Moving is an incredibly stressful time. The act of packing up all of your belongings and putting them in a truck is humbling and worrying at the same time. It’s even worse when you have to entrust everything to the hands of strangers. Why not eliminate some of that stress while you can? Nearly everything in the act of moving is under your control, so you can start taking steps early to lower the stress of moving. Here are 51 tips for you to keep in mind as your moving date approaches. Bear in mind that most of them are focused for people moving out of state or across the country, so many of them may seem excessive or not valid for short cross-town moves.
Planning and Information Gathering
1. Pinpoint the exact date or dates of your move. Knowing it helps you know when to take off work or schedule account disconnections and connections.
2. Make sure you budget for the move. If you’re using a moving service, you need the money to pay for it. The same goes for gas expenses, food on the road, and unexpected expenses along the way. Don’t forget the impact of taking time off from work to move.
3. Research your new community early, as soon as you know where you’ll be living. Some ideas of things to look into:
- School information for yourself (college) or your children
- Information about getting a new job or transferring your current job
- Locations of essential services, like hospitals, schools, supermarkets, hardware stores, etc.
4. Create a file with all of your important paperwork. Purchase a file box if you have that much paperwork, or a smaller folio file folder for lower quantities of paperwork. There might be a lot to collect, so use this checklist:
- Paperwork for the move itself. Mover quotes, item inventories, insurance information, receipts
- Important personal information. Driver’s licenses and IDs, passports, vehicle titles, military records, marriage licenses and similar documents
- School information for your children. Current school information and contacts, new school information, and transfer information
- Medical records from doctors, dentists, specialists, eye doctors, etc. Don’t forget a referral to a new doctor in your new city. Get copies of birth certificates
- Vet records if you have pets
- Legal and financial records, stock certificates, bank records and information. Don’t forget insurance information
5. Notify everyone who needs to be notified of your move. There may be more people and businesses than you realize. Here’s a list of ideas, though not everyone will have all of these accounts.
- Utilities: gas, electric, water, sewer and trash
- Phone, cable and Internet providers
- Personal accounts such as gym memberships, lawn services and pharmacy accounts
- Financial accounts, such as banks, credit card companies, insurance companies and health insurance providers
- Employers, both past and present for the delivery of W-2s
- Health services like doctors, dentists, eye doctors, pediatricians and specialists
- Assorted other important figures, like financial managers, accountants and lawyers
- By-mail accounts for magazines and newspapers
- Friends and family
- Government institutions like the DMV, social security administration, tax bureaus and veterans administrations
6. Contact the Chamber of Commerce for your new city. Chances are they have some kind of relocation package with valuable information, relevant laws and other helpful documents for people moving to their area.
7. Unless you’re leaving your vehicles behind, get them serviced before the move. You don’t want to be stranded half way to your destination with a blown head gasket. Make sure to ask your mechanic about any special measures you might need to take changing from one climate to another.
8. If you plan to move large appliances like washers and dryers, stoves and refrigerators, have them serviced. It is never a happy time to reach your new home and find a major appliance is broken.
9. Have any rugs, drapes or carpets you’re moving cleaned. If possible, leave them in the plastic wrapping they come back in, so they remain clean for the move.
10. If you have antiques, have them appraised for their value. Obtain a written copy of the appraisal, so if they are damaged in transit, you have proof for an insurance claim. Don’t use wax or oil on valuable wooden furniture before the move, as it can soften the wood and make it more prone to damage.
11. Some cities have restrictions on the plants you can bring into their boundaries. If you plan to move houseplants, make sure they aren’t on the restricted list.
12. Take pets to the vet and make sure not only that they are healthy, but that you have copies of their inoculation records. Make sure they have collars and tags in the instance they get lost.
13. Begin gathering possessions that aren’t in your home. The contents of a gym locker or storage shed are easy to forget. Gather in items out for repair. Return items you borrowed from friends and libraries, and gather the items you lent out to friends and family. Return a cable box if you need to.
14. Contact your Credit Card Company or bank if you plan to use a credit or debit card to pay for the move. Make sure they know that suspicious activity around the move date is legitimate, so they don’t unexpectedly shut down your card.
15. Get two phone books. One for your current town in case you need to contact anyone once you have moved, and one for your new town in case you need to look up information before or when you arrive.
16. If you feel the need to, meet with an attorney to discuss differences in local laws and regulations between your current city and your destination.
Packing and Organizing your Move
17. Start organizing your possessions early. Determine what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of before you move. If you give yourself plenty of time, you can hold a yard sale to sell off your unwanted possessions. The remaining items you can donate to a charity, Salvation Army or Goodwill outlet. For donations, estimate the value for future tax deductions. Don’t forget receipts.
18. Begin creating an inventory of your possessions. Estimate the value of everything you’re packing, so you have a number and itemized inventory if something goes wrong and you need to file an insurance claim.
19. Avoid shopping. Don’t buy anything that won’t be used between now and the move date. This goes double for food. Clear out your pantries first, throwing away spoiled food and eating what you can.
20. Set aside a box or two for the most valuable or irreplaceable items. Make sure these boxes are clearly marked and that they stay secured or with you at all times, before, during and after the move.
21. Order plenty of packing materials early. Make sure you have plenty of boxes on hand. Have a number of different colored tapes or permanent markets to mark each box. Make sure you have bubble wrap, tape, twine, newspaper and any other supplies you need. Feel free to look into specialty moving containers for some items, like dishes and clothing.
22. Compare the dimensions of your new home to the furniture you have. Make sure it will all fit. Likewise, measure doorways so you know your furniture will be able to fit inside your new rooms.
23. Start packing the least used items first. Leave items you will use up until the day of the move unpacked, but make sure you have space for it all to be packed quickly and easily.
24. Allow yourself and each family member a single box to pack away the “day one essentials” they will need on the day of the move. Things like clothing, toiletries and immediate access items go in these boxes.
25. Label every box as you pack it with both a number and a color. The color will correspond to the room it will be unpacked in, so the boxes can easily be put in the right room when you arrive. The number will correspond to a detailed list you will make. This list will contain numbers of every box and the items contained in those boxes. When you need to dig something out, consult this document so you know where it is rather than sorting through boxes by hand.
26. Decide if you’re moving all of your furniture and major appliances, or if you’re leaving any of it behind. Don’t forget about outdoor items like a grill, patio chairs and tables.
27. Label some boxes as the “open first” boxes when unpacking. Make sure important day one use items are packed in these boxes, and that they are loaded in the moving truck last so they can be unpacked first. Here are some of the items you might have in these boxes:
- Kitchen items such as dishes, pots and pans
- Bedroom items like bedding, alarm clocks and pillows
- Toiletries like soap, toilet paper and towels
- Essential tools and spare items, like screws and hooks, tools, light bulbs and batteries
28. If your current bank does not have branches in your new location, prepare for a financial transfer. Open a new account in your new location and transfer your money to it. Close out your current account. Make sure important financial services are transferred, like insurance and stock portfolios. Don’t forget the contents of any safety deposit boxes or P.O. boxes you may have.
29. Before you leave, have some special moments to create lasting memories. A going-away party with a simple theme like a barbecue is ideal. Take your family to visit local favorite places like restaurants, parks and landmarks.
30. Dispose of any flammable materials. If you have large machinery like lawn mowers, snow blowers or generators, drain the gas from them. Dispose of old paints and aerosol cans. Likewise, if you have any waterbeds or hoses, drain the water from them in advance of packing.
31. At least twenty-four hours before the day of the move, make sure your fridge is empty and defrost it. This way it can be clean, empty and room temperature when you leave.
Tips for Using a Moving Service
32. Before selecting a moving service, collect estimates from as many as you can. Make sure you get these estimates on-site, not through the phone.
33. Make sure you get the number of your selected mover’s USDOT (Department of Transportation) certification for the vehicle that will be moving you. This way you can confirm the number when they arrive. Scams are rare, but they do happen.
34. Confirm the parking for your moving truck, both at your current home and your new home. If there are permits required to park large vehicles or for extended periods, you don’t want to be caught unaware.
35. Determine if you will be packing your possessions yourself or if the movers will be helping or doing it themselves. Additionally, find out if there are any items they will not move. Often these restricted items will need to be with you in your own vehicle.
36. Determine and record the values of any high value items that will be in the moving truck. Generally, anything over a $100 per pound limit should be noted down. Keep this information handy for possible insurance claims if something goes wrong.
37. Set side items that you want to keep with you rather than with the moves. Some of these items could be valuable or breakable items, important documents, clothes, toiletries, first aid kits, snacks for the move and cash to pay/tip the movers upon arrival.
38. Have cash on hand to tip your movers. Generally, a good tip is between ten and fifteen percent of the total moving fee, up to $100. Keeping refreshments on hand for the packing and unpacking processes are also appreciated.
39. Supervise the movers as they load and unload. Make sure they know where to unload boxes and furniture. You are free to tell them were to position furniture and appliances, but they may charge extra to install appliances. They are under no obligation to rearrange your furniture once it has been put down.
40. Before you leave, double-check addresses and contact information with the movers. Make sure your phone is always connected and charged, in case they need to contact you.
The Day of the Move
41. File a change of address with your post office.
42. If you are renting your own moving truck, learn about it. Who will drive? How is gas covered? What is the insurance situation? Where will you return the vehicle to when you arrive? How long do you have to keep it? Buy a padlock for the van so it can be secured.
43. Make sure your old home is clean when you leave. In the case of apartments, this relates to getting your security deposit back. In the case of homeowners, the new owners will appreciate it.
44. Before you leave for the last time, do a final walk-through. Make sure all items are removed and packed. Check drawers, closets, cupboards, the garage and the basement. Close and lock all windows and doors. Turn off all lights. Check if the water heater, furnace or other major systems need to be shut off, and make sure they are in the proper state.
45. Gather all keys to the home and leave them in a safe spot, whether this is on a counter, with the landlord or with the realtor depends on your situation.
Unpacking and Your New Home
46. Unpack slowly and keep everything organized. Organizing now makes it easier to keep things clean and organized later. When unloading the moving truck, putting color-coded boxes in the right rooms is a great first step.
47. Avoid using major appliances and computer systems until they are room temperature. Condensation or cold temperatures can cause damage to old appliances if they are used too quickly after moving.
48. Check the smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in your new home and make sure they are all in working condition. Replace batteries and light bulbs as necessary.
49. As soon as you can, replace all of the locks in your new home for security reasons, in case old copies of the keys are floating around.
50. Locate the nearest essentials to your home. These include convenience stores, hardware stores, hospitals and other facilities. Get a map of the city if need be.
51. Over the first few months of your new home, read every bill carefully. Make sure you aren’t paying for something you shouldn’t be, and that there are no anomalies.