Is It Downsizing Time?







Moving day!  How smoothly this will go will depend on many factors, of course, some entirely out of your control (moving in the rain is no fun - hopefully you won't have to!) - but let's see if we can bypass some of the possible catches...

Even if you're hiring professional movers, it pays to have someone on your team to at least spot-check them as they work.  At least one of the movers may be a professional - others may just have begun work (maybe simply because they're strong and couldn't get any other job... maybe because they just got out of jail?).  Perhaps your moving company didn't promise you that all of the movers would be wise...  If you can't do this, you can't - but just know that if you have a perfect move, you should be very grateful.

If you're moving yourself just across town - especially if you can do it gradually - your stress level shouldn't be high (except worrying about the baby grand?).  Loading a pickup is pretty easy if you don't have to go far, other than taking care of the more fragile possessions.

If you're renting a big truck to move it all in one play, you'll have to know a lot more about how best to load up - things we hope the movers know.  I'll focus on this below, in case that's you...

General moving day tips on loading up your possessions:

  • Back it up to where it will count:  Get the rear of the truck as close to the nearest house entrance as you can (leaving room for any ramp you'll be using).  If possible, choose a spot without steps... and make sure this spot isn't slippery!
  • Use wheel chocks!:  You'll be rocking your truck around, shifting weight constantly...  Be on the safe side and block the wheels.  You never know.
  • Keep it clean:  Sweep the truck out before you begin.  And keep sweeping it out at intervals as you go along, or you'll be apt to drag something across the grit that collects and mar it unnecessarily.
  • Seek balance in all things:  Naturally, you don't want the truck to list to one side... so balance out the load as you go along.  And, any truck will work better if you place the heaviest part of its load toward the front (cab).
  • Deploying your troops:  It would be ideal to assign someone the role of "truck person", especially if you aren't being moved by professionals.  Do the sweeping, keep the pads coming, check for balance, report from outside to the movers inside the truck how things are looking on top, providing the movers with drinks - things like that.
  • Last in, first out:  Whatever kind of vehicle you're loading, don't put in the stuff you'll need first until the end! - so you can just whisk it out and start using it.  Here are some things that might fall into this category:  cleaning materials; tools; pet and kid stuff; change of clothes; first aid kit; trash bags; address book (and cell phone?) and map for the new locale; good water?; toilet paper!; and the beds you'll need to sleep in (and perhaps rest on during the moving-in process).

Tools and materials you'll need:

  • At least one hefty moving dolly:  More than one is better (even if it isn't so hefty).  Carrying all the boxes one by one will tire you out a whole lot faster than putting 3 or 4 in a stack on a dolly.  The only disadvantage of using the dolly is that you have to bend down to the level of the lower boxes (but if this is a problem, you could always use a "shill" box on the bottom - one that you just leave there, since you don't have to bend nearly as far to pick up the second one up).
  • Lots of moving blankets:  The ones you can rent with a rental truck, and that movers use, are quilted and padded, about the size of a single bed.  You'll find many protective uses for these if you're loading a big truck.  You can use real blankets, of course, or tarps, or folded large bedspreads, and the like - if you don't mind them getting messed up.  You'll be sorry if you skimp on the padding - and you always need more than you think you will!
  • Ways to keep layers of stuff from sliding about:  You'll probably use bungee cords, straps, and rope in various ways.  If you have any of those bungee nets (often used across pickup tailgates, for instance), they may come in very handy.  Some commercial trucks come with metal retaining bars to wall off portion of the load - but these don't provide as much protection as tying things down.
  • Means of tying up blankets:  Wide cellophane tape is good enough for some blanket wrapping, if just around a single object.  You might end up using rope, bungees, or straps to hold protective pads on, though, as part of the above process.
  • Overhead tarps?:  If your moving vehicle is an unenclosed truck bed, of course you'll need to strap down tarps over your stuff if it looks like rain (or a wind or dust storm; or you're moving something like potted trees?).  It's also a good idea to protect at least the sides of your stuff if you're going to be on the highway, if there's anything that fast-traveling little rocks could damage (you know what they can do to your windshield... don't let them nick your piano!) or if there was a rainstorm recently (expect lots of spatters).

Tips on how to load a truck:

  • The basics:  Try to put the heavier things at the front of the truck box (i.e., nearest the cab).  Behemoth appliances can also go in early on.  Definitely put the heaviest things on the bottom of the load, lighter things on top.  It'll probably be easiest to fit most of the odd-shaped items together like a jigsaw puzzle toward the tailgate area.
  • Stacking boxes:  It's good to start with boxes (possibly around major appliances) against the wall of the cab.  You'll be putting heavy boxes on the bottom rows - but also try to put the hugest boxes on the bottom.  And as you stack, offset the boxes so that the seams of one row aren't right under the seams of the next one up (think about how brick walls are built - overlapping).  You'll have boxes of varying sizes, which should allow you to creatively fill in a row so that it's tight against both side walls of the truck (you can also stuff other things into any holes).  Try to keep the boxes in each row approximately the same height and width.  And, naturally, you'll want to save the fragile stuff for the top of the load.
    You might want to create a cradle to hold some soft things you don't want crushed (like bags of clothing)...  You could stack one or more rows of boxes against the cab wall, tie the top row back (stretching rope across from side to side), then stack a couple of shorter rows - and lay the bags on top of these.  If this isn't at the tailgate, then you'd need to brace things on the other side of these shorter rows - either with sturdy tall furniture or another roped-off row of boxes stacked all the way to the ceiling.
  • Tying everything up:  If you stack boxes to the ceiling in the first rows (a good idea, since you don't want to run out of room!) and then later on run out of stuff to load, you must have a way to prevent the boxes from flying forward - this is why you gotta rope and tie and strap.  (Almost any truck will have tie-up points at intervals along the sides of the bed - and moving trucks will have them all over the place.)  And if things aren't completely jammed tight all the way to the tailgate, lower boxes can shift back - another reason to tie things up as you move along toward the tailgate.
  • Don't forget the ramp!:  Plan ahead and leave room inside for the ramp, if it doesn't get strapped on the top or sides.  (My friend's "professional" movers didn't think of this - and had to leave it behind and unload without it... what a bummer!)





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