Before you move to a new city, read this! It could save your marriage

Avoid divorce and learn from this man's extreme stress and bad luck what NOT to do when moving.

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  • I'm not sure how I'm still married. A year ago, my wife and I moved from California to Idaho. It was one of the worst weeks of my life. Not only am I surprised my marriage survived, but I'm also flabbergasted I'm still alive.

  • It's time to play a round of Learn from My Mistakes:

  • 1. Don't bring everything

  • As moving time neared, we faced a horrible truth: We had too much stuff. Boxes of books, bed frames, mattresses ... enough for two moving trucks. We only had one moving truck. We were going to need to make a second trip back to California, reload and go 540 miles back to Idaho.

  • We should have hired a service to take away our junk for donation and recycling. Some services load a rental dumpster for you so you can keep packing the truck.

  • Remember to get rid of things you don't absolutely need. If you haven't used it in 6 months, toss it. Be brutal.

  • 2. Hire people to pack and unpack the van

  • We packed what we could into a yellow moving truck we named Sven. After seeing the progress we made the first night, we hired packers for day two. They did the same amount of packing we had done all day in about two hours.

  • On moving day, my wife fired Sven up while I drove her car.

  • (Fun fact: That year, Idaho had the second-highest percentage of inbound moves in the United States.)

  • 3. Leave early

  • We left just before noon. We didn't arrive at our new apartment until just after midnight.

  • Leave early. You don't want to have to weave around construction on a highway you're totally unfamiliar with like we had to do.

  • 4. Don't rent sight-unseen

  • Photos don't tell the full story. We literally crossed railroad tracks to get to our new apartment that was ... just across the street from a psych ward.

  • We had agreed to the apartment sight-unseen. It was the right price, but we didn't know the location.

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  • When we pulled in, my wife scraped another car as she was trying to park Sven. (With everyone parked for the night, there wasn't room for a moving truck in an already-small lot.) Luckily, the only damage was to Sven and we had already opted for damage insurance.

  • But we were shaken. It was now 12:30 a.m. We were exhausted, aching and in a very unfamiliar place. We walked up the stairs to the two-bedroom apartment and reached our breaking point.

  • A decade's worth of cigarette smoke assaulted us when we opened the door. The light inside the door was a black light. My wife snapped. She told me we couldn't stay here, rushed out the door, sat on the curb and cried.

  • 5. Beware appeasing managers

  • I was starting to understand why the apartment management company was willing to let us sign the papers for the lease the morning after we arrived. They would do anything to rent out this space.

  • Luckily, we hadn't given them a check yet. Without a signed lease agreement, we decided to slowly back away and never return.

  • 6. Have a backup plan

  • We were officially homeless and hundreds of miles away from everything and everyone we knew. It was 1 a.m. All normal hotels were full. But we finally found a hotel with vacancies.

  • At least we had a bed for the night.

  • The next morning, we frantically looked for apartments. Most places either didn't have any openings or didn't want to do a six-month lease. However, we did find an apartment just outside of downtown that had recently finished a new building with brand new apartments. Only, they needed to run a background check on us before we could move in.

  • We were tired and sore and our nerves were fried.

  • 7. Know where the nearest urgent care is

  • We went to a storage facility and started unpacking things from the truck by ourselves. It was the hottest week of the year in Boise; the mercury rested at 106 and 110 degrees. My wife and I tried moving a mattress and other heavy pieces of furniture. That, combined with the heat and our exhaustion, was enough to almost break us.

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  • Then, I dropped a wooden hutch on my wife's heel. (Cue pooling blood.)

  • It's surprisingly hard to find a doctor's office that is open after 3 p.m. on a Thursday in Idaho. At the nearest urgent care facility, the doctor left an hour early due to being sick. We eventually found a doctor who could see her. We left his office around 5:20 p.m. and ordered delivery from a local restaurant.

  • 8. Seriously, hire people to load and unload the truck

  • This bears repeating. We hired more helpers for moving our stuff out of the truck and into storage.

  • Then it was back to California with more helpers loading the truck. And less than 24 hours later, we were back on the road to Idaho. I drove my car with our cat - who ceaselessy meowed, lacking kitty Xanax.

  • 9. Celebrate!

  • Finally, we officially started our Idaho life in a beautiful one-bedroom apartment. More helpers unpacked the truck. We celebrated with whisky in fancy champagne flutes from our wedding. And, amazingly enough, my wife and I didn't kill each other or serve divorce papers.

  • In summary, hire people to pack and unpack your moving truck. Make sure you see - in person - your apartment before signing anything. Have a backup plan ready. Check the forecast. Know where the closest doctors are. Opt for the damage insurance for the moving truck. Get food delivered the first day in. And know where the alcohol and appropriate glasses are for when you are ready to celebrate a successful move.

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A former professional journalist for the Mountain Democrat, California's oldest newspaper, covering crime, court and fire stories, Cole spends his free time freelance writing, playing video games, and slowly writing a crime novel.

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