You know when you're getting ready to move, and you think, "This is nothing. I can get it done in two weekends."? Well, you should really stop thinking that way because one thing's for sure: Moving pretty much always takes longer than you think it's going to take. So, be smart and plan ahead. There's lots of packing and organizing you can get out of the way two months in advance of your move. Click through the following pages to find out what should be on your to-do list.
Unless several of your friends look like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, you're probably going to need to hire professional movers to do the heavy lifting. But if you put off lining up movers, you might not have time to conduct research and get the best deal. So, go ahead and get that out of the way at least two months in advance. Ask your friends and relatives if they recommend any movers, call the movers in your area, compare prices and then line one up for your moving day. Besides a decent price, you should be looking for a reputable company that is licensed with your state's Department of Transportation (DOT) and, if you're moving out of state, licensed for interstate transport. You also want a moving company (and its workers) that are bonded and insured. If you want to be super thorough, you can even check up on the company by contacting your local Better Business Bureau.
Once you've selected your mover, make sure you understand what the final agreement is before signing a contract. Does the business charge by the hour, by the item or by overall weight? Will the moving company be doing any packing for you? Will you have movers move only the large items or every item? Is there a special charge for large awkward items like a piano or a pool table? Are the employees handling your move bonded and insured? Is the quote you received non-binding or binding? A binding estimate should guarantee that the price would not change. If it's non-binding, should you be worried about any surprise charges? For example, say you're moving from a house in the suburbs to a high-rise apartment in the city. Will you be charged an extra delivery fee because the movers have to take the elevator up to the 24th floor? And, if there's no place to park the moving truck near the high-rise, will you incur a shuttle fee?
You'll want to start packing up your nonessential items, so you need boxes. You can buy boxes from a retailer. But you can also find other ways to score free boxes. Have any of your friends or relatives moved recently? They may have some boxes they'd like to get off their hands. Or you may be able to pick up boxes from a business -- and don't just hit the standard grocery stores and ABC stores, think outside the box. For example, if you live in a college town, check out apartment complexes that are located near campus, they may have a recycled box network so that you can pick up gently used boxes from someone who has just moved to the area. Or, go online -- you might be able to find boxes via Craigslist or Freecycle.
You may think it's silly to start packing two months in advance, but if you're like most people, there's plenty of stuff you don't use on a regular basis that can be packed up in a box. For example, if it's summer, start packing your winter items -- winter clothes, heavy blankets, holiday gear. Or you can pack by the room -- and perhaps the guest room is a good place to start, since it's used the least. You decide. Remember to pack small items in the big boxes and large items in the small boxes. It seems counterintuitive, but it will prevent box breakage.
Moving is the perfect excuse to get rid of unwanted junk that's collected in your house over the years. The rule of thumb is: If you haven't used it in about a year and it doesn't have any sentimental value, get rid of it. It can be hard to let things go, though, so you may need to go through each closet or storage space twice. On the first run, you'll remove the obvious unwanted things, and on the second run you'll remove the items you're a little more attached to.
Now that you've set aside your unwanted things, it's time to figure out what to do with them. Since you're doing this two months in advance of your move, you've got time to plan a yard sale. Yard sales are generally on Saturdays, and you'll need to advertise to get a good turnout. So, put up fliers where it seems logical - your workplace, your church, your community center, the local library and, of course, don't forget to put up signs around your neighborhood. There are even Web sites where you can advertise your sale. If you're looking to make money, check eBay before you price your items to make sure you're not essentially giving stuff away. Of course, that is an excellent option; you can do just that.
If you don't want to hawk your unwanted items from your front yard, give them to charity. There are a million ways to give your things away. Anything from cars to appliances to clothes and shoes can be donated to a charitable organization. Start by going online to see what nonprofits have locations in your area and find out what their needs are. Choose a charity that needs the types of things you'd like to give, and then just give. Many nonprofits even set up receptacles on the side of the road to accept your donations. It's easy!
Even in our busy world of e-mails, texts and tweets it's nice to find a letter or card in our mailbox now and then. So, it would be really sad if you don't receive all those lovely holiday and birthday cards because your friends and relatives don't know what your new address is. Let people know that you're moving and what your new address will be. It can be as easy as sending out a mass e-mail with all the pertinent information. Or, you can order a pack of moving announcements and put that holiday mailing list to good use. If you're moving to another town, you might even get a going-away party out of the deal.
As you start looking through your cupboards, you might notice you've collected some nonperishable food that you'd rather not pack up and move to the new place. So, sit down and put together some menus to use up that food before you move. It might actually be fun to think of creative ways to use mushroom soup, canned pineapples and spaghetti in one meal. And if the move has you too busy to manage this type of culinary cleanse, pack everything up for the local shelter or a food drive. Or, invite some neighbors over for a pantry-clearing party and send them home with the goods.
If you're moving to a faraway place and you're not driving, then you'll obviously need to buy plane tickets for yourself and your family. It'd be great if you could get this out of the way well before the two-month mark, so you can watch ticket prices and strategize a good ticket deal. But when you're transferred due to work or you've accepted a new job offer, you don't always have that much notice. If possible, buy your tickets at least two months in advance of your move. And don't forget the family pets -- arranging their travel can take even more preparation.
The pros might be doing all the heavy lifting, but you still have to prepare. Are you ready for moving day? Take this professional movers quiz.