On the Levels of Moving

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Most readers have moved sometime in their life. No matter within a town or to a different town; across the state or to a different state; cross-country or to a different country – one thing for sure, moving is very stressful.

We moved over a year ago. Yes, it was only 6-7 miles (10 km), but it was after 27 years in the same house. Fortunately, we had a lot of lead time, and we took advantage of it – but moving is very stressful.

I had a lot of time to think while packing, which included reflecting about previous moves. Little did I realize that the thoughts would lead me to this post about establishing the following 6 Levels of Moving.

Level 1: The Car Move
Usually one’s first move. You don’t own much, so several suitcases in the trunk and boxes in the backseat suffice. If you’re lucky, you rent a smaller trailer for some larger items.

Level 2: The Beer-and-Pizza Move
You own more, but to save money, you contact friends to provide the labor, and probably rent a truck for the day. Given everyone’s youthful nature, it works, and you are more than willing to provide the food and drinks for the laborers.

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Level 3: The Two-Men-and-a-Truck Move
Three things have happened since the previous move: the accumulation of more stuff, everyone is older, and friends have more family obligations … all leading to hiring movers. Two Men And A Truck is in my area, and the name says what you get. You do the packing, and the two mean are doing the lifting and carrying at each end of the move. On the downside, one may question the two men’s knowledge and reliability about moving. After all, how hard can moving be?

Level 4: Professional Movers
Time passes, everyone is older and with even more stuff – so it’s time to upgrade the moving experience. You contact various professional movers who visit to develop a quote for their services using a team of movers. They offer to pack, but as a money saver, you decide to do attack the time-consuming task. On moving day, boxes fill the home, but the team of movers do the carrying, carefully pack the truck, and unload at the new location.

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Level 5: Professional Pack and Move
Recalling the amount of time and energy involved in packing, you’ve decided to spend the money to give the professional movers the packing responsibility. In general, a one-day pack followed by a one-day move … and it’s done! The movers can also unpack, after all, the task is negotiable. Those having experienced a corporate move may be familiar with this move.

Level 6: The Ultimate Move
Your older now and hopefully your last move. Minimal packing, minimal lifting, and only minimal unpacking because you sold most of your belonging. Suitcases into the trunk, boxes into the backseat and you are on your way to the new location to buy new furnishings. It’s interesting how much of life goes full circle.

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90 thoughts on “On the Levels of Moving

  1. Interesting timing of this post, Frank, because my Grind is moving at the end of summer (that’s going to be a nightmare) from Manhattan to Long Island City (that’s in Queens, so we’ll still be in NYC), but it will be a pain in the ass commute for me. Furthermore … one of the reasons why I’ve disappeared from the blogosphere for so long is that I’m co-op hunting. Real estate shopping in NYC is a blood sport. I hate it, it takes a lot of concentration. Schlepping my laundry to the self-serve laundromat the last two winters bordered on unbearable and I have vowed to myself that this is the last summer that I am going to live in a building where I’m prohibited from having a/c. That’s a health hazard. So, I am trying to find an affordable place in a desirable area of Manhattan and that’s a tall order. Recently, I was the loser in a crazy bidding war. Inventory is very low and the competition for this type of unit is fierce. As for my stuff, I’ve already decided that I’m ditching most of my furniture and starting over fresh. So, I will not take much more than my clothes, computer and printer. Hey, I can move via taxi!

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      • The a/c problem is truly unique to where I reside, but in the course of my hunt I did find one that would not allow a window unit but the sleazy broker wouldn’t confirm or deny this. My broker sniffed that problem out. That’s probably why that place, in a fantastic location, has not been snapped up. I just noticed last night that a place offering zero natural light is now in contract. People will buy anything. I told my broker that it reminded me of a coffin.

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        • Yet it was asking $295k! You have to be asylum-bound to but into that. Inventory is low and demand is high so all kinds of shabby places sell briskly. It’s a total seller’s market. Current low interest rates contribute to the competition, too. Brooklyn, which is now the hot, trendy borough, is as expensive as Manhattan. I’m not searching there.

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        • It is! But the units in Manhattan, at least the size I’m considering in my price range (predominantly studio) seem to be larger in Brooklyn than in Manhattan. But my focus is the West Side of Manhattan. Anything bigger than a thumbnail will come with some string attached. But a lot of the thumbnails come with high price tags if they’re located in hot neighborhoods.

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        • As a fellow New Yorker with grown kids living in NYC vying for housing, I laughed and cried simultaneously with your comment, lameadventures! Our youngest snapped up a teeny weeny itsy bitsy under 400sf Lower East Side studio, but with its 180degree views of downtown from two huge windows, a laundry room on every floor and a doorman (!), she fell in love from the first second she walked in the door. You’ll get a chuckle out of this, her dream one day, to own an apartment with outside space. Ha ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha. Our older one still rents, a painful exercise in financial futility if there ever was one.

          Good luck with your search!

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  2. It’s so true how life goes full circle. I’ve experienced a couple of different levels of moves you included here. Shaking my head, yep! Done that one. Well, at least now, you won’t be moving again, Frank. Moving is my least favorite activity! Great post.

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  3. This post had me nodding my head and smiling, because I can completely relate. We’ve followed this very path, though we’ve yet to have someone pack for us. Our last move will be ‘The Ultimate Move’ I hope. Once the kids are gone, it’s time to get rid of some stuff. A lot of stuff.

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  4. Yes, I fully agree with you.
    My my last move, and it will be the last, was 20 yrs. ago… I still have in the attic few boxes containing books.
    Since I do have a deep relationship to books, I like them to be with hard-cover and I don’t ever feel like giving them away.
    They are part of my past, each one full with pencils notes and highlights… unfortunately our library is 10 X 3 m. and I have two kids whom have inherited mom’s passion for books 😉
    No space for the old books (mostly in foreign language).
    Surely before I go on my last trip, in which I won’t need anything “materiale”, I will arrange to give all the books to a public library or to a literary caffé…
    Have a lovely week Frank :-)c

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  5. Moving is a pain. We moved from a big house to an apartment about 14 years ago. I threw out a lot of things, but we have accumulated a whole lot more. It seems regular clean outs would be a good idea…but difficult to do.

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    • Debra,
      Downsizing requires a huge purge! … and moving is a wonderful opportunity to purge.

      I see three levels of purging … There is the first purge (things that unquestionably won’t make the move … the second purge is while packing …. the third purge when unpacking.

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  6. What a theme!!!!! I know that our next move will be a level 5 one no matter what the cost will be! Our health [both physical and mental!!!!] is far more expensive to deal with afterwards! 😉
    Last one would be ideal…. but you see books and cds are enough to fill a big truck by themselves – then the plants are a second truck. Furniture, I’m not really bothered about but once you get to hire 2 trucks, what’s one more for the rest of your belongings!
    if only we traveled light… 😉
    Have a great week, my friend! 🙂

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  7. I’ve been through every level more times than I want to remember! We were very fortunate to have my husband’s employer pay to move us to Cleveland, though. It was really something to be moved “professionally.” They literally do everything. I just chatted with them and got them coffee – spoiled me for sure. Great post 🙂

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  8. As a military family we had one Level 1 move and 8 Level 4’s, the final one being from the Boston suburbs to small-town America. What a difference! Then there was one more Level 4 to an apartment near the new-construction retirement house, and 6 months later a Level 3. Being OCD, I had picked out the floor plan and even pre-planned where each piece of furniture would go. And I got to monitor the construction. It all worked out pretty well.

    There is (only) one good thing about being a military nomad. It forces a cathartic cleaning out every few years. 😀

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    • Jim,
      Military personnel do have a lot … thus have more than their fair share of moving stories! The key thing about this post is that the vast majority of readers can relate … so it appears my levels have been supported.

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  9. Ugh. We’ve done all of those — and they are all awful, even when somebody packs for you. What that did for us is ensure that we never ever throw anything away, we just buy bigger houses! My husband now wants to find our retirement house and move. I want to dig a hole and have the earth swallow me up before moving ever again…

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  10. Frank, you really should do a poster/gift wrap/greeting card on this and sell it – something everyone can identify with.
    One variation was missing (could be a 3b or a 4b?) – you know the one where one spouse has to manage the whole thing as the other is out of the country on business/ across the country because the job started already / involved in a big project at work/ health and medical issues.
    I had to laugh because while wandering one of Boston’s very Italian neighborhoods last week I ran into 4 young/college-ish age “kids” loading a uHaul moving. Delightful funny kids with those reality show italian accents. They were offering beer and pizza to anyone willing to help…I begged off because of my foot, not my age ( they got a laugh, too).
    Anyway, superb post – you never fail to hit the target.

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    • Mouse,
      I’m a good idea guy for someone with the entrepreneurial spirit to pull it off … But I can see it as a graphic organizer!

      Oh … you were in Boston’s North End? … I love that neighborhood!

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      • I love that neighborhood, too, Frank. I lived in Boston for forty years, and it was so pleasant to shop on a Saturday afternoon at Haymarket, then Faneuil Hall, and walk over to the North End for pizza at The European and straight to Mike’s Pastry for cannoli! Nearly every weekend in the summer was the feast of some saint….then it was the parades through the narrow streets, sausage and fried dough vendors, and little girls dressed as angels swooping on wires overhead….

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        • Oh … Mike’s Pastry is SO GOOD … and cheers to you for being able to enjoy it on a regular basis. I love ethnic neighborhoods in cities, and when visiting, I tend to search for the Italian neighborhoods. 🙂

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  11. Ugh. As I walk in circles in my big-ass home, trying to figure out what will stay and what will go, I want to rip my hear out. As you know, I now have to do this alone with my two teenaged boys (now THERE’S a “huge” help)… There is s**t in this house that I have no clue what it is. What is it with men and their tools and junk drawers? (Sorry, I should not have generalized.) Mick had FOUR drawers! I want to put this behemoth up for sale and buy a smaller, more manageable one with more pleasant neighbours (yeah, I know, wishful thinking) but can’t until I purge. Big time.

    I don’t know that I’d ever be comfortable with others packing my stuff but they sure as heck can move it for me. Am so at the professional mover stage!

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  12. Having just moved (6 months ago), I’m still fresh from the stress of it all. Your list of stages is quite impressive. i missed the “2 men and a truck” stage and the “Professional Movers but I pack all my shizzle” stage (you said it better). It’s true, as we grow older, wiser, and weaker, we learn to get rid of all that stuff we’ve been moving around all of our lives. I got rid of so much stuff that I carried with me for 50 years! And I don’t miss it at all!

    Less to clean. Less to walk around or stumble over. Less to worry about if and when I make another move. Less for my son to deal with when I make the truly ultimate move to that Big Luxury Condo In the Sky with NO Screaming Kids! 😉

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  13. I’ve been through all but the ultimate move, and that will likely be happening with our next move. I enjoyed this, Frank. I’ve never really thought about the different levels of moving. I kind of miss the first two levels. It’s more fun when you don’t have much stuff, and beer and pizza parties were simple but also fun. Maybe that’s true about the ultimate move, too, since it seems to be circling back around to the first move. 🙂

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    • Robin,
      Moves change with circumstances … starting when we are young and not having much stuff or money … but the last move would be fun … thus off to the retirement location!

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  14. I have done all but the last. Having done a couple of corporate moves, including temporary expat moves I could even add to your list. I continually consider downsizing, with only me in my huge house, but no not yet. I simply cannot face a move, truly I think that is what holds me back, I just can’t face a move.

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  15. We haven’t moved in twenty-three years, and I do dread the day we do with all the stuff we have accumulated over the years. I do give hubby and the young man lots of practice with moving furniture up and down the stairs far too many times to count.

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  16. I had a move once that wouldn’t fit into any normal category – the across the yard move. We started with land and a mobile home and 10 years later built a house. First the mobile home got moved to just across the property line into a neighbor’s field due to a clause in the construction to home loan that the mobile home had to be off the property the day the house was done. Then the house got built where the mobile home originally had been. Carry everything across the yard into the new house, then clean and sell the mobile home. Definitely not the average move.

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  17. Great post! 🌟★🌟 … I would have never thought there were so many levels… In my case there were a few ones, but I didn’t have too many things to move into the newer place… Anyhow, back to the levels, I thought of a game…. I wonder how many lives do we have to get it all done?… Three?… Love and all my best wishes dear Frank! Aquileana 😀

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    • Aquileana,
      When I was in my 20s, no way I would have thought about moving to this degree of complexity. But as everything else in life, what one experience over time tells a much greater story. Meanwhile, to get through all the levels, some readers here have done the first 5 … and that’s in one life! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I never thought about this before, but you are so right! I used to move every year when my apartment lease expired – always to a more interesting apartment, and always to the top floor (no elevators). My brothers hated me. 😉 We are staying put for now. I can’t stand the thought of moving. Unless we hit the lottery, of course.

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    • Maddie,
      Yearly moves = no fun. Then again, that was probably back in the day when you had less than now. Meanwhile, winning the lottery would be an relatively move …. go straight to level 6 … hire an auctioneer to sell the stuff … proceeds go to charity … and you are off!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. You don’t even want to hear my moving story Frank. I moved almost a year ago today, and let me just tell you I’m still not done designing each room. I decided to take my time and not go broke. This month, I’m tackling my dining room. Wish me luck lol. Great post.

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  20. Interesting and very moving post, Frank. We’ve moved house 8 times since we’ve been married. The farthest move was from England to South Africa, and the shortest move was in Johannesburg when we just moved around the corner into the next street. Our furniture and belongings are at present in a container which is on it’s way from Durban harbour to Miami. It’s going to be such fun when it arrives, deciding where to put everything. 🙂

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