Moving — A Recipe for Upheaval

Moving from one house to another is a recipe for weeks of upheaval. The disruption, confusion, and life-changing chaos that comes with moving from a beloved house, from a group of friends, and from a community with an established network of services is unbelievable.

This post contains a potpourri of reflections about moving from one house to another.

Regular postworksavvy readers know that my husband and I have purged, organized, and packed our belongings in preparation for a move after deciding, about a year ago, to sell our too-big house and down-size.  We also decided to move to a smaller South Western Ontario city that is near to family and near to our cottage at Lake Huron. We wanted a smaller house, smaller yard, and less commuting as a way to ensuring an independent lifestyle as we grow older.

We anticipated a certain amount of disruption in our lives but experiencing it has been another matter!  Moving at a later stage of life is a recipe for upheaval.  Neither of us expected to spend so much time with lawyers, realtors, painters, carpenters, movers, and decorators. Who could imagine that making an address change would take over one hour of phone time? Some of these encounters were easy; many have been an exercise in frustration.

Panicked Preparations

As moving day approached, I greeted friends and neighbours who came to pick up furniture, beds, bookcases, couches, and appliances. Some were excess  belongings; others we decided to replace and not take with us. As Marie Kondo advises in her book, The Life-Saving Magic of Tidying Up, I said a silent thank you and a good-bye as each of these things left my life.

Because moving costs double if the moving company packs the contents of a house, we chose to pack for ourselves. For two weeks before moving day, we packed.  Thank goodness for U Tube videos that show proper packing procedures for dishes, lamps, clothes, tools, computers, and stereo equipment.

I learned new terminology about 2, 4, and 6 foot cubic boxes, mirror/picture boxes, and wardrobe boxes. Whoever manufactures moving boxes must be extremely wealthy as the cost to purchase standard boxes ranged from $4 to $26 dollars per box not to mention the exorbitant cost of $60 for flat screen TV packing cases! Although I was tempted to use boxes from the grocery store or liquor store, I was dissuaded from this due to possible vermin contaminants, especially in boxes previously used for food items. Our moving company helped us by giving us some boxes and also by allowing us to buy clean used boxes that were surplus from office relocations.

Other packing accoutrements included tape and tape holders to properly seal each box, reams of white packing paper, rolls of bubble wrap, and labels. Fighting with rolls of tape that seemed to stick to itself as much as sticking to the boxes caused aching hands and swollen fingers. Fatigue in under-used arm and back muscles meant early bed times.

Project Management Approach

I used a project management/room-by-room approach.  Guest bedrooms and extra bathrooms were first on the list.  Once packed, boxes stayed in assigned rooms.

Items from one room were not mixed with items from other rooms as I didn’t want bedroom linens mixed with books or kitchen towels.

When  packing  sundry items from the basement and the garage took twice the allotted time that I had scheduled, panic reigned. My project management approach had not included time for packing many odd-sized articles. U Tube did not mention angst about packing sundry items like watering cans, hoses, measuring sticks, or long brooms and mops.

Although we had purged most areas of the house, the ‘donation’ and garbage piles grew quickly. We made repeated runs to the re-cycling depot and the dump during the week before the move.

Moving Day 

June 17, our moving day, dawned sunny, bright, and hot. To contain and protect our skittish cats from the mayhem, my husband crated them in their cages and left for the cottage.  I was ‘on deck’ to manage the moving process.

There was no air conditioning as every door was open for the team of 5 sturdy people who arrived precisely at 8 am. The house heated up as furniture was wrapped in 5 foot rolls of padded bubble wrap and quilted padding. My apprehension subsided as load after load of movers dollies heaped with 3 or 4 large packing boxes moved into the humongous truck. Wardrobe boxes filled with heavy clothing were heaved onto shoulders and backs — then carried sherpa-style into the truck Three men effortlessly maneuvered our piano down a ramp and belted it to the wall of the truck.

Seven hours later, the truck filled with our worldly possessions rolled down the street for weekend storage in a Toronto warehouse. I said a silent prayer of thanks.

As my next door neighbour watched the truck disappear, she cried. There were no tears for me, just a feeling of emptiness accompanied with relief.  I vacuumed the house, cleaned the bathrooms, and washed the fridge interior in preparation for new owners.  I walked through every room, then stood in the foyer and thought, with gratitude, about the shelter this house provided to our family over the years, about many parties hosted in these walls, and about the safety we experienced inside each room when bad things happened. I locked the door for the last time, and drove away.

Aftermath and Unloading

During the weekend, as we waited for arrival of our belongings and unloading day, we relaxed. Sitting on the deck at the cottage was a welcome break from lack of sleep, stress, and heavy lifting, The quiet of woods around us, the sounds from the lake, and the fact that cottage possessions were not in a state of disruption brought calm to frayed nerves.

Unloading day was, in many ways, a reverse of the loading experience.  We marvelled as heavy crates and bulky items were lifted effortlessly and placed in our new home.  Thank goodness for labels on all boxes that allowed placement in proper rooms of the new house!

We are in no hurry to unpack as we are living at the cottage and commuting to the new house.  The painter has finished painting the rooms and the front doors. I’ve cleaned the kitchen cupboards and bathroom fixtures.  We have internet, phone, security, and cable service. We’ve hired landscapers to cut the grass and trim the shrubs.

Another phase of moving is over. In the fullness of time, we’ll unpack, and begin sleeping/living in our home.  Meanwhile, it’s summer.  We don’t want to miss precious days of cottage time.

Soon enough we will engage with a new community, meet neighbours, and face the day-to-day challenges of living.

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