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Moving’s a bitch. But there are ways to make it less of one.

My wife and I recently moved. We didn’t move very far. We’re on the same street as our previous home, maybe a dozen blocks over. We had access to our new place before the move-in date to help prepare for the big event. Likewise, we owned the old place so we were able to leave some items behind for a secondary pickup.

On our move-in day, we had great weather and the movers showed up on time and finished on schedule.

In short: Our move went about as well as moves go.

It was still absolutely crushing.

In recognition of the fact that the best move possible will be one of the worst days of your life, here are a few suggestions to preserve as many of your possessions and as much of your sanity as possible.

You will regret not labeling when you’re in your new home, trying to recall which box is the one containing your insulin.

1. Get hired as an executive at a major corporation who needs you to start in a new city immediately.
I have a friend who did this and it worked out great. The day before she was scheduled to leave, a team of movers showed up and in a quick-yet-careful manner wrapped and boxed everything she owned before heading on their way. Then they reversed this process on the opposite side of the country, without her having even to look at a bill at any point.

I did not have this experience moving.

You will probably not either. You will deal with things yourself. So here now are the real suggestions.

2. Check moving requirements.
Unless you’re moving from a building you own to another building you own—in which case, more power to you, brother—you will likely have moving requirements. These range from supplying proof of insurance from your movers to getting approval for a moving day. (Co-op buildings in particular tend to have a lot of restrictions, ranging from hours when moves are acceptable to limits on the number of tenants allowed to move per day, meaning if someone else claimed your ideal date, you’re out of luck.)

Once you decide on a day and lock in the movers and handle any other paperwork…

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3. Figure out what work is needed on your old place and/or new one.
Whether you’re painting everything or taking out a wall, it’ll be easier to accomplish while you and your furniture aren’t around. Your new place will likely be empty before you move in. Your old one will likely be empty once you move out. If there are any repairs or improvements you want to do, seize this opportunity and do them now.

One caveat: Make sure you do your research and find contractors you can count on. You don’t want to move into your new home and discover the bathroom renovations might take a little longer than expected, in the sense you currently don’t have a toilet.

OK, time for packing. But before you do, you need to…

4. Select a container method.
There are now a number of companies like Gorilla Bins that offer reusable plastic moving bins. You rent them, they deliver them, you use them, and they pick them up at your new home.

The upside is that you’re spared the hassle of buying, assembling and finally ripping apart and disposing of cardboard boxes. The downside can be expressed in one word: Stairs. Plastic bins are sturdier than cardboard boxes, but they’re also heavier. This is no big deal when they’re empty, but when you’re lugging box after box up three flights to your new home, that extra weight mounts up. (Plus you have to drag them down again for pickup.)

In short: If you’re on the ground floor or have elevators, great, use bins. If it’s a walk-up, walk away.

Once you have containers, be they cardboard or plastic or gold encrusted with emeralds and condor feathers for our more upscale readers…

Seriously, do not put your kettlebells, your bowling balls and your complete 1993 edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica in the same box.

5. Pick the moment to pack.
Stupidly, I decided to finish my packing the night before our 9 a.m. move. For an additional jolt of anxiety, I was flying back from France that evening. So I was absolutely delighted when the airline lost my luggage and I got to spend a bonus hour at the airport figuring out why my bag stayed in Paris. (Eventual answer from airline rep: “We just didn’t put it on the plane.” Thanks for clarifying, British Airways.)

I can’t entirely recommend this degree of procrastination, particularly if you’re planning on selectively packing (by which I mean, carefully contemplating whether to keep or donate items, not just frantically shoving everything into the nearest container).

Don’t pack too far in advance either. Few things frustrate more than realizing you carefully packed something you actually still need and now have to dig out of a sealed box. (Plus a home filled with sealed boxes is weirdly depressing, particularly when you first open your eyes in the morning and are reminded of all the crap you need to handle. Piece of advice: Limit the amount of time your household spends in this condition.)

Speaking of which…

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6. Clearly label each box.
You may get in a packing frenzy where you’re making so much progress that you won’t want to slow down and waste time writing out exactly what’s in it. (Hey, you’ll remember!)

You will regret this when you’re in your new home, trying to recall which box is the one containing your insulin.

Also, while packing, remember to…

7. Watch the weights.
Seriously, do not put your kettlebells, your bowling balls and your complete 1993 edition of The Encyclopedia Britannica in the same box.

OK, we’ve reached moving day. You need to…

Whether you forgot to pack it or the movers misplaced it, you want to figure out what’s missing while there’s still a slim chance of recovering it.

8. Get yourself a sitter.
Not for the kids. (They’ll have been safely boxed up by this point.) But for yourself.

See, if you’re moving from and/or to an area where parking is at a premium, there is one invaluable task that requires no lifting: Sitting at the wheel of a double-parked moving truck.

Somebody has to do it and, by bringing a friend, you free up a mover to lug things, while your pal helps make your move possible even as they sit around checking their email. (Shout-out again to Michael Kodransky for performing this essential work for me recently.)

Ooh, speaking of email…

9. Schedule Fios or Time Warner or whatever other cable company ASAP.
We have reached an era where a home is not truly a home until it has Wi-Fi. (Seriously, you don’t want to be checking the Internet only through your smart phone like an animal.)

The first available Fios appointment my wife and I could get was nearly two weeks after the date we moved in. Oh, and related to that…

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10. Prepare to have a homebound day.
Fios promised they’d arrive within a window stretching four hours, at which point they’d perform a four- to six-hour installation. They narrowly kept their word, showing up 15 minutes before the end of the four-hour window and using all but 15 minutes of that six-hour block, with the result being I spent a total of just under 10 hours either waiting for or sitting with the cable guy.

Which is fine because that gives you time to….

11. Contact a whole bunch of companies and services.
Mail, gas, electric… I’m probably forgetting some but that’s OK because you still need to…

12. Determine what’s missing.
Whether you forgot to pack it or the movers misplaced it, you want to figure out what’s missing while there’s still a slim chance of recovering it.

(The missing items may come as an uber-irritating surprise: My wife and I discovered that the blinds we picked up from IKEA lacked tiny yet essential screws while the curtains we ordered online were the wrong ones altogether, meaning we had the pleasure of being greeted by incinerating sunlight at 6am until we found time for another IKEA run.)

Also, keep this certainty in mind…

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13. You will discover a number of minor yet extremely inconvenient problems.
For instance, it took us a while to figure out if mail was reaching our new address because neither our key nor our landlady’s key actually opened our mailbox. (They just spun in the lock. Tantalizing yet ineffective.)

Which leads us to a key takeaway…

14. It will be bad.
You could move from an apartment to the apartment immediately opposite your apartment and you will still have at least one moment you find yourself in the fetal position, wondering if it would be easier to abandon your worldly goods and live out your days in the hall.

That’s OK, however, because…

15. It will end.
And you will be home and that will be nice.

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All photos: Twenty20