The Hassles of Moving: What We Did Right and What I’d Change Next Time
It’s now been six full years since my wife and I moved to Springfield, Missouri — a place neither of us had been to before we decided to relocate. In that time, we’ve lived in just one apartment, which also happened to be the only apartment we viewed during our exploratory visit to SGF in December 2014. Well, recently, we decided it was time for a change and began exploring different options. After considering everything from downtown lofts to purchasing a house, we choose to move to a mixed-use community only a couple of miles from our current location and downsize from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom unit.
Now, after a couple of hiccups, we are beginning to settle into our new home. In turn, I’ve been reflecting on the general hassles that come with moving as well as what we did right this time and what I wish we would have done better. Here’s are a few of my current thoughts:
The availability window
As someone who typically likes to do a ton of research and take my time thinking over large purchases, the process of securing a new apartment isn’t for me. I remember when my former roommate and I were looking for an apartment in Los Angeles and foolishly thought we could wait a day or two before turning in an application — nope, long gone. Thus, for the next place we looked at, she sent me a video as I was at work so we could make a decision on the spot to avoid making the same mistake twice. Of course, that was L.A. and things must be different in Springfield, right? Not exactly.
To be sure, the SGF rental market isn’t nearly as competitive as others on the whole but it also depends on the property. In our case, the complex consists of only 50+ units, of which only a couple dozen (or fewer) are the one-bedroom floor plans we were eyeing. So, while we did at least have a weekend to mull it over, the clock was indeed ticking as the leasing agent was kind enough to let us know that he had another tour set for Monday. Because of this, we ended up turning in our application the night before that and signed the lease the next morning.
Luckily, this time around the added pressure wasn’t the end of the world. Although we didn’t get to see our actual unit or even a one-bedroom apartment ahead of time (we toured a two-bedroom that was similar if you ignored the presence of the extra room), we saw enough to make a fairly informed decision. However, if I did it over again, I might have selected a different move-in date due to the next hassle we’ll discuss.
Turning in notice
After signing a lease for a new place, we realized we’d need to turn in an intent to vacate notice to our then-current apartment management. Consulting our lease, it seemed that not only would we need to turn in such a document at least the customary 30 days before we planned to leave but that it would also need to be received before the first day of the month prior to when we intended to move (at least that’s how I read it). Because of this, even though we weren’t leaving until mid-March and it was January at the time, we ended up putting in our notice on Saturday, January 30th. This was also when our first change of plans arrived.
Since our new apartment was to become available on March 12th, I figured we’d just spend the weekend moving and close our old lease on March 15th, paying a tidy half month’s rent. Well, apparently I didn’t do quite enough research before hatching this scheme as we were informed that, while our complex prorates rent for tenants as they move in, they did no prorate out. Naturally, upon learning, I changed our notice to give us the apartment through March 31st (since we would have to pay for it anyway).
The good news is that this change meant we’d have plenty of time in which to move, even if it did mean spending a little more money than I had anticipated. But, with that out of the way, it was time to get ready to make the move.
Packing and prepping
At long last, we come to something we actually did right! Not long after we signed our new lease, we were already starting the packing process. As I shared in a previous post, this also gave us the opportunity to discard and donate items we no longer needed/wanted — something that we’d already been striving to do as we attempt to live more minimalist lives.
Truth be told, while this plan went swimmingly at first, there came a time when it felt we’d hit a wall. With each passing day, we knew there was stuff we should be packing but couldn’t really identify what that was. So, instead of focusing on filling boxes, we turned our attention to the furniture and began looking at how to best transport the items we wanted to keep. This ultimately led to the decision to seek some help.
This move marked the first time we (or I) have ever hired professionals to help us move. Previously, we’ve relied on friends, family, and a UHaul to get us from one place to another. But, as I looked at the sleeper sofa we bought a few years back, I decided that the task of moving such an item was not one that my wife nor I were equipped for. Thus began our quest to find an affordable moving option.
Admittedly, I didn’t put as much time into the hiring process as I probably should have. Instead, I started with a name I knew: Two Men and a Truck. That said, I was encouraged to learn that their pricing model matched the level of service I sought. Since we definitely didn’t need help packing and could also handle some of the smaller stuff on our own, our plan was to let the movers — who were paid based on the amount of time they took and not necessarily by the load size (aside from the truck size required) — take the furniture and a couple stacks of boxes while we transported the rest.
Currently, this plan seems to have worked well. Since my wife and I took the time to break down certain items as well as move as much as possible to the living room ahead of time, our movers were able to complete what was estimated to be a five-hour job in just over three hours. More importantly, watching them work and seeing how easy they made it look made me realize I had definitely made the right call.
The only issue now is that we still need to bring the rest of our stuff over. Since moving in, we’ve made a few trips back to the other place to pick up items that we realize we’d like to use sooner rather than later along with a few other easy-to-grab picks. Meanwhile, we intend to rent a cargo van this weekend ($20 + mileage from UHaul) to help us easily complete the remainder of the move. Hopefully this goes well so I can call this section a total win.
Updating mailing addresses
Finally, as we get set-up in the new place, I’m finding what may actually be the most daunting part of the moving process: changing all of my billing and mailing addresses. As I’ve previously bemoaned, one of the side effects of being a personal finance app and tool reviewer is having far too many bank accounts. Now that I’ve moved, I have the pleasure of going to all of these accounts and changing my address lest they mail statements, 1099-INTs, or whatever else to my old box.
The good news is that I keep a list of all of my accounts, which is absolutely proving useful for this task. Additionally, since I do opt-into paperless statements when possible, there honestly aren’t a lot of accounts regularly sending me mail anyway. Still, it’s important to update this info to ensure that my billing address matches should I wish to use any of the many debit cards I currently hold. Meanwhile, as I continue to make my way through my list of accounts, I’ve already handled the credit cards I regularly use as well as my main bank accounts.
Once these financial accounts are updated, I suspect I’ll also need to change my billing address with various other services I use. More importantly, I should probably update my info with the DMV as well as with my car insurance. And the list only gets longer… sigh.
Even though our move wasn’t the smoothest per se, a few smart decisions on our part did help take at least some of the financial, physical, and emotional sting out of the whole process. If I had to do it again, I’d probably be a bit more thoughtful in the date we chose to move and perhaps devise a way to be more methodical about going through the “change of address” forms. However, packing early and being as prepared as possible for the hired help were both big wins that made moving day a lot less stressful (well, until we got the unit to find it hadn’t been cleaned — but that’s a story for another day). Hopefully, if you have a move coming up, these lessons I’ve learned can help inspire you to find better solutions while steering clear of my mistakes.