Moving Sucks; We All Know It

The Jeffersons

Most people, I think, agree that moving is the pits.

This even includes moves that one has planned well in advance and will ultimately result, like the Jeffersons pictured above, in a move on up.

Imagine then, the perspective of one forced to move against his/her will.  This is the very situation I now find myself in.  Not because I threw too many parties or trashed my apartment or was otherwise a horrible tenant.

Rather, they call it “renoviction” – a practice that occurs often enough in Vancouver, British Columbia to warrant its own regionally-specific Wiktionary entry:


renoviction (plural renovictions)

1. (British Columbia) The eviction of all of a building’s tenants on the grounds that a large-scale renovation is planned.

A portmanteau of “renovation” and “eviction”, renovictions – in no way unique to British Columbia – are an unfortunate – and, in my opinion, unethical (yet incidentally, legal) – consequence of years of stagnant community upkeep followed by rapid gentrification, which typically leads to the further marginalization of those in the neighbourhood who are already the most vulnerable.

Politics and social justice aside, since, I’m going to have to relocate in a few months, I decided to be proactive and take back some control of the situation by searching for a new home now.

Hence, the subject of this post.  Because moving really does suck, for reasons far more numerous than the following five:

1) Your stuff will never have the same layout again

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent weeks, months, even years trying to achieve the perfect arrangement of your furniture and belongings.  My  goal is always to create a harmonious flow – a sense of openness and greater size, which calms me and allows me to move through the space without necessarily having to consciously engaging with it.

But moving means having to disrupt that energetic equilibrium – to throw calmness into chaos – and essentially become a stranger in a strange new land for as long as it takes to make a new perfect setup.

2) Finding boxes

According to Terry O’Reilly, host of the CBC Radio program Under the Influence, “The reason moving is so painful, of course, is because you suddenly rediscover all your stuff.”

And corrugated cardboard boxes are such a pain in the a**!  Whenever you have one and don’t need it, you have to break it down into maddeningly specific-sized pieces for recycling – no easy task, either trying to tear it with your hands or cut it with scissors.

Or if you’re lucky to not have to break the box down and instead are able to use the box as a replacement blue bin for that week, suddenly the recycling inexplicably sits there uncollected for days.

But when you actually need boxes for packing, good luck finding any anywhere!

3) Discovering who your real friends are (and aren’t)

Here’s a fun experiment: choose a random smattering of people you consider to be good friends and say to them the words, “I have to move.”

Now listen to what their response is.  Those that immediately offer to assist in some way – “I can help you”, “I’ve got a car”, “I’m around on the 31st”, “I’ve got a bunch of boxes at my house; I’ll bring them over for you” – those are your real friends.

Those who utter a non-committal “That’s nice”, who pull a face and quickly end the conversation by finding something to do, or worse yet, who are too wrapped up in telling you their news to even take note that you just told them you’re being unethically evicted from your home – those people are something else entirely.

4) Apartment viewings

Apartment for rentQuite possibly the absolute worse part of the entire process, going on viewings is a major expense of time, energy, often money if the showings are during work hours, and most likely a little bit of sanity as well.

Part of this latter complaint is that when seriously looking for a place, folk tend to go on a whole bunch of viewings at once, to that point that all the various dwellings start to blur together in one’s mind.

Over the past six days, I’ve looked at no less than 15 places (at least twice viewing three different suites back-to-back in the same hour), and I’ll be damned if I can remember what half of them look like, even the one I think I sort of like.

Another negative about viewings is when they occur before the previous tenants have moved out.  Personally, I find it almost impossible to superimpose a mental image of my stuff and my life onto a space that’s already full of someone else’s life.

As well, seeing the way some people live is often a huge deterrent to me even setting foot inside, let alone the thought of living there myself.


AKA, the great social scourge of the 21st century: “fear of missing out”.

Comedian Aziz Ansari, in his latest comedy special on Netflix, describes it perfectly:

Nobody wants to commit to shit because they’re terrified that something better is going to come along….  Whatever we’re doing, we want to do the best, funniest thing.  Whatever we’re buying, we want the best.

So when you finally find a place that you like and want to try to get, there’s often that niggling in the back of your mind that maybe if you look just a little longer, you can find a place that’s even nicer/cheaper/newer/south-facing/on the top floor/with free parking/with a better view/with hotter neighbours/etc.

Such thoughts can quickly consume you, and often linger even after papers have been signed and money has changed hands, having transformed into FOMO’s close, older cousin, i.e. buyer’s remorse.

BONUS: Major disruptions to writing schedule

Due to constant searching through vacancy listings, prowling neighbourhoods for unlisted vacancy signs, going on viewings, and the general stress of it all.

What else sucks about moving?  What are your moving tales of woe?  Let me know in the comments.

(Image source #1 and #2)

15 thoughts on “Moving Sucks; We All Know It

  1. We moved into this house March 5, 1981. I can’t stand the accumulated junk. I can’t get the other inhabitants (AKA DH and DD) to get rid of anything.

    The opportunity to live by myself, in a new clean place, is the kind of soul-sucking longing you wouldn’t understand. I want to live in a tiny house, on the road, alone.

    They say you get lonely. They say it is hard to pick up and move.

    I wish I could.

    Find the good parts. Take pictures and get floor plans to study at your leisure from the places you see. Hope it ends up better.


    • I’ve lived alone for a few years now and have to say, I’ve never gotten lonely. I have, however, accumulated a lot of extra kit in my tiny bachelor apartment that I never thought I’d ever need or want (an ironing board? I hate ironing), so I think that part is inevitable.

      It will be good to pare down, though. That coupled with (hopefully) finding a bigger place will make things positively minimalist.


      • Ah, stuff. You get it, and then you’re stuck with it.

        I have an ironing board too, mounted flat on a wall. I’ve used it once each year until my husband retired to iron his PhD gown at his school’s graduation.

        Pare down. Buy again why you need – when you need it. It is cheaper than carrying most things around and storing them. Exception: things like expensive camping gear.

        I may never go camping again – don’t like thoughts like that. So I keep it one more year.


  2. I move a lot. At least once a year. Since good boxes are hard to come by, I keep them so I don’t have to look again for my next move. If storage space is lacking, I cut the tape seals so I can store them flat, then retape when I need them. I’m also in the habit of grabbing a few appropriate boxes when I see them at the grocery store (FYI, you’ll want small boxes for cans and books. The Kraft Dinner ones are good for that. Wow I really do move a lot). In Ontario, don’t bother with The Beer Store. They use all the cases they get (and they stink like beer anyway). Your best bet is the LCBO. Wine comes in sturdy cases and the store has no use for the boxes once the wine is on the shelf.

    Moving also forces me to purge unneeded papers, clothes I don’t want anymore, and other unneccessary detritus I’ve accumulated. Now if only I could figure out how to not accumulate those things in the first place …

    That said, since I have FINALLY landed a permanent job, I hope that I will only have to move one more time (from my current rental into my own permanent place) in the next couple of years.


    • Rhonda, if you and I lived in the same town, I’d totally hit you up for moving help, whether you wanted to or not! You move like someone in the military, so I’m sure you have it down to a science by now. Good thought about hitting up the liquor store. I also found a cardboard box recycling dumpster behind a variety store that I frequently shop at, so that seems promising too.

      Hallelujah, a permanent job! I knew this day would finally (eventually; I was hoping) come! Where is it that you’ve ended up?


  3. That sucks. More evidence that we are pawns to the few who hold most of the wealth.

    Toy stores are a good place to troll for boxes. They’re usually pretty big and don’t have food stains and whatnot.

    BTW, I’d totally help you move, but there’s an inconvenient 3500-mile stretch of land between us. And my shoulder hurts.


    • Lucky for me, I now have enough local real friends who have offered to assist, and upon whom I will glad bestow the customary payment of pizza, beer, and credit towards help with future moves of their own.


  4. I’m with Alicia, it can be a positive, a rebirth. I got shunted out of my crappy lodging house room shortly after arriving back from Ireland, penniless. I’ve never looked back and most of my former ‘stuff’ is still under a friend’s bed in Ireland.
    On a related note Jersey used to have a big tea factory from where you could get, very cheaply, tea chests which were perfect for moving. It closed years ago now and I’m not sure what people use instead 🙂


    • I agree as well, Roy. The physical process of moving is a pain, but ultimately, it will be good for me to get out of my rut. I haven’t been happy where I’m living for a while now thanks to the various antics of my upstairs neighbour. I’ve gotta find me a place on the top floor. Or a building made of concrete!


  5. You have my deepest sympathies. Moving throws your entire schedule, your entire life into chaos. And because your schedule revolves around those little pockets of space in your home, or travel to your home, once you’ve moved, your schedule can never truly be the same again. And that is immensely disruptive to your writing.
    Source: I’ve moved 11 times in the last 18 months. Some have been big, some have been small, but one thing is clear: the next place I find will be permanent. I’ll take a cardboard box under the bridge so long as it’s a permanent box.


    • Anneque, you’ve described it perfectly. I thrive on the routine of my schedule that I’ve worked so hard to perfect over the years and make as conducive as possible to regular writing. But I suppose change can be a source of inspiration and creativity as well (it’s going to have to be).

      Eleven moves in the last 18 months?! That’s even more frequent than my friend Rhonda who commented earlier. Dare I ask what has you up and packing so often? (although with moves that often, I can’t imagine you’re doing much unpacking….)


  6. Yes, moving sucks but it has also so many positive sides! It’s a time to go out of your routine and to think about other things! Wish you luck! Greetings, Man With Van Holland Park Ltd.


    • You are right; I’m starting to warm up to the idea, especially now that I’ve since found a new place that I think will be great. Thanks for the encouragement. Clearly, you deal with this sort of thing a lot. 🙂


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