It’s over. The last of the boxes have been flattened for recycling, the addresses changed, the new neighbours met. Yes, we have officially finished moving house! Hurray!! I hear people saying that moving can be classed as a traumatic experience, but I think we did an okay job. We were all a bit tired, and weeks on there’s still a few bits to be sorted out, but no-one was reduced to assuming a foetal position in the corner, so I think we came out the other side with a win. Being the organisation nerd that I am, I did put in a bit of prep prior to the move, but now that it’s all done, I’m going to share some of the lessons I ended up learning along the way.
Six and a half things I learned about moving house
1: There’s always more stuff that can be thrown out.
I’m not a hoarder and I don’t like clutter, so we didn’t have a whole lot of stuff to be packing up in the first place, but I was still surprised at how much we ended up recycling, giving to charity and throwing out before we even started packing. Our old house was small, so there wasn’t a lot of place to stash the ‘I might use that in the future’ items, but once I started going through wardrobes, kitchen cupboards and presses, I found things I hadn’t used in a while. One of my kitchen cupboards turned out to be a Tardis that kept producing plastic containers, and despite my new kitchen being twice the size of my old (not difficult considering the matchbox kitchen I had) I still wondered as I began to unpack where I was going to find the room to fit everything. And why I packed it in the first place.
2: You’ll always need more boxes.
I swore at one stage that the boxes were breeding in secret. Every time I walked into a room there appeared to be more of them, lurking in corners and stacking up against walls. My shed was stuffed with flattened boxes and once I actually started packing, I kept telling myself that half of the boxes I’d gathered would end up not being used. I politely refused every offer of empty boxes from friends and co-workers, but in the end I needed more – enough to have to hastily dump out the contents of some boxes to bring them back to the old house to fill again.
3: Find a recycling centre.
We were nearly 2 weeks in the new house before the bins were delivered, and after having unpacked most of the boxes there were mounds of flattened cardboard and piles of newspaper everywhere. We also had to buy some new furniture, so layers of IKEA packaging were added to the pile, along with the packaging from the wooden floors that had to be put down. Without the recycling centre we would have been looking to build on an extension to hold the waste. And it’s bad enough having half unpacked boxes around every corner without a tower of cardboard to add to the level of head-meltage.
4: No matter how organised you think you are, you’re not.
My aspirations for a smooth redistribution of my life from one house to another definitely hit some speed bumps along the way. Yes, I read the blogs about colour coding doors and boxes so helpers could simply trot up the stairs and put the box with the pink label in the room with the pink sign on the door, or the box with the yellow label in the room with the yellow sign on the door. Yes, I kept a list of boxes and their numbers and their contents. Yes, I knew which boxes would need to be unpacked first and those that could wait, but despite all of this, the organisation did slide into disorganisation (mostly because of lesson number 5). One thing I was heartily grateful for however, was the essentials box for when we first arrived. It had soap, towels, toilet roll and chocolate, but more importantly; the kettle, mugs and tea – very Irish, I know!
5: Don’t bank on the removal van until it’s in your driveway.
Until the van is front of you and you can smell the fumes from its exhaust and see your face in its shiny chrome trim, don’t assume it’s coming. We had ours booked from 10am on the Saturday morning until 10am on the following Monday morning, but at 8:30pm on the Friday evening we were told, sorry, they didn’t actually have availability. Cue the meltdown. Thankfully, I have a friend with a van who rolled in like a knight in shining armour and saved the day. It meant a leisurely 48 hour moving plan got squished into a 3 hour dash on a dark Saturday evening, but we sucked it up and got over it. Also – don’t underestimate your car. You wouldn’t believe how much stuff can be shoved into the back of a Ford Focus.
6: Some boxes may never be unpacked.
Yep. I’ve opened boxes and thought ‘hmm, that ornament/picture/candle/lamp doesn’t really match this room’ and have promptly shoved it back in with the promise that I’ll find another spot for it, but weeks later, there are still a few boxes under the stairs that I’m not inclined to unpack. They’ll probably stay there until we move again. Which I really don’t want to have to contemplate right now.
6.5: Get yourself a notebook.
A small but important lesson for me: Find a notebook and surgically attach it to yourself. For me, there was so much to think of and remember that without this little book I’d have lost the plot. From scribbling down the new electricity and gas meter numbers to the list of things I needed from IKEA, supplier phone numbers, bin collection days and so on and so on, it was a lifeline. Before you wonder; yes, I do have a smart phone with a notebook app on it, but I prefer paper and pen, and it’s also handy to have somewhere to shove receipt and docket-type bits that usually end up being annihilated in the washing machine.
So there you go. 6 and half lessons that I’ll have well and truly forgotten by the time I move again. I hope. Because I don’t want to do it all again any time soon.