Military movers: tips on getting packed up

So let me start off by saying how nice it is to not have to pack your entire house yourself.

For the last two duty stations we have moved ourselves. It was a ton of work, we had not accumulated a ton of junk and it took us over 4 days to pack with the help of my parents and amazing friends.

However, this time we had a little baby, a 3,000 square-foot home, and would be moving twice in six months. So why not use the moving service that is provided to us.

We knew we would be moving around the December – January timeframe. So I took advantage of any time my parents came to visit to purge things from the attic and closets. Jeff and I spent close to three weeks going through the house, room by room and purging anything that was worn out, broken, a knickknack, clutter or hadn’t been used in the last 6-12 months.

You see, we are headed to Italy in July but first we have to move to our nations capital for six months to learn Italian. If you aren’t familiar with the metropolitan area of DC, traffic is horrible, parking is a pain, there are too many people and housing is ridiculously expensive. So we get to downsize from me 3000+ square-foot home to a 1700 square-foot three-bedroom apartment. We did a great job of selling and purging. It was a wake up call for sure to return things that you don’t need and not buy things you don’t love.

Maybe I will do a post on how we are slowly working our way to minimalist living. We are definitely very successful with our baby and keeping her clutter down and toys purposeful. However, applying that to the rest of home is a slower process since we are dealing with years of impulse purchases, random gifts and clutter.

I digress, so the military movers first come to your house to survey what you have. You walk them through the home, indicating wait is staying and what is going and they decide on the spot how many crates you will need, boxes, movers and day to make it happen. We were quoted two days to pack and one day to move everything to the truck.

So the day comes, the company sends three movers to pack our home. We walked them through and show them everything that is going. They immediately say it will only take them one day to pack. Which, after talking to everyone we know, is a bold face lie. They get paid by the job not by the days it takes to do it. So they all want to finish in a day. So take this with a grain of salt. Insist they take breaks and do it well.

Here are some moving tips:

1. Have breakfast and coffee waiting for them. Why would you do such a thing? Because they are going to be packing all of your prized possessions. What’s $15 if they like you and are in a good mood.

2. Anything you don’t want them to pack, put it in one central location. This keeps them from having to find you any time they start a new room.

3. I learned this tip from another military spouse: put your silverware in Ziploc bags or else each fork will be wrapped in it’s own sheet of packing paper. This also keeps your silverware clean which means less work on the backend for you.

4. Put anything that you want to keep together or that is loose and Ziploc’s before they show up. What I mean by that, is that we have a junk drawer with pens, bottle openers and flashlights that we always have in each house. so we put it all in a Ziploc to keep it all together.

5. Look up any high value items and have a folder with them on your computer or save the receipts of high cost purchases. This way when you move, if something were to happen to them, you have it as a reference.

6. Yes, buy them lunch too. This way they can rest, maximize their break and get back to work quicker than them having to find somewhere to eat nearby.

7. Put together a moving kit. This should include a pocket knife, measuring tape, superglue, tape, spackle, small hammer, sharpie pens, bottle opener, wine opener, regular pens, paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic cups, paper towels, tissues, toilet paper, some cleaning products, Ziploc bags,hardwood floor markers if you have hardwoods.

8. Check in frequently and making nice with the guy who is doing the inventory. You want to make sure you go over your furniture together. Our guy wanted to document that our brand new “fresh out of the box… baby only slept in that room for a month” crib was scratched, scuffed, gouged and chipped. He had written this and sent the furniture to the moving truck without consulting us first. No one was happy when furniture that was placed on the truck had to be taken off the truck for inspection. So, be very clear from the get go that you want to go over everything together before you allow it on the truck.

9. Day drinking is allowed. Hey, moving is stressful. You are stuck at the house all day. Why not.

10. If you were able to keep TV boxes, or boxes for any electronics, appliances or odd shaped household goods. Set them right next to that item or place the item in the box yourself. This was an interesting dilemma where I set the box next to eaxh corresponding item and they were getting packed separately.

Interesting fact: I learned that sometimes the military moving contracts allow movers to use moving trucks. While other times they use crates. In this case, the movers had to use crates. So be forewarned, that any odd shaped or oversized furniture will need to have its own crate created before shipping out.

This is what a crated truck looks like. They screw it closed and caulk it

Don’t get lost in the chaos, whatever you want to keep set aside in its own room/area
Movers working overtime trying to get everything to fit

Our movers were able to complete the job in two days versus the projected three. To do so they worked late and had to call in for extra supplies, crates,trucks and man power to finish the job. Our big regret, is allowing them to rush and squeeze it in at the end. Some of our furniture was dropped off the edge of the moving ramp, and things got pretty sloppy.

Tune back in as we have the military movers move us into the 15th floor have a city apartment building with a single freight elevator! Ha!



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