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Packing Properly: How To Move And Keep Your Valuables Intact
You've arrived. You've joined the ranks of move-up buyers. The deal on the new house has closed, and all that's left is to pack up and leave your overcrowded, two-bedroom life behind. With visions of new neighbors, social teas, potluck suppers and picket fences dancing through your head, you hastily toss your treasured valuables randomly into a box labeled "Accessories," slap some tape over the seams and hand fate over to Manny the Mover.
Now, picture your arrival in your new four-bedroom home. You're sitting in the middle of your spacious living room, cutting open that box that reads "Accessories" on the outside. Funny ... it seems to be making an odd rattling noise when you move it ever so slightly. Tearing open the seams, you uncover not accessories, but rather shards of glass, which have settled in every nook and crevice of the accessories that miraculously stayed in tact. Considering your down payment and that hefty bill for Manny's services, you're hardly in the position to replace those (very) breakables.
To avoid accessory-break and heartbreak, purchase more boxes than you think you'll need before you begin packing. For starters, this avoids your having to run out, mid-packing session, to purchase more boxes. Second, you'll avoid overpacking your boxes, which often results in breakage ... both of your precious valuables and your precious back. Nobody wants to end up in traction after a move. Boxes are expensive, you say? Savvy movers head to their local grocery store or furniture store and ask for their empty boxes. Most retailers are more than happy to accommodate you and merely point you in the direction of the trash bin. Before you haul those boxes into your car and into your home, however, peer inside them first. Some may contain live or dead insects, and you don't want to expose your new home to bug infestation; nor do you want to unwrap a stray roach upon your arrival.
Before you begin to fill each box, make sure that the bottom flaps aren't just closed securely, but that they're also taped shut with heavy-duty packing tape. Although it takes more time in the beginning, pack boxes according to their assigned place in your new home (i.e., living room, kitchen, etc.). This saves you loads of time upon your arrival. Your movers know where to place your belongings so that you don't have to lug them elsewhere before unpacking them. Pack your boxes with heavier items on the bottom, lighter items on the top.
As you're packing, you'll undoubtedly be looking for cushioning material for your valuables. While newspaper is a great choice, just make sure that newsprint isn't rubbing off on fabric or other linens. It's a good idea to wrap anything made of fabric in plastic before you place it in a box. And when using newspaper to package your belongings, wash your hands at frequent intervals so that the newsprint doesn't rub off on your belongings during packing.
Whether or not you trust your computer to your moving crew is your decision. Before you declare "No way!" and swear to move it yourself, consider the story of a personal friend who said the same thing, then dropped his PC while lugging it into his new office. If your comfort level is high enough with Manny to entrust him with your computer (read: your life), pack your computer in its original box and styrofoam inserts if you still have them (and if you don't, let this be a lesson to you ... and instead, use a strong container with plenty of packing material). Before you pack up your PC, make sure you don't have disks in the drives, and close all drive doors. Back up all of your files on disks, store them together in one box, and take the box with you; Manny's going to be a bit too preoccupied to pay much attention to their proper care. Make sure those disks aren't exposed to excessive heat or moisture during your travels.
Even if you're just moving locally and plan to begin unpacking your belongings the same day you officially depart your previous residence, it will save you considerable grief if you pack a box of essentials and label it as such. Take this box with you so that you don't have to track it down when you arrive in your new home. Your "essentials" box will contain such must-haves as toilet paper, paper towels, tape, a local phone book (if you have one for your new neighborhood yet), instant coffee and coffee mugs, bar soap, dishwashing detergent, scissors, pens and paper, a small box of laundry detergent, flashlight, a few bath towels, paper plates, cups and plastic utensils, toothpaste, toothbrush and other toiletries, and aspirin.
Following these simple guidelines will save you an enormous amount of time (and money) after your arrival in your new home. Instead of rummaging through unmarked boxes, straining back muscles and mourning the shattered remains of Grandmother's fine China, you'll be able to unpack efficiently and enjoy this milestone occasion.
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