How to Move Five Minutes Away

Shortly after celebrating my three year move-aversary from my Arizona house to my gorgeous California resort-style apartment, I mentally calculated the fortune I’ve been putting into nothing since 2010. Since I couldn’t go back in time and buy a Tesla, I realized I needed to accept it as a sunk cost and get back into home ownership.

So after a wondrously brief and earth-shatteringly painless home buying experience, I’m now mere days away from owning a love-at-first-sight townhouse about five miles from my apartment.

After relocating on the company dime and experiencing the luxury of having an army of trained movers sprinkle fairy dust on my belongings and move them across state lines faster than I could say “bubble wrap,” I  vowed to always splurge on packing services for future moves. But the task of moving down the street seemed easy enough that I decided vows and splurges are for people not paying Orange County real estate taxes.

Now that I’m knee deep in poorly packed boxes, I thought I’d share my lessons learned for moving nearby on the quick and on the cheap:

Throw your perfectionism out the window. You may normally be a my-coffee-mug-handles-all-face-to-the-right kind of person, but now you’re a there’s-a-space-in-this-clothing-box-the-size-of-a-meat-thermometer kind of person.

The more food you eat the less you have to toss. This might be the most fun part of moving. To unload the inordinate amount of butter in my fridge I made alfredo sauce and a batch of cookie dough. I also learned the art of making “kitchen sink” omelets.

The more wine you drink the less you have to pack. Just sayin’.

Everything is a box. First, visit Trader Joe’s and your local liquor store and load up on whatever they will give you (wine boxes are amazing glass separators). Next, become a packing MacGyver. Garbage cans? Box. Dresser drawer? Box. Hamper? Box. Bookshelf laid on its side? Four boxes.

Everything is bubble wrap. While not nearly as fun to play with, pillows, coats, towels and even Kleenex make excellent last-minute wrap for fragile items you want to just throw in a bin in your car and drive to your new place.

Get a tape gun. Even if you plan to move your entire home with old t-shirts and a laundry basket, get a tape gun. It’s awesome.

Label every box “fragile.” When your crystal vase is wrapped with a pillow case and wedged between your Monopoly board and a pair of Uggs, “fragile” is your best bet.

Keep a list. When your boxes all say “random” it may be tricky to remember what’s what. I number my boxes and keep a sheet that lists the one or two items I actually care about inside. For example, box #17 is mostly full of tin foil and Saran wrap but is documented as “DVD remote.”

Hire moving help. Friends offering to help you move is like friends offering to make something for your dinner party. They really want you to say no. You can hire moving helpers by the hour through U-Haul after you rent your truck. It’s cheaper than cases of beer and owed favors.

Do not pack the toilet paper. You might think leaving two rolls to ration until the move is plenty. You might be completely, annoyingly wrong.

Days from now when I’m anxiously watching my movers play Tetris with my belongings, I may wish I had gone the safe route and paid for the fairy dust. But I’m actually having a little bit of fun wielding my tape gun whilst drinking wine and eating cookie dough. Here’s hoping my crystal vase shows up in one piece.

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About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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7 Responses to How to Move Five Minutes Away

  1. Awesome… We just moved about 5 miles away a couple months ago. Complete F-ing nightmare. Probably enough nightmare for four households. So yours will go swimmingly.*

    * Disclaimer: I can’t be held responsible for non-swimmingly moves.

  2. nathanjedi says:

    You still have a longer move than I had. I move to a house within the same city block.

  3. I’ve wondered how people made these short moves. It seems so awkward; as if you should just drag your belongings down the street on a 4-wheel cart. As for boxes, I once moved cross-country in mostly banana boxes.

  4. PinotNinja says:

    I cannot even begin to tell you how important keeping a list is. I did not. And I was a star pupil of the jam whatever fits into the wine box/laundry basket/pot school of moving. I ended up having to unpack every box immediately in order to find the items I needed to cook a box of macaroni and cheese upon my late night arrival at my new place. I hated myself more for that than the inevitable toliet paper crisis that I also endured during the last hour of the move.

  5. Tua says:

    Oh I know. I did this mistake of writing ‘fragile stuff’ on almost 3/4th the boxes. And after I had moved I had to open and rummage through each and every box to know what has what. Bad mistake. I wish your blog post had come a few weeks early: :p

    But there is always a next time for wine drinking, cookie dough-feeding move.

  6. As I will also be moving soon, these tips are really useful.

    Nice to see you are back to normal.

    Love Denise

  7. Wow, I think you meant to write this for me! Last night a friend called and asked if we could rent her house from them because nobody would buy it. Since we’re not able to buy a house, we accepted their offer and will be moving this coming May!

    Now we have to make arrangements for our kids to syay in the same school system…

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