May 26, 2015

Full Service Move Lesson Learned

Our last two moves were a somewhat protracted experience. We opted to pack ourselves to save money. (I’m nothing if not frugal.) Neither time did we adequately consider just how long it takes to pack, or just how much stuff we needed to move ourselves after the movers come. What seemed like just a box or two always turned out to be a couple of car loads. Moving last time was difficult with just one small child so we decided to look into a packing service this time around.

That’s a lot of boxes

The packing quote came out to be a little less than a week and a half’s with of rent since our rent was so high. Mathematically speaking if it helped us turn in our keys 10 days sooner, we’d come out financially ahead. Despite this, I still felt the need to continue my packing and organizing effort. For a week prior to the move I devote every spare moment to packing. Well I only saved us two hours of the packers time, despite putting way more than 2 hours into my packing effort. That was not time well spent on my part.

Lesson learned: Spend the energy on purging, not packing.

The packers were super quick in part because they don’t organize the way you might. They take a box to a room, fill it, and get another box. There’s not thinking involved. No “where will this go in the new house?” or “is the vacuum cleaner still working well enough to bring it?” Everything comes, and everything comes in whatever box it fits in. Even things that you think are clearly trash because they most definitely do not want to be wrong! Our movers even packed the used underpad we were using as a play-doh catch mat, dried play-doh crumbles and all. And finding it again? Oh boy.

One might think the time spent unpacking is linear in terms of the number of boxes, but for me it’s more like exponential. I am determined not to have a junk closet so anything I unpack needs to have a place to go. When I encounter a box whose items don’t have a clear home my progress slows substantially. Keep or toss? Find more room on the shelf, or put it back in the box? After a long day when you’re only partially settled into a new place, longing for bed, back in the box is a tempting choice. The greater the number of boxes the harder it is to actually find anything as you need it.

There’s also a monetary cost associated with carting all that useless stuff around. I’m paying for the movers to pack it, the space on the truck (assuming a non trivial volume – Which it is!) and the movers time to cart the boxes off of the truck once we’ve arrived at the house. The monetary cost is probably small, but still non zero.
My time would have been better spent figuring out what we no longer wanted, donating what still had reasonable utility and purging the rest.

Oh well. Only 50 boxes left to go. Make that 49.

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