Before and Afters From Our Move

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What's left of my Lilly Pulitzer for Target bar tray. Sadness.

What’s left of my Lilly Pulitzer for Target bar tray. Sadness.

Well, you’d think after twenty years of marriage to a guy in the military I’d have this moving thing under control–but I’m afraid our last move brought me to tears (and my knees!).

Worst. Move. Ever.

I texted that to Amy last week as we were digging out from underneath all the damage and breakage, and she replied with an encouraging “they all feel like the worst move ever, but this too shall pass” or something like that.  And then I started to send her photos of everything that was broken, since we were documenting it all for our claim anyway.  And she was pretty much appalled…trust me, I am, too!

Because it’s always more fun to share your pain with others, I thought I’d show you just a small taste of what I’m dealing with here.  First you can see the “before” from the blog, and then I’ll show you what it looks like now.

Here’s what my dining room looked like in our last house:


Here’s my Ballard chandelier after the move.  I’m hoping we can bend that arm back into place…it was packed in a box with four other chandeliers and no paper, so it’s no surprise it had a rough trip!


You might remember the table and chairs, too; they had their very own moment in the spotlight when they were featured in a book.

Dining Room | 11 Magnolia Lane
We are currently table-less since they crushed the pedestals and the squares on top of them that support the table top.


They snapped the scrolls of one of the arm chairs, too, and popped one of the backs off.  Yes, the claims process will make sure that it’s repaired, but I can pretty much guarantee it will break again in a future move, because that’s how it works.  Things break at the weak point.


The living room didn’t fare much better.  My faux built-ins had a rough ride and lost all of their crown molding at the top.  Here’s the before:

Eclectic and colorful living room | 11 Magnolia Lane

Here they are looking a bit naked and sad without their molding, but at least all of the dirty hand prints and smudges that the movers added give them a little visual interest:


And do y’all remember my sweet little gold garden stool?


Here it is now…it didn’t get wrapped in any paper, either.


The brand new recliner that we bought for my husband a couple of months ago has a big chip out of one of its feet and an unidentified black stain on an arm:


And while we’re talking upholstery, this was my daughter’s loveseat after I spent weeks reupholstering it last year:

loveseat reupholstery how to

Now it’s missing a length of nailhead trim and is stained on the arm, side, seat, and back.  Very little of the furniture was wrapped in blankets…we tried to correct the movers when we saw them loading without blankets, but it’s impossible to be everywhere at once (and I could argue that we shouldn’t have to be!).  Our washing machine leaked on the truck, too, since the bolts weren’t put in properly, so maybe it’s from that?


Another casualty of the driver’s aversion to using blankets was my grey armoire:

Gray chalk-painted armoire (repurposed entertainment center) | 11 Magnolia Lane

Not only did it come off the truck covered with rubs, chips, gouges, and scratches, but they broke the door and tore up the newly refinished hardwood floors and the walls in the house trying to carry it up the stairs.  I couldn’t handle it anymore and had them put it in the garage.  I’m not sure why they left this piece to the very end of the day when they were exhausted (I would have carried it up the stairs first thing like all the other movers we’ve had), but if the owners’ pool table fit up those stairs I’m not sure why this didn’t.  The picture just doesn’t capture how damaged it is.


There was lots of other stuff and I won’t bore you with the whole laundry list.  There was tons of broken glass and random (mean) stuff like my daughter’s posters that were crumpled up like trash and thrown in boxes instead of rolled up.  It got so that every time she came out of her room I would tense up because more often than not she was crying over another broken trinket or treasure.  My rolls of vinyl for our Etsy shop were packed in a box and they threw books on top of them, crushing them and ruining them.  All of my stationery was thrown loose into a box with heavy items and damaged.


Lest you think we’re mean to our packers and movers and that’s why they treated our things so poorly, we’re not.  We treat them like guests in our home; we provide them with water, Gatorade, and popsicles all day long, we buy them lunch (including a vegetarian one for our driver), we tip them, we assume that they aren’t going to steal our stuff and we don’t follow them around like they’re children.  That system has always worked out well for us in the past, but this move had more damage than the previous twenty years of moves combined.


The company was Coastal Moving and they are based out of Savannah, so my military friends going to (or from) Hunter Army Airfield or Ft. Stewart will want to take note of our yucky experience and plan accordingly–remember that you can request (or refuse) a specific carrier.  Can there be bad packers and drivers in an otherwise good company?  Sure, but since this same company assisted with our unload when we moved to Savannah two years ago and damaged my mother’s piano to the tune of $2000 (the only damage we had, by the way), I’m not inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.


If you’ve read our post on moving tips here and here, then I’m afraid I have to add a few more thoughts after this hard experience.  First, you must be vocal about staffing.  I should have realized things weren’t being correctly packed when it only took them five packer days (two on Day 1 and three on Day 2) to pack our house.  Remember, I packed the entire master bedroom, bathroom, and closet, which probably saved them a full packer day, but it normally takes three days!  (By the way, nothing I packed was damaged or broken. Of course, I used paper!)  If they don’t send enough people to pack or load, you will have them in your house until late in the night and your items are more likely to be improperly packed or damaged because they are hurried and tired, too.

I should have called our inspector when they only sent three guys to unload 19,000 pounds (that’s an entire truck of stuff, folks) on a 105° day.  They started unloading at 6am.  It took them 13 hours and by then I was so tired (and tearful) that I had lost the will to live, much less the will to chase them around the house and make sure they assembled the beds, put the furniture back together, and set up my washer and dryer (we didn’t have a working washer for a week after the move since the driver said that “wasn’t his job”).  I didn’t want them in my house another day at that point, so we waived the partial unpack that we usually have them do.  Since my husband was at work at his new job on Wednesday after we unloaded on Monday, I am still buried in boxes.  And of course, photographing and documenting all the damage for the claims process makes it slow going, too.


When you move every few years and you don’t have lots of time off in between jobs to fix what’s broken (or the money to replace it), you count on the moving company to be careful, professional, honest, and able to function without direct oversight over every box they pack or furniture item they load.  Not to mention that fact that I feel pretty strongly that even though we have to move a lot, we still should be able to have nice things; in some ways, that’s even more important for those of us who have to set up a new home overnight.

In the end, they’re all just things and not what makes my world go round.  I debated whether to put it all out there or not, lest I sound too whiny or “poor me,” but as Amy reminded me, if they’re handling our things like this, there’s no telling what’s happening to our junior service members.

Stay tuned as we get it all repaired or replaced–it will happen!


Final New Christy headshot 2015

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  1. Oh Christy!!!!! I’m commiserating with you!!! I have never seen such carelessness. The $$$$ in damages!!! I’ll be praying for you as you navigate the claims issues. Wish I lived close. I’d be over in a heartbeat to help.

  2. Oh my gosh Christy…I would have been on my knees sobbing at the horrible way the movers treated your belongings….Obviously they did not use adequate packing material,let alone pack it in the right way!…I am surprised they did not use blankets and wrap for your furniture….I surely hope that the Army never uses these movers again…I must say that out of 750 boxes (that I personally packed) and 10 rooms full of furniture, I only had one little blip and that was when the furniture was placed in the storage unit….I have to applaud Mayflower out of Ocala, Florida for a most awesome and damage free/professional move. Moving is stressful enough and having to deal with damage of pieces that you have worked so hard on and pieces that have special meaning is just too much to endure…In spite of all this, I applaud your attitude.

  3. This is a sin. Wow, I can’t even imagine how you are coping.

  4. I’m so sorry ! I feel your pain. We’re a military family and I have 20+ moves under my belt. We’ve traveled all around the world and our worst move was our shortest move. As a former AF transportation officer, let me tell you to be sure to report everything. You want it to be factored into the moving company’s rating so that they will be at the bottom of the list. Good thing you’re a blogger and have wonderful photographic pre-move documentation of many. Of your items. Sending you and your daughter a big hug.

  5. I have tears in my eyes & a huge lump in my throat after seeing and reading this. I can only imagine how you feel. It is deplorable to think anyone would treat any persons belongings in such a terrible fashion. Moving is stressful enough without the packers being so careless and a bunch of creeps!!! They know better!!! Keep your chin up.

  6. Wow! Just wow Christy! What a shame and how unprofessional! No blanket policy? Who does that? I am SO SORRY You had such a horrid experience. It certainly makes one not want to keep nice stuff until moving slows or comes to a stop all together. Xoxoxo.

  7. We had damage from our last move but this is the worst I’ve ever seen. Sure, insurance will replace/repair your belongings but there’s no compensating for the time and trouble of having to go through this. You’re amazing in how well you’re handling this situation. Hopefully it will be resolved soon.

  8. I’m so sorry that happened! We had that happen to us on a move a few years ago, only to find out that the furniture was so badly damaged it couldn’t be fixed. And the payout for new furniture? Next to nothing, due to depreciation. My months old cabinet? Are you kidding? I hope your claim turns out better than ours did that time. We learned after that that no one will take care of our things like we would so we started doing it ourselves, deciding we would rather have the government pay us to do it and we could hire help for loading/unloading as needed.

  9. Oh Christy! I am sobbing right alongside you. That is deplorable!!! My folks moved all the time when I was younger, and we only had one bad experience (our longest distance move)…piano involved in that one along with “missing” items. The lack of care and concern shown by those packing is unbelievable. They should be immediately fired if that company plans to stay in business.
    Agree with Susan, thank goodness for your blog as you have documentation as to the condition of “said” items prior to the move. I know when our house got hit by lightning (thankfully did not burn to the ground) it was a nightmare dealing with replacement costs! Could it be repaired? Have to have a tech come…nope, replace…but not given enough to replace with the “new” version. UGH…I feel your pain. And, you won’t get back the amount of time and effort you put into making all those beautiful things.
    But with all of that said, you are so right…it is just things in the end. Frustrating yes, but as Amy said, “this too shall pass.” Still thanking God our daughter walked away from the accident. Cars can be replaced, she can’t.
    Praying for you sweet friend. Wish I could be there to help out.

  10. My dad was in the army and we moved several times when I was little. One of their moves our entire truck of belongings was stolen. My parents lost absolutely everything! Photos, wedding dress, our clothes, toys, furniture, etc. they never recovered it. The moving company was Red Ball and to this day we always boo them whenever we see their truck! My dad was an officer as well, so that doesn’t guarantee having a better experience moving. So sorry so many of your lovely things were ruined. Hopefully the claims process won’t be a nightmare!

  11. How terrible. I’ve moved quite a few times but the last move was 20 years ago. It was just across town but it was our worst move also. Fortunately for me they left my heirloom mirror hanging in the dining room so I put it in my own car, otherwise it too would have been broken like many of your things. Don’t relent with the moving company, they seem to drag their feet hoping you will just give up.

  12. I’m so sorry this happened to you! We had a bad company move once moving into a 5300 sq ft home. I was worried about the heat and had stocked up on all the cold drinks and supplies to keep the guys going. I should have known it was going to be awful when I ran up to 7-11 for coffee while we awaited the truck. There was our driver…. alone…. trying to recruit help in the parking lot. Half the people he got quit after a few hours and one would take one box at a time into the garage and hide until someone came looking for him. It was awful. The company at the move out location was great, but at the move in location… totally worthless. They were the ones that were supposed to supply 6 movers….. trained, professional movers!!! Ha! My husband, nearly 60, was hauling in boxes just to keep things going. At least we didn’t have the breakage that you have. Awful! I’m glad you’re warning people!

  13. Oh I am so very sorry! This is terrible! I sounds just like our last move. 10,000 dollars worth of damage. not to mention the horrible packing like garage tools in a box with the family bible. It was a nightmare. This too shall pass…but it sure does sting!

  14. Oh I’m so sorry this happened to you. We did 20 moves in our 22 years in the Navy and we definitely had a few awful experiences. We are still trying to get our claim processed from our final move where they couldn’t fit everything in the truck and left stuff at our last location and never came back to get it, plus broke various pieces of furniture and damaged our brand new hardwoods upon unloading.

    I think no matter how well you treat the movers, sometimes you just get a bad group.

    Your furniture is beautiful- I hope you are able to replace/ fix it. 🙂


  15. Sigh. It’s awful. Our last military move was terrible. They pretty much scratches every piece of furniture in our house. Along with ripping my new sofa and denting the heck out of both my very expensive washer and dryer. Our smaller stuff make it but all of our big items were damaged. I ended up only claiming the damage to the sofa and the washer and dryer. And of course if you do a lot of DIY it’s hard to put a price on items that you put a lot of hard work and effort into.

  16. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. After seeing your damage, I have no doubt that it was done on purpose. In our move back to the States from Germany we thought our movers were doing a good job. That’s what we get for thinking. We had so much damage that it was obvious it was done intentionally. In one instance they took one of our crosses and bent it fit the box, in fact several things were “made” to fit the box. None of my artwork was wrapped in paper. The pictures were just shoved into any ol’ box. Those of course were damaged as well. Not to mention furniture damage. We bought lunch and made sure they had an endless supply of Gatoraide, soda and bottled water. On our next move we will be moving from Hawaii and you can bet I’ll be watching them like a hawk.

  17. Oh my goodness! So sorry!!

  18. This is HORRIFIC and like a nightmare. I am so sorry! You had too many things damaged and it’s unacceptable.. wow. just wow. so sorry!

  19. Di Jones says

    I am so sorry this happened to you — especially with all the beautiful pieces you have collected through the years. The first time my husband and I moved from Williamsburg , Va. to Raleigh, NC we had only been married a year and had not accumulated very many worldly possessions. This was a company paid for move by a reputable moving company. We were moving from a third floor apartment. Note to self : Movers do not like stairs. That day was also frigidly cold. I mean three-dog-night cold. Around 3pm in the afternoon, I went into the one bathroom of our one bedroom apartment to be greeted with a floor covered with urine.The toilet had not been used at all. As I recall (29 years ago), I closed the bathroom door, left the apartment and went to my car (car phones back then) to make some necessary calls.

  20. I’m so sorry. We had a terrible move once 🙁 We’re like you and always take good care of our movers (drinks, lunch orders etc..) so the lack of care in packing felt like a personal affront. Hang in there!

  21. OH. MY. GAWD! Just stunned, I have seen many friends with similar issues lately. I sat here with my mouth open and the sheer carelessness of the packers and movers. it makes me so worried for our PCS soon. Thank god you have before pics, make sure to fight for full value. Grab a glass of wine and a insurance form.

  22. I’m so sorry, Christy! There’s no excuse for this behavior! I love that you’re using your blog to spread the word!!! ((hugs))

  23. OMG! That is atrocious and I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Raise hell and I hope you are more than fairly compensated. Xoxo

  24. Oh, Christy! I am so sorry that all this happened. It must feel awful. But here is a little silver lining for you….. shopping! 🙂 I hope it all gets rectified properly for you. Sending hugs to you in your new home!

  25. Jill Palmer says

    Christy! My heart aches for you! Your move experience sounds like it was awful. If it was me, I would be having a pity party and screaming/crying about having to move so often in the first place. You are an amazing wife, mom, and homemaker…I hope you know that! I am certain that you will bring back all of these items to life….evn more beautiful then they were before! Miss you dear sis-in-law!!

  26. I’m so sorry that you had to go through this! We are also a military family (at Ft Stewart currently) and we have had our fair share of good and bad moves. Our first move was the worst. Our stuff had to go into storage and a lot of things didn’t make it to the final destination like wedding presents that were left in their original boxes. The worst thing of that move is that my new sewing machine was stolen. I learned a lot from that move and I’m a little more vigilant now about how things get packed, but like you said, you can’t be everywhere all the time. And I hate standing over someone while they’re working. But after our last move (second worst move), I will always request to pack or help pack my sewing room. Things always just get dumped in boxes without a care. Not to mention I’ll definitely watch more closely how the truck gets pack after hearing about your experience. I definitely do not think you’re being whiney. As military families, we have to deal with a lot of things that other families don’t deal with. It’s not too much to ask that our things get treated with care and respect when we are constantly moving and watching our loved ones come and go on deployments. Not to mention our children leaving the comfort of friends and familiar places to have to start at ground zero and be the new kid on the block every few years. I feel your pain and venting helps! I do hope things get better sooner rather than later 🙂

  27. Oh my! We are in the middle of a move. I can honestly say I didn’t like our driver/packer that picked up our items. He had four very young men that had only been working on the job for two weeks. I saw one item break BEFORE they packed it! I’m praying that the items made it into storage okay. I have just one more week until we see our household goods again. If it doesn’t go well, we may be doing our own moves from now on.

  28. This makes me so mad! Afraid it’s a sign of the times. People just don’t care any more. No one is accountable. No real customer service. Sorry this happened to you..

  29. OMG I just have no words! I FEEL YOUR PAIN what a horrible mess! So sorry that happened to your family and things.

  30. SO horrible girl! Moving is bad enough but then to have to deal with all of that?!? So sorry all of this happened to you. I hope you are now getting settled and it is starting to feel like home again 🙂

  31. This is deplorable!! I can’t imagine not using paper or bubble wrap…and not using blankets for the furniture. One would think they would have a few ounces of care in them but obviously not. I’m so very sorry! A move is hard much less having this happen! The disappointment and the time it takes to document each loss is really too much. I feel so bad for your daughter too! Their treasures are so important to them ~

    Wish I were closer, I’d be happy to help!


  32. I’m so sorry. As a fellow Army wife (I first found you from a link you posted on the SOSC page), I’m saddened by your suffering in what is already a highly stressful time. PCS season makes me long for that final retirement move!
    We had vindictive packers (missing teapot lids, or pieces to sets, smashed artwork, etc) on a move once, while I was 8 months pregnant and already stressed, moving from a huge house to a tiny one close to the Pentagon. We also treat everyone with respect and keep keep them well fed and stocked with snacks and drinks; I do feel taken advantage of when they in turn treat us poorly. We’ve also had spiteful unpackers, who intentially made messes (like dumping all my pro gear/grad school/teaching books on the floor, boxes upon boxes so that you couldn’t walk into a room without stepping on the shifting mountain of books). It kills me that each time I learn how to “do” it better, only to encounter new disasters along the way. You can only be so prepared. but Army families learn resilience the hard way…
    Prayers for you and your family as you sift through the mess and set up your home. I hope you’re able to swiftly!

  33. Carol Ann says

    This is unconscionable! I know your things will get patched up but they will never be the same again. I am so, so sorry that this has happened to you. I think the DoD goes for the lowest bidder every time and this is what we get. It is just so wrong not to mention infuriating. I know that you will get it all taken care of but you shouldn’t have to.

  34. Ali Thompson says

    Oh I am so sorry, I just got caught up on your move saga! Yikes! Thanks for posting the name of the company it will be helpful to others. And yes you are a pro after 20 years, too bad the moving company didn’t send pros! It is sad that after 20 plus years we collect so many treasures from all over that cannot be replaced, the moving company should treat these treasures as their own. We are up next summer for our move and with our second tour in Germany, we have collected a little more pricey treasures this time around, I am so scared to pack it all up and move it back! Such a pain to do all the paperwork to get reimbursed, good luck! This is all a sign that although the move wasn’t awesome the assignment will be right!

  35. Forget using blankets or pads for upholstered furniture. They actually hinder the moving process. They should be doing a plastic wrap….keeps fabric clean and dry (because those movers work up quite a sweat while working!). My heart goes out to you and your family….especially your daughter. I would have had a total meltdown! I do hope the damages can be quickly repaired and your family can settle down and start enjoying your new place.

  36. Thank you for this post!! It’ll be our first overseas PCS move tomorrow and I’m glad I read your article on SpouseBUZZ. I think we’ll actually be going to Fort Stewart when we return stateside and I know not to use Coastal Moving. Luckily, I packed 1/2 of our belongings way before the movers were suppose to come. I didn’t want them to be touching our baby daughter’s clothes and some of my clothes.

    I hope you get your issues resolved.

    Once again, thank you for this information!!!!

  37. I am sorry your stuff got broken. My wife and I are moving soon and I am worried about this kind of thing happening to us. What do you suggest we do? We cannot move ourselves.

    • I do have two links to other posts we’ve written with moving tips; they’re at the end of this post and might help. In the end, you just do the best you can. Good luck with your move!

  38. Oh man, I hope your claim turned out in your favor! What an absolute nightmare! I feel really lucky to not have had an experience like that with any of the moving companies we have used, they have all been very careful with our belongings and used lots of plastic sheeting and blankets to make sure none of our couches got stained or our hard furniture scratched or broken. Are you still dealing with that mess?

  39. Wow. So upset for you! Our military and their families should be treated with only the greatest care because of your personal sacrifice to our country. This is absolutely unacceptable. I hope you are appropriately compensated even saying that I know it will be a fight. Don’t give up!

  40. Yep. Yep. And Yep. Most of our moves have gone this way unfortunately. And stepping up and saying something doesn’t always get you anywhere as the claims process is so hard and inconsistent. What with Transportation Offices all over the place from where you are (the one handling my claim now is in Alabama and we are stationed in West Point) and absolutely NO consistency in the conveying of ever changing regulations, military systems such as DPS that are incredibly not “user friendly”, and Transportation service providers that are only out to make money and don’t care about your stuff at all, my family has come to the conclusion that we just cannot have nice things so long as my husband is serving. I once overheard a packer saying “these people have a lot of crap.” and one packer once ate an entire tub of OUR beef jerky and packed an empty wrapper in every box he packed. We finally found the empty container packed in the last kitchen box he packed. For service to our country and half the time never having a say in where we end up, the moving process should not be anywhere near as complicated and heartbreaking as it is and can be. I was moved when you said you were afraid of what your daughter would say was broken next. My own year old was blaming anything broken on “the movers” for a full year after our last move because the damage was so extensive.

    • Dana–

      Exactly. It’s so frustrating that even those of us who know the system (because we’ve moved a dozen times or more) still can’t successfully navigate it because they keep changing it. And they make it less user-friendly every time they change it, don’t they?

      We’ve decided the same thing–we just can’t have nice things right now. I buy a ton of thrift and yard sale pieces and work to fix them up; but of course it’s still frustrating when even your $5 side table gets crushed to matchsticks. I’m tempted to pack it all up myself next time–all 18K pounds!!

      Thanks for writing and commiserating with me–I appreciate it!

  41. What on earth? I am so incredibly sorry, there is no excuse for this. Thinking of you!

    • Thanks, my friend. It was over $10K worth of damages, can you believe that? Crossing fingers that all of our moves are smooth sailing!

  42. Just reading this old post and OMG… it took me back. We were a military family also and moved several times. I too used to treat my movers to beverages and lunch for their help in making our move smooth. But, our move to England was the worst. I remember looking out the window and watching a box fall off the truck from out of one of the crates. “that can’t be good”, I thought. turned out to be our new TV! And it was only one of several disasters from that move. And if I remember correctly my husband left to go TDY the next week! “Military Wife”, the toughest job you’ll ever love! 🙂

    • Of course he would have gone TDY the next week–that’s what they do! I swear I used to think my husband asked to be deployed the week after our HHG got dropped off so he wouldn’t have to unpack. I’m still suspicious!
      Thanks for sharing my pain; all of us mil spouses have gone through it, for sure.

  43. Julie Craig says

    Just reading this post as well. We received the same company this last move and had thousands of dollars in damages (mostly small but costly items…lamps, chairs, end tables, etc). We own one nice piece of furniture, a Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams Keaton Nailhead Trim sofa. I told the company that this sofa was pricey and to use utmost care but when it arrived, there was missing nail heads and the bottom under covering has been pulled off across the front. The claims dept only gave us around $50 for the damages which doesn’t cover a professional. Do you have any tips for repairing this? (the black fabric is still there, just loose)

    • Ugh, Julie, I’m so sorry to hear this. Also, I’m sorry that Coastal is still getting the military business in Savannah, because they certainly have a hideous track record. If it’s just the under covering that’s loose, a staple gun is your best bet. That’s what the upholsterers use, too. You can buy the black netting very inexpensively at any fabric store if it’s torn and needs to be completely replaced. They sell nail heads there, too.

      I’m so sorry, my friend. I know that doesn’t help but at least you know you’re not alone.

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