Article by Cheryl McKenna, Office manager and licensed estate agent
The phrase strikes fear into many a heart. Ranked as more stressful than divorce, moving house is in fact included in the top 5 stressful life events.
Some of us do it once in a lifetime – move out of home as a youth into a home with the love of your life and live happily ever after. And the other 99.999999% of us move house more frequently.
Some of us can number on one hand the different houses we have lived in. Others like myself don’t have enough fingers and toes (or even eyelashes) to list them all. Being a frequent flyer, I have come to recognise the different stages of packing your house to move.
The first stage – blissful ignorance.
You look around your home, thinking “I actually don’t have many belongings; this won’t take me long at all”. You are pretty confident that you won’t really need to start packing things until the day before the moving van comes, but just humour me. Start the week before. Hey, if you have it all packed up and sorted you can book in for a full body massage the day before the moving van comes. Or you can use that day to finish off per the ‘Final stage’ – description to come.
Next stage – ‘be careful with that!’
Everything is wrapped in newspaper and packed into boxes, taped up and labelled carefully. This lasts a few hours, and often starts in the kitchen with all of your crockery and cutlery. This stage ends at about the same time you realise that you are still going to need these items, and you less carefully unwrap the items again.
Final stage – just don’t care
A large box is dragged into a room, and everything is thrown unceremoniously into the box.
Everyone moves through these stages in their own time, and only the most saintly, orderly of us will remain at stage two. The other 99.999999% of us get to the final stage pretty fast. A variation of the final stage can often involve a skip bin, and rather than being thrown into a box, items are thrown into said skip bin. Both satisfactory alternatives when you are in that stage.
Is there a way to make moving less stressful?
Sure! Hire someone, often at the cost equivalent to your firstborn child and a pouch of gold pieces, to pack and move it for you. But where’s the fun in that?!
Failing that, there are a few things you can do to help get you through this stressful time.
Be realistic. Accept that this is going to be a busy period. But busy doesn’t have to be chaotic.
Pick a room. Choose a starting point. An easy one.
Pick a playlist. Whatever gets you through the night.
Channel a bit of Kendo. Follow the craze; if an item doesn’t bring you joy, consider if you need it. Is it something that someone else might appreciate? Can you possibly call it a ‘gift’ and gain some familial love? Go through the items in the room and create a few piles – throw out, sell, op shop, keep.
Jump on your local online selling page and list away. You will notice that your asking price will start to decline as you start heading towards the final stage, to the point where ‘free to good home, actually any home’ may become the most common price you ask.
Moving time is a great time to pause and consider how much ‘stuff’ we have, as opposed to how much we really need. We are largely a society of ‘stuff’, which is quite ironic given that this ‘stuff’ is in part what makes moving house so stressful.
Make moving time a time to shed your ‘stuff’. Bag up items that can be used by another and head to the nearest op shop. But this is not a time to ‘throw out stuff’. Items that are taken to an op shop should be in reasonable condition and able to be used. Did you know that one of the largest costs charities face is rubbish disposal fees? So don’t take your rubbish, soiled and stained items to these charities – that is for your ‘throw out’ pile, not theirs.
Culling your items can be an extremely liberating experience – to be able to actually see individual clothes hanging in an uncluttered wardrobe, shoes that stay in their allocated place on the floor instead of tumbling onto your co-occupants shoes in a territorial battle.
As with many things in life, it is all about perspective. Keep your eye on the prize – the lovely, empty, ‘stuff-free’ house that you are moving to.
And within all of this, take your time. Keep the music or audiobook going, the coffee / herbal tea / beer / vodka flowing and as you move through your cardboard box littered house, with piles everywhere, accept the state of your home without judgement. Of course there is stuff everywhere and it looks like a bloody dogs breakfast! I didn’t have a spare pouch of gold pieces!
“Honey, where did you pack my toothbrush?”
“um, maybe check the box with the left over stuff from the garden shed, or maybe in with the dog food?”
Start saving the gold pieces people, it would have been worth it.