I recently tallied up the number of times I’ve moved residences in my life and it totaled to 19.
I got exhausted just counting them…
DC/Maryland, California, Madrid, Colorado, New York City and back to Colorado (with multiple moves in each place).
Taxing? Yes. But if I could go back and do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing. This wild ride has strengthened me to overcome and persevere through my biggest challenges to date, and it has taught me the value and importance of friendships. I feel so blessed to have acquired the most amazing friends whom I may not have otherwise met. My people are my everything.
Going to college 3,000 miles away from home meant moving (at a minimum) every 9 months, and again 3 months later when summer breaks came to a close. My personal best, however, has been this past year… 3x in 10 months.
Again, let me reiterate - each one has been a choice - choices I feel very fortunate to have been able to make. Self-inflicted (temporary) hardship, but the result of being open to change and adventure.
Some of my most funny memories come from my moves - like the time I showed up to the airport totally disheveled with (no joke) 100 pounds of luggage, fully checked out of my dorm, only to find out I was an entire day early for my flight…
Or the time my bags got lost on an 18-hour layover in London on my way to spend a semester in Madrid. On arrival, my program immediately set out on a four-city tour of Spain, so when my bags were finally located, they attempted delivery to every city we had just left. Two weeks later I was reunited with them, at which point I traded out the fork I had been using as a hairbrush.
Then there was the time I moved to a tiny town in Colorado and confused “County Road” with “Country Road”… and didn’t receive mail for months.
I’ve also moved in an Uber XL.
I digress, but I assure you the list goes on…
Each move has involved brown boxes, packing tape, bubble wrap, canceling and reinstating utilities, updating addresses with the post office and credit cards, sorting through endless piles of belongings, trips to donation centers, Craigslist sales, patching holes and lining up a myriad of annoying logistics…
Here I will walk you through my relocation process - how I namaste when I’m on the verge of losing it, how I go about hatching a plan for adapting my setup to the inevitable special differences, how I decide on what comes and what goes, and tackle the countless to-do’s.
When venturing into a move either solo or with a partner, respect is key. Respect for the fact that you’ve probably accumulated more than you EVER thought possible, and that at many points along the way you’re likely to feel overwhelmed. Respect that it’s a process and will take some time to get through it and adjust to the change, but remember you WILL get through it. Focus on the excitement you will feel when you’re in and settled and enjoying your new space.
Big picture: there are a ton of positives to moving, even when downsizing. It’s an opportunity to hit the refresh button on your life - to re-evaluate your belongings and take ownership of a new place to call your own (either permanently or temporarily).
Respect that there is often a major emotional component to moving, especially if you’ve lived in that place for a while. Leaving New York was a roller coaster of tears, laughs, reminiscing, butterflies of nervousness, fear of losing my identity, yet SO MUCH excitement for everything I knew my next chapter would hold. My advice is: feel all the feels. Be patient with yourself. Give thanks for the time and experience you’ve had and consciously work at embracing the change. Trust that it’s meant to be, and that no matter what happens, you are guaranteed to grow.
My favorite quote (source unknown): “When you’re open to opportunity, opportunity opens itself up to you.”
#2: Start Early
The earlier you start to organize, pare down and prep, the more smoothly it all goes. Sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve definitely learned this the hard way…
Make a master checklist of everything you might possibly need to do to conquer your move, but don’t let it scare you. Tackle one thing at a time. The earlier you begin, the more chill you can feel when you get stuck on the phone with your internet company for 1 hour and 45 minutes… Like me, last week.
Also, ask for help. If you’re doing it solo, have friends come over to hang out while you pack - chances are they’ll like a thing or two from your giveaway pile! And if you’re partnered up, divide and conquer. Here is an incredibly thorough checklist I came across - adapt as needed.
#3: Take Inventory
Start by comparing the old space to the new space, one room at a time - bedroom to bedroom, bathroom to bathroom, etc. Think about the difference in sizing, storage capabilities and accessibility (configuration, size of entryway, etc.). Then begin to visualize how you can recreate your current set up in the new space… Will each piece of furniture fit? Do you have room to store your things in the same way? What layouts can you experiment with to make it all fit (*comfortably*)? This is the time to get really honest with yourself about what you need and deeply want versus what you don’t need and/or are willing to part with. Challenge yourself.
Once you’ve whittled down your list of things you really want to integrate into the new space but don’t know where they should go, start to think creatively about repurposing them in different rooms/for different reasons. This may take some time - the answers don’t necessarily come right away.
Example: we have a funky set of old school teal lockers we found on Craigslist, that started out with storing firewood, then office supplies, and most recently when we moved into a space with next to no kitchen storage, they became a pantry… (Pretty sure they’re on their way out this time though, so holler if you want them,,,!)
#4: Adopt a Minimalist Mindset
This does not come naturally to me. Perhaps it was because this most recent move put me over the edge, but I had an “everything must go” mindset as I went through this process for the third time in under a year. I finally said goodbye to the sparkly dresses I’ve never worn but have held on to “just in case”, and the heels I wore 200x in New York but haven’t even looked at since being back out West. I can’t begin to tell you how liberating it has felt… I can barely remember what I gave away at this point.
Always remember that someone else out there might be able to benefit greatly from what you’re passing on. The KonMari Method is also a fab kick in the butt for getting real with yourself… highly recommend if you’re unsure where to begin.
You’re going to feel disorganized for a bit. Label, label, label everything. Keep masking tape and permanent markers close at hand while you pack. The more organized you can stay with knowing what’s where, the more calm you’ll remain. But it’s inevitable there will be days you can’t find the bra you’re looking for, or the pair of scissors you swore you left “RIGHT THERE”, but just cool it. You’re going to be fine. It will be over soon.
Patience is key with your partner too. Understand you probably have VERY different ways of going about things at times. Communicate always. This is where “divide and conquer” comes in handy - divide then let each other do what they’re responsible for. Check in on progress but avoid nagging or micro-managing… I’m still working on this one… Also, just be kind. The change is equally as disruptive/frustrating for both of you - find the humor in it.
#6: Drinks to Celebrate, Fine, But Not Until You’re Done
It’s tempting to throw back a few beers or glasses of wine to alleviate the misery/boredom of packing, but don’t be fooled… it stalls your progress, makes you less organized, tired, lazy and ultimately drags it out. Instead, pizza and Spotify. You’re free to go wild once the last box is off the truck and moved in, but also keep in mind the job isn’t done ‘til you’re unpacked and settled. Hangovers are equally as unproductive during phase II.
#7: Let Your Creativity Shine
As I reflect while writing this piece, my moves have been so influential in shaping my understanding and love for design. Without having been tested to figure out how to create new layouts to maximize the space, or repurpose furnishings, or how to enhance lighting and pick out colors and textures, I may not be where I am today.
Every new space I venture into, I have the same goal of making it my own. Cozy, inviting, warm, special. What that means for you may look very different, but I encourage you to think about what makes you feel most at ease and build those components into your new space ASAP - to reinforce the joy it can (and will!) bring you. If you’re unsure about how to solve for different issues, ask friends, Google it, head to a bookstore and browse the design section. Solutions exist, I promise.
#8: You Got This
Change forces us to grow, growth keeps us interesting. Embrace the vulnerability and just go for it. I’m rooting for you!
Until Next Time 💗