Friday Five: Five golden rules of packing

Boxes ready to move

My stuff (well most of it) is now on the way to Auckland. Things are a bit more real. The 19th move is under way. Wait, no it’s not. The 21st move is under way. (I just realised I forgot to count moving to Clacton-on-Sea and back when I was 23. NOMADIC.)

As moving seems to be the accidental theme for this week, I thought I’d round it off with what I’ve learned from the many moves I’ve made. Some of these things are gained from long experience, some particularly from this move, which is the first time I’ve willingly decluttered and downsized extensively before moving.

1) You have more stuff than you think you do.

Doesn’t matter how well you think you know your wardrobe, or your fabric stash, or yarn stash, or furniture, or books…there is always more of it than you think there is, and usually a lot more.

I thought my yarn stash was down to one 60l tub. Then I found the rest of it.

Bear this in mind when you’re getting removal quotes where the amount of space you’re taking in a container has a bearing on the cost (bonus golden rule about this at the bottom!). Obviously, with all this stuff, you could just sit there like Smaug in the Lonely Mountain but, if you’re moving house, you’re going to have to pack it. Which brings me to…

2: You can take it with you…but you shouldn’t take all of it.

Moving is a really fantastic chance to declutter. It gives you a great question to ask yourself- “do I need/want this in my life enough to pay to move it to my new place?” (‘do I have space for this in my new place- and do I love this enough to make space for it?’ is also a good question). I’ve sold almost all the furniture I own, with two notable exceptions: a big chest of drawers, and a sewing machine table. It took me ages to find a chest in the style that one is, at the right price, in good condition. I like the sewing table, it’s the right size for my sewing machine or my laptop and the right height to act as a little desk. Neither item was easy to find, thus, they go with me.

On the other hand, while I like my bed, and it’s comfortable, moving it to Auckland when I got it second hand on Trade Me for $100, isn’t really worth it. So I sold it, and am taking the opportunity to buy an actually new new bed at the other end of the trip.

If you’re decluttering by donating, it’s worth noting that at least in NZ (and I suspect other places too), charity shops will often have a truck so they can come and collect large donations and take them away. If, like me, you’re getting rid of a lot of stuff and don’t drive, this is a godsend!

Once you’ve worked out what’s going to the new place, and what’s just going, it’s time for rule 3.

3: You will need more boxes than you think you will.

Yes, even if you decluttered with a will. But the chances are, friends of yours have boxes. Especially if they’ve moved recently. Ask around, or if all else fails go and see if you can sneak round the back of a local shopping park and grab a bunch of boxes out of their skips. Or if you’re more above-board, go into a big shop and ask if you could have some. But it seems more punk rock to go sneak them out of the skip to me. It’s a mini adventure! You know, if you look at it the right way. Yes, you COULD buy fancy packing boxes from the removal company but if they don’t insist on it, free is better.

4: Books are heavy.

Books. Are. Heavy. Pack them in smaller boxes. Don’t ask me how I know. Put it this way, I learned the stupid way.

5: Set up your bed first.

You are going to be tired when you get to the new place. Plan accordingly. However motivated you THINK you’ll be to unpack, the absolute best thing I’ve learned is that the very first thing you should set up when you arrive is your bed. To that end, it’s a good idea to have, in a readily accessible suitcase, your sheets and pillowcases, and to make sure that your duvet and pillows are the first thing you find. You could pack all said bedding in a box, clearly labelled. In fact I’d recommend it- put it all in one place, in one box, so you only have to deal with one thing apart from the bed itself.

That way, no matter what, you’ll have a place to sleep. Once you’ve made your bed, you don’t even have to unpack anything else! You could just go get some takeout, and then go to sleep. Trust me when I say this thought will be incredibly cheering on moving day.

Bonus round- 6: International freight is competitive- make the most of this.

If you are planning a move to or from the UK, where the other end of the trip is Australia, South Africa or New Zealand, there is a lively and competitive market made up of companies who want your business. This means even if you hate haggling, you can usually get a good price for moving your stuff, from the company you want to move with. Don’t just look at price, see what you think of the company. Are they reputable? Have they got good feedback? (word-of-mouth recommendations for movers are worth their weight in gold). Get prices from a few different places, then go back to the company you want to go with. Tell them you want to go with them, but you were hoping they could match the price of the lower quote. If they’ll match the lowest quote, great. If they can’t but will reduce the price a bit, then hey, you can still go with the company you want to use but pay less to do it.

I have been here before

Moving. Cities this time. I’ve moved 18 times in my life. In fact I only just counted them up for this post. Tomorrow, the movers arrive and my home starts moving up to Auckland. 19. That’s more than once every 2 years. Which is a humbling thought. Am I that much of a nomad? I read about people who have tiny houses on trailers and I admire them. It gives them a way to shift without shifting.

Leaving things behind is always hard. It’ll be easier for this move than for the last big one (5 moves ago) to New Zealand. (Jesus. 5 moves within New Zealand before this one.) At least this time, the family of friends in the place I’m leaving will still be in the same time zone. And many of them visit my new city regularly (and I plan to go back regularly for different events). The frantic ‘what time is it there?’ calculations aren’t needed for them. But that doesn’t mean I won’t miss them.

I think that’s why I’ve been able to handle the long distance relationship with the Best Beloved. I miss him all the time, I wish I could be with him (and soon our relationship won’t be long distance any more). But I’m used to feeling that way about people I care about. I’m used to not being able to be there every time I want to be. That said, I can’t wait to start adjusting to seeing him often, with no long waits between visits. I’ve said before that I still want to take some of the lessons from long distance into the same-city relationship. Making the most of time together. Focusing on each other when we are together. Being demonstrative about how I feel in many different ways.

I’m excited for the new job. The new city. The new home. But I think this is the saddest I’ve been to leave a place since I was very small. I remember sitting in the back of the car, aged 5, when we were moving to Basingstoke from Portsmouth. I remember crying. My grandma being in the car with us. I didn’t want to go. Just like years later, for the 13th move (unlucky for some) to New Zealand. I sat on the plane, having kept my composure, just, for saying goodbye to my parents. Having cried on the bus ride home a few days before, after seeing my best friend (who at that point still lived in a different country). I clipped in my seatbelt. The plane began to move and that was when the finality of it struck me. I burst into tears. “I don’t want to go,” I said. “Yes you do.” said my now-ex, refusing as so often before or after to be sensitive to what I was feeling.

I don’t know quite how I’m going to feel on Tuesday, going to the airport and getting on the plane. I don’t know quite how  I’m going to be tomorrow when the movers come. Teary, probably. I know that this move is the right decision. But I also know that change is never easy. And I’ve gone through a lot of it.

I’m leaving behind friends who took me in when I left my husband. Who invited me for Christmas celebrations. Who let me stay for what turned into 3 months and never asked questions. Who I’ve adventured with, yarn bombed with, dressed up as pirates and gone to the movies with (at the same time), who have sung me happy birthday while I held a flaming Tiki drink, who have taught me how to quilt, and make amigurumi, and be a better person. Who have inspired me, been co-conspirators, caretakers, drift-compatible Jaeger co-pilots, enemies and lovers (in games), superheroes, rock stars, and, most of all, a family. I’m going to miss them more than I can say.

But it’s time to start a nearly-new life in a new city. When I say I’m leaving my life in Wellington behind it’s not a cut-all-ties-burn-bridges parting. My family here will always be in my life. Just not in my house and social calendar as often as they are right now.

I don’t know quite where I’m going with this. It’s Things I Think About Thursday. This is what I’m thinking about. Yup. If you have thoughts of your own about moving and change, I’d love to hear them.

Monsterful Monday: My life in boxes

'moving II' by Robert S. Donovan-

‘moving II’ by Robert S. Donovan-

Just keep packing

The move up to Auckland, which seemed distant even a week ago is now approaching in a manner akin to a freight train. Thankfully, this weekend just gone was that rare and shimmering thing, commitment-free. Somehow, and most of the time, I end up with most every weekend booked with one thing or another, and I’m not complaining. But with the movers arriving on Friday (eek!) to collect my things, I really valued being able to hermit it up and just focus on putting things in boxes. I’m also grateful to Scott for supplying at least some of said boxes.

The furniture I’ve listed on Trade Me has all either already sold, or been bid on (so it will be going), which is another thing to be grateful for, along with the fact that there’s plenty I haven’t had to list because it already had takers.


I can’t even begin to describe how much less stressful packing for this move has been compared to the last one and the reason for it is very simple. I. Have. Less. Stuff. CONSIDERABLY less. My-clothes-fit-in-two-suitcases-now less. I’m so glad I started getting rid of things when I did, it’s meant I’m much further along in the process than I would be otherwise.

I shall call them Squishy. And they shall be mine. And they shall be my Squishies.

Packing the hexipuffs gave me a chance to count how many I have. 220! That means I’m over halfway to a single-bed-sized snuggly quilt of smooshy goodness. It will be glorious!

Come into my Parlour (well, come into Veronica’s Parlour)

This weekend just gone I watched my first recordings of Veronica Varlow’s online tarot circle, the Parlour, because it’s something I’m interested in learning more about (and now that the Atomic Tarot Kickstarter has been funded, I’ll be getting a beautiful deck of my own). I’m watching the recordings because watching the live webinar would mean getting up at 6am on a weekend (but next week it’s on a Monday my time, I might be lucky!) So far, so fascinating. This week, she covered magnet cards- cards that appear again and again for you. For me, at least one of them is the King of Pentacles, which shows up regularly in relationship-type questions since I got together with the Best Beloved. I choose to believe that makes him my own personal King of Pentacles. There’s a great community for the Parlour too, and I can already tell I’m going to enjoy getting to know them better.

Special mentions

Extremely pink pink nailpolish, sushi, warm bed and sleep, mini skeins, my Tetris skills (coming in very useful for fitting things in boxes), Youtube playlists, helpful moving companies (who can’t help but point you at people who can), and the Best Beloved, always.