The mobile life: how I moved house for $86

I have often pictured my ideal life to be living out of the back of my Kombi van and travelling the country. Relocating is a part of many artists’ lifestyles, particularly if you are a touring performer. Regardless of whether you are an artist or not, moving house is a reality for many people.

Kombi van dreams

Gathering your personal belongings and shifting your life to a new location can seem like an insurmountable task. There’s sorting, packing, lifting, moving, and then there’s the inverse of it all once you’ve reached your destination, not to mention the expenses associated with the moving process. So is it even worth it?

Without a plan in place it may become a tedious, frustrating, and expensive process and a lack of good company to help you can make it more laborious.

There are several options to choose from when deciding how to move your possessions.  These include: hiring a removalist, organising storage containers, and the do-it-yourself options like truck hire and booking your mate with a trailer. Each of these options vary in price and convenience but if you’re reading this article, you’re probably interest in the cost-effective option.

I used the do-it-yourself option with truck hire. You are best placed to determine which option suits you given your budget and your lifestyle. I recommend doing your research and seeking professional advice where necessary.

Having moved over a dozen times in my life (including interstate), I’m going to share some tips (based solely on my own experience) to economise and optimise your next move.

Barter or Borrow: Stick to Your Budget

Once you determine your mode of transport for moving, set a monetary budget in order to plan your expenses. We saved a lot of money by borrowing packing boxes from the lovely lady at a local cafe. This is a hidden cost that can easily add up if you haven’t factored it into your budget. Barter your skills and borrow from friends and family where you can in order to keep costs down.

Budget_TruckSpeaking of a budget, we hired our own moving truck through Budget and drove it ourselves. The truck we hired required a C class license and it had a large capacity and an hydraulic lift. We only had to add a sack trolley and our own physical strength into the mix.

If you go with this option make sure you are fit enough to move things yourself and consider if there are limits to the kilometres you can travel within your hire agreement. We were relocating to a suburb 6.5 kilometres away so it was unlikely that we would exceed our limit and pay an excess fee.

You should also pack your boxes efficiently and set a weight limit for each box to ensure your own personal safety. I’m not going to pretend that it wasn’t exhausting, but it definitely was economical. Furthermore, Budget had a lot of handy do-it-yourself information on their site which made our move a lot smoother. The truck was hired for 24 hours at a cost of $69.99 and the fuel cost was $16.

Plan Your Move: Floor Plans and Look Books

If you have a floor plan of your new home handy, you can begin to imagine where your furniture will go. A new home offers you the opportunity to reassess your material possessions and whether or not they still fit in with your lifestyle. If they don’t, you might consider giving them away or selling them for some spare cash. Oh, and it’s important to measure… measure everything!

Having a plan for a moving day and how you will furnish your new home will also help you determine if your new space will attract ad-hoc expenditure after you have moved in. Costs you may not have considered include: utilities, cleaning fees, redirecting mail, insurance, storage, new furniture, window coverings, lighting, garden expenses… etc.

Creating a detailed room-by-room list of everything you own can assist you in creating a spreadsheet and a handy moving checklist to make the transition easier.

I started a look book over a year ago when we first put down a land deposit. I imagined the vibe I wanted to create including the palette and furnishings for the new space. I based my re-purposed aesthetic on existing furniture so that I wouldn’t fall into new home-owner’s euphoria and splurge on unnecessary items.

You may want to do this too. You can use Pinterest or another mood board app to collate your ideas and designs. I created a scrapbook because I preferred a tactile collection. I cut out images I liked from magazines and included them in my look book. This is a fun process and any creative inspiration is a useful hit of dopamine during your move.

Inventory and Checklist

Over the course of your life you will collect things, lots of things, and you will ask yourself “why do I have this?”. At the start of your new home chapter, it may be useful to keep an inventory of what you own. This serves several purposes, including gaining a more accurate list of contents for home-and-contents insurance and to determine what you need and don’t need in your life. This list will be very practical if you’re the type of person who values checklists and systems.

I have gradually reduced the amount of things I have in my life and removed clutter from my living space partly for clarity and calm, and also to create a functional and practical home.

A Functional and Practical Lifestyle

Think about how you use your living space and try to arrange your furniture according to how you use the room. Read magazines or home and lifestyle blogs if you want some trending inspiration on how to design and decorate your new space.

Some people may turn their nose up at flat-pack furniture but I have embraced it in recent years because it is fun to assemble and easy to transport during moving time. I also enjoy perusing the labyrinth of IKEA from time to time because it’s fun and affordable. As an artist on a freelance income, I am a frugal shopper and in an upcoming article I will discuss some frugal furnishing ideas for new home owners.

Over the years I have also saved money on furniture by inheriting hand-me-down home wares, and visiting second-hand and vintage stores. You might be surprised what you can salvage and restore from such places and many of the pieces I have found ooze character and add a nice touch to a room.

Ultimately, you want to make the space inviting and create a home. As nice as display homes and magazine pictures may seem, they may or may not fit your lifestyle. Rather than go with what’s trending, apply some of those ideas and combine them with what suits your personality and your budget. A personalised living space is a representation of your values and style; a new home is a chance to bring these ideas to life.

Of course, there is always the option to liquidate all of your material possessions and travel the world with a backpack, camera-kit and guitar. My troubadour heart fancies the thought… it’s tempting.

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