I absolutely love getting mail from readers, and have been fortunate to get both emails AND mail mail. Like letters. In envelopes. From other countries, even (you know who you are – thank you!!).
Recently I got an email from someone who may be moving soon to a different state, and wanted to know about 1) how to pack kitchen things, 2) cost effective moving methods, and 3) what to do with her valuable items, like a big menorah, since they would be flying to their new location and shipping their stuff. Also, she wanted to know 4) what’s good to sell in the old location and buy new in their new city.
Between my mother and I, we’ve moved about a dozen and a half times, plus I crowdsourced a little bit, so while I’m not going to say this is a definitive guide to long-distance moving, I hope it’s a good start. And I hope that some of you who’ve had experience in this area will chime in in the comments (which I also love, by the way, the comments. Love them) with your expertise.
A quick disclaimer: I view cost-effectiveness through two different lenses. One is the traditional definition of something actually costing less. The other way I view it from a time-is-money perspective. If it costs less but will take more time and effort than I can reasonably expend, then I’ll go with the option which takes less time but costs more money.
Boxes boxes boxes
For packing material, it is absolutely cheaper to find boxes from people in your area who have recently moved, or going to a grocery store or bookstore and asking if they have any boxes. My mom has done this many times. I’ve found diaper and wipes boxes to be excellent for packing books and other heavyish items. Costco-sized food boxes also work well. Extra suitcases can be used for clothes, and Rubbermaid containers can be used for anything. A neat trick I learned in this last move was to take a piece of Saran wrap and wrap that around the bin before taping it closed. That prevents any sticky residue from the tape sticking onto the bin. Neat, right?
I have absolutely resorted to going to Home Depot (or a similar-type store. I have no allegiance to a specific one, just whatever is closer to my home) to just buy moving boxes instead of scavenging for them. They will also have the tall garment boxes which come with a metal bar so you can simply move the contents of your closest right into the box, and then right into your new closest. That is a nice convenience.
There is also the option of hiring a moving company to pack for you, and those guys will bring the boxes and the packing paper, but that is by far a more expensive option.
Packing Packing Packing
Now you have the boxes, so let’s talk about how to put stuff in them. Packing paper is very handy, and I don’t think it’s all that expensive to get at a Home Depot-ish store. If you don’t want to use packing paper, newspaper will do, but the ink will rub off, so bear that in mind. My mom sometimes has used towels or sheets instead of packing paper
Here is an excellent video on how to pack those fragile items:
And, yeah, label those boxes. Not only what room they should go in, but roughly what’s in them. It is so helpful when it comes to unpacking. And keep some towels and linens very accessible, because you will want those right away.
Insure, Insure, Insure
As for the valuables, my mother suggested that if you have enough time before you move, it’s a good idea to get your heirlooms appraised. And then you can insure your shipment by value as opposed to by weight. That way if anything happened, G-d forbid, you would be covered (well, financially. Obviously the emotional aspect is another thing altogether).
If you can take your valuables with you on the place in a carry-on, that would probably be best. I wouldn’t recommend packing any valuables in your checked luggage because things do get banged around a lot in baggage. Also, luggage does get lost. So shipping it is probably safer than having it in a checked bag.
Anything that is very heavy, like solid wood furniture or appliances, and doesn’t have any emotional value should be left behind. Mattresses and bed frames aren’t so heavy, so you can take those. If you don’t have time or energy or patience for a garage sale, you could always take your unwanted items to Goodwill and get a tax-deductible receipt.
Also, if you have time to weed through things you no longer use or need, that would be ideal. I have been shlepping a bunch of junk along with me for at least my last three moves because I never took the time to go through it. And that is a pain! So don’t be like me. Go through your stuff and toss, donate or sell those items you haven’t used recently.
Or be like me and put them all in a box and tell yourself you’ll go through it later. I won’t judge.
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Okay, I hope that was helpful! And anyone who has tips to add, please, please chime in in the comment section down here (as opposed to on Facebook, which is where a lot of the conversation happens, which is great, but let’s try to consolidate the advice on this one, thanks!).