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Moving to a New City

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Where to start when moving to a new city!

About four months ago my husband accepted a promotion that required us to relocate from our quiet little town in the Tri-Cities of East Tennessee. We moved about two hours away to Big Orange Country in Knoxville, a city close to my heart as a former Volunteer. Shortly after we packed up and settled into our new home, about three months to be exact, he received a job offer we couldn’t refuse from NASA! We had about a month to find a new home, repack all of our things, and move to a city neither of us had ever visited, Huntsville, AL. The past month has been very exciting and a little stressful for us, but I am happy to say that we are loving Rocket City. 

What I learned

Moving twice in four months made me realize a few things: finding what area to live in can be done (mostly) online, we own way too much stuff (Seriously, how did we acquire so much junk?), and boxes are overrated.

Picking a Location

Although the idea of moving the Huntsville sounded like a grand adventure, we had never been here. I had no idea what the city was like, what areas were good and bad, or what would be the most convenient area based on commute traffic. We also didn’t have time to make multiple visits to the city or stay overnight to see what it was like, so I turned to the Internet. 

Surprisingly, the most valuable information came from the social sites Reddit and Quora. I searched for information about crime rates, things to do, and traffic. has a great tool on their map view that shows school locations, crime rate, and stores nearby, which was a huge help to me. When I found a house in an area I liked I would check the commute to work. I used google maps tool to change to drive time so I could see the most accurate estimate. We only drove to Huntsville once before we moved to see some houses in person.

The Purge

So I thought the first time we moved I had weeded out all the junk. I also thought I had a packing game plan. Since I had just unpacked everything I had an idea of how it should all be better organized the second time around. (Let’s all laugh together.) When it came down to it I had too much to pack and not enough time. At least that’s how it felt as I shoved things into any box I could the night before the final move. Since we are currently renting, I know we will inevitably be moving again when we decide to purchase a home, so I have come up with some tips to make this process easier next time.

  • Don’t be a hoarder. 

I know this tip sounds like a joke, but it’s not. I have an inner 80-year-old woman telling me to hold onto everything because one day I might need it. In reality, if it’s an item that you can afford to purchase in the future and you haven’t used it in the past year, get rid of it! I started using a new rule that I’m sure I read somewhere online – If you do not need it or love it enough that you would purchase it right now, you shouldn’t keep it.

  1. Sell it: If it’s an item you think you can make some money from before the move, sell it! There are tons of apps and groups online dedicated to helping your trash become someone else’s treasure. 
  2. Donate it: If you have items you don’t want to sell in good enough condition that you would feel comfortable giving it to a friend, donate it. If the feeling of helping others isn’t enough, sometimes you can use your donation as a tax write-off. I would recommend doing a little research for a place that will actually help those in need and not just looking to make a quick dollar off your free stuff. 
  3. Recycle/Trash: Anything else just toss. 

The Pack

I have always seen these tips to pack your home room by room so you will know exactly where each box needs to go in the new house. That ideally is great. On paper, it is the perfect plan. In reality, I was ending up with too heavy or half-packed boxes, and needing too many boxes to accommodate all the different shaped items that I was packing. That also meant to keep the system organized I could never actually finish a box if I still had items we would need to use up until the move. I developed a packing-by-need based system instead, which worked out pretty well in the long run. I also want to stress that you should pack a box solely dedicated to items you COULD need your first night. I never imaged waking up at 3 am to my dog throwing up in the bed and having to find a box with the extra sheets. That was a rough night. Plan ahead for anything.

  • Use totes instead of boxes.

I know this may sound a little crazy, but it was so helpful for me. A large heavy-duty box costs a little over $3 and a plastic tote is around $7-$8, can be more if you go bigger, but I am trying to keep sizes comparable. The totes offered better protection, and unlike boxes, which are usually only used once, the totes will offer me storage solutions for years to come. After the move, my extra totes held all the things that won’t fit into our rental home and allowed me to completely organize our garage! No random stuff piling up here.

  • Pack decorative items first.

I started by taking everything off the walls and filling holes as I went. Somehow this also made me feel like I was already making serious progress That might also be because I have a ridiculous amount of decor. Either way, packing things I wouldn’t actually be using allowed me to get a lot done without impacting our daily life.

  • Wrap breakables in towels and blankets.

This might be the cheapo in me, but depending on how many of these items you have you could save a lot in bubble wrap. I would also use my towels and blankets to helps balance out the heavy boxes. My goal was to avoid packing any boxes to the point that I couldn’t lift them for obvious reasons, so when a box got to my maximum weight I topped it off with all the light cushioned things I could find. I found myself doing this a lot with the boxes from the kitchen. 

  • Label everything!

I wrote down every single item that was in the box as I packed them and I cannot explain how helpful this was as we had those random emergency needs for things that had not been unpacked yet. Make sure when you’re labeling that you write on the sides of the boxes, if they are stacked having a label on top isn’t going to help you.

  • Wrap your clothes in trash bags, and keep them on the hanger.

You have probably seen this tip everywhere on Pinterest, and I highly recommend it. 

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