Monday, 27 July 2015

ms-havachat's on the move: Getting Organised For Moving Day

Thanks again Google Images. You make life so easy.

There's a lot of deja vu going on around here these past few weeks as we get ready for our 5th international move in 9 years. It's not as many or often as some people, but more than others. Thank goodness we improve each time, learning from mistakes and sometimes making new ones, but not often.

If you've been following ms-havachat for a while you might have gathered I'm a pretty organised person, and the house is usually tidy. But it needs to be super organised and tidy for a move. Several packers come in at once, with boxes and tape and crates, each one goes into a different room and starts packing whatever they see.

I've learnt that everything needs to be in it's place, presented in the way you want it delivered at the other end for a chance that it arrives in one piece. We've only had a few insurance claims on things that have broken or been damaged in moves, and it's because the packer wasn't thinking. It's devastating to see an ornament broken or a piece of furniture scratched or worse, because someone didn't take care.

So much of the move is out of my control as I am unable to pack as it negates the insurance, so here's a quick helpful guide to Getting the House Organised before a move which are things I can control.

  • Cupboards
    • Kitchen
      • Remove everything from the cupboard and wipe/spray clean the entire cupboard.
      • Lay down paper towel before replacing items.
        • Food cupboards
          1. Check with your moving company what you can/can't take
          2. If they can't help, check online with embassy or customs
          3. Throw out anything that has expired or is close to expiring (depending on how long the transit is)
          4. Toss or give to a friend, the 'last bits' of stuff, especially oils and oil based products. If these leak OMG it's a mess. 
          5. Ensure everything that's opened is very securely sealed closed. 
          6. To save on space, pop things into plastic ware (they are going with you so might as well be filled with food or other items to save space - I fill several plastic ware containers with decorative pebbles from vases and candle holders or MissM's beading stuff)
          7. Keep an eye on what you really need to buy from the supermarket the week/s before moving. It's amazing what condiments you can do with out for a while.
    • Laundry/Utility Room
      1. Repeat Steps 1 - 5
    • Bathroom
      1. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 especially for medicines. 
      2. Check expiry dates of medicines you are allowed to take with you 
      3. Depending on where you are going, you might want to buy a few more bottles of Calpol or Panadol, especially for the kids; friends also recommend tampons or sanitary pads are a good investment; make up (never know what skin tones will be available where you move to)
      4. Moving is a great time to purge all the bits'n'bobs of make up and other items we tend to collect over time. 
      5. Work out which items you'll take with you and which items can be packed for the shipment (again, this probably depends on how long your shipment will take to get to you)
      6. Donate any bits'n'bobs to a local women's shelter.
    • Linen/Press
      1. Moving is the perfect time to sort thru the sheets, towels etc and make sure you have complete sets, without holes or loose elastics. 
      2. Donate what you are discarding to local vet or animal shelter. They are always in need of this sort of thing for bedding. 
  • Fridge/Freezer
    1. Repeat Steps 1-5.
    2. Don't buy any more food, other than eggs, milk etc until the contents of fridge/ freezer are eaten. You might be preparing a little bit of this and a little bit of that but that's ok. It's better than throwing it out.
    3. Keep to a strict shopping list in the week/s leading up to the move.
    4. Make sure you invite a few friends over, with their freezer bags the night before the packers come and give them your left over foods, condiments etc. Or organise to donate to a local food charity.
    5. Once fridge/freezer is empty, give it a really good washing out (read instructions as the way to clean might vary from manufacturer)
    6. If you are renting, check with landlord if they want the fridge/freezer left on or not. 
  • Wardrobes
      • Depending on the age of your kids, they can do this themselves, otherwise you'll need to help them (and a lot of patience if they are teens)
      • Keep a large donation bag open and fill it with stuff the kids have grown out of, or don't wear anymore, or simply don't like. Same goes for you. If you haven't worn it for 2 years or more, get rid of it. 
      • Shoes too!
      • Coats. Hats. Gloves. Scarves. Sports clothes/items.
      • Toss odd sox, wholly ones too. 
  • Toys'n'Games
      • Moving is a great opportunity to purge the games that the kids have outgrown, or simply no longer play. (We give ours to MissM's old Montessori or donate them to the kids hospital)
      • If you are downsizing, or moving to colder climates think about trampolines, outdoor toys etc (we recently gave MissM's sand'n'water table to friends who have 3 kids under 6. They love it and she's over the moon)
      • Undo all the made up Lego into ziplock bags with the instruction book so you can easily make them back up.
      • Same with those funky ball shaped puzzles. 
      • Ziplock bags are brilliant for packing up beading, jigsaw puzzles (image the box if coming off and the pieces going everywhere?), colouring in pencils/pens/markers etc. 
      • Bubble wrap the kids special pieces in their room and set aside so the packers can see them before boxing them up.
      • Probably best to give paints to a friend, save them exploding in transport. 
      • Sticky tape game box lids down so they don't open and you loose pieces. 
  • Garage/Attic/Basement
      • These places tend to be dumping areas for things you can't find a place for, or use annually.
      • Visit a Howards Storage or specialist organisational shop (there are so many different ones) and invest in storage solutions with lockable lids, in various sizes as these (a) last longer (b) protect your things.
      • Christmas decorations, Halloween, Easter etc should all be boxed and labelled accordingly. Don't mix the contents as it's easier to grab the box/es you need.
      • Sentimental stuff from the kids need to be packed very well to protect from mould and mildew. If you move often as we do, you really need to be very specific in what you keep. 
      • Make sure you are keeping only those tools that work, the fresh batteries etc. We don't have a typical garage of stuff so I've really no idea what to suggest other than make sure the stuff works and you need it.
      • Our attic is our storage, so other than making sure we still need what's up there, we keep schlepping it around with us.
      • If you do use these areas as dumping grounds, then you might have to set aside a fair bit of time and go thru everything and make some tough decisions. 

  • A few lessons learned over the years:
      • Take photos of ALL your furniture so you can prove any damage in transport
      • Take photos of ALL your jewellery, artwork, coffee table books etc to prove you actually own them in case things go missing or are broken.
      • Write down the serial numbers and take photos of major items like TV's etc (a friend had 3 TV's when they left their home, and only 1 turned up - the removalists had written 3 TV's on the inventory but the same serial number ... when you're presented with 10+ pages of inventory to sign off, you don't check these things. They had no recourse on insurance)
      • Create an inventory of CD's, and DVD's etc
      • Take ALL important papers (marriage certificate, birth certificates, mortgage papers, wills etc with you. DO NOT ever pack them with the shipment. 
      • (or scan them and take USB with you)
      • Remove batteries from things.
      • Roll cords nearly and label them (or attach them to the item they go with) to avoid a tangled mess at the other end. The packers won't necessarily do this, so best you do before they arrive. 
      • Insist packers DO NOT undo Ikea furniture. It's only made to be built, not dismantled and rebuilt. 
      • If any items are to remain in the house your are moving from, use Post-it Notes or similar to denote DO NOT PACK as the packing team won't remember. 
      • I've also kept a lot of the original boxes and packaging stuff came in, so the bread maker and slow cooker, ornaments go back into them when we move. 
I'm exhausted just thinking about it! How about you?

We are also in the mode of making sure things are where they belong before the move. If it's a lounge/sitting room item, then it stays there not the kitchen or it'll end up being packed into the kitchen boxes. 

Just stop reading for a minute and look around the room you are sitting. Is absolutely everything where it should be? Imagine all the bits'n'bobs lying around ..... that's what I'm talking' about.

Then there's the deep clean once the packers/removalists have been. Thank goodness I don't have to pack up the house (how lucky am I!) there's the deep clean ... skirting boards, tops of cupboards, carpets, oven (love love love the self cleaning one we have in the current house), bathrooms etc. 

Add to that sourcing 3 quote for moving companies and 3 quote for deep clean.

Oops, there's the doorbell. Quote No 2 for moving is early. 

Hope this helps your next move, 

With friendship


  1. I can't believe you forgot one vital thing: drink up all the alcohol before you move!!! But seriously, wine etc makes a horrible mess if it breaks! And I would get rid of any food in glass jars, eg peanut butter, spaghetti sauce etc. Just too risky to move full glass like that.

    1. You're right! That's something I did forget.

      We have never moved with alcohol as the importation taxes etc just aren't worth it. We either have a party before we go, or give it to friends.

      We've only ever done one move with food (drove from UK to Ireland with food in the back of the car). Usually we have to get rid of that too.

      Really appreciate the reminder!!