Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Moving, gack!

Until we came to California, I lived in one house my entire life.  My parents bought a newly built Vancouver Special in 1979, when my brother was only months old, and they live there to this day.  

When we moved, it was relatively easy, despite the distance--we did a road trip down the coast, and filled the car with important items we didn't want to bring by air: computer equipment, video game consoles, Ben's guitar, etc.  Those we put into storage, and when we flew down later, we brought our personal affects via plane.  Setting up the apartment was more fun and exciting than hard work (although there was hard work and elbow grease involved in assembling our classy IKEA furniture), since we had to get everything brand new.

Last June, we moved into a very nice 11th floor apartment, and though the move was grueling (and I feared for Boris, my faux piano), we were excited to be there, and adjusted quickly to the horrors of having a gorgeous view.  However, apartments in high places come with high price tags, and with much consideration (not really) of my contract's end in November, living there for another year seemed like an unintelligent decision. Plus, given all the stuff we have, a 2br apartment didn't seem like a bad idea.  Using the wonders of Craigslist, we found a somewhat nice apartment not far from where we were living, and were set to move this last Memorial Day.  I write these lessons we have learned, the hard way, about moving.

1. Cleanliness is next to Godliness
If moving from an apartment building owned by a large corporation (e.g., Avalon) to an apartment owned by private owner, either request that they have the place professionally cleaned, or else hire professional cleaners yourself. When we went to pick up the keys from the owners, one of them was there, ostensibly cleaning up and doing some paint touch-ups.  The idea of having the place properly cleaned never even entered my mind. That changed when, every time I went into the apartment, my throat would get itchy, and my nose and eyes would start watering.  I spent the first week of June in a veritable allergy coma.  It wasn't until this past Saturday, when we had finished mopping the entire place (the 2nd bedroom had to be mopped 3 times, and we also swabbed the walls), that I could finally go home and not feel like I needed to leave to breathe.

If professional cleaners aren't an option, or you are like us and have already moved in and started cleaning, and hiring cleaners seems futile, then pick a place to conquer.  Ours was the bedroom--we moved out all of the boxes, unpacked what we could, mopped the floor and vacuumed the rug twice, cleaned the windows thoroughly, and had the air purifier going with the door closed.  The bedroom became our sanctuary.  We spent one night doing no moving tasks at all, and instead just sat in the bedroom on our computers, and my allergies didn't make a peep.

Also, the air purifier seems to work fairly well, at least for dust, and a little bit for odors.

2. Don't underestimate how much stuff you have
This is actually something we learned during our move last year, when we rented a smaller truck and figured we could move the rest of our smaller things in our car.  This was true, but we ended up doing at least 3 trips between apartments.  This year, we made sure we had a ton of boxes, and packed up as much as possible to load into a slightly bigger truck.  We did still have to do some trips, but it wasn't as painful, and we turned in our keys midday instead of midnight.  We've both become a fan of, as I posted a listing for our empty boxes and had 3 replies in the course of 24 hours.

3. Curtains are fantastic
Our apartment is one of six, and one of four on the second level.  It's a very small building right off of a somewhat main street.  There are some nice trees right outside, which give us a little bit of privacy from people across the street, but that's about it.  When we moved in, the living room had curtain rods, but neither bedroom had any.  This didn't seem like a particularly big deal, until we tried to sleep the first few nights without curtains on the window, and discovered that the tree outside does not shield the bedroom from the orange glare of the street lamp right outside.  So much for sleeping!  I taped a bunch of bags to the window, until we got our curtains up.

4. Floor cleaning
In the three Californian apartments we've had, we've had linoleum, carpet, granite, ceramic tile, and now bamboo hardwood flooring.  As such, I have collected a plethora of cleaning supplies, my favourite being nearly anything made by Casabella.  Our third broom is a Casabella, and my wonderful, amazing sponge mop is also Casabella.  Do you need to mop? Don't skimp on a crappy mop.  
When it comes to soaps, I'm pretty much covered, too.  
  • Linoleum = Pine Sol.  
  • Granite = Granite Gold; that stuff is amazing, just make sure you get the mix right, or else it will streak.
  • Tile= Either of the above.
  • Carpet = Foley's for spot cleaning, if I had bothered to buy any.    
  • Hardwood flooring = Murphy's Oil Soap.  That stuff is also fantastic, but you do have to make sure the dilution is just right, as well.  I tested this by doing two small patches on the floor behind the toilet: one with just water, and one with a diluted mix.  Because how often do you look behind the toilet?  Also, it smells so good.
I'm not sure what kind of typical flooring is left to deal with, but if there's a soap for it, I'll get that to mop with, too.  Anything to avoid having feet so black from built up dirt, just from walking around your apartment. Yes, it was that gross.

5. Screen doors
Did you know that screen doors can be very filthy?  Ben spent at least an hour cleaning the screen doors and rail with a dirty rag, and the water went from colourless to black.  YUCK.

6. How to wash the walls
After telling my mother about my allergy problems, she suggested we wash the walls, and I brushed it off as a silly suggestion.  Who washes walls?  But considering that the previous person used the 2nd bedroom as some sort of meditation room, complete with incense, we decided it was worth a try.  We took a (relatively) clean mop, and a bucket of clean water, with a very little bit of lemon castile soap mixed in, and used that to gently swab the walls.  Turns out that we wash walls, and we aren't the only people to have done so.  I'm not sure that it really helped, and that room still stinks, but after wall washing and triple mopping, it is actually starting to be livable in there.

In retrospect, these are basically all about cleanliness.  Possibly we are very picky people who enjoy clean apartments, especially compared to whomever lived there before--given the state it was left in, obviously it did not bother them very much. I don't think it's too much to enjoy the luxuries of good hygiene, but given the amount of work we have done so far with this place, I feel like we might as well have moved into a small house!


  1. I love murphy's oil soap! When we moved into our house I scrubbed every single wall because they were disgusting. I don't consider myself too much of a neat freak, but I don't like to be surrounded by other people's scuzz! :)

  2. Ditto! Other people's scuzz is as gross as that sounds. By the looks of the progress on your renovations though, I'd say that other people's scuzz is definitely out of there. The house is looking very nice!