better to get to do this when you’re in a good mood?
Believe it or not there are ways to make moving enjoyable. After all, it is a new start, a new adventure, a chance to discover something completely different. If you think of moving like this––and not as a chore––you’ll find the whole experience much less stressful, especially if you’re moving with young children.
One way to get into the spirit is to do a farewell tour of your favourite local haunts. Visit your corner bakery, have lunch at the neighourhood Thai place and spend the afternoon in your nearby community park. In short, make saying goodbye a celebration of all the great things you enjoyed in the area.
Now––assuming you’re moving to a different area––think about your new neighbourhood. Go online and research all the exciting cafes, shops and swimming holes that are close to your new home.
Help the kids see this by asking them to draw out a treasure map with all the must-see sights. Then plot out an expedition to visit them. The idea is to turn the moving experience into a voyage of discovery so you don’t have to deal with any teary-eyed tantrums on moving day.
If you’re keen to really embrace the moving adventure, consider camping out in the living room for your last night. This might not be appropriate for older kids but younger ones are sure to love the novelty. To top it off, get the children to put together their own adventure packs, complete with toiletries, one or two favourite games and any other essentials. If they keep their packs with them, they should have everything they need for their first night in their new home.
Another, more general idea is to create a moving day playlist. This could be something the kids put together or something you work out together (with careful negotiation). You’ll find packing, dealing with removalists and organising your new home far less stressful when you’re dancing around and singing cheesy lyrics––even if it is the soundtrack to Frozen.
When you do arrive in your new home, try to unpack the kids’ rooms first. This way they will be entertained as you tackle the rest of the house. If you have older children (and they’ve behaved well), put them in charge of ordering home delivery––a responsibility they will hopefully take seriously! But remember 18 per cent of rentals have no internet connection so it’s a good idea to organise a WiFi connection beforehand.
Alternatively, solutions like Optus’ Home Wireless Broadband allows Australian renters living in serviceable areas to literally plug in a router and connect to the internet via a mobile network, eliminating downtime and enabling them to get on with their lives.
As for other ways to make moving fun consider speaking like a pirate or Mary Poppins, creating a cardboard box movie theatre or playing at being real estate agents. While many of these ideas will depend on the age and interests of your family, the key message is the same: have fun with it.