Moving Tips From a Former Military Wife

movingtruckMoving is never easy.  Most people think of the word “move” as a four letter curse word on par with the F-bomb.  Moving with the military, while still no fun, is easier than moving on your own.  Unless you are doing a DITY (Do IT Yourself) move in the military, they will send a crew out to box up your life, load it on the truck, transport it, and unload the boxes on the other end. You just have to clean the old place for your check-out inspection, handle all the paperwork involved, and unpack in your new place.  The military movers even make an inventory list of everything in each box, so you can easily find the can opener on your first night in the new place.

Moving without the military is a whole other animal.  Suddenly you are responsible for packing, loading, transporting, and unloading all on your own.  None of that includes the paperwork, arrangements for utilities, and everything else involved. However, there are somethings you can do to make it easier on yourself.

The first thing to do – declutter your home. Anything that you do not NEED or WANT to take with you needs to go NOW. One of the things I learned years ago from FLYLady – if you don’t need it, if it doesn’t make you smile, get rid of it. Decide what you need to live, decide what you want to keep, and toss the rest. You can take things to the local Goodwill or Salvation Army if you have time & the desire.  If you don’t, just throw it all out.  This serves two purposes:

  1. You don’t have to move all that crap you didn’t really want anyway.
  2. Studies show that a decluttered home will be easier for potential buyers to visualize their own stuff in the house. The more cluttered up with knick-knacks and whoziwhatzits, the harder it is for potential buyers to look past all that and see the home.

Decluttering is not a process you need to complete before you start packing. You can declutter while you pack. For instance, as you pack your movies go through them, weed out the movies you didn’t like, don’t watch, and don’t really want to hang on to, then throw them out or donate them somewhere.  Presto! You’ve just decluttered and packed all at the same time.

Second thing to do is to number your boxes & create an inventory.  I did this in a spiral bound notebook, which my husband then put into Excel. I took this a step further as well by listing where we had stashed each box.  I also went beyond that with our books. Being a family of readers, we have a lot of books.  We use LibraryThing to catalog our books. I created a “collection” for each box I packed.  That way, if my kids wanted to read a specific book, I knew exactly which box it was in.  Then I could consult my inventory list SmashedBurritoto find out where that box was located.  When we moved, I changed the location notation to the new location – attic, storage room, closet #1, etc.  While I unpacked each box, I changed the name of the collection on LibraryThing to reflect the new location of the books in the new home.  So now, if my son wants to read My Life as a Smashed Burrito With Extra Hot Sauce, I can tell him that it is supposed to be in the living room.  If he’s moved it, that’s his problem.

Another thing – don’t mix rooms when packing. Living room stuff goes into a living room box. Kitchen stuff stays in a kitchen box.  2Men&ATruck have a good list of other packing tips here.

When it comes to packing, I highly recommend getting your boxes from your moving company – we used Uhaul.  At the very least, get a whole bunch of the same sizes from the same location.  It will help when packing your truck if your box size is mostly uniform.

One thing to keep in mind while packing – whenever possible, never leave your boxes out in a main area while showing a home.  Always hide them in the basement, attic, or closets.  Potential buyers don’t want to see your boxes, and you don’t want them to feel like you are about to abandon the home before they decide.  I packed all my figurines and books early on in the process, hiding the boxes in the attic & master bedroom closet. It helped to make the home seem larger and less cluttered, but at the same time, it was still a warm, inviting space.

So now you’ve started the decluttering process, and you’re making your inventory of numbered boxes while packing.  But you still need to keep track of everything – your conversations with your realtor, your mortgage company, and every thing else.  Remember that spiral bound notebook I kept my inventory in?  Yup.  Everything was in there.  My list of things I needed to do, my records of phone calls & conversations with my realtor, credit counselor, mortgage company, everything.  I made lists of the utilities, and notes about when to cut off things.  I researched truck rentals, and kept track of prices.  Receipts and business cards were stapled to pages in the notebook so they would be easily found when needed.  Phone numbers of people I needed to call, play date schedules so the kids could say good bye to their friends, you name it, it was in the notebook.  It became a BIG help because whenever I needed to refer to anything, it was in the notebook.  DH wanted to know what still needed to be done – check the notebook.  Where was that rental agreement? check the notebook.  Whenever we researched something like the procedure for licensing the dog in the new state, it would get written in the notebook so we could refer back to it.  Gun laws for safe transportation and storage in the new home – in the notebook.  That notebook became invaluable.

So the notebook is a great help.  But still – when are you supposed to do stuff like notify the post office, etc?  Well, I used the Moving Checklist at for help with alot of that.  There’s another good moving checklist at also has a great list of things to do when packing your truck. Honestly, I left that aspect to DH.  His years of military experience packing helicopters & air craft helped him maximize space and pack the truck like it was a giant game of Tetris.

So there you have it.  My biggest tips for making moving easier. The biggest takeaway from this though should be the inventory.  That right there saved my bacon and made life and unpacking so much easier.

What’s your best moving tip?  Let me know!

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