How to survive a house move (and not let it ruin your relationship)

As someone who recently moved, I can tell you that the question of how to survive a house move and not go crazy at the same time ain’t easy. And sometimes I don’t know if this is just me or if more people feel this way, but to me the sheer idea of having to pack all my stuff, move and then unpack and organise again is really stressful. Especially, if I’ve been in one place for long enough to establish a routine and know where everything is and how everything works (and in this example: 3 years will do that for you).

How to survive a house move (and not let it ruin your relationship) www.katbern.com
But as an online entrepreneur and a keen world-explorer, I’ve moved many, many times. In fact, in the last decade I’ve moved about 16 times (it’s so easy to lose count now).
And while a lot of my house moves were international and I was the only one moving, I always got huge amount of help from family and friends (me + my mum + heavy boxes = hilarious …it doesn’t get much funnier than high-hills and moving-giggles).

But this time for the first time I moved houses as a couple.

And while the basic concept is the same (pack, move, unpack), the responsibilities are shared. And so seem to be frustrations and stresses.

This is why today I want to give you my tips for how to survive a move and not let it ruin your relationship (because we signed-up for changing houses and not significant others). So let’s dive straight in.

BEFORE A MOVE:

Divide the responsibilities

Decide upfront who will pack what (or will you be packing everything together?), who is getting the boxes, who is calling/hiring the moving van etc. The sooner you plan, the better. And remember to take into account how much time each of you actually has. Are you taking any time off work? Those are all important questions to discuss. Together. And decide. Together.

Declutter

I’ve talked about benefits of a clutter free life here and a house move is a great excuse to implement this a little more, so that you don’t have to waste your time, energy and money on moving things that don’t matter. So go through your things and decide what doesn’t provide value in your life anymore (e.g. if you don’t use it anymore, don’t actually like it etc.). Put those things aside and donate, sell or pack into one box which will be clearly marked as “THINGS TO GET RID OF”, so that you don’t accidentally unpack all of that again in your new home.

The question to ask:
What I like to do when moving is to ask myself: would I take it with me if it was an international move? (In that case you pay per kg of your stuff, and not based on the size of the van.) This makes you think twice before you take anything you don’t actually use. Would you pay to ship item XYZ if you had to pay extra for it?

Don’t forget to celebrate

As you’re getting closer to the moving date, don’t let yourself get totally caught up in the stress of it all. Celebrate the big step that you’re taking by spending some quality time together. Even if you’ve already packed most of your stuff, just order takeout and watch a movie on Netflix (putting a laptop on the top of a packed box will make that movie so much more special).

DURING A MOVE:

Work as a team

Figure out what your individual strengths are and on THE day do everything possible to work as a team. Are you a better organiser? Plan the route the boxes can be taken out and packed in the car? Is your partner a better negotiator? Let her/him talk to the moving company to negotiate the rates. Do what you do best to work for the better good of both of you.

Overestimate time

Overestimate how much time the move is going to take you. Expect delays and then you won’t get so stressed when the moving van arrives 3 hours late (true story). Don’t plan anything else for that day, not even in the evening. It’s best to start in the morning so that you don’t end up working late at night if delays happen. And remember to eat. Fainting is not an option (too many edges around with all the boxes!)

Assume that everyone is doing their best

While being over-stressed it’s easy to start blaming others. So to avoid frustration, don’t ever go into thinking that you could’ve moved those boxes quicker, or done something better. Assume that everyone (and that includes the very-late van-driver) is doing the best they can. And focus on what you can do to help.

AFTER A MOVE:

Unpack in this order

1. bathroom (you will want to shower and freshen-up after this stressful day, so make sure you’ve got what you need),
2. bedroom & closet (your clothes should be accessible, so that at the end of the long day you can get your favourite PJs out and have a good night’s rest for the first time in your new place)
3. kitchen (at some point you will want to start eating something other than takeout, so it’d be good to have a way of preparing food)
4. and only then you are free to unpack anything else.

Find time for each other

However well planned, moving is always stressful. Plan some extra special time with your partner afterwards to bring back the harmony and just… have some fun. Unpacking, buying new things like curtains and generally organising might take weeks. That’s why it’s so important to take a break sometimes. Especially since we usually have to get back to work after the move.

And between the work at your job and the work of unpacking at home, there is very little time left for cultivating that great connection with your beloved. Pay attention to each other. You’ve got a new home. Now it’s time to enjoy it.

I’m saying this as much to you as I’m saying it to myself today: You’ll be done unpacking and organising when you’ll be done.

Stressing out won’t make things happen faster, but it could cause unnecessary fights. Relax. The worst is over.

Do you remember the last time you moved houses? What’s your number one tip for staying sane in all the craziness and chaos of packing and moving? Leave a comment below and tell me your best or worst moving-story!

I hope you found those tips helpful and if you know someone who is about to move, share this blog post with them and help them get through this smoothly.

To the new beginnings in new homes,
Kat xx - signature 150px

16 Responses to How to survive a house move (and not let it ruin your relationship)

  1. Oooh, I’ll have to save this for next year when we plan on buying a new home. I’ve already started decluttering since every time we move I wonder why we still have all this stuff we never use. So frustrating!!

  2. 1. Start packing weeks and weeks in advance.

    2. You’re going to need more boxes. What you think you need is not enough.

    I love the “unpack in this order” piece of this article. We need to be told these things.

  3. Great advice. So many “unspoken truths” are voiced here and got turn it into practical advice. Forwarding this on to some real estate friends.

  4. My husband and I were the WORST movers. Ever. Friends are still making fun of the way we moved 2 years after it happened. Oh well, at least next time (not anytime soon, I hope) I’ll remember your tips!

  5. That’s right:) I still remember – high hills, steep steps, boxes and our “głupawki” in Gdańsk:):):) And I remember also Your one suitcase and the plane, which flew with You away…

    • Having you Mum as a helper during my moves years ago is an unforgettable experience… I’ve learnt since then though and now I pick trainers over high-heels on a moving day :)

  6. Great tips, I wish I had this when I was moving past October… :)

    That was our first move as a couple, and me working from home & he outside of home, “naturally” the most packing & cleaning responsibilities fell on me.

    I’d like to avoid that next time…

    • Oooh, I hear you sister, that’s an annoying trap of self-employment. “Since you’ll be at home anyway…”
      Plan more in advance next time and remind your man you’re actually WORKING too.
      And all the best of luck for next time xx

  7. Calendar everything.

    We are moving in 2 weeks, and will have a ‘gap week’ between when we take possession of our new home and leave the old one.

    We have a google calendar for the move, so that the painters, the repair people, the cleaner and the movers are all marked in and spread out.

    Decide what you want.

    We decided when we moved to our current home that we would have movers the next time (now!).

    We’ve actually come up with a hybrid plan, renting storage pods for a month — 2 weeks on each side the actual move. We plan to have the movers deal with the heavy stuff. This way, we will save on the number of hours for movers and not have to rush to pack and unpack the smaller nonessential items.

    • Wow, great tips Faye. Looks like you’ve got everything figured out for your move – well done! And good luck anyway. Hope everything goes as planned x

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