Tips for Moving
Congratulations on your new home! Now you face the huge task of getting all of your belongings from where they are to where you’re going without breaking your budget, your possessions or your back. Approximately 40 million Americans move every year. That’s 14.9 percent of the population. Nearly half of them move between May and September, and more at the end of a month. If you have a choice, that will give you a clue as to when not to move, especially if you’re looking for lower rates from professional movers, or companies that rent or sell moving equipment and supplies.
Moving for Employment
Every move is different, so there’s no one-size-fits-all plan for the process. Moving for work? Ask your company whether or not they will pay for part (or all) of the relocation. Save receipts for all moving services, so that you can document the expenses and get reimbursed in a timely fashion or possibly claim your out-of-pocket expenses as a tax deduction.
Determine Your Budget
If your employer is not going to foot the bill, you need to figure out what you can afford to spend on a move. This will help you decide how much help you can hire and how much you need to do with just the help of friends and family. Some options include hiring full-service movers, using a portable moving container, renting a truck you will drive yourself and hiring or recruiting moving-day labor. Deciding which option(s) to use and which hired help is reliable requires careful research and reading all the fine print.
When my family moved from Massachusetts to Utah 29 years ago, we packed all the boxes ourselves and then, after getting various bids, hired (we thought) a reputable, nationally-known moving company. Their sales rep showed up in a suit and went over all of the details with us. We were assured that the moving truck that came to our house would be the same one that delivered everything we’d packed to our new home. What showed up on moving day was a clearly out-sourced truck and a group of guys wearing tank tops and smoking cigars. What showed up in our Utah driveway was an entirely different truck and crew. At some point during the journey, everything had been moved to this truck, with our 2,000 lbs. of books piled on top of our long, six-drawer dresser, which was now broken in half. There was other damage, too. Fortunately, we did have moving insurance, so most our damaged belongings were replaced at full value, after filling out lots of forms and having multiple on-site inspections.
Nowadays, all long-distance movers should be licensed with the U.S. DOT and should have a U.S. DOT number. To find their complaint history, simply enter the moving company’s number into the S. DOT database. Also, check out the terms of the insurance, refund or damage policies they offer before signing a contract. Taking valuable items with you in your car or on the plane can also add to your piece of mind. If you can be flexible with potential moving dates, try to find the cheapest time of the month or the year to reserve your spot. Make your reservation for a mover or a truck as soon as possible.
Declutter, Donate, Sell or Trash
The less stuff you have, the cheaper it’ll be to move it — and the faster and more efficiently you will be able to unpack and make your new house feel like home. Start as early as possible, and divide items into “keep,” “trash,” “sell” and “donate.” Be ruthless — if you haven’t used it in a year (or forgot you even had it!), you don’t need it. Then gather your packing supplies and start packing! The sooner you begin the packing process the better. One advice-giver suggested allowing yourself a daily box quota to get the job done on time without having to exhaust yourself by non-stop packing.
Save on Supplies
If you’re going to do the packing yourself, start accumulating boxes from the local grocery or liquor store. Many are durable and not overly large, so you can’t fill them so full that they’re too heavy to carry. Just make sure the tops haven’t been cut off. Save newspaper, too. It comes in handy for wrapping breakables. Some purchased boxes can be worth the cost. Professional movers will bring wardrobe boxes and put clothing in them still on the hangers. You don’t have to pack your closets and your clothes won’t need ironing when you arrive. You can do the same with large trash bags.
Packing Tips for DIY
- Pack up all your art and decorative items several weeks before you move. These pieces can be some of the trickiest to store because they’re fragile and often oddly shaped, so having a bit of extra time to figure out how to properly protect them is helpful.
- Pick a color code for each room and label boxes that go in that room accordingly. Put the corresponding sticker/tape on the door of each room in your new house so that movers know where to put the boxes. Or Label the boxes by category and by room (for example, Books, Study and Books, Bedroom) to speed up the unloading process. Fill your small boxes with heavier items and use larger boxes for light things like decorative pillows, towels, and linens
- Make a detailed list of what’s in each box by number. If a box contains valuables, keep them safe by not listing them on the box. Your list will help you know where to look for things after the move.
- Wrap breakables (dishes, glasses, etc.) in clothing, towels, bedding or newspaper to save on bubble wrap. For extra padding, pack your glasses and stemware in clean socks.
- Pack plates vertically after wrapping. They’ll be less likely to break.
- Put small parts of things you have to take apart into sandwich bags. Tape the sandwich bags to the back of the item they came from. Also use this method with the cords for your electronics.
- Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go. Pack your electronics in their original boxes, if you still have them.
- If you’re hiring a moving company and are moving major appliances, they will insist that you prepare them before the movers arrive. Most movers offer a professional service and will do it for you for an extra fee. If you do it yourself, consult the owner’s manual or Google how to do each one correctly.
- When packing up your garage, consider the following:
- To prepare gas-operated tools for moving, drain all harmful liquids. Remove and empty propane tanks from barbecue grills and purge the hose thoroughly. Make sure lids and all parts are secured.
- Remove all attachments and pack these separately in well-protected boxes.
- Use bubble wrap, old rags or linens to protect any sharp edges or blades before you pack them. If you’re packing sharp-edged tools in a box, label it accordingly so whoever is unpacking the items is aware of the contents.
Before Moving-Out Day
- As soon as you have a closing date, call the utility companies and set up a service switch. This is especially important if you’re moving into a home that is newly built or previously vacant. Arranging a maintenance call to reestablish service might be necessary.
- Change your address at least two weeks prior to moving.
- Clean out your refrigerator/freezer at least a day before moving, and defrost if necessary.
- Set aside cleaning supplies for moving day, do you’ll have what you need to clean up dirt you couldn’t get to before!.
Moving In Day
- If you can, show up to your new home before the move and pre-clean the bathroom and kitchen.
- If your new place is within driving distance of your current home, plan to take basic supplies and personal items over the day before.
- Make the beds first. Then, when you’re exhausted and can’t move one more thing, you can slip right into bed.
- Take a walk around your new neighborhood and introduce yourself to people you see. This is the best way to get a recommendation for a handy man or neighborhood-favorite babysitter, and get to know the surrounding area.
Enjoy your new home! Things will get back to normal quicker by following these moving tips and getting lots of good help on both ends of your move, paid or otherwise.