Congratulations! You decided to accept that new job offer in another city, found the perfect apartment on Trulia, or finally closed on the home of your dreams. And while you’re excited about taking that next step, you’re facing a huge frustration: You need to pack all your belongings into boxes, and lug it into another home.
Moving is crazy and stressful. But there are ways to survive the process without prematurely growing (more) grey hairs.
Here are seven ways to manage your stress before, during, and after you’ve boxed up your whole life.
Clutter is stressful. Minimize the junk that’s clogging your closets, and you’ll automatically breathe a sigh of relief. Clear the clutter from your home by organizing things you no longer need into three piles: Sell, Donate, and Toss.
Put big-ticket or valuable items in the “sell” pile. Then snap some photos and list them on eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook. (Alternately, if the weather’s nice, hold a massive yard sale.)
Score a tax deduction by donating non-saleable items to Goodwill or any other local thrift stores. Or brighten a friend or family members’ day by giving them your old hand-me-downs.
Throw away or recycle any items that are so far gone, even thrift stores wouldn’t accept it.
Here’s the most fun part: Eat through the contents of your refrigerator and pantry. Spend the weeks prior to your move creating “oddball” meals based on whatever happens to be in your cupboards. And don’t forget to drink all your booze!
#2: Clear Your Calendar.
The most stress-free way to tackle the rest of your packing is by blocking off a chunk of time in which you can focus exclusively on that single task. Find a babysitter who can watch your children. (Or save money by asking a friend or family member to watch your kids, and promise to return the favor in the future.)
Request a day off work, or clear your schedule for the entire weekend. You’ll achieve more by packing continuously for several hours than you will by packing in short bursts of time.
If possible, bribe some of your friends to help. Promise that you’ll buy them dinner and drinks, or offer some other treat, if they’ll donate a few hours of their time to helping you pack and move.
#3: Accumulate Boxes.
For several weeks prior to your move, start accumulating a stack of newspapers and boxes. You probably read your news electronically, but don’t worry – print newspapers still exist, and you can usually pick up free copies of community newspapers outside your local grocery store. (Think of those tabloid-layout weeklies that list what’s happening around town.)
Ask your friends if they have any extra boxes from their previous moves. Or visit local grocery stores and retail outlets, walk to the back (where the employees unpack the inventory), and ask if you can walk off with a stack of boxes. CostCo and Trader Joes’ both keep a steady supply of boxes in-store.
If you’re willing to splurge, however, you might decide to buy boxes from shipping and packing stores, or your local home-improvement store. The benefit to buying boxes is that they’ll all be a standard size (they’re usually sold in 3-4 sizes, ranging from small to large), which makes them easier to stack and load.
Don’t start packing without a strategic plan. One of the most efficient ways to pack your belongings is to methodically move from room-to-room. Pack everything in the family room, for example, before moving onto the bedroom.
Keep one suitcase per person in which you store the items that you’ll need to immediately access, such as clean underwear, socks and a toothbrush. In other words, “pack a suitcase” as if you’re going on vacation, and then pack the rest of your home into boxes.
Clearly label each box based on the room from which it was packed. This way, when you unload boxes into your new house, you know which room you should deposit each box into – “bedroom,” “kitchen,” etc.
#5: Protect Your Valuables.
The last thing that you need is a nagging concern in the back of your mind that you can’t find your wedding ring and passport. Those worries will stress you out more than almost any other aspect of moving!
Store your valuables in a well-guarded location, such as on your person (inside of a money belt that’s worn around your hips, as if you were traveling), inside your purse (which you’re already trained not to lose), or in a bank safe-deposit box.
#6: Build Yourself Ample Time and Deadlines
Nothing is more stressful than knowing that you can only start moving into your new home at 8 a.m., but you need to be out of your apartment at 12:00 noon that same day.
Avoid this situation by building yourself ample time to make the transition. Yes, this means you may need to pay “double rent” or “double mortgages” for 2 weeks to one month. But this will allow you the benefit of time — and that will work wonders on your stress levels.
In addition, though, create mini-deadlines for yourself. Promise yourself that you’ll pack up one room per day, for example, or that you’ll unpack for 2 hours per night after you move into your new home. This will prevent you from lingering in limbo for too long.
Finally, the best way to reduce stress is by outsourcing and delegating. Use online resources like TaskRabbit and Craigslist to search for people who can help you pack and move. Before they leave, ask them to help assemble furniture and get the big stuff done first.
As the saying goes, many hands make light work. And when you’re moving, you need as many hands on-board as you can get.
Share your tips below.