I had barely driven 10 metres and I was already starting to get sentimental.
My car was packed with the remaining items that once made up a complete home.
OK, so I may be getting a bit dramatic but moving apartments proved to be quite challenging. “So is that the last of everything?'' one of the moving guys asked casually.
Yes, I guess it was. And as I looked around the empty and hollow space that was once filled with the sounds of life, the only thing left was the echo of the last footstep.
As close as it gets
Just days before, I was packing frantically, boxing things up and driving back and forth to the new apartment down in so-called “new Dubai'', where it would take me just 15 to 20 minutes to reach home after work (what a luxury in Dubai!). A complete difference from the painful hour and a half it used to take me before.
What amazed me was the amount of junk I had managed to accumulate over the years. Shopping bags, papers and clothes I never wear but managed to keep because “you never know''.
“Moving is great,'' my friends would say. “Just think of all the rubbish you can throw out.''
And sure enough, after giving away three bags of clothes to the local mosque and throwing out a couple of bags of old receipts and papers, I felt I was on the right track.
However, moving is not always great. It means parting, distancing yourself from your memories and an unpredictable new era.
And although I wanted to move, there was a nagging question of whether I was making the right choice.
Still, if we are constantly afraid of change, we end up standing still.
My flat-mate and I took the new apartment unfurnished and we had to deal with the fact that we had nothing, absolutely nothing, to put in it. We had to start from scratch.
When we first saw the place, we thought the living room was somewhat small but later realised that it was just an illusion. So, off we went to Ikea.
We went with our non-conventional shopping list and started getting the bare essentials. We got lost in a maze of bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms and other places we didn't need to be in.
We grabbed a pen and pad and scribbled down the aisle numbers and product numbers and wondered why we were complaining in the first place because it all seemed pretty easy.
We were quickly jolted back to reality when we ventured into the “self-service'' area. Boy, oh boy, was it self-service!
We somehow managed to drag two bookshelves, an 8-foot plant and a table onto the trolley. And we were set to go.
As we reached the first traffic light to exit Festival City, my friend pulled up next to me and shouted: “I almost didn't recognise you under that tree!''
Slowly, but surely, everything started coming together and the flat began to look like a home.
Sofa — check; beds — check; rug — check; kitchen appliances — check.
And, of course, nothing is ever a smooth transition. None of the adaptors were working, so that meant no TV (by that I mean, no old DVDs to play, as we had no connection as of then) and no lamps, either. So it was either extra bright or pitch black.
To top it all, there are those sounds you hear in the middle of the night that make you think some Michael Myers type from the horror flick Halloween is out there looking for you.
That is what it was like the first night and I don't know how many times I got up to check the lock on the door and make sure the balcony was closed, among the dozen other things I kept checking.
I guess it just comes with a change in territory and the unfamiliar sounds seem louder because they are new to us.
Anyhow, we survived the first night, which meant
all that packing and our aching muscles were worth it.
Shift in perspective: Go professional
It is all about organisation and planning ahead, says Jad Barghout (right), operations manager for 800Storage in Dubai.
After having done the packing of my apartment with my family, I thought the next time I could probably do with professional help.
“At the end of the day, time is money. Right?'' he asked. “If you are packing [by] yourself, just think, you could have used that time working, especially if you can't afford to take time away from office.''
The part-time student, who is juggling a business degree, basketball and the operations of the storage-and-removal company at the same time, gave me some tips on moving house.
These will come in handy for those embarking on the same journey.
“The most important thing to remember is to have patience, be organised, plan ahead and give yourself time,'' Barghout said.
Planning ahead is important because companies such as 800Storage handle around 80 to 90 relocation projects a month.
So make sure you book an early inspection, followed by an appointment date, so that you do not get stuck.
“Have a clear idea of what you want and the items [that] can be thrown out or donated. If you come across items you haven't seen for years, chances are you won't need it again. So get rid of it,'' Barghout said.
The company provides packing material. So all you need to do is go through your personal items such as papers and clothes and pack and label them yourself.
The heavier and more fragile items can be packed and re-installed by the team.
While you are doing that, keep Barghout's tips in mind:
- Plan ahead. Do not wait for the last days because that can leave you disorientated.
- Get boxes and packing supplies early from removal-and-storage companies, otherwise you can be overcharged elsewhere.
- Pack personal items such as clothes, pictures and papers yourself, so you know exactly where everything is. Also, label them properly.
- Get rid of junk.
- Make sure items such as refrigerators are clean, so on the moving day, no time is wasted and there is no blame game on between the parties.
- Keep peak and off-peak rates in mind. Normally, holiday seasons and the beginning and end of each month are the busiest times for removal companies. Also, get quotes from each one.
- Give the team specific instructions as to what items need to go, as prices can depend accordingly.
- Make sure pets and children do not get in the way.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Have keys to the new apartment ready with you before the moving company arrives.
For more information, log on to www.800storagedubai.com.