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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, April 14

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Qwert / August 30, 2004 12:36 PM

If you're moving more than 50 miles away for a new job, your move is completely tax deductible. Those Rubbermaid containers with lids are way cheaper than buying cardboard boxes. Buy a lot of them at a Target or Wal-Mart, write them off on your taxes...then think about returning them after you unpack. That is if you don't think you can re-use them.

miss ellen / August 30, 2004 12:37 PM

use large rolling suitcases to transport all your large hard-cover books!

it helps when you have a bit of overlap & can make multiple trips, too.

anne / August 30, 2004 12:40 PM

Liquor stores have FREE boxes of all shapes and sizes (right by the front door usually), plus, the ones with bottle dividers are perfect for glasses and other breakables.

Andrew / August 30, 2004 12:41 PM

If you're worried about the movers breaking something, move it yourself. And if you're getting friends to help you, be sure to buy them dinner and/or drinks afterwards.

Shylo / August 30, 2004 12:49 PM

Never have more than one carload of stuff.

vinny / August 30, 2004 1:06 PM

Bucket brigade. Get enough people and you can hand boxes up stairs amazingly fast. Much better than everyone climbing the stairs 20 times.

amyc / August 30, 2004 1:16 PM

Lift with the knees.

Steve / August 30, 2004 1:16 PM

What Shylo said about minimalism. And what Qwert said about Rubbermaid containers. And what Anne said about liquor store boxes.

Just accept that at least one item will break, no matter how well you packed or whether your movers are friends or professionals.

And put your bed together as soon as you get into the new place. That way, you'll at least have somewhere to lie once you lapse into a coma at the thought of unpacking all your stuff.

Finally: wear shoes and socks on moving day. I stupidly wore sandals during my last move and wound up with two mighty raw and sore feet.

anne / August 30, 2004 1:28 PM

Oh, and your moving truck _can_ get towed away (oh yes, it can). So watch where you park it!

KT / August 30, 2004 1:45 PM

Best advice my mom ever gave me, first thing you do in your new place is make up your bed, you will be thankful later.

Katie / August 30, 2004 1:46 PM

If you are asking friends to move, please make sure you are packed and ready to move!!! Don't have them help you pack as well as move. Big Faux-Pas!

robin.. / August 30, 2004 1:49 PM

robin's rulz of moving:
1. GET RID OF IT. give it away, sell it, and if it comes down to it, put it in yer back alley for people like me who dive for home furnishings.
2. many small boxes (from the liquor store, just like anne said) are much better than fewer big boxes.
3. put everything in containers. don't move armloads of loose items; it's inefficient and is just asking for loss.
4. pack early, a little each evening for the weeks leading up to the move.
5. keep your good humor up.
6. don't, under any circumstances, use u-haul.

suzanne / August 30, 2004 1:54 PM


vit / August 30, 2004 1:54 PM

I echo the anti-uhaul sentiments. They are evil and I do not understand how they stay in business. I've used them twice and both times have been the most horrific harrowing aspects of my move (for example, I showed up once only for them to say, 'sorry no truck for you even though you reserved it three months ago' and it was only after I almost had a breakdown, I was really stressed, in their office that they managed to find me one, that barely ran).

Naz / August 30, 2004 2:09 PM

Some good advice I see. Here's my 10 tips (some repeated from above):

1. You do not talk about Fight Club.

2. When packing books, use small boxes or wrap in bubble wrap and then tie parcel style with string (this menthod makes them easier to carry in small bunches). Those of you who use box boxes and lots of books in them: guess what, they're freaking heavy!

3. Get lots of friends, like Vinny said, use the Buddy System, pass along and no one gets too tired quick. Reward them well.

4. Craigslist has odd job people - they're basically a person(s) who has a van and is willing to help you move for considerably less than a moving company, they may have a friend or two as well. They're usually trustworthy but you may want to chat or meet with them a bit beforehand.

5. Ditto on the "Yeah, I'm packed." but which really means, "Oh, I packed all the big stuff away, these small items should be real quick." Er, no.

6. Keep things simple - re: Robin/Shylo, lose the stuff that you own, since it'll end up owning you anyway. Make three piles: must keep, maybe, definite throw away. Whittle these piles away by using the time tested method of "Have I used this in the last three months (aside from winter/summer clothing)?" Minimalism and a healthy nomadic attitude are good mindsets to be in. Or pretend some of the stuff you're on the fence about is an ex's - burn, baby, burn.

7. As echoed above, if you get keys early, move all the small stuff on your own if you can. Leave the big things to your friends. Personally, nothing irks me more than tons of small boxes.

8. Forget sentimentality.

9. Donate old stuff to Brown Elephant et al, or place in spot where homeless people like to dumpster dive. Or hipster punk kids. There's nothing like seeing three women haul a bed boxframe set with glee.

10. You do not talk about Fight Club.

Carly / August 30, 2004 2:20 PM

This is all great advice for my move next month.

My biggest dilemma is when I should book the movers.

I've never had to move at the end of a lease into a new place, so I'm totally perplexed by this whole 30th/1st thing.

Anyone have any advice?

Alex / August 30, 2004 2:21 PM

1. Hire movers!
2. Stuff that stays in boxes 6-months-later, should be pitched.

Katt / August 30, 2004 2:37 PM

I second Naz's Craigslist recommendation, as well as the book-packing advice.

If you have a lot of clothes and shoes, use garbage bags to pack them -- easy to haul up stairs, and easy to throw away. Always double-bag and label them VERY clearly so you/your friends/the movers don't mistake them for trash. Sharpie on white tall-kitchen bags works well.

I always take a "carry-on" tote bag or backpack with me, with all the things I immediately need after I move: tape, screwdrivers, hammer and nails, an extra roll of toilet paper.

Finally, don't dump any boxes or furniture into the new bedroom until you've got the bed in there and set up.

dan / August 30, 2004 2:46 PM

This is very simple but VERY IMPORTANT (I am usually very conservative with my "caps" statements, but I think this warrants it):

If you hire movers, get an estimate, and make sure they stick to it! I just moved a friend yesterday who had hired movers, and was told that moving the contents of a two bedroom apartment would take roughly 3 hours @ $100/hour. Unfortunately, the movers arrived tired, and took nearly 6 hours (even after myself and four other people arrived to pitch in). They also took a couple of breaks, and were livid when we tried to haggle for their services at less than $600. While my friend had an approximate estimate from this company, the movers didn't stick to it. She had no idea it would be that expensive, and it just added to the unpleasantness.

steven / August 30, 2004 2:47 PM

1. hire a mover
2. if you have friends that say they'll be there to help you, have a couple of backup movers on hand just in's hell when your 'friends' don't show up

robin.. / August 30, 2004 3:03 PM

see, i gotta disagree with using bags to pack under most circumstances. bags are suitable for a one or two-person move using only your or a borrowed car (college moves, cross-town moves, moves before you've acquired things like matresses and desks that don't disassemble...). the supreme packability of boxes is best for truck or van moves (rented/procured, pick-up or moving) over short or long distances, moves with a lot of lead time, or moves during which your life and work just keep going on, leaving you less time to focus on homewrecking and homemaking. you can stack them more tightly and neatly, they protect their contents, and having your place (pre- or post-move) lined with tidy boxes is nicer, i think, than crazy-full bags spreading out like amoebas into your walking paths. bag moves connote, to me, using my car parked on the sidewalk below like a suitcase as i moved frantically at 2:00 in the morning out of a dorm i hated, with an 8-hour drive home ahead of me, as a couch burned in the courtyard below.

Mike / August 30, 2004 3:23 PM

I would say NOT to hire movers, friends are much cheaper. I moved to Chi. last January and the cheapest movers I found would only work as low as $150. On the other hand, I promised to get three friends drunk and it cost maybe $75.
The only catch here is that you'll need large friends for large things but they also need large quantities of booze, so keep your picks smaller than Andre the Giant on the high end.

Steve / August 30, 2004 3:27 PM

One moving tip I forgot: try to block off enough street space for the truck you'll be using near your old place the night before for your move. In theory your alderman's office can help with this, but this spring I found it easier to borrow a friend's car and stake out the scene (checking out the front window every half hour or so while packing) until I managed to park both my car and his back to back, leaving enough space for a truck when I pulled them out.

Esquire Mag runs an annual list of things you shouldn't do after you turn 30. One item on the list is "ask friends to help you move."

Movers are hit-and-miss, no matter how good the company's reputation. Unless you're dealing with one of the ultra-premium services that have full-time dedicated crews, you're going to be dealing with one actual employee and a team of day laborers, who may or may not be up to the task.

The worst thing I've seen with a moving crew is when I was helping my then-girlfriend move. She has a piano, and told Samson Movers (a company several friends had recommended) this up front, so they planned on a crew of four. Moving day hits, and they show up with three guys, who quickly move the rest of her stuff into the truck, then wait for mover number four to show up, sitting around on the clock. And then the crew chief had the nerve to shake us down for "something for the boys" at the end of the day, and we were too stunned that we gave them $40 to split.

This spring the girl and I used Golan's to move, and they were total pros even though they had the typical arrangement (a chief and three temps). It was expensive (our move was on the clock for 6.25 hours, but they worked the whole time in consolidating our two households into one), but worth it.

amy / August 30, 2004 3:50 PM

1. Have a husband with OCD. He will start packing at least 45 days before you leave. Do not expect to leave anything that can be packed away out to use later. Trust me - I started three books and had to finish them post-move.

2. Use the gay-friendly contacts. The movers were recommened by gay friends. The movers did EXACTLY the estimate.

3. Have OCD man unpack you. Start a new job the day after your move - not a problem. OCD man will stay home and make sure the house is furnished properly and the pictures are hung.

4. Wash a new set of sheets, new set of towels and get the Moms to set that up ASAP. Moms likes to make the bed. Moms likes to decorate bathrooms.

5. Villa May pizza tastes good for all of the friends that unpack all of your books.

6. Don't move in October or April. That just sucks.

Lisa / August 30, 2004 4:00 PM

If you have pets....
Lock your cats in the bathroom while you are moving. Move them out of your old place LAST and into your new place after every box is inside.

Pete / August 30, 2004 4:29 PM

Unless you're 6'5" and 275 pounds and have several similarly sized friends (i.e. the Bears' offensive line), hire professionals. Your back and your sanity will thank you.

Pete / August 30, 2004 4:31 PM

Oh, and throw away all of your old, obsolete textbooks before you move. I moved my undergrad textbooks three or four times before I finally asked myself why.

Cinnamon / August 30, 2004 4:44 PM

Hire Starving Artist movers!

These guys have moved us three times and we've never had anything break, they've never pulled the "sorry it took so long, but you have to pay extra anyway" thing, and they're funny and smart and I think the employees are the best paid guys in the business and it shows. David, the owner, is awesome and funny and thanks to them our move was the least stressful part of a couple of days.

Other than that, make sure you have lots of cold water on hand (even if you hire movers, it's a cheap and easy way to keep them happy), know where your pillows, towels, soap, toilet paper, and toothbrush are, and if you have pets expect to not sleep your first night in the new place.

Qwert / August 30, 2004 4:54 PM

I would like to reiterate the notion of being packed before your friends show up.

Nothing sucks more than being a friend showing up as a mover and finding that the people you're helping have packed three or four boxes out of their shitload of shit. I helped a friend move like this. Two of her other "friends" screamed violently at her for not being ready, and then split the scene convincing three other people who showed up to leave with them. That left me and one other person with a much bigger burden and all the inherited guilt and a stomach-sized knot in the stomach. Needless to say, the four hours of my planned help time turned into twenty and I hate, hate, hated every minute of it.

Oh, and my friends are like, 55 years old and own a printing press collection. With my having 20 years under them, they seemed like snails. I would say hire movers if you're over 40. But over 30 like Esquire said? Only if your salary equals your age, or you happen to be too precious for physical labor.

eliina / August 30, 2004 4:58 PM

don't do what i did this past weekend. i moved into a place a block away from my old place, and moved all of the small stuff (everything but a few large pieces of furniture) by myself with my little car. and i wore flip-flops. and i didn't do all of my packing ahead of time.

steve_sleeve / August 30, 2004 5:11 PM

if you plan on asking friends to help you move, start being über-nice to them BEFORE you ask for their assistance. buy them some drinks for a couple nights/weeks prior, get them high, give them pirated music on CDR, whatever. it'll increase the likelihood of a positive response. and of course take them out afterwards (at their convenience) for dinner and/or drinks.

jenny / August 30, 2004 6:22 PM

if you're anal and like to have boxes organized by catagory, make sure you have a box or two marked "everything boxes" or "misc". it beats standing around with your bottlecap collection trying to figure out which box it should go into.

if you're poor and have cats, a ghetto pet-carrier can be fashioned out of a rubbermaid tub with a bunch of little squares cut out of either side for breathing and looking out. throw on the lid and it's nice and dark and not too stressful for them.

christian / August 30, 2004 6:56 PM

My Baltimore friend always said: "if it doesn't fit in milk crates it's not worth taking." This coming from a guy that was somewhat paranoid of "the people" that were after him.

Pack everything you don't really need well beforehand, and hire movers, your friends will only help you out so much, mostly just after college for maybe two moves.

Leo / August 30, 2004 7:05 PM

Are you sure you want to move? Think about it reeeeeeally hard. It's not too late to change your mind.

paul / August 30, 2004 11:44 PM

Ask all of these experienced movers from this post to help you.

Advice for those of us who always get asked to help: bring a pair of good gloves, your own roll of duct tape, a good battery operated screwdriver for taking legs off of furniture, ziplock bags for the screws and several lengths (10 ft. long each) of good quality nylon webbing (seat belt material) or very good rope. These can be strung under hard to carry furniture like dressers to make handles for easy lifting and carrying. Also, depending on the friend, you may want to bring a dust mask - some of that furniture may have not been moved in years.

I myself have been in the same place for more years then I care to mention, but if I ever do move, I intend to take my car, and maybe my laptop.

Sean / August 31, 2004 8:29 AM

DON'T DO IT!!!!!

jennifer / August 31, 2004 8:47 AM

as i just spent the past three days moving, my advice is to not move. also, don't move on the same day as your boy/girlfriend. pulling double duty sucks.

katebot / August 31, 2004 9:10 AM

start packing early. no matter how long you think it will take, it will take at least twelve times longer. i just signed a year lease and i've already started packing.

Lucy / August 31, 2004 9:32 AM

I concur with all the folks who make the bed first. Don't forget to pack some protection with those sheets. Nothing sucks more than not being able to safely and properly christen all the rooms in your new pad.

Oh, and as for that new hot neighbor that always offers beer, sugar or brownies . . . JUST DON'T. Trust me . . .no matter how friendly, flaming hot or great their record collection. These things rarely work out well. You'll just end up having to re-pack and move next year or pray that they will.

Naz / August 31, 2004 10:11 AM

Lucy, I like the way you move.

On another note - where are these neighbouts proferring such 'treats'?

I've often wondered whether dating a neighbour would make sense, since if things went sour, you'd be physically close from each other - whether there'd be this constant checking up on, etc.

Yes, that could be bad.

Fredo / August 31, 2004 10:23 AM

As someone who's counted on friends and family movers in the past, I concur with those that recommend being completely packed before the help arrives, bribing in advance, and rewarding with food and drink. I'd go one step further, though, and recommend building moving karma as far in advance as possible- the occasional sweaty Saturday afternoon helping others move their crap will make your sweaty afternoon of moving go all that much easier. My last move, I had 11 people who owed me from their last moves, and what could have been a nightmarish ingress to a 4th story walk-up was done in less than 2 hours, with everyone who helped complimenting me on my preparedness.

jennifer / August 31, 2004 10:57 AM

I concur on the not dating of neighbors. Bad news, indeed.

Jake / August 31, 2004 1:28 PM

1) Volunteer to help your friends move and they'll volunteer to help you back. It's cheaper, it's a great way to socialize, it's fun if you have the right attitude and it's a GREAT workout. Plus, you have carte blanche to paw through their stuff openly and unapologetically without having to sneak peeks in their bathroom cabinets.

2) If your parents come in to help and you happen to hire smokin' hot movers who flirt back, don't get all lip-locky with the movers until your parents are safely out of the city again.

Vinny / August 31, 2004 2:13 PM

You can often avoid late charges from movers by strategically producing a 12 pack of cold beer 80% of the way through the job. That and try turning clocks back 15 minutes.

vit / August 31, 2004 2:40 PM

dating neighbors is risky indeed, but sometimes it works out. I just went to a wedding involving two people who started out as neighbors (they've been together for 7 years now).

Chris / August 31, 2004 7:56 PM

Visit the place your going to move to at various times of the day/night. Sometimes a place may seem nice during the day, and is noisy and lit up at night....

Lyle From Lisle / August 31, 2004 11:32 PM

If the reason for your move is to reach for something, try using MIND POWER to bring it toward you.

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