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Take the stress out of moving


FARGO — It’s a necessary evil: packing up our stuff, loading it into a truck and driving it to a new place.

Long-distance moves have unique difficulties, but even relocating from one apartment to another just a few blocks away is a big chore.

As I prepare for my 11th move in the past 11 years, most of them short trips across town, I’ve figured out a few ways to de-stress this stressful process.

1. Start early

As soon as I sign a new lease, I start making lists and getting through the little chores that can be time-consuming if I procrastinate.

Pack items you’ll want to keep but won’t need anytime soon, and store the boxes until you’re ready to rent a U-Haul or borrow a friend’s truck.

Speaking of boxes, stock up early – those ubiquitous pieces of cardboard become scarce between May and August.

2. Downsize

Most of us want to get rid of the extra stuff we accumulate over time if for no other reason than the benefits of having a tidier, less cluttered place.

But it’s hard to actually make those difficult decisions, especially with the sentimental items.

A move is a great reason to downsize – there’s no point of carefully packing up things that won’t see the light of day again.

Sell unwanted furniture, give extra items to friends and relatives or donate your stuff to a local thrift store or shelter – your move will be easier because of it.

3. Pay it forward

When a friend asks for help some Saturday morning carrying boxes or moving to a new place, don’t make up an excuse because it sounds like a little work.

Those few hours you sacrifice now could go a long way toward securing some cheap labor to help during your next move – they can’t say no if you lugged their heavy furniture around a couple of months earlier.

We shouldn’t help with the expectation of getting something in return. But moving is one of the few exceptions, and if you help someone, they will have a hard time declining your polite request for assistance.

4. Say thanks

It seems obvious, but it’s important to show legitimate gratitude when someone does help with a move.

If you can afford to hire a moving company, that’s great – your back just might thank you.

If not, keep in mind that the friends and siblings who are serving as your cheap alternative to professional movers deserve some credit.

Order a bunch of pizzas and feed the crew after their work is over, take everyone out for drinks or find some other fun way to celebrate the end of a hard day.

5. Be patient

It’s a big achievement to get our stuff from one place to another.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and even when everything is in the new house, we’re not done.

Inevitably, you’ll soon tire of spending every free moment unpacking boxes and trying to rearrange the kitchen cabinets.

Give yourself enough time to get through the move, and remember that it’s normal to take a month or two to finish unpacking. You’ll feel at home eventually, but it won’t happen overnight. 

Ryan Johnson

Ryan Johnson has been a Forum reporter since 2012 and previously wrote for the Grand Forks Herald.

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