Monday, September 5, 2016

The unexpected things you need when you move in

This is the week we finally made the move to Minnesota, and so far it's gone wonderfully. We completed the two-day drive without incident, we've assembled six carts' worth of Ikea furniture (just the desk is left!)—we've even gone to the state fair:

That's right: all-you-can-drink milk for just $2.
There have been a few things that have been difficult for us, though. With all the packing, re-packing, purging, and shipping, we are frequently unsure where we put the [fill in the blank] or whether we kept it at all. So for future reference, we've been making a list of the items we don't usually travel with that would have been really helpful to have easily accessible when we arrived.
  • Scissors
We knew we would want to measure our apartment as soon as we got here, so we stopped by Target to get a tape measure right before we left Virginia. The only tape measure they had was the same price as a tool kit that also contained a tape measure, so it was a clear choice to get the set. But far more useful than the tape measure have been the scissors—we have had so many boxes to open and packaging to cut through that it would have been a nightmare without them. The other tools have been useful too, what with all the furniture we've been assembling, but the scissors take the cake.
  • Water
We don't know yet how clean the tap water here is, so we've been really grateful for a 24-pack of water bottles my parents gave us right as we were heading out. Now we have a filter, so we have ready access to water we feel good about drinking, but in those first few days it was really helpful not to have to worry about how we would stay hydrated.
  • Plates/bowls/utensils
Seeing as we didn't want to eat out every meal, we were very glad that our plates and bowls were in some of the first few boxes we unpacked. All our silverware is in the shipment coming from the Netherlands, though, so we had to buy some inexpensive utensils to use in the interim. 
  • Can opener/knives/pot and pan/spatula
Again, we knew wanted to do some cooking, but didn't think about how we'd need tools to do it. It was a sad moment when we realized we'd bought canned beans to use for dinner and had no way to get at them. Fortunately one of our neighbors just moved in as well, and he had a spare one left by his previous tenant. Whew!
  • Soap
All kinds: dish soap, hand soap, bath soap, laundry detergent. It was embarrassingly long before we got all of those.
  • Paper towels and toilet paper—thanks for the tip, Keslei!
Clara and I each bought some of these paper products right away when we arrived, so it wasn't a crisis for us, but they were definitely handy and not something we usually travel with!
  • Quarters
While going through my old belongings at my parents' house, we found a film canister of quarters that I used to use for laundry. Turns out our laundry room here needs quarters too, as does the bus fare ($1.75 off-peak).
  • A place for dirty clothes
When we did finally do our laundry, we were pulling out dirty clothes we'd tucked away in all our bags and suitcases. No wonder we felt like we had no clean clothes! Don't be us. Keep the dirties in one place so you can wash 'em when you need to.
  • Shower curtain, liner, and rings
We have a shower curtain somewhere, but purchasing the other two (and more necessary) ingredients was another of those embarassingly belated tasks.
  • Lamps and light bulbs
Our living room doesn't have any built-in light fixtures, so for a while we just had to stop working there when it got dark. As of today, we have brought that room into the age of the electric light!
  • Checkbook
This really stands for all forms of payment—you never know when you might need cash or credit in an emergency—but the one we have been least likely to carry with us is our checkbook. These days we almost never use checks, but our landlord wanted a check for our first month's rent in exchange for the keys to our apartment. We ended up having to stop at a bank two states away and get a single page of three checks so that we'd have some when we arrived.

Thanks for reading! Anything I'm (still) forgetting? Any tips for the next stage of moving in, where the space is livable enough to get by but there's still a lot left to do? I'd love to know!


  1. I've found that TP is also a must-have when you're moving. Otherwise you figure out very fast where the closest drug store or corner market is :)

    I'm glad to hear the moving-in process is going well, and I hope Minnesota starts to feel like home soon. And good luck with the rest of the unpacking - we've kind of stalled at the 80% unpacked stage here :)

    1. Good one! I'll add it to the list, if you don't mind.

      We're getting to that stage now too. Partially because we're still waiting on our shipment from the Netherlands—it's been randomly selected for customs inspection—and partially because we're starting to put more effort into getting to know our surroundings.

  2. Maybe put these essentials into a box and mark it "Unpack First" the next time you are packing (perish the thought). This is how the materials for our book fairs at school used to arrive.


Owen recommends hitting Cmd-A then Cmd-C (or Ctrl-A then Ctrl-C on Windows) to copy your comment to the clipboard before you hit "Submit". That way, if your comment doesn't post for whatever reason, you can paste it back into the comment field with Cmd-V (or Ctrl-V) and try again.