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how to take the pain out of moving

First things first: click here to skip straight to the template (available for purchase). Otherwise, read on for details.

Why I needed to build this spreadsheet

Living in New York where the cost of living is high (per Numbeo it’s 100 on the index) — rent takes up a large portion of your living expenses.

At the end of your lease, if you find apartments that offers a better deal for more space, you tend to pick up your things and move out. If only it was easy as “pick up your things and go.”

In my time in New York (seven years and counting,) I’ve moved seven times in the last seven years and accumulated much moving experience.

When I first moved to New York from London, I moved with two suitcases. Over time, as life and things accumulated — my suitcases (and boxes) have increased with time and memories.

Too many things

Can you say hoarder?

This meant with each subsequent move, the process of moving took over more and more of my daily life another week at a time; things couldn’t be rattled off and thought of ad hoc in my head. I simply had too many things to keep track of at once.

In earlier moves I often found myself with my face in my hands dodging stacked boxes and piles of clothes — trying in vain to remember where the hell did I put the hair dryer?! in the middle of my apartment shit-storm.

Mood when moving

Mood during the entire moving process

As I’ve moved over the years, I learned that centralizing all my information related to the move helped with my stress levels (and memory) the most. This way, I could reference it quickly and add more information where needed.

In addition, according to my love of spreadsheets and Type A nature, I optimized the process and created a workflow to make the experience. This turned into a moving spreadsheet I created to facilitate my moves and ta-da!

Click here for your own central repository to make future moves easier and less stressful 🙂



How moving can feel with an organized spreadsheet

The spreadsheets, a breakdown

Tab 1. Inventory

This tab includes a list of larger furniture items.

Movers will be typically move more than just boxes, and this inventory list is an example of larger items you will likely need their help to move.

When I was moving, this tab helped me for two reasons:

  • Build trust with your mover so they can better plan manpower and moving vehicle logistics.
  • A good check at the end of your move to make sure everything is accounted for.

Breaking down the tab:

  • Items: Item description
  • Room: Room location (click arrow to see choices)
  • Quantity: Amount of each item
  • Category: What “type” of item is it (click arrow to see choices)
  • Action: Keep? Sell? Donate? (click arrow to see choices)

PRO TIP: Movers typically require a high-level inventory list in order to provide a quote. By going through and identifying all the items we needed into this tab, it was easy to copy and paste the information to different moving companies and get a fairly accurate price quote on the first round when comparing rates.

Tab 2. Movers

One of the most tedious and mentally taxing things is comparing options. We live in a world of increasing optionality, so there always begs a question — how do you know you are getting the optimal choice?

More importantly, what do you do when you research and call moving companies, only to come back with half-answered questions in the shape of email, texts, calls, and voicemails? You are now stuck juggling multiple conversations 10 different ways, each at different stages of the sales process.

One of the best solutions for me (for a lot of things, now that I think about it) is a 2×2 matrix. AKA, a comparison chart.

By first defining the parameters you want to compare against, you eliminate the cognitive load of trying to keep track exactly what information you need. You’ve already done the work in defining it.

Better yet, you only need to define this once.

To prevent my brain from frying trying to keep track of all the information, I’d drop the information into my spreadsheet so I wouldn’t have to re-do the thinking for each conversation.

Tab 3. Packing

This is presumably the most crucial of the tabs.

The Packing tab identifies all your boxes and the items inside in an easily visible (and searchable) format where you’ll add all the packed contents of each box. We then labeled each box on the outside with the corresponding identifier.

When I used to move solo, I could easily remember what items were in which box during my move. Because I also had fewer things, unpacking was relatively quick.

I noticed that since my husband and I moved in together, the two of us combined accumulated waaaaay more crap than just one of us alone. In addition, unpacking took significantly much more time given the sheer volume of things we own.

As we accumulate more and more things, there will longer time spent living out of boxes during that limbo period where key items you need — like that god forsaken hairdry mentioned earlier — are still buried in some box or other but you need it to continue living your day to day.

Breaking down the tab:
  • Row 1: Box number (prefill based on number of bins / boxes)
  • Row 2: Category box number (ex: Assorted 1, Box 17)
  • Row 3 (& onwards): List of items

Pro Tip: During your move, you will likely have items you’ll need on the fly during the packing / unpacking process.

While you’re packing, highlight items where you’ll need quick access. This way you can stack your boxes and/or access them easily once you know which box they are in.

Tab 4. Legend

Certain columns within the spreadsheet have a dropdown list of pre-set categories.

This tab is where you can change and modify the information to update the dropdown list. (This part might get a little confusing, let me know if I can help)

Best of luck to you 🙂

And so, there you have it.

The spreadsheet that has slowly evolved over seven moves (and saved my husband and I from many moving-stress fights).

Enjoy, and best of luck with your move.

Click here to access the spreadsheet!

I’m not going to presume you need help with the move-in, organization, but as of Jan 5th, 2020 I will be moving in (and decorating) a new apartment in a few months and will work on documenting the process.

If you’re interested in getting this when it’s ready to launch, drop your email here!

I’m interested in a New Home Move In template!

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