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On Moving & Downsizing; Guest Expert Moreen Torpy

Family MovingI’m so excited to welcome Moreen Torpy today to talk about the essential tips to consider prior to moving, and some simple steps that can help reduce the overwhelming process. Moreen is the De-Clutter Coach, a trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker and expert in Moving and Downsizing. For more info visit her website here,

Thanks Moreen for sharing your expertise with all my readers!


Moving Takes Planning and Preparation

When we think about moving, the first thing that comes to mind is the packing. Of course, there are plenty of other considerations as well. Here’s a handy list of 9 things to remember to cover as many areas as possible.

1. Allow plenty of time to move. If you can possibly allow eight weeks, you will be able to accomplish everything you need to do.

2. When will your new place be available? If you’re purchasing a home or condo, you can plan for the closing date. However if you’re moving into a care facility, you may have only a couple of days in which to get there or lose the placement.

3. Can you obtain the floor plan for your new place? Using this, plan furniture placement before moving so that the heavy pieces can be placed by the movers. This will eliminate your trying to lift heavy pieces and risk injury to yourself.

4. Book the mover or recruit a team and van. At one point in life, we can’t do all the lifting and carrying ourselves. Get estimates from three companies and ensure they provide this in writing, addressing the same questions, so you can compare and select the one best suited to your situation. Also ensure the company you hire has insurance for any damage that may occur during the move caused by the movers. Get this in writing to protect yourself.

5. Purge anything you can before moving. This is your opportunity to pass along family heirlooms, downsize your wardrobe, sell furniture or household items that won’t be moving with you. Remember that movers charge by time, weight and distance. For a local move, the Time consideration is crucial. The longer it takes to load and unload anything you don’t need will increase your cost.

6. Assemble packing materials—boxes, paper, bubble wrap etc. If such a service exists in your area, rent moving boxes. These are plastic flip-top bins that are delivered to your home a few days before your moving date and picked up at the other end a few days later. Typically you pay for the number of days you have the bins in your possession. If you use cardboard boxes, either scrounge them from stores or purchase them. Stores have less incentive to give the boxes away these days as they can recoup some of their costs by selling them to recyclers. As for packing paper, use unprinted newsprint so the printing ink won’t get on your hands and precious possessions. This paper can be purchased from some moving companies and local newspaper offices (end rolls). The latter is much cheaper if you have access to it. Bubble wrap is great for delicate breakables. It’s available from moving companies and some stationery stores.

7. Use plenty of paper and bubble wrap to ensure nothing is broken. After packing only the most important of your possessions, you won’t want anything to arrive at destination in pieces. Wrap each item well and stuff the spaces between the items with extra paper to ensure nothing moves in the box.

8. Label boxes with large numbers and the room they are to go into. For safety reasons never write the box contents on the outside. Keep that information in a Moving Log where you list all the box numbers and their contents. At destination, when you need a particular item, check your list for its location and go directly to that box. With the room names on the boxes, they can be placed in the appropriate rooms and save you having to sort them yourself.

9. Unpack, recycle boxes and paper—give away or blue box. Start unpacking the boxes in the rooms you need to set up first—kitchen, bedrooms and bathroom(s). Then work your way through the rest as you prioritize.

Moving doesn’t need to be the worst experience of your life. With organization and advance planning it can simply be another day in your life. The next chapter in which you can make new memories and enjoy new experiences.

How will you deal with your next move? Will you do anything different from what you did last time? What would that be?


© 2013 Moreen Torpy We would be honored for you to reprint this article. If you do, please include the resource box below with the hyperlinks intact. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Moreen Torpy is the De-Clutter Coach, a Trained Professional Organizer, Author, and Speaker. Her new book is Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In. See for more about the book including where to purchase it, and to learn about her organizing services and other books.


P.S. To purchase Going Forward: Downsizing, Moving and Settling In, visit one of the quality booksellers here:

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Reflections of a Move

P7040047-300x225_optDon’t let anyone convince you otherwise, Moving is not fun.  For those of you who are about to experience a “move, ” it is undeniably a stressful process. I have proof.  Today, I share with you excerpts from my diary of my personal move three years ago.

FYI, as a Professional Organizer, the task was no less arduous. I don’t just talk the talk, I actually walked the walk.  I know my perspective will resonate with so many who have survived Moving Day and my lessons learned will surely be helpful. To read more entries, go to Home page and click About and click on Diary of a Move.


Day 30: (July 5, 2010) All this planning and organizing, and anticipating…Moving Day was finally here!  Two trucks, six men, and my family, all ready to start the marathon.  I was directing traffic at first, but within minutes, the men were dispersed all around the house, and all you could hear was the cacophony of shrink wrapping, boxes being assembled, and shouting commands from the head supervisor.  I thought I was in control, lol.

Things were happening so fast, I was amazed how quickly the men were prepping the furniture, dismantling my piano, building boxes in record speed, and loading the truck.  It was quite impressive, yet upsetting to see an entire home deconstruct. Watching my huge armoires and dressers come down the steps required all six men, and frankly, I needed to look away.  It seemed that everything that I had boxed and carefully labeled were being randomly loaded onto the truck, based upon the moving men’s organization of the interior of the truck .  Apparently, they had an agenda and it clearly wasn’t in sync with my plan.  I was getting increasingly anxious about the potential disorder of locating and unpacking my boxes.

When the trucks were finally loaded, off we went, and although I was feeling stressed, I was eager to get to the other side to begin organizing.

When the trucks were unloading, I was losing the control I thought I could maintain.  The wardrobe boxes were monopolizing the garage and the smaller boxes were getting lost in the mix.  The moving men’s goal was to deliver, unpack only things they wrapped, re-assemble the furniture and be done. My dot system was only working if I happen to be at the truck when they were unloading it.  I thought about posting signs over the doors of the rooms with the name and colored dots, but was beginning to realize the men just wanted to get the boxes off the truck and out-of-the-way, and move in the big pieces of furniture. Unfortunately, I was so busy surveying the rooms and trying to track my boxes, and as soon as I turned my head, boxes were being dropped off in the wrong rooms.

The boxes were coming off the truck so rapidly, it was difficult to make quick decisions. I ended up using the lowest level for most of the smaller boxes to be dealt with later. I was getting overwhelmed watching all the boxes that I had packed during a passage of time, all invading my space at the same time! The unloading on this end was hard to manage.  Everyone was asking me where everything went because, I knew.  I was in charge.  I planned and organized it all, but it was impossible to micro-manage it. When several lampshades were carried in without their corresponding bases, heavy mirrors and artwork arriving quicker than I could direct, I was losing it. I had realized for the very first time that I had to let go of perfection.  Reality had smacked me in the face, there was no such thing as the “perfect” move.

At the end of the day, the move went into overtime and the men were getting cranky.  It was the hottest day of the summer, and obviously with all doors open, it was hot as hell.  It didn’t help that I changed locations of furniture after they had already placed them, but hey…I was allowed to change my mind! Wasn’t it my prerogative? Don’t get me wrong, the moving company did a stellar job, but all moves are hectic and challenging.

When we eventually shut the doors in our new house, we were beyond exhausted.  Our legs felt like lead, and it was an effort to talk. The only thing I needed to do was make my bed.  I had moved my toiletries and personal items earlier, so it was awesome that I could easily access what I needed for first night’s sleep. The bed was what I needed.  Slept like a baby.

 Weeks later…

(July 23, 2010) After all is said and done, I’m now on the other side of the move, and feeling pretty settled.  To be quite honest, I am shockingly comfortable.  It is astounding to me that after, what seems to be a lifetime in one home, a new one can supersede the memory.  Surrounded by all my stuff, despite a new backdrop, it still feels like my home.  The stuff that mattered I took with me and the treasured memories of my home, I carry in my heart forever.

I realize now that the house was just a shell, and although my footprints were deeply rooted while I lived there, when we moved… so did our souls.  Now in my new home, everywhere I look, it’s familiar and in some cases, it’s even more cozy.  I am loving seeing and appreciating my old treasures in new places.  It kind of feels like decorating for the first time, yet I’m just re-circulating the favorites all around the new space.  If you are creative, re-purposing can be fun.  The creative juices are flowing and inspiring me to look at things I’ve had for over 30 years with a keener objective eye.

What a great opportunity to re-organize the things I’ve neglected, chosen to ignore, nor had the time to sort through the years.  Change can be scary, but sometimes it is good.

New chapter.  Time to turn the page.

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Order in the House, Please



Day 29: (July 1) Helpful hands on their way.  My friends are coming over to load up the cars, and begin transferring the kitchen boxes.  With too many cooks in the kitchen, I am anticipating it being a little chaotic. I’d better have a plan of action to control the traffic of the countless incoming boxes.  Being the Project Manager on the job will probably not be the most popular one, but like it or not, the person in control has got to be ME!  To organize this segment of the move, there needs to be one person at the helm, at least a method to all this madness…..HELP!

The electricians and audio guys are here disconnecting all technology components, removing TVs, separating components and remotes, and I’m labelling EVERYTHING!

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Moving Forward…One Step at a Time

Day 28: (June 30)  I have four days to hand carry and transfer anything I choose, prior to the actual moving date.  This gradual move is giving me a little more control and is allowing me to micro-manage my personal items.  While the new place is being cleaned and painted, I’ll use the garage as a loading zone and I will organize the boxes by rooms.  By tomorrow, I hope to get in there and start unloading the kitchen.  I’m making the “kitchen pack” really easy by just throwing the silverware, knives, gadgets, utensils, etc. into Ziplocs and then into shoe boxes.  The dishes are being stacked in boxes, layered with towels, and the beverage glasses are going into those amazing liquor boxes.  I just LOVE those compartmentalized liquor boxes!  They have served multiple purposes during this pack.  I plan on utilizing them for all my cooking oils, vinegars, refrigerated glass jars, perfume bottles, and more importantly, eliminating the need to bubble wrap. 

My friends have volunteered to load up their cars and do continuous loops back and forth from my house to the new place.  This is a local move so it’s not a hassle.  Nothing better than… getting by with a little help from friends.

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Physical Packing for the Move



Day 19: (May 26) Attacked the holiday china closet.  Wrapped all the dishes in paper and laid them on their side to prevent breakage.  Very laborious task to pack two sets china (service for 14), glasses, silverware, large platters, pots and pans. This tedious part of packing was not so much fun but indeed necessary.  Not even sure, at this point, if I will have enough room for them, but they will be stored in the new garage for now, and I will assess at another time.  Not everything has to be decided now, I can figure it out on the other end, they are organized and boxed and ready to be sold or donated.  Packed and boxed our golf memorabilia.  Cleared the ping-pong table, containerized the games, and boxed the photo albums. 


Golf Trophies Making the Move






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Kid’s Organizing Their Past

Day 17: (May 22) Today I insisted the kids come out to clean out their respective rooms.  I would never take the liberty to toss their stuff; it’s theirs! 

Interestingly, the kids thought it wasn’t going to be such a big deal to sort, weed, and pack up their rooms, but every time I peered into their room, they were completely entrenched in their personal photo albums and making little progress.  Intermittently, both my son and daughter shouted out for me to come share something they discovered. I laughed to myself and realized that they too needed their own special time to revisit their past memories. But shortly after, (hah-hah) the relentless commando organizer took over and I insisted they speed up the process.  I was very mindful that don’t live home anymore, so each visit had to be a very productive one.  Not surprising, at the end of the day, they only made a small dent and I might add, a very large mess! My son was quick to toss and purge his old clothes and miscellaneous items that he hadn’t missed, so made another big pile for donation.  My daughter, on the other hand, was far more reluctant to part with a favorite tee shirt she’ll never wear.  Of course her photo albums were organized, labeled, and ready to pack.  Like mother, like daughter.

They will be back to finish, begrudgingly.

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Project Walk-Thru: Assessing the Move

Day 2: So I’m walking around the house, peering into each of the rooms, and I KNOW and recognize that everything in every room must go.  In my rational thinking, I know that I should just start physical packing, room by room.  But suddenly, as I enter each space, a flood of memories interrupt the thought.  I walk into my daughter’s room, and open her closet, and realize that it appears that she still lives there!  Apart from her “off- season” clothes, there are her childhood collections, her personal photo albums, favorite books, childhood collections,  an endless amount of memorabilia.  Of course, everything is boxed and labeled…It’s ORGANIZED, of  course …I organized it! I saved all her paramount school projects (labeled by grade level from Kindergarten through High School), saved and boxed camp letters, Bar and Bat-mitzvah give-aways, Sweet 16 Birthday cards and memory candles, and even her cheer-leading pom-poms!! So how hard could it be?  First lesson learned……. just because I don’t have the overwhelming task of organizing it all (probably like most) doesn’t make the “parting” any easier.  I look at her bed, and I tear up, recalling the incalculable nights that I either tucked her in, or rescued her from a recurring nightmare, or enjoyed our typical tender moments together.

I didn’t need to go any further to realize this was going to be a circuitous pattern with any room I entered.  My footprints and heartstrings are engraved and attached on every wall, on every molding, in every drawer, and memory stains  on every quilt.  When I proceeded to my son’s rooms, a new litany of emotions smacked me in the face.  There were so many framed photos of HIS past, HIS life and friends, that both he and I clearly have no room for. Do I just box, label, and store as buried treasure?  Is this all just clutter?  How could we have accrued so many baseball hats and team jerseys for just one little head and one body? Shouldn’t I keep his first Home Economics Project (a hand-sewn fabric shark) to show his future child one day? I am struck with how “priceless” some physical memories are to us.  Interestingly, I have less issues with the parting of the innumerable sport trophies that are merely collecting dust and that were awarded to every athlete that was on the team of that particular sport. But that said, I am very cognizant that this move is not going to be “slam-dunk”….This is not going to be easy.

So as the day comes to a close, I face the realities that I have much organizing to do, and letting go, but not yet.  Not today. Today was for “feeling,” maybe tomorrow will be for “doing.”

As I prepare for bed, I intentionally distract myself from thinking about down-sizing my own bedroom and the challenges that will eventually ensue, until I enter the spacious walk-in closet with all my customized particulars, and sigh, realizing I cannot take the built-ins with me.  But that’s for another day. Time for bed, and hopefully sleep.

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Diary of a Move:

Day 1: (April 14, 2010)  After 27 years of living in a home on Long Island, raising two children, accumulating all the “stuff” that goes hand in hand with that memorable journey…The time has come to let it all go. Yes, the kids have moved out on their own, (although their “stuff’ has not) the big house is quiet, and with the prodding of my husband and countless conversations, I knew that it was time to down-size.  Today is that day, contracts have been signed, we have officially sold the house!  At this time, we are looking into renting a smaller, temporary, living space.  We don’t have a lot of time so it is time to get organized!!

And so….it  is finally, time to MOVE THE MESS!

One would ask,  where do I begin?  How long will it take to pack? What do I keep? What do I trash? What and where can I donate or recycle? How can I rid myself of those precious sentimental items that I no longer have room to store? Will I need to use storage facilities? How can I make this an easy and pleasant transition for my family? Does this experience need to be a stressful one?

Well, here’s the thing. I should know how to do this, I have moved my widowed Mom three times, (down-sized from house to apartment to townhouse), moved both my children from college dorms to off campus group homes and then onto the more challenging small spaces of NYC apartment living.  I was born innately organized, (I blame the wiring on my anal Mom) and have micro-managed my entire life and family.  Yep, I’m  the  girl who loves going to Staples and buying the latest office supply products, loves to organize drawers and closets, or just about anything! (Bed, Bath, and Beyond is a favorite pit-stop) and have recently decided to make a professional career out of it! (Jan 2010 joined NAPO ; National Association of Professional Organizers)

Who would have thunk it? Over 4,000 of us across the country?  Are you kidding me?  What did I get myself into? OMG….a wealth of information and education, that’s for sure.

There are teleclasses and webinars, conferences, chapter meetings, books galore. The greatest challenges and biggest buzz about organization, is tackling the clutter.  If there’s too much stuff, it can distract you from living a healthy, high functioning orderly life, and that means trouble on so many levels.  Bottom line,  de-clutter your life. As a Professional Organizer, my role is to aid you in letting go of the “stuff” you no longer use, identify those items that no longer serve a purpose, and to then recreate a new “order” to your life as you live it today.  It’s all about shedding the old stuff.

So I’m thinking, this is an invaluable exercise for me to trade places, if you will, with my client, and more importantly, share my real life experiences with you. What makes this task such an arduous is one, is that  ” I” am the subject in this project.  Conversely, when I would be working alongside a  client, I would have to be the objective eye (“Eyes of a Stranger”) that treats the project as an abstract one.  My mere presence would change the whole dynamic.  I would force the client to view from an objective vantage point, and focus on their organizing issues, not on their emotions.  Today, I am not orchestrating from the sidelines, I am very much “in the game”. I’m prepared to document “the move” from start to finish so you can shadow this project as I go. This is a great lesson for me, do I practice what I preach?  Can I “walk the walk”, or just “talk the talk”? How hard could it be for an Organizer to organize?

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