The art of moving

I’m moving again this month. I really hope this is the last time in a while because I love my new home.

The truth is I’ve moved four times since I came to Barcelona six years ago. So in the process, I’ve learnt certain tips and tricks I’d like to share with you.

I think there are several logical steps when you are moving, so here are my “tips & hacks” for each of the steps:

1. Plan: estimate how long will it take you to pack all your things and leave the place clean and as it was when you came. Consider which month you would move. Then ensure that month is somehow free, that you have some holidays or at least think if your other responsibilities that month will obstruct the moving process (e.g. ensure you don’t have exams at university, you don’t have a complicated month at work or any kind of problem that will keep you busy).

2. Tell the landlord your decision to leave at least one month before leaving. Prepare the last water and electricity bills and the rental contract you signed for when you go to see the owner before leaving.

3. Start the packing marathon:

  • Ask for boxes at a local supermarket or appliances store.
  • Get packing tape and a big permanent marker to label the boxes.
  • Keep all the newspapers you can. Wrap all the breakable stuff with them (or using old clothes).
  • Pack out-of-season clothes.
  • Pack spare bed linen and towels (keep the ones you are using and a pack of clean ones just in case).
  • Pack books, decorations, wall art and hobby stuff (Except for plants, curtains)

(Warning: Boxes containing only books may be extremely heavy. I usually try to do ½ books and ½ towels or bed linen)

  • Pack party dresses and formal clothes.
  • If you have a wide wardrobe, pack ½ of the season’s clothes. Think of what you probably won’t wear before moving.
  • Part of the kitchenware and appliances you don’t use daily (e.g. cake pans, wine glasses, party tableware, half of the daily tableware, cocktail shaker…)

By the way, ensure you leave unpacked one or two old track-suits or old comfy clothes and a pair of trainers for the moving + painting + cleaning days.

4. You’d better…

  • Not buy long expiry food or stock up your pantry or freezer. Instead, try to finish all stuff in your pantry and freezer. Try to live on what you have in your fridge.
  • Not buy any decorations/kitchenware/furniture for your new home before you’ve moved there. You already have a lot to carry (instead I’m doing a Pinterest wishlist of what I plan to buy when I’m there).
  • If you have more than one piece of furniture to store things, try to concentrate all the unpacked stuff in the same one. Clean the rest and disassemble them if possible. If you want, you can even start covering their edges with paperboard to prevent them from being damaged while moving.
  • Wrap and seal or put in a sandwich bag or an envelope all the screws and metal pieces of each piece of furniture separately. Label them conveniently and keep them together and in a visible place until moving.
  • When labeling the boxes, label the side, not the top, so you can still see the label if they are stacked. It is also useful to label the room where they are going to be, either by writing it or with different color duct tape.
  • This is a good time to get rid of old stuff: get all the random clutter that you don’t like or the clothes that don’t fit you or you possibly won’t wear again and put it in one box and label it as “Stuff I’m not sure if I still want”. This box will be the last one to be unpacked. Once you do it, get piece by piece and decide if it has a place in your new home.
  • It is also a good idea to start deep cleaning the rooms you’ve already emptied completely.

5. The last week

If you have access to your new home, now is the right time to paint all the rooms you want. If not, you will have to do it like in step 6 in a less handy way. Before painting, make sure you don’t need to fix any wall imperfections, add extra plugs…

Same goes for deep cleaning. If you can, it is a good idea to buy a whole set of cleaning supplies and deep clean your new home before moving there or bringing any of your furniture. If possible, leave this cleaning supplies there.

At this point you should only be still unpacked:

  • Part of your season’s clothes.
  • Essential kitchenware
  • Toiletries
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Plants and curtains
  • 2 packs of towels and bed linen
  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Stuff you need at work/school

– Pack a big suitcase as if you were going on holidays for a week: put your toiletries, clothes, towels and the clean bed linen in there.

– The last days before leaving, pack the rest of the stuff in this list. Label all these boxes as “essentials”. Unpack these first.

– Defreeze your refrigerator and clean it. Ensure there’s no food or rests of food in it.

– It is also a good idea to make a list of all the boxes, appliances and pieces of furniture you are going to carry and their labels. It is incredibly easy to leave something behind when moving without even noticing until a week after.

– You can order the boxes by room in this list, and unpack room by room when you arrive. This will smooth your stress levels when unpacking.

– Eat out or get food delivered the last night before moving. You won’t want to lose time and energy doing the dishes or putting the dishwasher on the day you are moving.

6. The arrival

  • Consider painting the rooms before unpacking anything (unpack only your big suitcase and the “essential” boxes). Don’t paint them all at the same time. Start by painting one or two bedrooms and somehow distribute beds in the rest of rooms and the living and sleep there. The next day or the following, bring back the beds to their place and paint the rest.
  • Clean all wardrobes, cabinets and chests of drawers before putting anything in them or unpacking anything else.
  • Plan which use you will give to each storage space. Decide the content of which box will be in each cabinet or drawer and unpack only that box. This way, you will make sure everything is well organized and it has a specific place.

As you can see, this post has very few pictures compared to my standards and, besides, they are not very good. I apologize for it. I’m quite busy with my own packing marathon right now. Moving is exhausting and stressing, but once you see the result, a new opportunity to live better and with more space, you always end thinking it is worth the effort.

Especially this time: we are moving to a penthouse in the outskirts of Barcelona with a big terrace (so you can imagine the plant-a-holic in me is happy as a clam!). I will post about the before & after once it’s finished.

I’ve probably forgot to tell you a lot of things, since moving involves caring for a lot of details and it is quite difficult to do it in an ordered and efficient way. I hope at least one or two of these tips will help you sometime in the future.


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