10 Tips for Planning a Move

A female hand writing a 'to do list' in a notebook.
Make a moving list and check it twice.
ŠiStockphoto.com/Georgina Palmer

These days, change is the only constant and when it happens, Americans aren't afraid to pack up their belongings and find new digs. Is your family growing? Are you in search of lower rent or moving to live in a better home? Has a new job or job transfer landed you in a new city? Whatever the reason for your move, getting everything you own from one home to another can be difficult to orchestrate. So, rather than just play it by ear and hope everything gets done in time, it's a good idea to make a solid plan well in advance of your move. What kinds of things should be included in your relocation strategy? Find out on the following pages.


10: Take Care of Address Change Details First

change of address
Be sure to fill out a change of address request form with the U.S. Post Office.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Once you've unpacked your last box at your new home, you might consider celebrating with a drink, a nice meal or by collapsing on your newly arranged couch. The last thing you want in that moment is to find more tedious tasks on your to-do list. Save yourself the annoyance by taking care of your change of address requests first. They rarely take effect immediately, so notifying the post office, bank and other important contacts -- like the subscription office of your favorite tabloid -- before you begin packing will ensure everything is updated and in order by your move-in date.


9: Make a Master List of Moving Tasks

Everyone knows it's easier to remember what you need to do if you sit down and make a list. Also, that gives you the opportunity to check off to-do items as you go, which is always satisfying. When you've got kids and pets to consider, there are a lot of things to remember. A list will help you organize your thoughts, and it should be made several months in advance of your move. And including deadlines is paramount. Some items need to be done before others, so schedule deadlines accordingly and then stick to them. While you're in list-making mode, make an inventory of what you're moving for insurance purposes. This inventory will be helpful as you unpack, as well, to ensure you're not missing anything.


8: Don't Pay For Packing Supplies

packing supplies
You can get all of your moving boxes for free from package and grocery stores.

Moving is a lot of work and, even if you're moving to a more affordable place, it can really drain your wallet. So why pay for moving supplies that you can get for free? Have you estimated the number of boxes you will need for your belongings? Well, multiply that number by 20 percent, just to be safe, and start hitting up your local appliance or department stores. You might try your local grocery or package store as well, but avoid boxes that carried frozen foods or produce as they may have water damage or food stains. Ask someone when the store expects shipments. They may even volunteer to set some boxes and packing paper aside for you. After a few trips to the right store, you'll have all of the boxes, packing paper and bubble wrap you need without the high price tag. And as you're unpacking your boxes in your new home, be sure to flatten out each piece of packing paper to ensure you find every little piece, especially if you had help packing boxes.


7: Plan New Rooms as You Pack the Old

You won't be able replicate everything in your new home exactly the way it was in your old one, and who would want to anyway? Your new place is a fresh palette for new ideas. But taking pictures of every room before you start to pack up your old home will help you plan how to unpack. It will save you a lot of time, too. You can see what worked and remember what may be hidden in an unpacked box. Don't forget to take pictures of complicated electronic hook-ups to help you put them back together. If you can find a floor plan for your new home, you'll have an even more detailed plan.


6: Line Up Professional Movers

moving truck
Professional movers will cost you more money, but will save you time and energy.

If you're short on time or you just hate the idea of walking up and down stairs with countless boxes -- or you're moving across the country -- you might want to look into hiring a professional moving company. While professional movers can be expensive, they don't have to be. Be sure to get quotes from several companies, and don't be shy about the fact that you're shopping around. Making companies aware that you're checking out the competition might just result in a lower quote. If you have flexibility on your moving date, ask if you can wait to be added to a truck that is moving to the same area. This will reduce the cost. Finally, make sure you know your rights and purchase additional insurance if necessary.


5: Ask Your Friends to Help

Even if you hire movers, and especially if you don't hire movers, you'll need some other people to help you carry items out of your old house and into your new one. If you plan to rely heavily on friends to help with your move, you need to make sure they're committed to your plight. And you need to line them up early in the game. If you want help, it's best to schedule your move for a weekend day, when most people are off work. When your helpers arrive, have a plan in place for what each person should do -- assign each friend a particular set of boxes or a specific room to focus on. Be sure to thank each person individually and even better -- schedule some sort of formal thank you for everyone, such as a dinner out or a cookout at your new place the next weekend. They deserve it.


4: Get Your New Place in Tip-top Shape

floor cleaner
Getting most home projects and cleaning out of the way before you move in will make those jobs much easier to complete.

If you're moving to a rental or a fixer-upper, there might be some plans you have for your new place. Whether you hope to paint, do minor repairs, conduct extensive renovations or simply give the place a nice squeaky-clean shine, try to do so before you move in. Any projects you have planned will be easier and faster if they're completed before your boxes and furnishings arrive. If you don't have time to get in there yourself, consider hiring some help who can complete your tasks while you finish packing for the move. You'll have a much better chance of making your plans a reality.


3: Read Up on How to Drive a Rental Truck

If you're going to drive your own rental truck or van, read up on how to drive it before you get out on the road. There are several things to keep in mind when you're driving a truck: First, if you normally drive a sedan, the truck is going to be much wider than what you're used to driving. It's also heavier than a car, so it won't stop as quickly. Be sure there's more than one car length between your truck and the vehicle ahead of you at all times. Pay attention to road signs regarding trucks, never pass a vehicle moving more than 40 miles per hour and, unless you're particularly adept at using your side-view mirrors, avoid backing up as much as possible -- it's tricky.


2: Have Rugs, Drapes and Slipcovers Cleaned

unrolling rug
Take advantage of the move to have rugs, drapes and other soft goods dry cleaned so they're fresh and clean when you move in.
Thinkstock/Eyecandy Images

Moving is the perfect occasion to have some things cleaned that tend to go without cleaning for long periods of time. For example, if your couch has a cover that can be removed, you can send that cover and the cushion slipcovers to the cleaners for a good washing. The same goes for your rugs (depending on what they're made of). Drapes, shower curtains and bed skirts are other fabric items that should be washed before they're moved. You don't want to bring dirty, dusty fabrics into your new home, so clean them before you move.


1: Purge

Do you have a plan for purging the pile of junk that has collected in your closets, garage and/or basement? If your home is a landfill, then you may need to schedule when you'll address each pile of junk over the next few months before the move. Go through each pile more than once, setting aside the definite throwaways during the first sweep and the less obvious throwaways during the next couple of sweeps. Many of the items can be given away to charity. Go online to see what local charities you'd like to support and figure out which ones will benefit most by what you have to donate. Don't forget to keep a record what you donate and get a receipt for your taxes. If you have more time on your hands, you can schedule a garage sale before your move.

Lots More Information

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  • "10 Summer Moving Tips." Realtor.com. (Jan. 9, 2011) http://www.realtor.com/home-finance/real-estate/buyers/summer-moving-tips.aspx?source=web
  • Datko, Karen. "The ABCs of DIY moving." MSN Money. Nov. 3, 2010. (Jan. 9, 2011) http://money.msn.com/saving-money-tips/post.aspx?post=3f0cc12a-827f-4676-b2df-9a7d6167061d
  • Johnson, Stacy. "7 Tips to Save at least $1,000 on Your Next Move." Money Talks News. June 9, 2010. (Jan. 9, 2011) http://www.moneytalksnews.com/2010/06/09/7-tips-to-save-at-least-1000-on-your-next-move/