How I Moved Across the Country in an Edge

How I Moved Across the Country in an Edge

I hate cold.  I survived Michigan with at least three layers of clothing at all times and an electric blanket.  A new job opened up in my company down in Florida, and I secured it with a phone interview and a recommendation from my mentor.  The new job was a promotion right up my alley and located somewhere warm, so of course I jumped at the opportunity without hesitation.  I managed to make the move in a Ford Edge.  I’ve since learned that moving across the country in one car is pretty common for the single younger crowd.  The time to make these career moves is while you are young and not yet tied down.

This move was made both easier and harder because I was single.  It was easier because I could decide exactly where to live, exactly what to take with, and exactly when I wanted to go, all on my own without worrying about another party. It was harder because I had to do all the moving myself, and making new friends is extremely difficult for an introvert.  It was important to rely on my support system while I was still in Michigan, and I’m grateful to my mom and stepdad for joining me the first week in Florida.

No matter how (or how far) you are moving, you should stop buying things until you get to your new place and purge as much as possible.

Purge! Purge! Mercilessly Purge!

The big stuff had to go.

When you unload all your possessions directly into an empty living room because your car was packed so full that there wasn’t really an organization to it… this wasn’t even all of it. (Clothes were already hung up in the closet! Go me!)

I put my first house up for sale using a local real estate company.  I had no interest in being a long-distance landlord.  Owning it outright meant I didn’t have to worry about managing both a mortgage payment and rent if it didn’t sell right away.  It can be extremely difficult to manage, especially when you’re trapped in an underwater house.  Frugality for the win!

An Edge has a lot of room in it, but it’s not exactly a moving truck.  I started selling furniture as soon as I accepted my offer.  I ended up selling almost every item of furniture that I had and kept the cash.  Couches and chairs, tables, beds, workout equipment, the extra fridge in the garage, the tool cabinet… I decided it all had to go.  I also brought a bunch of stuff to the Salvation Army.  I didn’t know exactly where I would end up, and I wasn’t about to drag everything from one spot to the next after dragging it across the country, not even knowing if it would work in the new space.

Instead of spending all that cash on new things once I bought my second house, I poached the free section of Craigslist for the first two months.  I actually overcame my aversion to acquiring used objects and ended up furnishing almost my entire house for free using patience and perseverance before I started house hacking.  Some things did need to be fixed up or painted.  Even if things weren’t to my taste, I took them in the meantime and then passed them on or sold them later once I found something I preferred.  It really gave me time to figure out how I wanted to use the space.  I definitely recommend trying to buy used furniture before buying new pieces.

Tools, tools, and more tools.

No matter where I ended up, I would need tools if I lived in a house, and houses are my chosen lifestyle.  All of my tools got priority.  I gave away any duplicates or things I wasn’t sure I would need (rakes, shovels, etc.) and then I cleaned what remained very well, packed them all into my tool bag and tool box, and put them on the floor of the front passenger seat of my car for the trip down because they are heavy and take up a lot of room.

Clothes, shoes and accessories had to be pared down.

Every single thing that didn’t fit or wasn’t used within the last 6 months was abandoned.  Goodbye old prom dresses, Halloween costumes, and size 0 college jeans I’ll probably never fit back into.  I have a lot of clothes, far more than any one human should own.

Michigan to Florida meant a lot of the cold weather stuff could stay behind, either given to friends, donated to the Salvation Army, or – in the case of my winter coat – left behind at my parents’ house since I was visiting in February (a month later).

I gave away every single hanger since they were just the plastic ones.  When I got down to Florida, I bought 10 packs of brand new hangers (that all matched!) for $2 a pack at Target.

Jewelry was pared down with mercy.  I hardly wear jewelry, but I have some beautiful pieces that were gifts or heirlooms, so I cut it down to “everything that fit in my jewelry box.”

I only kept good shoes that I liked and wore regularly.  I tossed any old yard work shoes or shoes that were close to the end of their life.  In the shoeboxes of the shoes I kept, I actually bagged the shoes with a plastic grocery bag and then packed socks and undergarments and other small items for the move in the box around them.

Kitchen items…

I sorted through every single item that I owned, and I got rid of anything I didn’t need (which I personally defined as not having used for 8 months, because I don’t cook a lot).  Everything was on the chopping block.  If it was damaged and I wanted to replace it, I got rid of it before the move and then replaced it after moving.  Goodbye griddle with the cracked leg, breakfasts have been great.  I also got rid of duplicates.  Someone else can put it to good use, and I need the room.  I also got rid of any dishes and silverware that didn’t match my sets, and bought a new matching one once I arrived in Florida if I needed it.

Regarding the edible food stuff, I spent the two months before moving trying to make sure I ate everything.  I actually stopped grocery shopping two weeks before moving, and I got take-out the last two days when I really did run out of food.  I did have some ingredients and condiments left (sugar, cinnamon, dressing, etc.) but I gave them to my parents or tossed.  I bought new fresh items as I needed them once I arrived in Florida.  No risk of spills/breakage/a mess on the trip down, and they’re cheap to replace.

Bathroom items…

I had about 2 months to use bath supplies, so I stopped buying any new items and tried to use up as much as possible.  Anything left over was tossed, left behind with friends, or left at my parents’ house so I could use it when I came to visit.  No use transporting something that’s half empty.  If it was still full, how long had it been full?  I definitely gave it away, figuring I probably didn’t need it.  I sorted through all medications and prescriptions and tossed most.  The nice thing is that most of this stuff is easy and usually cheap to replace.

I purged any makeup that I no longer used, and only saved a couple things I was actually using sparingly.  I also threw out any old polish or half empty bottles, and left behind nail polish remover.

The shower curtain got left behind.  Old towels and rags got left behind, some donated to a local animal shelter.  Toilet paper rolls and paper towels were left behind.  Cleaning supplies and laundry detergent got left behind as well.

Books, Movies, and Games

Most of the books I no longer read were donated to the library.  I gave away any movies or games I no longer wanted.  I also left a box at my parents’ house that I took with later after a visit.  I would have purged more, had I really needed to and had I not been trying to finish up the house to sell.  Magazines were all recycled, some just skimmed or unread.

Papers and office supplies…

Purged, tossed, and pared down to the extreme.  I actually brought in and left a bunch of stuff in our community supply drawer at work.

My artwork and heirlooms…

I’m thankful that there’s plenty of space for my artwork and some family heirlooms (including a 6 foot tall grandfather clock) at my parents’ house.  I would have made room or gotten a small trailer if I had to, just to move the clock.  However, the objects are both fragile and priceless to me, so not having to worry about them being damaged in the major move (especially when I didn’t even know where I would end up) was huge.  I’ve transported some artwork and some of the smaller heirlooms slowly over time, as they’ve come to visit and I’ve gone to visit.  I gave away some pieces as well.  The clock will make it down at some point, but there’s no rush.

Decorative/Other House Items…

Being generally minimalistic helps.  I gave away most of the items that were not currently on display in my first house (I usually display my favorite things so this was a good check for me) and tossed or gave away all my candles.  I gave away all my disposable dining stuff.  I cleaned my trash cans or any other containers extremely well and then used them for packing small stuff.  I had a box of Christmas ornaments that I left at my parents’ house since Christmas was that week, and I brought them down to Florida on my next visit.  Older electronics were given away or disposed of properly as well.

How I Packed the Edge

I started by cleaning out my car thoroughly with a vacuum and tossing any papers, old maps, etc.  With all the last minute house projects and moving, it was a bit dirty on the inside, so it felt good to start with a clean slate.

I then laid out a clean tarp on the driveway and brought out everything that I had to fit into the car.  My helpers were doubters who told me to bring stuff back inside and gave up helping me carry things out, and they couldn’t believe when I fit twice as much in.

Priority #1: Jameson.  I set up her crate in the back seat behind the driver’s side, put her bed inside her crate, and put some of her toys in, too.  She didn’t have much room, but the priority was having her with and being able to safely transport both of us.  With the opening of the crate going out the door, she was able to climb in and out by herself.  Her food and water bowls, toys, leashes, brushes, nail cutters, and shampoo were packed snugly into the bottom part of her food container, and the remaining food fit in the top part.  I picked up new dog food once we arrived in Florida.  We had used most of it up.

Priority #2: Tools.  I fit them securely on the floor in front of the passenger seat, and then I moved that seat forward as far as it would go.  Since they are heavy and sturdy, anything could go on top.

Big and heavy stuff had to go first (including the Dyson vacuum…), and “walls” had to be built to secure everything.  It was like Tetris.  I had left the back seats up to secure Jameson’s crate, so I lined boxes along the back outer edge of the trunk area to basically make a big hole for all the small stuff.  I had my pile of clothes/towels/blankets, and my pile of everything else.  Inside the boxes, I put the more fragile stuff packed safely with clothes, and I basically packed things directly into the trunk between the seats and boxes and used the fabric as packing wrap.  That took care of almost all my kitchen stuff and household stuff, and I actually ran out of clothes to use for packing.  Baking sheets and other flat items went between the seat and Jameson’s crate, or were secured between Jameson’s crate and the roof.

Once the trunk was too full for me to load any more from the back, I closed it and then loaded more into the trunk by passing it over the passenger seats.  I put books under the front passenger seat and then on the floor behind and then stacked them up along with games, movies, and other small boxes.  Once it was too full to continue loading with the door open, I closed the door and then opened the car window and just kept feeding more stuff down.  The passenger seat held only secure boxes since I didn’t want anything to fall while I was driving, and I made sure I could see both mirrors while driving.  Since I had pushed the seat up, not a lot of space was wasted.  I also packed small stuff directly into the map pockets of all the doors and the center console.

I finished most of my packing on Christmas Eve and then got a good night’s sleep.  It was just me driving, so I wanted to make sure I was well rested.  After Christmas Day breakfast with my parents and some last minute things, Jameson and I were off on our new adventure!

Other Moving Thoughts

  • If you have too much stuff/too many bodies to fit into the vehicles making the trip, look into renting a POD for your stuff instead of a moving truck.  It can be delivered to your new address later.
  • Also look into shipping boxes via the post office or UPS ground if you already know your new address and don’t want to hire movers.
  • If you don’t have a new address yet, consider staying in an AirBnB for your first few weeks.
  • Give yourself extra time if possible. I moved down December 25th and 26th, and I started my new job on the 28th.  Since it was the same company, their policy for taking time off would have meant burning all my vacation time, which I didn’t want to do.  I would have taken two weeks to a month if I had been changing companies.
  • You might consider using that extra time to travel, especially if you’re moving across the country via car.

2 Replies to “How I Moved Across the Country in an Edge”

  1. this is a good blog. once people discover it i think the readership will follow and i’ve spent time on hundreds of these FIRE sites and the like. i like the downsizing of all your crap for the move yet saving the art stuff and a few irreplaceable items.

    as a couple twice your age we recently got out ahead of the game way before necessary. we’re not planning on moving any time soon but a month ago started selling our crap on ebay BEFORE it became urgent. we’ve been in this huge house and i was able to convince mrs. smidlap to consider getting started down this road while she had some free time from the constraints of a 40 hour work week. it’s astounding the amount of stuff you accumulate in 50 years of life and what people will pay you for things you might not have realized you had. now this thing has taken on a life and momentum of its own! hide the women and children! the benefits are obviously twofold. we’re able to wait for a good price on some items as monetizing this stuff is not urgent, merely important. secondly, we’re getting rid of a lot of possessions that were kind of possessing us.

    much like your situation, we have a house full of art ( and a studio space with tools and art-making supplies that are non-negotiable and will stay. it’s been fun decluttering in a way that builds enthusiasm like when you take the steps from in debt to debt free to well invested to financially independent. good luck with it all.

    1. The best part about de-cluttering and shifting toward minimalism is that you leave so much space in your life for the things that matter.

      Thanks for reading!

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