How to Plan and Make Moving Apartments (or Continents) Easier

With the current #COVID19 pandemic, lots of employees have been furloughed or made redundant and with the downtrend and falling prices of property rents across the board, a lot of people are considering moving. However, moving is one of the most stressful moments in any person’s life. I don’t think any living person is excited at the prospect of moving. The perceived new life and experiences, yes, but the initial packing and unpacking, a big NO. 

Off to a new adventure!

I personally have moved over 10 times in my life. During my early years as a fresh university grad, I most probably had moved 5x in just over a  year. Of course, these were relatively easy moves considering I had the bare minimum of possessions. The big moves were when I started moving furniture with me I could peg at 6x in the past 9 years, 2 of which were international moves. The stress-level was just off the charts! Here are some of my tips to keep on top and stay sane with any move:

  1. Take stock of your possessions

  2.  It’s very easy for us humans to accumulate stuff overtime (if you do not fall in this category, you are an exception and well done!). Take stock of what you have and categorise them into the following:

      •  Must-haves 
      •  Nice-to-have
      •  Hold a sentimental value
      •  For giving away
      •  Due to be thrown to a landfill

    Four years in Singapore and this is just a portion of what has been accumulated! 😱

  3. Determine how much you can afford to bring with you

  4. Not all moves are the same. Some moves which are interstate and do not require air travel, are much easier to deal with as you can just hire a truck (20 ft - 30 ft) to move your possessions at not such a significant cost. Moving within the Philippines, as long as it is within the same landmass, is cheaper than say moving within Australia considering the difference in labor cost. 

          There are also the international moves which by far are the most stressful. I have had the opportunity of doing this 2x and while I had plenty of time to prepare with my first move (and this was done gradually over a couple of months with several round trip flights involved), the 2nd one was done quickly albeit not as efficiently as I’d have liked. 

    If you are going via air, airline baggage allowance differs significantly depending on the airline. Some you’d have to pay for while others provide 20-50 kg as baggage allowances. Sometimes I find that it is much better to travel with the full-service airlines considering this (vs budget airlines). When you do exceed the baggage allowance, the cost then becomes relatively prohibitive. It might turn out to be more cost-effective to buy a new one at the destination than pay for the cost of the extra luggage. With the post-COVID world, I do not know how this will play out.

    Our 2nd international move was paid for by the company. This meant that we had a higher allowance in moving our possessions (10 cubic meter). Do note that these usually take 6-8 weeks as they go via sea so I suggest making sure to budget for essentials (though the company usually will provide 1-2 weeks serviced accommodation on arrival). The movers will, as part of their service, pack your belongings for you. I prefer though to do the packing myself (and you do have this option but check with the movers first considering the liability on their end).
      

  5. Cull your possessions

  6. From Step 1, you have already identified from your pile which ones you’re letting go of (the last 2). Now if you are not a sentimental person, then you won’t have to deal with the third item in the list. If luggage allowance is an issue, I’d suggest leaving your sentimental pile with family or a trusted friend. You can always go back to ask them to send it to you or you can alway fly back and pick it up some time in the future.

    The decision to bring your nice-to-have pile depends on #2 above. If luggage allowance is an issue, I suggest again leaving it with family or a trusted friend. 

    For the must have pile, these are the things that you’ve deemed you need to bring with you and the associated cost already factored into the decision. The following items we brought with us considering the cost of acquiring new ones:

    • Mattress - This is number 1 on my list considering a new one could set you back significantly.
    • Paintings -  You can always sell or give away but I’d already grown an attachment and so brought these with us.
    • Kitchen appliances - I am big on baking and cooking so we’ve accumulated an assortment of kitchen appliances such as food processor, mixer, juicer, etc.
    • Kitchen crockery/Fine China - Depends on what you have but I brought our plates and china with us though I did still end up purchasing when ours haven’t arrived yet and we already had to move out of the serviced apartment. 
    • Shoes - I’d suggest packing your shoes carefully into boxes and for this to go together with the rest of your possessions. Leave only 2 - 3 pairs in your luggage. I am a practical person but I ended up throwing other items out at the airport because it turned out we were way over our baggage limit.
    • Clothing - Check the season of the country you’re moving to and pack appropriately. If it’s winter season where you’re going, then pack the summer clothes into the boxes to go together with the rest of your personal effects. 
    • Tools - This was interesting for me because we ended up throwing out a lot of our stuff while in Singapore. I know we still had the allowance (you can always stuff items into a box as it is volume based instead of weight based) but because I left this to D day, and the packers were moving at a speed so much faster than I was going (there were 5 of them and only 1 of me), we had to give away or throw out the items that weren’t packed at the end of the day.

    What a mess! 😅

  7. Pack snugly 
  8.   
      The best packing tip I could give is to make sure you don’t have any “unused” space in a box. It is so much easier for things to break (or for boxes to be deformed) when they are not appropriately filled in. 

       Plates and china are better individually wrapped in paper or paper tissue (or pieces of clothing or sheets if you’d like to maximise space). I’ve seen the movers place them vertically rather than on top of each other. What I’ve learned works best is to group these and place in smaller boxes. So my one big box is a collection of smaller boxes. Works well in retaining the structure, cushioning from falls or improper handling, and lends to fewer breakage.


  9. Label accordingly

  10. With any move, I number my boxes. I then keep a master list of the number of boxes and a description of the items within. I then label (or color code) them for kitchen, bedroom (depending on the number of rooms), living room, etc. These are then indicated in the floor plan where the movers should be placing them. 




  11. Scope out the new apartment  
  12.   
    I am one of those who measure an apartment before the day of the move in, especially if I have furnitures to move in as well. This is so that on the day of the move, I give out the floor plan to the movers. The floor plan already includes the information where to place the furnishings and boxes. There are fewer questions asked and fewer decisions having to be made by me on the day itself. This also means I don’t have to move heavy furniture on my own.



  13. Enlist help
  14. Let’s face it, no matter how planned a move is, it is always better to have help. Enlisting the help of friends on the day of the move, or asking friends to look after your kid when you’re busy packing are god-send. Do not overestimate your capabilities and underestimate the willingness of your friends to help out. Moving is one of those tasks that is completed faster and easier when there are more hands.


  15. Ensure enough overlap between apartments

  16.         It depends on you how you plan a move but I find it best to have a period of overlap between apartments. I personally find 5 days (it can be as short as 3) is enough but this largely depends on your budget, availability, and help at your disposal. You’ll still need time to clean up the old apartment and then unpack in the new one to a level of normalcy for you to operate your minimum business-as-usual.


  17. Say goodbye to your old apartment (and your previous life)

  18. Call me sentimental but I find that this eases the transition for me, a proper closure if you will. After clearing out everything and cleaning the apartment, I usually take one last look around (take a video if you must and don’t be embarrassed about it) and remember the fond memories we’ve had in this apartment. This sets me up and prepare me for the new challenges ahead.

    It was also my birthday when the movers came. Yes, our place was in disarray but my heart is full.
Hope the above helps you out in your upcoming move and make things just a bit easier!

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