I wanted to document some of the last-minute activities surrounding our move, but of course there was no time for it. Instead, I will offer some reflections on the experience:
1. Go with the flow.
One of the best things I did was to just let go of my expectations and just go with the flow. No one wanted to buy our dining table and chairs? Let’s take them with us. We’ve sold our couch and love seat, don’t want to buy expensive furniture in Europe, but don’t know the size of our new home? Let’s buy a couple easy chairs and footrests from Ikea here. The movers are interested in some of our foodstuffs? Let them raid the fridge and cupboards. I didn’t get around to selling my super-old laptop? Give it to a friend.
2. Keep it simple (but don’t be stupid!).
I sold my car before moving. My original plan was to take it to Carmax and sell it the day we left the country. Despite being over 10 years old, my car had fewer than 75k miles on it and was in superb shape. Carmax offered a pittance for it. I quickly listed it on Craigslist and found a buyer willing to pay a competitive price. In fact, two buyers almost got in a bidding war. However, to save my sanity—and leave time for last-minute socializing with loved ones—I skipped the back-and-forth bidding process and sold it to a girl who will treasure it as her first car. Throughout the move, I tried to simplify the process for myself without cutting too many corners.
3. Remember what (who) is important.
There were a TON of details to take care of in the last week before our move. We grouped tasks into essential errands and phone calls, and we put off everything else so we could spend the rest of the time with the people we knew we wouldn’t be seeing for a while. We decided to skip the deep-clean of our apartment and pay our landlord a flat cleaning fee so we wouldn’t spend our last hours slaving away by ourselves. Instead of cleaning, we set up a coffee date and sat around with half a dozen or so of our favorite people. It was worth the price.
4. Lists! More lists!
Lists made all of the above possible. I made a list of everything that couldn’t be done until the very last minute. I made a list of everything that had to be done by phone or internet. And a list of errands that had to be run. I made a list of things that had to be mailed or shipped. Anything that needed to get done (even things we were planning to put off until after the physical move) went on a list. I found Todoist.com to be very helpful for organizing these lists, and it felt wonderful to cross off each item as it got done.
All in all, I’m pretty happy about how things turned out. We spent most of the last 24 hours before our flight with friends, not worrying too much about anything else. (Okay, I admit that I was worrying. But I tried not to.) There were definitely some bumps and some moments of panic, but I think we handled the process well. Soon I’ll share some of my thoughts about the other half of the move: after the plane landed in Europe!