I have just completed a move. We moved apartments and not houses, and were lucky enough to only move a few blocks away from the old place, which definitely helped a lot logistically. Nonetheless let me tell you, and as anyone who's ever moved before can corroborate, it's been tough, both physically and emotionally.
Now that I've finally opened all *cough* most *cough* boxes, found my toothbrush, got the cat to come out from under the bed and lost a few packages in the mail because USPS, I have a few minutes to think back on these last two crazy weeks, and put together a few tips for the moving artist.
1. Label, label, label
You can never label enough, or get into enough details about what's in the box. I thought I'd remember what was were because I had packed it. Wrong! "Art supplies" is not descriptive enough, as I found out when looking for a specific stamp tool I wanted to use the week after moving in. Luckily, the rest of the boxes were way better labeled, with "oil tools" instead of "art stuff", "kitchen utensils" instead of "kitchen" etc.
2. Use what you own and save on shipping/moving supplies
I packed most of my things in my sheets, fabric I had bought when I wanted to learn how to sew, and even clothes. You will wash most of these anyway when you get to the new place because with a move, things invariably get dusty and smell like cardboard, so you might as well use it. Wrap your things in any soft fabric you have, use socks to pad a box of fragile items and save on bubbling wrap. It also uses less plastic-based material that you'd discard right after unpacking everything, if that is something you are concerned about.
3. Basements get flooded once in a while. Put your things on shelves.
If like me, you are moving into a first floor apartment, chances are you'll have access to the basement. It's a great storage space and can be extremely useful to keep luggages, and other items you do not use often while freeing space in your living area. Well, I didn't think ahead and gleefully put some cardboard boxes directly on the floor. Comes two days of heavy rain and the bottom of my boxes is swamped. It wasn't too much of a concern in this case since the boxes were empty, but still, we then needed to get rid of them or else they would get moldy. Do not assume the basement is water proofed and secure until you've lived in the place for a while and have been through different weather situations, especially in New York city.
4. Set up your working space before unpacking your supplies.
This one might seem obvious, but don't underestimate the desire to get everything in order quickly. It can get overwhelming because you're itching to take your mind off moving, make a quick sketch, or even show something to a friend who's helping you move. Don't get ahead of yourself unpacking, or you'll find yourself with a bunch of random supplies idly placed around. It gets your new place looking messy and can be quite disheartening while you're still trying to get everything under control, as well as making it harder when you set up your shelves and desks as you have to clean up first, and then arrange everything the way you like it.
5. Pack a "first days" bag
Related to the point above, I packed what I called a "first aid bag" for my first few days at the new place. Some clothes, toiletries, actual first aid items such as Band-Aid and disinfectant, also some common household tools such as a screwdriver, tape, knife and tape measure to help with the unpacking. I also surreptitiously put my sketch book and pencil case in so that I could relax and sketch for a few hours in between the (daunting) unpacking process. It prevented me from having to rummage through my boxes to find things I needed right away, while being physically and mentally exhausted.
6. Know that the "lost" feeling will go away. And if doesn't, don't forget, everything is temporary
The first few days at a new place can be somewhat depressing. It doesn't "feel like you" just yet. The smell and noises might be weird or different, you might feel like an outsider in the neighborhood, not knowing your way around, and most likely some things will need to be fixed or finished later (such as hanging curtains or arranging your books). It's ok, and it will pass. In no time, it will feel like home, and hopefully like a new and exciting home. You will need to embrace the place and let it embrace you. Hanging art on your walls, buying some new furniture, lighting a candle or even just changing the sheets of your bed will help you tame the new space and make it look, smell and feel like your own. Don't despair and question the decision to move on the first few nights, let it slowly sink in that you are starting something new that's going to help you move forward and ultimately, be awesome!