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November 5, 2010 / Wendy Joan

Lessons from the Big Move

This past Monday, after weeks of planning and procrastinating, Sam and I made the move from sunny Sarasota to the equally sunny city of St. Petersburg, Florida. Our new home is only a 45-minute drive from our old one, but right now, it feels worlds away. I am of the opinion that it is more fun to live in a city that spits back Russian characters in a Google search if you forget to specify “Florida.”

Because I was in charge of the packing (and the procrastinating), I learned a lot along the way. Here are some of the lessons:

1. Start early.

Three weeks before the move, I boxed up all my books. . Then I did a whole lot of nothing—including housework—for the next few weeks. I spent more time worrying than preparing. A week or so before the move, I came down with a bad cold that lasted until moving day. Even less got done.

My advice to you is to think about what you don’t use on a regular basis, and have these items packed at least two weeks before the move. Push the boxes to a corner and forget about them. The thing I really learned the hard way is keeping a clean house is more important than packing. Keep a clean house, and the packing will more or less do itself.

2. Radio for back-up.

I could have used some reinforcements—especially when deciding what to keep and what to donate.

In her post “How to Win the War on Clutter,” Miss Minimalist writes:

“If you’re planning an epic battle (like cleaning out your garage, basement, or attic), round up additional troops. Family and friends make terrific soldiers: they provide extra hands and moral support, and help strengthen your resolve when you feel weak or sentimental. Rally family members to get rid of their own stuff!”

Our strapping friend, Tyler, was an integral part of moving day. Because of him, I did not have to try to carry our 100 pound (seriously) television up the stairs. Did I mention we have a second floor apartment?

3. Spend some time out of the house.

I work from my home office, so I really couldn’t escape the reality of the pending relocation. Take your lunch breaks in the park, and as many walks as you need to clear your head.

4. Think about your carbon footprint.

I used plastic bins to pack up most of the house. Sam re-used broken down boxes. Canvas shopping totes are a great place to store miscellaneous items or toiletries that need to be packed on the day of the move.

My initial plan was to make two or three small trips to the new apartment before moving day. I ended up making one trip, partially because of the cold, partially because I didn’t feel like moving stuff by myself, but mostly because of the gas tank. Who doesn’t need some extra cash for moving?

5. Make some cash for your crap.

When you’re packing, you’ll find so many things you don’t know what to do with.

A broken iPhone, perhaps? Gazelle is a great site where you can buy or sell electronics and recycle broken equipment. They gave me $30 for my poor iPhone that will never turn on again. Even better, they sent me a box with paid postage to mail it in with.

A month before the move, identify the books you don’t need and list them on Amazon. Chances are, you’ll sell a few. Donate the rest to Goodwill the week of the move (and don’t forget to take your listings down).

6. Make your service calls sooner rather than later.

On moving day, we didn’t have electricity (read air conditioning). It’s Friday, and the cable company isn’t coming until tomorrow morning. I’m wireless deprived and have to catch up on work this weekend. Enough said.

7. Think about who you want to be in your new space. Don’t let improvements stop with the move.

I’ve been reading a lot of Zen Habits, Miss Minimalist and Emily Post. I am dreaming up minimalist décor, empty closets sans clutter and dinner parties with correctly seated guests.

Who will you be in your new space? With a nearly-clean slate comes room for so much improvement.

Now that it’s time to unpack and get settled, I’ve decided I want to make my office nearly-paperless by the end of 2010. And host a beautifully old-school dinner party. And create a schedule for the laundry and housework so every thing gets done, every week. A girl can dream, can’t she?



Leave a Comment
  1. Pam Biddlecombe / Nov 5 2010 9:06 am

    Well, my dear, you’ve provided so much helpful information! I really like the advice about enlisting friends (loved ones) to help with big projects.
    My big projects are a garage full of grandma’s treasures and a tiny house full of former inhabitants “stuff”!
    Wendy, Sam, Christine = I’ll set a date! It will be fun!!!!

  2. Heidi / Nov 6 2010 11:18 am

    You’re in St. Pete??!!

    YOU’RE IN ST. PETE?!?!?!?

    Why aren’t we hanging out right now?

    I always enjoy searching for pizza joints in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    • Wendy Joan / Nov 6 2010 12:03 pm

      I am! I am! Thanks for reading. I am writing you a message right now to remedy the hanging out situation.


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