I wouldn't say I'm an expert. Ask me in another 15 years. But, after 4 years of marriage and 5 moves, I might know a little bit about moving (and still less than others) Yet, I would say that packing up a house and unpacking/settling into a house does get a little bit easier with time. And these days, it's the little things I'm thankful for. Like having Mrs. Meyer's hand soap, that I have kept in our suitcases since moving from our house in Tucson in December. It was annoying at times, but oh-so-comforting when other options spout antibacterial qualities in Korean characters (or the dreaded BAR SOAP in hotel rooms...ugh). This move, we were only able to pack 1,400 pounds of earthly belongings, which seems like a lot to you, probably... A little perspective: we packed over 10,000 pounds from Wichita Falls to Tucson when we moved just nine months prior to getting packed up for Tucson. So my earthly belongings either had to go into storage in Tucson for the next 18 months (to be unpacked in a future, unknown location) or "high priority" items (as in, items we would have a hard time living without/would not be able to purchase) shipping to Korea, not to be seen for two months. So, at the end of those two months, knowing that most of our familiar belongings would still be missing, there were some very familiar items I discovered among the boxes and packing paper. A few favorite cookbooks, a couple comforting mugs for hot beverages and most surprisingly, I remembered to buy and pack extra boxes of my favorite teas. (which, of course I can order online, but after unpacking in a very foreign place, the boxes of "stomach ease" and "green tea antioxidant" tea were most reassuring)
Note: we still do not have a microwave in our house. And we are somehow (sarcasm) managing with a teeny, tiny oven that doesn't fit any of my cookie sheets and a dishwasher that is more high maintenance than I. We do not have television. Nor Pandora :( And yet, we are still living and breathing (dramatic pause). You mean we can SURVIVE without American amenities?!?!?! Okay...in all reality, we are very fortunate because our landlord let us buy American furniture AND an American washer/dryer (which is SUCH a blessing!) so really, I cannot complain.
I do have a few simple moving tips for those of you looking to pack up your lives soon...some of these were passed on to us, and some of these are just what we have experienced in the past few years. take them or leave them and if nothing else, know what we experience every 9-18 months, and others in the military experience even more frequently...
*when moving into a new house, always make your bed first.
--find the box your sheets are in, and set up where you'd like your bed to be. make your bed. because at the end of a long day of unpacking, the last thing you're going to want to do is make your bed. so make it first. this advice was given to us by our friends Channon and Joni, who we knew in Houston. we have always heeded their advice and every time are SO thankful to be sleeping in our own bed when we move into a new house, some nights on the first night, other times a week or two later. (So thank you, Channon and Joni! Great advice!)
*when buying new appliances, try and keep the boxes the appliances come in (kitchen especially)
--some houses, it may be hard to have the proper storage for countless appliance-specific boxes. but when moving and packing up, the movers will always be thankful to have an original box to pack the appliance in. the box was created for that appliance and will be so much less likely to break/end up damaged. you'll be thankful for using up precious storage space. This advice was given to us while we were dating (talk about a reality check!) by Tyler's aunt and uncle, who was an Army family.
*when unpacking/moving into a new house, a top priority should be unpacking and setting up your kitchen
--after your bed, of course, the kitchen is next on the list. because quite simply...after moving and traveling for so long, how much longer do you want to be eating on a whim and getting take-out? yeah. that's what I thought. Even if you're eating on cardboard boxes (or plastic storage bins) for a week (like we literally just did), your mood after a home-cooked meal will be SO much better than always being anxious about where/what to eat...especially in a new town where you don't know the restaurants yet. And I'll just say that the simple/fresh "tacos" I made the second night in our home here were light years better than the meals we'd had in the past week.
Well, those 3 pointers are the best I have. Everything else will really fall into place. Laundry, furniture, etc. Moving is uncomfortable; there is no way around it. You are blessed beyond measure when you can move across the Pacific and still be close with the one you hold most dear, which is where I have found myself.