How To Move With A Baby (Without Losing Your Stuff Or Your Sanity)

We're here!

We’re here!

We are officially moved into our Vermont homestead at long last! I’m immensely delighted (super delighted? supremely delighted?) to write this from our porch, gazing out on our apple trees–which are just beginning to blossom–listening to the distant sounds of a hooting owl, running streams, and Frugal Hound chasing squirrels in her sleep (some things never change).

Although spending weekends here for the past five months gave us a taste of homestead life, being moved in full-time is yielding a level of peace and happiness heretofore unknown by us. I have to say, it’s amazing. And we are so thankful to be settled!

Since moving is everyone’s absolute favorite thing to do (right????!!!!), I want to share how we made this decampment from urban Cambridge, MA to rural VT in one fell swoop with all babies, hounds, and boxes accounted for.

While, naturally, our goal was to complete this move as inexpensively as possible, thriftiness was not our chief concern. There are times in life when it makes good sense to spend a bit more money and for us, moving is definitely one of those times (for more on the time v. money conundrum, check out this). Hence, you might be surprised to learn that we hired movers to execute this interstate move. But you might be equally surprised to know that this cost us only $700 more than conducting the move ourselves.

Get Multiple Estimates

After we purchased our homestead property in January and commenced planning for our May move, we weren’t sure whether we’d hire movers or not; thus, the very first step was the age old, and oh-so-important, price comparison exercise! I contacted no fewer than 10 different moving companies in the Boston area to gather bids on our move. I received a wide range of responses, from both a price–but also a pricing strategy–perspective.

Loading up in Cambridge

Loading up in Cambridge

Some moving companies charge by the number of hours it takes them to load the truck, others charge by weight, and still others offer a flat rate. I personally was a fan of the flat rate option. I frankly had no interest in sweating it out as they loaded our truck, hoping they’d hurry up and nervously calculating how much our dining room table and various dog costumes weigh. I wanted our movers to take the time they needed to load our possessions with care. Our stuff may all be second-hand, (or sourced from the trash) but it’s still our stuff and I have no desire to buy/procure new furniture. Frugal sidenote: a new house does not automatically = new furniture!

Further, I wanted to know the cost upfront. Fortunately for me, the absolute lowest bid–$2,415–came in the form of a flat rate quote by a highly rated local company, Intelligent Labor and Moving. I’m name dropping because we were immensely satisfied with their work and I’m happy to recommend them. In addition to offering the lowest price, they didn’t cram our stuff onto a truck with someone else’s household ephemera and the same crew that loaded the truck in Boston unloaded it in Vermont. In light of this, it seemed highly likely we’d wind up at our new house with our stuff arriving on time and in (mostly) one piece.

Price Compare the DIY Route

Being frugal weirdos ever on the alert for money-saving possibilities, I did indeed price out renting a truck and loading ourselves. Helpfully, U-Haul, Penske, and Budget truck rentals all offer an online interface for gathering pricing data. I was rather surprised to discover that by the time I tallied up the costs of not only the truck rental itself, but also mileage, gas, labor (aka people to help us), furniture pads, and dollies, this DIY option came in just about $700 cheaper than the lowest moving company estimate.

Obligatory baby-on-a-box pic

Obligatory baby-on-a-box pic

Let me tell you what, I was thrilled–THRILLED I tell you–to spend that $700 to not have to load and unload a truck myself. There are plenty of things I’m happy to insource, but moving is honestly not in that category. In addition to the stress and unpredictability of moving, furniture is heavy. Really heavy. Although Mr. FW and I moved the vast majority of our furniture into our house (since we purchased it from Craigslist/found it on the side of the road after moving in), we did it one piece at a time. Not all at once. On two consecutive days. Along with 90 billion boxes of dishes, dog food, dungarees, and doughnuts (ok, no doughnuts were actually moved, but I wish they had been… ).

Yes, Mr. FW and I are capable of team lifting every stick of furniture we own, but just because we can do it doesn’t mean we should (sidenote: yesterday we carried a 100lb toilet up the stairs together… more on why we need a new toilet in a future post… ). Additionally, shout out to frugality here as it enables us to make concerted decisions to sometimes spend more. Back in the days of our halcyon youth, pre-baby, pre-dog, and pre-furniture, moving ourselves was no problem at all. Now? Big problem.

Choosing to pay for movers is consistent with our lifestyle of luxurious frugality. We’re not out to save money in every last aspect of our existence; rather, we’re out to create the most fulfilling, non-consumption focused life possible while still enjoying what we do and how we live. Extreme frugality is pointless if it causes you to create a life you hate living. As the movers loaded and unloaded our earthly possessions, Mr. FW and I remarked to one another–every 5 minutes–how very, very glad we were that we’d hired them. Oh so glad.

After making the wonderfully liberating decision to hire movers, it was time to get packin’ (packing is one of those words, and activities, that lends itself nicely to the colloquial “in'” abbreviation, which deludes you into thinking it’s an enjoyable and folksy past-time. Much like banjo pickin’).

How To Pack

Easy. Just put stuff in boxes. Oh but wait, what if you’re….

Packing With A Baby

Babywoods enjoying her "baby safe zone" in the basement

Babywoods enjoying her “baby safe zone” in the basement

Slightly less easy, but much easier than the next stage, which is the dreaded “packing with a toddler.” But since she’s still a pre-crawling little being, Babywoods and I did pretty well with our packing parties. The key was to create “safe baby zones” in every major packing area of our house, so that she could tag along and hang out with me while I flailed around like a demented gazelle flinging random objects into open boxes while screaming “We’re never EVER moving again. EVER.” Just kidding. I usually yelled “This packing will NEVER be done!!!”

Just kidding, since I was packing with a baby I couldn’t yell, so instead I belted out deranged versions of nursery rhymes such as: “Old MacDonald packed a box then realized she packed the tape gun in the bottom… Old MacDonald unpacked a box and retrieved the freaking tape gun…” And on it went. Other favorites included “Baa Baa Breakables, Have You Any Bubble Wrap?” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Box Cutter.”

My “safe baby zone” plan panned out well and the key is that I had them set up in advance. Since I could accomplish approximately 7.3 minutes of packing at a time, I didn’t have to waste time arranging Babywoods’ toys and blankets–we’d simply jet down to the basement or upstairs to the bedroom and viola: a safe baby play zone awaited us! Packing invariably entails dangerous objects flying about (bubble wrap, scissors, and the teeniest, tiniest pieces of everything you’ve ever owned), so having a spot for Babywoods to safely put everything in reach in her mouth was crucial.

Perhaps the most pivotal element of getting the house packed is that I started early. Waaaaaayyy early. Like 2.5 months early. This turned out to be an excellent decision illustrating my immense genius and foresight (hah). Because anything you do with a baby takes roughly 10,569 times longer than doing said activity without a baby.

Obligatory baby-in-a-box pic

Obligatory baby-in-a-box pic

By initiating operation pack-a-house so far in advance, I was able to systematically pack one room at a time. This allowed me to sift through all of our possessions and target objects for removal. I practically spammed my Buy Nothing group with all the crap lovely items I decided we didn’t need to move with us: everything from my bicycle to business suits to home improvement project parts made their way to new owners. An organized move is a happy move and not moving junk is positively peachy.

I also labeled each box for a destination in our Vermont house. Instead of randomly jumbling items together, I had the master bedroom segregated from the kitchen from the basement and so on. I do not enjoy living in disarray (to put it mildly) and so I wanted to set us up for as smooth an unpacking process as humanly possible. It took me for freaking ever to pack the house, but I will say that nothing broke, nothing got lost, and just about everything made its way to the right room on the first try (except, of course, for the ridiculously heavy bookcase that Mr. FW and I had to carry down two flights of stairs after discovering that it doesn’t fit in Babywoods’ new room… 15 minutes after the movers departed).

Packing ourselves also saved us a good deal of dough. We could’ve hired movers to pack for us, but, we’d pay handsomely and then probably wouldn’t know where anything was, and, all of our aforementioned junk would’ve make the trek to Vermont instead of being given away in Cambridge.

I also phased our packing such that I first packed stuff we don’t use often or don’t need to use (like board games, off-season clothing, decor, and wall hangings). Next, I targeted current use items that we could survive without (such as lamps, extra plates, and cooking implements)–this commenced our week of “camping out in the house.” Then, a day before the move we packed everything else and lived out of a suitcase. Thus, we didn’t have a totally mad scramble of tons of things to pack at the bitter end (the scramble was only partially mad).

Buy A Tape Gun Dispenser

Babywoods discovered that boxes are fun to hit!

Babywoods discovered that boxes are fun to hit!

A tape gun is the packing person’s best friend, confidant, and dearest advisor. Don’t pack without one. I’ve done both ways and trust me, the tape gun way is the superior road. Armed thusly with a tape gun, one can smooth tape onto a box with the ease of polished veneer. Sans tape gun, however? Woe betides ye with the tape all stucky to ye fingers and not on ye box.

Don’t Buy Boxes (or packing materials)

As adamant as I am about the efficacy of a tape gun, I’m equally adamant about not buying boxes. I began collecting free boxes months before our move and was able to amass a collection large enough to cover our move with some leftover. I then gave away our excess box inventory through the Buy Nothing project on the day of our move (kudos to the guy who came to pick them up amidst our melee!).

Moving boxes–much like maternity clothes, baby gear, and Christmas trees–are a thing you want GONE as soon as you’re through with that phase of life. In other words, people give them away for free! Folks also give away their used bubble wrap and packing paper, which I happily took and reused. These packing accouterments can most certainly be used more than once.

P.S. if you live near me in Vermont and are in need of some moving boxes, I have a stack in the barn waiting for you!

Invite Family

Frugal Hound: happy to be on a walk during the move

Frugal Hound: happy to be on a walk during the move

We conned bribed invited Mr. FW’s parents and younger sister to come help us out with the move, which was a godsend. They watched Babywoods, walked Frugal Hound, and even cooked for us (!!!). Thanks to their incredible assistance, we were able to finish packing, coordinate with the movers, and–crucially–clean our Cambridge home from top to bottom in preparation for our tenants to move in.

I scrubbed the bathrooms and Mr. FW vacuumed like a fiend while Babywoods played with her grandparents–ideal! And my sister-in-law kept Frugal Hound out of the house for the day, which was key since we had the doors propped open and the movers darting in and out. Although she’s a calm beast, FH does not do well with disorder or unusual circumstances. Huge thanks and adoration should be showered on my in-laws for all of their loving assistance!!

Why A Flat Rate Was Great

I’d thought a flat rate sounded like a good idea and wow, was I right (love it when that happens). Why, you might wonder? Well, as it turns out, apparently we have a lot of stuff. The movers showed up with 1 truck (ok, it wasn’t huge so we don’t have that much stuff) and, uh, our worldly possessions did not all fit. Circa 5pm, after a herculean effort (which entailed disassembling everything that had a screw or a bolt) to cram it all into one truck, they made the determination to get a second, smaller truck. And since we had a flat rate quote, we didn’t incur any additional charges. Whew.

Reason #9,082 why Movers are Awesome: They Made It Down Our Driveway

Rolling up to the house

Rolling up to the house

You all know about our driveway situation, right? Well, let me tell you: it’s a quarter mile long, made of gravel, and very steep. In other words, it’s a typical rural driveway; but for us city slickers, it’s still rather daunting. And there is something to be said about offloading uncertain liabilities onto a third party. There are known unknowns and there are unknown unknowns and driving down our driveway in a 26′ truck falls into both camps.

While I bet my handy, problem-solving Mr. FW might’ve (probably?) navigated it, our movers managed it with aplomb and like the pros they are. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so relieved as when that truck smoothly motored right up to the house and then, just as smoothly, ascended our driveway and departed for the open road. The movers did comment that our driveway was a “doozy,” but hot damn if they didn’t roll up and down it like butter on a hog.

The ‘Plan Ahead’ Box

Moving trucks departing from the barn

Moving trucks departing from the barn

Since we’ve been weekending here in Vermont, we had the immense fortune of having the necessities already here at the house. Things like toilet paper, soap, plates, coffee, and diapers were waiting for us. In previous moves, when this advance team-style prep wasn’t possible, we packed a necessities box of just such things: necessities. Easy access to this box is a fine component of a smooth move.

The Unpacking

Is nearly complete! While my fabulous in-laws were here, Mr. FW and I took advantage of their kind baby and hound-sitting services and unpacked 95% of the house in about a day and a half. We started at the top (in the bedrooms) and worked our way down. Similar to my packing strategy, we systematically unpacked one room at a time and relegated any unneeded or random items to the basement. This is good because the house is now all set up. This is perhaps bad because now there’s a pile of random items in the basement… which I will deal with someday. Like maybe next year.

We wanted to unpack as rapidly as possible because there’s a whole farmyard of projects awaiting us. I didn’t want to drag out the unpacking and still be hunting for things in weeks or months. Better to blitz through it and be done. Now, we’ve turned our attention to the countless projects that await our attention on the land. In fact, as I write this (from my new office!!!), Mr. FW is out mowing the two acres that surround our house. Also this week: asparagus harvesting, garden bed weeding, figuring out what to do with a gigantic crop of rhubarb we uncovered, culvert repairs, and tractor lessons! Sounds like another post in the works right there… and on that note, I bid you adieu.

What are your moving tips and tricks?

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82 Responses

  1. Congrats are the completion of the big move!!! The plan ahead box is genius! I’m sure that’s a well-known thing when you’re moving a whole house — but I’ve never had to move myself (excluding what my parents handled when I was a kid) with more than a suitcase. Writing that down for future moving Erin. As a not quite as extreme frugal weirdo, I’m really glad you decided to outsource the labor on this one. Seems like absolutely the right call and probably made it easier to take advantage of being able to unpack while your in-laws were there. Could you imagine moving all that yourselves and then finding the energy to unpack?! I know you two are champs, but yikes.

  2. Frau Heller says:

    Congrats to your smooth move. Moving is such a hassle and i much prefer to outsource as well. We moved seven times in 11 years (twice Germany USA). Im so over moving but I love to clean out.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Rhubarb syrup – it take a lot of rhubarb to make and it is delicious in iced tea or soda water. It is also easy to can. Congratulations on your move!

  4. Chris says:

    I’m unable to add anything to your incredible moving prowess but I can make a suggestion related to the rhubarb. Crisps. Strawberry rhubarb crisp, berry rhubarb crisp … just experiment. These are way easier than pies. You can also cut up the rhubarb into chunks and save for yummy desserts in the winter.

  5. Darcy says:

    Animal Vegetable Miracle is one of my all-time, return annually reads and they list their recipes on their website. Asparagus and rhubarb recipes on this page (not combined, fear not!)

  6. Amy says:

    Yay for smooth moves! We just moved 2 weeks ago. For us packing months or weeks a head doesn’t work with the exception of 2 boxes of textbooks that my husband refuses to part with. Everything else in our home is used often. How I did it was the day before we picked up our budget truck I got snacks and rented movies for the kids. I set the 5 & 7 year olds up in the living room, the almost 16 year old was in the basement with his computer. The teen packed his room. I packed everything else except my husband’s office in 4 hours.

    The next morning I loaded the truck, everything except the office and our electronic devices. At 4 pm my husband packed the office as I carried things out to the truck. At 5 pm we took a van load of donations to Goodwill. The teen didn’t want to take his desk. After dinner we set up a movie downstairs and spent 30 minutes cleaning upstairs. Then moved the movie upstairs and did the lower levels. Everyone went to bed early.

    Moving day I loaded bedding into the truck and electronics into the back of the van. Got the kids & dog into the van. Husband drove the truck and 10 hours later we checked into the hotel in our new city. The following day we picked up our keys and unloaded our stuff in 2 hours. Everything we own fit inside a 16 ft truck with lots of space. We wanted a 12 but they didn’t have any available.

    This is move 8 in 9 years for us. It’s move 24 in 36 years for me personally, only 1 international move the rest mostly interstate, I’m used to moving.

  7. Lena says:

    wow – I’m exhausted just reading this post! Great job and congratulations! I, like you, am a planner so when I move packing begins as soon as I’ve made the decision. Its a wonderful way to purge all that extra stuff that sneaks into our home without our knowledge. If I have access to the new place early, I will always start to bring boxes and items over with me every time I visit. This drastically cuts down on what actually needs to be moved on the great day of moving.

  8. Laura says:

    In our last move I paid for movers too. I have never done this. But I agree it was money well spent! The crew loaded the truck in about 6 hours and packed it well. We had movers on the other end to. Some of the best investment. We are frugal by nature also and paired down our belongings and packed ourselves but we are done lumping our stuff.

  9. Carolyn says:

    Congratulations on the move!! Well done.

  10. Emma says:

    Just a thought for the cardboard boxes, in case you don’t get any takers to pick them up. I know your new place has pre-existing garden beds, but if you are planning to install additional beds and need to kill turfgrass to do it, I’ve slowly been converting our backyard from lawn to garden by laying down a layer of cardboard and covering it with a few inches of soil and a few more of mulch. Last year, I actually collected a huge pile of boxes in our basement for exactly this purpose; apparently I didn’t remind the boyfriend often enough what they were for, because one weekend while I was out of town, the boxes were vanished to help Grandma move. He’s lucky, because I can’t begrudge his grandma moving supplies, but the moral of the story is, you have a goldmine of turfgrass suppressant if you need it, and if I lived close enough, I would totally take them off your hands.

  11. tess says:

    Your daughter is a perfect little dolly with a dazzling smile and bright eyes–so very cute!
    The easier thing to make with rhubarb is jam, just a a bit of water & sugar.

  12. carissa says:

    Amazing! We’ve always moved ourselves, and well, it’s never been as easy as this sounded. 🙂 Great to have the family help, too!
    Last year when you asked for healthy snack recipes, I emailed you my very favorite rhubarb muffins. I’ll send it again, just in case, along with a rhubarb apple crisp that I love. I used to work at a lodge in Alaska that had a GIGANTIC rhubarb plant that grew like crazy in the midnight sun. I made pies, crisps and muffins from it for months!

  13. Josh says:

    One recommendation for finding free, durable boxes is asking liquor stores. Depending on their stock, you might not be able to get large boxes, but the small ones are good for holding your fragile items.

    Our tip with moving with a baby is doing a few boxes a day, if you have a decent timespan to pack & move.

  14. Jodie says:

    I (oddly) love moving! Maybe it’s the whole “fresh start,” “blank slate” of a new home that excites me. Plus packing is a great opportunity to get rid of items you don’t need or want anymore. Enlisting the help of family is by far the greatest tip. Can’t beat free help. Congratulations on the successful move to your lovely new home!

  15. Jodie says:

    Congratulations on a successful move! I find it incredibly inspiring to have read about your and Mr. FW’s crazy gigantic goal and that you were able to see it through ahead of schedule.

    On another note, stewed rhubarb is amazing on Greek yogurt (or ice cream).

  16. Good plan hiring movers. With a baby it would be near impossible to do yourself. Not to mention trying to do it all in one fell swoop would break-your-frugal-back.

    At the very least, you’d be too exhausted to unpack!

    Congrats on completing the move!

  17. Oh yes, the Plan Ahead Box (aka the First Night Box) is essential. We also had our sheets and shower curtain in there. Enjoy your new digs!

  18. MandalayVA says:

    As Mr. Mandalay’s family used to own a North American Van Lines moving franchise, we always go pro when moving. We pack, though. However, we’ve made a concerted effort in the past few years to really pare down our belongings, so if push came to shove we could pack up the entire condo in less than a day.

    Congratulations on finally making the homestead dream come true!

  19. Maria says:

    Woo hoo! Congratulations on the move. Wow, that is a lot of work.
    Slightly apprehensive now as we will be moving later this year and are nowhere near as organised as you. However, we also don’t have a kid or a dog, so that helps…
    Asparagus is your tasty reward for moving 🙂
    Rhubarb is delicious stewed with some sugar and then eaten with yogurt. Or baked in pie or crisps as mentioned by others. And you can freeze it for later in the year too!

  20. Sandy M. says:

    I can almost hear the sigh of relief in your post. Congrats on being Vermont residents. We moved over 2900 miles across this great nation 6 years ago. We paid for movers and 4 months of storage while we waited for our home to be built. Your post brought back all of the packing and separating of items and furniture that we did since we were going to be renting an apartment for 4 months while we waited for our home to be ready. So the movers had to pack up our things on the truck with the apartment things in the front. Drive all those miles to our apartment, take the rest of our things to where we had rented climate controlled storage and unload it. Then 4 months later they brought the things in storage to us in our new home. Our son came out with a truck and helped Hubby move the things from the apartment to the house. Cost for all: just shy of $15,000. We retired early like you are going to do and were happy that we had always been frugal and had the cash for the move. All of it was exhausting.

    Being that I am a Grandma, give your beautiful Babywoods a big hug and kiss for me. And I wish you many years of happiness in your new home.

  21. Sandy M. says:

    I forgot to tell you. I make strawberry rhubarb filling for pies and freeze it in portions in freezer bags. Then just pull a bag out and defrost it, make my pie crust and bake. It’s my favorite pie.

  22. Teresa says:

    Moving in September…already tired and planning ahead. I have enjoyed your stories and have gotten some good tips from you and your readers. Thank you for the laughs!!!! Humor is a great way to deal with stress. Feel like I want to bring you a welcome basket and a hug.

  23. Vita says:

    I recently moved across the country with my husband — no baby, and only a one-bedroom apartment, so you’ve got me beat there. We seriously considered doing it ourselves by renting a truck, but priced it out like you did and made the judgement call that the extra money would be worth it not to have to deal with loading and unloading boxes and furniture. It’s the first hired move I’ve ever done and it was such a relief (or it was when they unloaded our furniture and boxes and everything was unharmed, at least).

  24. Kristen says:

    Your move sounds very similar to our last move. We hired a flat rate moving company, I called it a marriage saver as my husband and I could not have gotten the couch out of the house without killing each other:) I also packed like you, room by room, less essential stuff first, and we had our box of essentials and suitcases we put in our car, so we were sure to have them regardless of the chaos. We still had old cats and one dog at that time. We got possession of the house the day before and took the cats, who were then safely locked in the laundry room (the washer and dryer were being delivered the following day) during the chaos. As it was a work week, our dog went to day camp for a day. It was $20 well spent knowing she was safe. I was also pretty much unpacked in 2 days. I like a settled life. Hope you take some time to sit back and enjoy the place before taking on the next project!

  25. Amanda says:

    Congratulations on the successful move! Based on your burger post, I think I know the area you’re near. My partner and I enjoyed a really fun vacation in South Royalton a few years ago — it’s gorgeous and so peaceful. One note about boxes. I always try to source mine for free, but in an urban area (my last couple of moves were in San Francisco) I’m pretty cautious about getting them from a trusted source. I really don’t want to accidentally move bedbugs, fleas, or other common city critters into my new place! My last move was a combo of boxes from friends and coworkers and some purchased new — which I was then happy to pass along.

  26. Jennifer says:

    I suggest making a bunch of Rhubarb pies and other such delicious items and having a small bake sale, or donate them to the local church!

  27. Laurel says:

    Use chopped rhubarb instead of apples in apple cake. Each piece makes a nice little pink splotch in the cake.

  28. Beth says:

    So in all the posts I’ve forgotten – are you going to ‘live off the land’ at your new place?

  29. ZJ Thorne says:

    A well-planned move is so good for the spirit. My last move could not go smoothly. The apartment I was renting kept flooding and my landlord did not fix it. So much of my stuff was ruined. I had to partially move into a family member’s place and split my time between it and my girlfriend’s house. When I finally found a place, it was local enough that I could literally use a push-cart to walk most of my stuff the mile between the houses. I paid someone from taskrabbit to move things that would not fit in my family member’s car or in my pushcart. $50 per hour of his time and use of his truck and hauling. So efficient. Will try to use him again the next time I move. Professional and courteous, and safer than a u-haul. I can only do it this way because I have lived in studios or one room in a house. My furniture is limited. Helps a ton.

  30. Ann says:

    Board various colored permanent markers to label boxes & large matching round sticky “dots” blue- bedroom, orange-living room, etc. Makes it easier to get the right box in the right room the first try. Keep a good “inventory” legible on each box so you know @ a glance which box has the coffee mugs & which box has the China. Use towels, bed linens & clothes for layering items in boxes to provide extra insulating & shock absorbance for packed items.

  31. Danell says:

    Cut up the rhubarb and freeze it now. Decide what to make with it later. Rhubarb sauce over vanilla ice cream, Strawberry rhubarb jam and rhubarb pie are my favorites.

  32. Kate says:

    Anything you do with a baby takes approximately 10,569 times longer than doing said activity without a baby…truer words have never been written!

  33. Ms. Cashew says:

    Congrats, Frugalwoods! It’s so inspiring to read this success story after following your blog for years. I feel like we’ve gotten a taste of freedom through your successes. And a great recipe for Rhubarb Schnapps ( Enjoy the woods!

  34. K says:

    Yes, hiring movers is definitely worth it. Also, making sure the same people both pick up and drop off your stuff. I didn’t think of this the last time and the guys who delivered my stuff took three attempts to put my futon back together.

  35. Fantastic post and tips!! We’ve moved three times in the past year with our two little ones, ugh, haha. All were DIY moves except our last move we did have our neighbors help load and unload the truck.

    Our most expensive move was from AZ to NC. However, that was all DIY with a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old. Looking back, we were completely crazy!! But, to make the move possible, we needed to save as much as possible! If I remember correctly, the truck was $700 and gas was $500. Then we had hotel fees and food and what not, bringing our total to around $2300 maybe? It was a five day drive with two kids and two dogs. Ugh, typing that out is exhausting!!

    If we ever move again, we will absolutely go the mover route. I will say, too, that we got rid of SO MUCH STUFF. Had we had all the furniture we have now, there is no way we would have done it all ourselves!!

    Congratulations again on the homestead!! I hope you enjoy your long weekend!! 🙂

  36. WOW. This is such a comprehensive post on how to make a move without losing your mind.
    I have moved a household many times as we moved with the job. I endorse your organisation. I would have gone crazy without it
    For first time movers your advice is priceless. For anytime movers – your advice is priceless.
    I only discovered your blog this week and I’m loving it.

  37. Ashley says:

    LOVE having movers. Moving across country the military paid for it as the “Final” move, so our next move is on us. Thanks for the tips! Congrats!

  38. SisterX says:

    We did our cross-state (technically, international move, since we had to drive through Canada) a bit differently. For one thing, we got rid of almost all of our furniture. We brought a couch, two chairs, a mini-crib, bassinet, and two small tables with us. Everything we had left (including 15 pared-down boxes of books that I couldn’t bear to part with) fit nicely into a trailer, which my in-laws loaned to us.
    Packing. Oy. Our LO was already in the toddler stage when we had our mad scramble to finish packing, and she and I were both sick. We finished packing up about one in the afternoon, then still had a 10-hour drive to my in-laws’ house. Me in our car with baby, husband in trailer-haulin’ truck (also belonging to my in-laws) with the dog.
    10/10, would not repeat that moving experience. 🙂

  39. Congrats on the move – I’m sure you’re relieved to finally be in place and done with it!

    On our last move, we moved from a city at an elevation of 500′ to another city with an elevation of 5,000′. We moved everything ourselves into an apartment on the second floor. We just about died from exhaustion! Next time we’ll go slower and acclimate, but I doubt we’ll be moving up another mile in altitude. 🙂

  40. Linden says:

    I make homemade applesauce every year and supplement the apples and add other nutrients by making it about a fourth rhubarb to 3/4 applesauce. I freeze rather than can it because while I know it is safe to water bath can applesauce I am not sure about the rhubarb addition. I think it would make it even more acidic but I don’t want to take any chances. Anyway, it really extends the apples, which I cannot grow in Alaska, and doesn’t really alter the taste much because I don’t get carried away—I tried 50/50 but the husband who hates rhubarb objected but he is fine with the 1/4 to 3/4 ration. I also use rhubarb to make pancake syrup, soft rhubarb cookies and rhubarb or strawberry/rhubarb pie.

  41. Jo says:

    I’m one of those odd people who love moving. The trick is a clean out before you go and organisation. You’ve gone about it the right way Mrs FW. Hope you and your family have many happy years in the new house:)

  42. Tiffany says:

    We just used to dip fresh cut rhubarb in sugar and eat it. Sooo easy, sooo tasty and refreshing. And I love asparagus steamed and served with bacon sprinkled (sometimes more than a sprinkle… Lots more) on it.
    Happy housewarming!

  43. Northmoon says:

    “hot damn if they didn’t roll up and down it like butter on a hog” – I see you are getting a handle on the country lingo. Fun!

    And lucky you – a good rhubarb patch is a wonderful thing to have on the property.

  44. Liz says:

    OMG, Frugalwoods! Enjoy Vermont! Thanks for sharing your strategies in taking care of those stuff.

  45. CorinaP says:

    Congratulations on your move! I think this was the best moment to do it. Like you said, with a toddler things are much more complicated, I would say it is nearly impossible to do anything without help. My younger daughter, who is now 2 years old, loves to unpack, so everything that goes into a box/suitcase will be on the floor in two minutes. Not to mention that you must be really careful with scissors and other dangerous objects.
    We have moved in our home 8 years ago, only one mile away from the old appartment. We had no dog or kids, and almost no furniture, so it was ok, (with two cars), but not easy because our new appartment is on the second floor and the elevator was not working at that time. We own a lot of (really heavy) books. We keeped much of our stuff in boxes for a few months, as we purchased our furniture piece by piece. When we moved in, we only had our couch, our mattress and a part of the kitchen. We also had soap, towels, etc which we had brought in advance. We were so happy to do everything ourselves.
    I just rememberd : in my childhood, my aunt was baking the most delicious rhubarb pie. She also prepared rhubarb compote, but that one was not my favorite 🙂
    Your daughter is such a sweet child!

  46. Anthea says:

    I love my packing gun…we’re talking deep love ! can’t wait to see FH in the great out doors

  47. Linda says:

    I happen to be visiting friends in Vermont, the weather has been grand. Have a beautiful Memorial Day weekend

  48. Laura says:

    Congratulations on your move! And let me suggest strawberry rhubarb everything (pie, jam, ice cream topping) as the best thing ever!

  49. Jana Colgin says:

    I am so happy for you and your family. Looking forward to stories of rhubarb pie!

  50. Ashley says:

    Congrats ! Your nursery rhymes KILLED me, especially Baaa Baaa Breakables. Lol. Hilarious!

  51. Linda says:

    “like butter on a hog.” Interesting. I’ve never heard that phrase before. Unfortunately I googled it and the Urban Dictionary definition of Butter Hog was at the top. I don’t think that is what you meant!
    Congrats on the move!

  52. I did a whole blog post about all the different ways that we’ve moved:

    Van lines are AWFUL. You’re lucky you found a local company! Those have been our best moves, too. We once found a father and son-in-law willing to drive all our worldly possessions from St. Louis to Georgia, personally, for $1800.

    We did once spring for packing. We had a $3500 moving reimbursement from Mr. FP’s new employer, and with careful research, I figured out how to stretch that to include packing. The situation: We had a three-month-old and a nineteen-month-old. Mr. FP had been in Italy for eight weeks. (Yes, leaving me alone with the babies, but I had a lot of help and the little one slept a lot.) He got back 4 days–four–before he had to present himself at his new job. Me packing alone was a nonstarter. He didn’t have time. Solution: People who pack for you! Bonus: unpacking the boxes was like a fun scavenger hunt!

    Here’s an actual tip: If you opt to rent and drive your own truck, you can find bonded and insured helpers to unload (’cause you have friends to help at your old house but not the new one, right?) at We got quite reasonable hourly rates.

    Another tip: For toddlers, if you don’t have family to help, considering paying for babysitting. The hourly daycare I found in Denver was a godsend for unpacking. And if it frees you up for moving tasks, it will save money–because babysitters are cheaper than movers!

  53. Victoria says:

    Cut it, blanch it. Lay it on parchment on a tray spread out and freeze it for an hour or two. You can then bag it to take up less room in the freezer without it sticking together when it freezes. Freezing will make a a bit more watery when you cook it. Same works for apples but instead of blanching, dip the apple slices in water mixed with lemon juice to stop them browning as they freeze. Then make crumble (I’m british).

  54. I hate paying for boxes too, especially since there are a number of alternative ways to accumulate boxes for free.

    Some moves wet have done ourselves but there has been one interstate move we needed to hire help and it was worth every penny.

    Sounds like you guys did it well and it is nice to be fully moved in I’m sure!

  55. SJ says:

    Yay! You’re all settled! I’m about to relocate too… but I need tips for an international move. The only other family I know doing it just sold everything they owned and are just bringing suitcases of essentials. I think that will be us too. We’re going to keep the house and rent it out. I’d like to come back during the summers so I’m planning on storing mattresses, a foldaway table and chairs.. maybe even a small sofa (it’s really big closet under the stairs!) in it. We have a storage room in the crawl space where I could store dishes and non-organic things that can take the moisture. We’re mostly minimalists so this is, like, half our household anyway.

  56. Caitlin says:

    Hot tip: you can also get free boxes from your library, because we order lots of books (and other things). If you have a lot of books this is awesome because most of the boxes are the perfect size–rectangular and not too deep, so you can’t pack them too full and make them super heavy (erm, not that I’ve ever done this). Just make sure to give yourself some time and the library some advance notice–most libraries don’t have a lot of storage space and break down the boxes right away.

    Hot tip for rhubarb: try making rhubarb sauce in the microwave: Kind of like applesauce and great on oatmeal, ice cream, by the spoonful 🙂

  57. Kandice says:

    So glad the move went so well. And you’re so right on the unpacking with a toddler issue. My husband and I moved when we had a 2 year old and 9 month old who was already walking. It was a nightmare that went something like this: Mommy unpacks a box and puts its contents away. Mommy returns to break down the unpacked box to find it loaded back up with stuff. When Mommy pulled out the newly toddler/baby packed items, one or both of the children had pulled down/out the stuff that had just been put away. Repeat. Over and over and over. Until the babes were in bed and their parents were too tired to do anything more.

  58. Kim from+Philadelphia says:

    Thrilled that your move is behind you, bo matter how organized the process. May your family have many happy, healthy, frugal years at your new homestead!

  59. Helen says:

    We moved twice last year (sold house to apartment, then to new house) and thought it was weird when, due to tiredness, we hired a moving company recommended by one of hubby’s coworkers after finding that it would be cheaper to use them than it had been earlier in the year to rent a truck and do the work ourselves w/friends. Strange. But those per-day plus mileage rental deals really add up. Timing was fantastic, too, they got done in 5 hours what would have taken us 8-10, easily.
    Have fun in your new place!

  60. Eric Bowlin says:

    We moved from Worcester MA to Dallas TX and hired a moving company. I realized something very very important during that move….

    Hiring the cheapest moving company is such a terrible…TERRIBLE idea. Unfortunately it’s what we did because there was a couple thousand dollars between the cheapest and the second option.

    Well… When a ton of your things get broken and the “insurance” only covers you for a few bucks per pound, you pretty much are left hating the world. Luckily, we were at least smart enough to take our truly important things in the car and drive it down ourselves.

    Oh yea, I forgot to mention that their ‘absolutely no later than guaranteed date’ actually just offers you a very small discount for each day they are late. After 5 or 6 days we had accumulated a whopping $50 discount off our multiple thousand dollar move. That $50 for an extra week of no furniture coupled with the $17 in insurance claims we got for our hundreds of dollars in broken items…. Anyway you get the point.

    I will never hire a cheap moving company again.

  61. TomTrottier says:

    You gave away your BICYCLE? 🙁

  62. Though I’ve moved many times in my life, your planning ahead surpasses all the organization of mine! Though he only serious one was covered by a moving stipend so I didn’t even try to be frugal on that front. I keep in mind the deranged mental hollering that happens when you have to pack up your lives, though, and routinely go through one or two drawers or cupboards, clearing out things that tend to pile up over time as you find one useful thing or another stops being so important in your home. Like, ahem, that superfluous THIRD coffeemaker we were gifted, that needs to find a new home.

    You’ve motivated me to tackle another corner of the house this weekend!

  63. Suzewannabe says:

    My husband and I are older and cannot lift A DARN THING.

    I have moved nearly 30 times in 47 years, so I have it down.

    We used same sized small boxes from Home Depot with the handles. Everything was marked with a sharpie in all sides. In Texas, cardboard attracts bugs, snakes, skunks, mice. In a colder clime, I would get free used boxes, but not here. Bleah.

    We were able to find an impossible piece of paper in minutes in our temp storage unit by being organized and packing small.

    The big move of furniture and storage boxes to Sedona we will hire out.

    Let the young pros it ;), I agree!

  64. Suzewannabe says:

    Oh! And I can’t wait to hear about your VT adventures!

  65. Lisa says:

    That’s great you got a good deal on moving! My best suggestion is to look to state laws regarding moving. Our state has a law where the mover’s must charge by the weight for a move over 30 miles and can charge by the hour for moves under. The hourly rate was considerably more for our last move. Getting a fixed rate move certainly does make sense as a lowest price contender when considering the other options.

  66. Sabbaticalia says:

    Congrats on the successful move! Dumping the odds-and-ends to the basement is a good call, even if it means you’ll be picking away at that pile during the next month of Babywoods naps. All my moves have been far easier when I had a designated, and limited, chaos zone.

    May the new rhythm fall into place quickly, and the new place become, emphatically, home.

  67. Donna says:

    So glad the move is done! Your daughter looks like a porcelain doll. She is so precious.

  68. Athena says:

    OMG, THE PLAN AHEAD BOX! I started doing that when I found myself moving five times in three years. I told my BF to make during his recent move and he actually found it quite helpful.

    I am so happy you are now in Vermont and homesteading! You make it look effortless and fun. I’m sure it’s not entirely effortless but you make it appear so. 🙂

    Although I may move next summer, I will definitely be pricing ahead and probably trying to move it in a big box where the company loads it for you and then ships it. I would be moving across country and it seems like the easiest way to go.

  69. Hiring movers is definitely the way to go. I will be using them for my next move, because this last one sucked hard core doing it myself. Sounds like you’ve settled in nicely now! Congratulations!

  70. Helen says:

    Wow, and I thought I was a good mover (12 moves in 12 years.. urgh, I really need to stay put). Especially like the idea of an essentials box! Who isn’t scrambling around at 10pm for a coffee cup or fork?

    Congratulations on finally achieving your dreams! I am very envious of your to do list this week… gives me even more incentive to FIRE!!

  71. Moving is the worst! Congrats on a successful one!

  72. I’m with you on this. I’m pretty frugal too but paying for movers was a great move…especially when you have a little one with you. We were also fortunate to have family to watch our toddler so we can get things done. I wouldn’t want to pay for packing either because you want to know where things are…but I really hated packing. Unpacking was just a little better.

  73. We’re well into the paying movers for that stuff age! We did some in stages as well – first set of things that weren’t used went to the garage for storage (there weren’t going to be cars in there, why pay for storage?) before we put the house on the market. Then once we had a contract, we spent every weekend packing and still had the last minute scramble. All of our stuff was going into a storage facility for 8 months though, so we had to be *very* careful not to pack important things in the truck. We’re still unpacking though (a year later!). I’m at the point where I’m thinking “well, we haven’t needed it yet….”

  74. Debbi says:

    Congratulations! One tip that may help any readers planning a move. For my last 5 or 6 moves (yes, I have moved a lot), my moving company has given me free used boxes. It seems the military pays for boxes when they move personnel and then they pay the moving company to haul the empty boxes away. As long as you are even a moderately pleasant person, the moving company is happy to give these extremely sturdy, barely used boxes to you and will even help you put them in your car!

  75. Laura says:

    Excellent moving/packing strategy – so glad it worked out for you guys! I’m a huge advocate of the plan ahead box! I did that for our last move. I dropped it off in the new house and explained it to everyone that helped us (I was back at the old house), but they still called me looking for TP. lol I said “check the plan-ahead” box – on the kitchen counter! Once they found it, they were amazed at what was in it.

    Next time I move, I’m hiring movers 100% Our last move was a big one – local, but we had a ton of stuff. Lots of back and forth trips with multiple vehicles and lots of patient family members hauling stuff around.

  76. Great post and very inspirational to read, when is the housewarming party? Pro tip: Gather all the bubble wrap/plastic pacs from your Amazon packages in the months leading up to a move, they are also great for cushioning.

  77. Marisa Stone says:

    We moved from Seattle to Dallas many years ago, I did the reasearch and with gas, hauling a car and moving to moves stuff up a flight of stairs with a baby, it was $50 less to hire the moving. Lesson learned..price ship.

  78. Been enjoying your posts and appearances on Martinis and Your Money. Congrats on y’all’s new place. I know y’all worked for it a long time. Don’t you love the country life? We sure do. Looking forward to more great stuff!

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