Countdown: 10 days left

Today was my first day at home.  With the Project done and the holidays over, I can now focus on getting ready to move.  I made a list of things to do that included making some doctors appointments, scheduling the cat for the vets, tying up 2009 paperwork, buying return airline tickets for Mr. NYer to fly back from Montgomery, and arranging for estimates from three movers.

The appointments made, I Googled long-distance movers and realized I hadn’t a clue how to pick one, let alone three.  So I Googled long-distance mover reviews and read about a dozen horror stories, the upshot of which is: don’t move or, if you must, don’t expect to ever see your belongings again.

Finally I found a site (movingscam.com) which not only gave advice on choosing a mover, but also provided a state-by-state and city-by-city forum for people to discuss and rate their movers.  Decided to pass on those that had been awarded little icons with a high voltage warning, and saw several with a thumbs up.  Then I read a few articles, like How to Choose a Mover (lots more due diligence than I feel up to), Ten Things Your Moving Company Won’t Tell You (Item 2: “We’re popular, especially with the FBI”), and, finally “Who Will You Trust to Drive Off with Everything You Own?”

Apparently, the long-distance interstate moving industry is almost completely unregulated.  Did you know that the Interstate Commerce Commission, one of the very first regulatory agencies established by the federal government, was abolished in 1995?   It’s been replaced by the Surface Transportation Board,  a name which does not inspire my confidence.  

Terrified, I decided instead to calculate the number of boxes we would need and decide whether it was better to have the movers pack (because, after all, they’re professionals) or to do it myself (because they don’t care two licks about my stuff).  Many Web sites, whose purpose is to sell boxes (“Sure you can use grocery boxes.  If you don’t mind the risk of infestation”), offer a convenient calculator that answers the question, How Many Boxes Do I Need?

It turns out I need approximately 927 boxes of various shapes, sizes and specialties.  Betcha didn’t know that a) moving companies require that everything be boxed except your furniture and b) some moving companies have a business relationship with box companies.   There are special boxes for, among other things, your golf clubs, your mattress, your floor lamps and your framed pictures. 

Each kind of box comes in a dizzying array of sizes.  We have a lot of framed pictures, so I thought I’d order a few frame boxes.  But should I get them 4, 5 or 6 inches deep?  Two feet wide, three  feet wide, or more?  Adjustable or fixed?   And don’t forget that you still have to bubble wrap the pictures.  Should I get 175 feet of 24″ wide wrap, or 250 feet of 12″ wide wrap?  Probably both, so I have some for the wider stuff.  Next, 3/16″ bubbles or 5/16″?  Perforated for easier tearing?

The fact is you can’t order the boxes, the bubble wrap, the extra strong packing tape (“Don’t trust your precious belongings to regular tape!”) until you conduct an exhaustive inventory of everything you own, measuring and weighing each item.  A team of engineers would be handy.  And you can’t even take that inventory until you really weed, which I haven’t finished yet.  It occurs to me that planning a move, especially if you are trying to do some of the packing yourself, is more complex than planning for the invasion of Normandy.  Eisenhower had a staff. 

Deciding that some boxes are better than none, I ordered a bunch, to be delivered tomorrow.  Mr. NYer and I had picked up eight boxes over the weekend, as a kind of packing appetizer, but what good was eight boxes?  I could fill them up in no time, and then what would I do with my momentum?  Plus, I have realized that boxes will take a lot of room, and we need to empty the basement first. 

So, I decided not to pack until the large order of boxes arrives.  Instead I spent about two or three hours rolling the coins I put into a big jar a couple of weeks ago.  Got about $150 worth.  Meanwhile, Mr. NYer is cutting down the record collection by digitizing albums, which has to be done in real time.  Yup, we’re on top of things.  At this rate, we’ll be ready to move by March.  In 2012.

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5 Responses

  1. Wow! You got a ton done already. Keep going at that pace and you’ll finish on time or drop from exhaustion. I’m a fan of weed ‘n pack since it defuses the pack-rat instinct.

    I’ve had great luck with bubble wrap, however for anything precious and fragile, I move it myself.

  2. I just don’t know how much we’ll be able to move ourselves. We’ll have the two cats in the car when we actually move, plus computer, important papers, etc. Maybe there’s a U-Haul trailer in our future too.

  3. I’d forgotten about this nightmare. We used United Van Lines to move here from D.C. On one hand, they arrived here precisely on time with our possessions. On the other, they snapped the leg off of an antique cobbler’s bench. And we didn’t find some damage until months later, when we got some of our stuff out of storage (we rented an apartment for a while near the Chosen School while we looked for a house).

    I would suggest taking pictures of cherished items (yes, one more thing to put on your list) so that you can prove any damage later.

  4. When we moved from NYC to Boston in 2006 we used Galil and they were quite good. They came and packed my tiny East Village apt. (which was the only option; as soon as five boxes were packed there was no floor space and they had to go to the truck for more to be packed!). Friends who had moved from Brooklyn to Florida recommended them and were also pleased with their service.

  5. LPs may have a home — if they need one!

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