Whether you're headed from one coast to another or just across town, moving can be exciting and stressful at the same time. We have ten steps to help your "Movin' Up" experience go smoothly.
Your Calendar = Your Friend
You can start planning ASAP if you use this old-school tool. Set reminders for everything from canceling magazine subscriptions to planning ways to use up food from your refrigerator. It will keep you from scrambling to get things done at the last minute and help you work more efficiently along the way.
All the tips to follow hinge on your master calendar, so consider it a "living document" and add to it (or cross off accomplished tasks) frequently.
Get to Know Your New Home
There are plenty of ways to get to know your new city or neighborhood before you even get there. Here are just a few suggestions:
- Before you move, contact the local Chamber of Commerce or City Hall to request a new resident package. These organizations often have sections of their Web sites for new residents that give you insight into where libraries, parks and places of interest are located, how and where to get drivers' licenses, and other important information.
- There are plenty of online sites, too, that rate local schools. Even if you don't have children, this will help you see how desirable the new area is for incoming families. This might help you think ahead to resale of property in a given neighborhood.
- Compare home prices in the neighborhoods you are considering (or have decided upon). Web sites like Zillow.com come in handy but don't necessarily reflect the most updated information. If possible, go ahead and reach out to neighbors and heads of neighborhood associations.
- Since you're in research mode, start early to find new doctors, dentists, veterinarians and other important resources.
Clearly, some moves take more time and planning than others. Apartment dwellers, for example, don't necessarily have the added stress of trying to sell a home while purchasing a new one. But there are some common to-do items that many of us have to face:
- You'll need to drop by your local U.S. Post Office for change of address forms and moving guides. You can also accomplish this online: https://moversguide.usps.com/.
- Ask yourself a few key questions: Will my insurance company cover my assets in transit? Will my car and home policies change when I move? How long will I have until my auto registration is no longer valid in my new place of residency? Notify gas and heat companies, Internet providers, cable companies and other utilities of your pending move. Add all these shut-off dates to your master calendar to avoid paying for utilities you aren't using.
- Find out the most cost-effective time to cancel gym memberships or forward magazine subscriptions.
- Return library books; cancel newspaper subscriptions.
- Let colleagues and networking contacts know of your move when it's comfortable for you to do so. After all, you'll want your professional network to stay intact when the rest of your stuff is disassembled.
- Close or transfer bank accounts.
- Fill necessary prescriptions and have them transferred to your new area pharmacy.
The Budget & Paperwork
Plan a move without a budget and you might feel the pinch later. Expenses tend to creep in quickly and quietly, so keep a file for everything, no matter how small.
Why is this so important? You'll thank yourself next tax season when most of these items can be written off! Account for everything from the boxes and movers to the rug shampoo and packing paper.
Account for things you might have missed in your initial budget, such as:
- Temporary storage for goods you might not use right away
- Temporary living arrangements or short-term housing
- Food and hotel stays required during transit to your new home
- Pet boarding
- Car servicing before your trip
Don't Move What You Won't Use
Whether you're doing it yourself or hiring a company, there's no reason to move anything you won't need in your new home. Here are a few ways to get rid of that stuff quickly:
- Have a moving sale. Include everything from old kitchen appliances to clothing or toys the kids have grown out of. Get the most bang for your buck by taking the time to clean up items or organize them by category.
- Load up the car and donate to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or other local charities.
- Hit online message boards (such as Craigslist.org or Freecycle.org) or put an ad in your local newspaper to announce your freebies or used stuff.
- Moving from a house to a condo without a yard? Give a neighbor your mower or other yard supplies.
You're about to put everything you own in cardboard boxes. There's no denying it - it's overwhelming. For this part of the process, it's all about organization and simplicity.
- Use your calendar to determine how to pack for the least stress. For some, it might be an hour or two a day. For others, it might be three straight 10-hour days. However you do it, be realistic and provide yourself plenty of time.
- Consider buying your packing materials online. Many companies will bundle boxes, bubble wrap, tape and packing paper and send it right to your home for a lot less money than if you bought it all at a retail store.
- Need extra packing materials? Hit your local storage place. Hint: Ask if you can sell back any boxes you don't end up using.
- Save even more money by visiting local sites like Craigslist.org, where people are often looking to get rid of boxes from a recent move.
- Get creative with packing supplies: You don't always need to use paper and bubble wrap. Use suitcases to pack clothes you'll want to wear right away; use towels to protect breakables.
- Save space by packing unbreakable contents in tightly loaded drawers. Simply tape the drawers in place with strips of wide masking tape and then remove the tape as soon as the furniture arrives at your new home.
- Color-coordinate or mark each box by room, not by type of contents. This will save time for the movers (and you) when it's time to unpack.
- Moving a refrigerator? Throw a couple of charcoal briquettes or newspaper inside the unit to absorb left-over odors.
- Pack ahead of time - but not too far! Inevitably, you'll want that book in the bottom of that large (and heavy) box.
Hiring a Mover
Hiring a mover can take a lot of stress off, but it doesn't mean there is rest for the move-weary. Know this: If you've hired a mover, you have basically taken on the role of project manager, and it's your job to make sure they are accountable for the end result. Here are a few tips that may help:
- Always get written estimates from a mover (more than one is best). Keep in mind that most moving companies are used to negotiating a bit.
- Find out how much a mover insures (usually a per-pound price) and carefully read liability clauses before signing anything.
- What do materials and boxes cost through the moving company? Can you save a bundle of money by providing your own?
- Most professional moving companies will not move houseplants. Those that do will not be responsible for their watering or care.
- Ask ahead of time if there are extra charges for moving things up flights of stairs, reassembling furniture and the like. These extra costs can add up.
- Consider if you'll need extra insurance to cover important items or whether the items in your own vehicle are covered during transit to your new home.
- Think ahead: Can their trucks fit in your driveway? Do you have enough cash to tip each mover? Do you want to provide drinks or food to them?
Don't want to hire a crew? We understand. And there are definitely budget-friendly ways to make sure your move goes smoothly. In addition to doing the math ("Is renting a truck and taking three days off work really cheaper than hiring a mover?") here are a few questions to ponder:
- Are you asking friends or family to help? If so, can they definitely make the commitment?
- Have you accounted for time to disassemble furniture? Can each piece of furniture fit in the vehicle you are using to move?
- Some laws prohibit bringing plants into a new state. Consider giving them to friends or donating or selling them.
- Do you have access to a hand truck?
- Are you planning to rent a truck? If so, are you used to driving one or have you considered taking a driving class - especially if you are moving a long distance?
- Does your homeowner's or renter's insurance cover everything in your move?
- Do you have money or meals for your friends who are helping during your move?
While in Transit
The time between leaving your old home and getting to your new abode can be difficult, exciting and stressful all at once. Here are just four things to keep in mind:
- Keep important papers and documents with you, including birth certificates, marriage license and deeds.
- Don't leave any valuables in your car or hotel room, especially overnight.
- Keep in consistent communication with the moving company, especially if you are traveling a long distance.
- Aim to arrive at your new home before the movers do.
- Consider putting together a survival package so you can camp out in your new home until the moving van arrives. Suggestions include coffee, cups, spoons, soap and towels, a can and bottle opener, some light bulbs, a flashlight, toilet paper, cleansing powder, and a first-aid kit.
The Big Day
You've planned, packed and moved, and you're ready to get the furniture into the house. It's the day to don your project manager hat one last time. The top three things to remember are:
- Be there to inventory all boxes and furniture coming into the house. If you have hired movers, don't sign on the dotted line until you can confirm that everything has been accounted for.
- Make sure that any damaged, broken or lost items are also itemized before you sign papers from the moving company.
- Inspect all charges on the movers' invoice. Is there anything there you didn't expect? If so, call the company before the movers leave.
Last step: Order pizza and chill out for a bit before starting the Big Unpack...