Friends of mine with three kids just put their house on the market. They are feeling the crunch financially and selling their house to downsize to a townhouse feels like the best option to them. My friend said, “I realize now (I believe it was God opening our eyes) that this really is our sideline business. We don’t buy homes – we buy property that we treat like a business. We’ve picked good ones so far as investments and done the right upgrades.”

I know exactly what they mean as that’s how we funded our business for many years – we bought/sold and moved house every 6 – 18 months. Seven houses later (with all profits plowed into the business – tax-free, so it’s like double your money!) we have a pretty good idea of how to move house with a minimal amount of personal stress and disruption of business.

I know in this economic climate that many of you are likely facing a move, so I thought I’d share what we learned works best to make moving house (even with kids) as stress-free as possible.

Jini’s Tips For Stress-Free Moving

The best way to minimize the stress and workload of moving is to hire people to pack and unpack your house. Of course you also need to hire movers to move your stuff using their big truck – don’t use a mover that will have to make two trips as this will ensure your moving day lasts till midnight.

Use Craigslist (or your church, friends, soccer team, etc.) to hire workers at $10/hour (pay cash) to help you pack/unpack. You usually need to hire 2 adults, or 4 teenagers (you can usually pay teenagers less) to get a 3-bedroom house packed in 2 days – double that if you want it packed in one day.

Make sure you unpack your kitchen and bedrooms on the day you move in and then the rest as you wish and 90% of the stress of moving is cut, because your food and your sleep are the two most important elements of life and health.

The other way to do it is to start packing now and just do a few boxes per day.

So you basically leave your kitchen till last. But for the rest of your stuff, each family member packs a suitcase of toiletries, clothes, toys – just as if you were going on holiday for a month – and that’s the stuff that stays out. Everything else you pack.

Also, when you move, that suitcase and your bed is all you need to unpack to have bedrooms set up on day one. Then you just need to get the kitchen unpacked and voila, the rest is gravy – get to it when you can, or hire people and get it all done in 1-2 days, including hanging artwork and curtains.

Don’t leave your artwork and decorating for a rainy day – get to it right away, so you instantly feel like you’re in your home again and you don’t have the energetic stress of “not quite finished moving” hanging over you.

It’s amazing how easy moving can be if you follow these guidelines. Personally I favor hiring people to pack and unpack; getting it all done in 2 days and then it’s life as usual. In our family, my husband Ian is in charge of getting our offices set up and running (we both work from home), tv and electronics all hooked up, and I’m in charge of the rest.

Our kids never moaned about moving and they actually enjoyed it because it was minimal stress (really only about 1 day) and more exciting than disruptive – they especially enjoyed the hunt for the next house. The added bonus to moving is being able to give away, or throw out all the junk you accumulate, because you’re certainly not going to want to pack it and take it to the new place!

One last helpful tip, since Mom’s know that perhaps the most stressful thing about moving is showing your house – i.e. you have to keep it clean and showroom-ready all the time. I would schedule a month away visiting relatives, having a holiday, during a time of year when the housing market is busy and tell my realtor: “Okay, do whatever you have to do, but you have one month to sell this house.” Or my husband would stay home and I would take off with the 3 kids to my Mum and Dad’s house in Scottsdale. That way I would get the house spotless and staged (home staging really helps to show a home to it’s best advantage) before I left and not have to touch it again until we returned and it was sold. Of course, you have to live in a fairly “hot” housing market for this time frame to work.

My friend’s realtor gave her kids a monetary incentive: “The girls are being helpful.  Our realtor told them if each of them keeps her room in perfect condition she’ll get $50.00 when we sell.  Wow, what incentive, their rooms have never looked so good.”

Hope that helps..