It's been quiet on this site for a while; the sort of gaping silence that TV shows highlight with chirping crickets. It started with the usual end of semester rush of work, then there was a two month purge of unwanted belongings, followed by a remarkably smooth move into our very first house! After a few years of looking each time it came close to the end of our lease, we finally found the right house at a price we could afford.
And now that almost two months have passed I feel like I can take a deep breath and share a bit of what I learned from the experience.
- Buying a house is ranked right up there with divorce and the death of a loved one in terms of the stress it causes. I didn't make that up; a therapist friend told me.
- Put a piece of painters tape on any cord that could possibly get separated from its machine, and write what it goes to.
- If you're trying to get rid of items in a hurry, skip Craigslist and go straight to Freecycle (everything is free so people jump on it), or call a charity like the Epilepsy Foundation to have them pick the items up at your house. Either way the items are kept out of landfills and making someone happy.
- Getting boxes is so much easier today than it was 10 years ago. No more doing the rounds of toy and liquor stores. Boxes are almost always available on Craigslist, and Freecycle.com. In addition if you buy boxes from U-Haul, they'll take back any that you don't use. The boxes at Lowes are cheaper though I don't know if they have the same return policy. We got incredibly lucky in that some friends offered us the boxes from their move, which we used, then passed on to other friends who were moving a few weeks after us. Sometimes the universe just comes together.
- Keep the labeling on your boxes simple. Write the room and then a couple key words to maintain your sanity when it comes time to unpack. Our movers said that people do all sorts of number and color coding systems, but nothing helps them unload faster than just having the room name on the box.
- The amount of time it takes to pack seems to increase as you get closer to the end. A wise friend told me "At some point in packing you're going to get to the 'ah f**** it' stage and just not care any more." She was right.
- The most useful tool while moving is a Swiss Army knife. With that in your pocket you never have to look for a screwdriver while you're packing, or scissors to cut open boxes once you've arrived. You may even want to take advantage of its bottle opener feature.
- As soon as the boxes are off the truck, send someone to the store to get those few food essentials that help you feel all is right in the world. In our house that means bread, peanut butter, milk, cereal, Diet Coke and Mountain Dew. Wow, that does not paint a flattering picture of our eating habits.
- When moving to an unfamiliar town, it's worth calling the Town Hall to see if they have maps available.
- All empty houses do not sound the same. The echo of a place you're moving into is cold and industrial. It sounds like a solid block of ice, daring you to try to make this place a home. But, the echo of a place you're leaving is music, something a little bitter sweet but with a rhythm that makes you want to dance. Because when a place is finally empty enough to echo - the endless packing is over!