Chances are, sometime in your 60s, the moment arrives when you have to, or want to, move out of your long-time home.

Whether you’re downsizing into a smaller, easier space to care for, or charting a new lifestyle in a new place, the word ‘move’ creates dread in every heart. Moving will always be one of the most stressful moments of your life.

I have downsized twice. First from the large hacienda in the jungle where I raised my kids, and just now, from what I thought would be my empty-nest house which turned out to be too big. I just sold that house and have moved, temporarily, to a small rental cottage, where I’m pondering my next step.

I’m going to explore moving away from Mexico, where I’ve lived for 25 years, back to the U.S. I’ve just settled into the rental, and whilst I don’t look forward to the next move coming so soon (within a year perhaps), I now know what to expect and how to carry it off with grace and style.

Yes, moving is awful, but not impossible. And yes, you can do it with grace and style. Here are my tips for turning a nightmare situation into something orderly and calm.

Time Is Your Best Friend

When moving, time is your best ally. Throwing your possessions into boxes at the last minute is nerve-wracking and not calm-inducing. Instead, start packing early, super early. Packing and moving is hard enough even without time pressure.

Packing with anticipation gives you the time to hold garage sales and donate to charities all the things you don’t need in your life any longer. Packing early puts you in control.

Pack Yourself

It may sound glamorous to hire a mover to pack you, but moving is the moment when you downsize.

Take this opportunity to pack yourself and touch each object of your life, Marie Condo style, and ask yourself, “Does this object bring me joy?” And, “Is this object beautiful and/or useful?” If the answer is no, get rid of it now.

You’re paying to move things. So, why move things that you’ll throw out when you arrive. You don’t want to ask yourself the question, “Why did I move this?” when you’re unpacking. So, review each item and decide if it has a place in your new life.

Don’t pack nonstop. When time is on your side, you can keep living your life whilst packing. I began by packing three good boxes a day.

Then, I could continue my daily life: read, go for a walk, meet a friend for lunch, write a post for my blog Camp Liza, entertain. Allow packing to be one of the many activities you do in your day and not your soul draining purpose.

Be a Professional

Make life easy for yourself and buy yourself the proper packing materials! Buy the tape gun, the good moving boxes, the Sharpies, industrial size rolls of bubble wrap and brown paper. You want to pack well; having the right equipment cuts down on the struggle and unpleasantness of it all.

Serious Labeling

Label boxes in detail. Not just ‘kitchen’, but rather, “Kitchen: rolling pin, cookie sheets, silpat sheets, lasagna pan, round cake tins, square cake tins.”

It helps you unpack in an orderly way because you’re not just unpacking every box in the kitchen to see what’s inside. Also, number the box: “Kitchen 1” so that you can see how many boxes it took to pack your kitchen and keep an inventory in case of lost boxes.

Color Dots Do the Talking!

I went to the office supply store and bought color dots. I assigned a color to each room and dotted the boxes. Red for kitchen, blue for living room, green for bedroom, etc.

Then, during the move, when the movers were carrying boxes into the house, no one had to stop and read the box. The movers would call out “Red!” and I’d say, “Kitchen.” Everyone loved it.

“Open First”

Label certain boxes as ‘open first’. These are the boxes filled with the things you used until the last moment, so naturally, they are the boxes you will need first.

The ‘open first’ kitchen box had a few knives, some cutlery, a few plates, cups, glasses, the electric tea kettle and some teabags. The bathroom ‘open first’ box had my toiletries, a towel and a roll of toilet paper.

A Bed and a Cup of Tea

The first thing I did once the movers have left, or even whilst they’re there, was to make up my bed and set up the tea kettle. You survived the move and all you really need to do now is make yourself a cup of tea and collapse into your bed.

Unpacking Slowly

When unpacking, limit yourself to three good boxes a day. If you, instead, unpack all day, you’ll be grouchy, stressed, and still staring at boxes. Create your new life whilst you are settling in. Take a shower and escape, go to the movies, visit a friend, take yourself out to dinner.

Be Gentle with Yourself

Moving, if you do it right, is emotional. It’s a total upheaval of your sacred space, a review of everything you own and why it’s in your life. Be gentle with yourself. Take dance breaks. Pack to good music. Break for tea time. It’s a delicate time for your soul.

When was your most recent move? What did that entail? Any tips to share with us? Do you dread moving so much that you won’t move? What are your concerns about moving? Please share anything advice you wish you had known before you moved.

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