Moving is a major undertaking that, without proper planning, can be frustrating, exhausting and even disastrous. If you are moving to a different state or town, or if you are downsizing, your move will be more complicated than if you are moving to a larger home nearby. In addition, if you have children or elderly parents who live with you, you will also have some additional considerations. However, no matter what your situation is, you can make your move simple and straightforward with a little strategy, planning and organization.
Obviously, the more time you have to prepare for you move, the more you can plan. If you know you are moving in a year, don’t wait eleven months to start preparing. As soon as you know you are moving, start using smart strategies to make it simple. Moving is a lot of work, but it can be straightforward.
Strategy I: Remove excess clutter
The longer you have lived in your current home, the more excess “stuff” you will have accumulated. Start with the big stuff, such as furniture pieces or appliances you don’t use (or that you won’t use in your new place). Clean out the garage. Go through your closets and clean out clothing, linens, tools, odds and ends—get rid of it. If you have children, don’t forget to go through their closets and bedrooms as well. They will probably have clothing and toys they don’t use anymore. You will already have enough to move; there is no point in moving things you don’t need. Sell these things in a garage sale, at a flea market or even on Craigslist. You may have friends or relatives who could use it, or you could donate it.
This step is important even if you don’t yet have a moving date. If you are waiting for a house to sell, decluttering can help you sell your house faster. Most Realtors and home stagers advise against having too much furniture, personal pictures and clutter when staging a home for sale. Anything you can live without until after your move should be packed into boxes and stored during this time.
Strategy II: Pack methodically
Select a variety of sizes of moving boxes. Heavy items should always go in smaller boxes. Clothing can be packed into vacuum seal storage bags. Breakable items such as glasses and wall hangings can be packaged with bubble wrap, newspapers, or packing peanuts. Depending on your budget, you can purchase moving boxes or find them at grocery stores in a variety of sizes. Packing ahead of time will allow you to accumulate boxes and packing materials slowly, and to pack methodically.
Only like items should be packed together: kitchen glasses with kitchen glasses, knickknacks with knickknacks, tools with tools. Once each box is packed, mark what’s in it on the top and on at least one side with a permanent marker, then put it into storage. If you have a large household, further simplify your moving process by organizing the boxes according to what room they go in. You can even color-code the boxes using garage sale stickers or multi-colored Sharpies.
Strategy III: Hire professionals
Hire as many professionals to assist with your move as your budget will allow. If you are buying your next home, you can hire a Realtor to help you through this process, usually at no cost to you. Realtors are instrumental in streamlining the house-hunting process, and they handle many of the details of the purchase transaction so you don’t have to.
Consider hiring a moving company. Prices can range widely from one mover to the next, so shop around. You will find that moving companies offer varying levels of service. You can hire movers to move everything from one house to the next and even unpack it, to load and/or unload the truck, or a variety of service levels in between. Hire as much service as you can afford. If you find you cannot afford a moving service, try to get as many helping hands as possible. If you belong to any civic organizations or to a church, you may be able to put a work party together.
Most people don’t think of housekeepers as “moving professionals,” but they can be helpful in the process. You can leave the home you move out of “move-in ready” for the next person without having to do the work yourself at a time when you are already very busy. This relatively inexpensive service is a huge time-saver on moving day.
If you have young children, make arrangements for them to visit friends or relatives, or hire a babysitter. You will need to focus on the move, and with several people moving large items, your small children could get hurt.
During the months leading up to your move, accumulate restaurant gift cards so you can eat out during those first few days following your move. This will save money at a time when you are already paying moving expenses, and you won’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning while trying to move in.
When hiring professionals, be sure to check the online reviews and the Better Business Bureau to make sure you hire reputable professionals. Hire them well in advance of the move. Moving companies and/or trucks should be selected at least two months before the move. This would be a good time to look for housekeepers and babysitters as well.
Strategy IV: Plan ahead
Your move will be much simpler if you take the time to find out about services in the area you are moving to. This is especially true if you are moving to a new state or new city. Even within the same city, though, sometimes these things change. For example, you will need to know who your utility companies are, and how much you will have to pay for deposits, if applicable. You should call these companies two to three weeks before your move-in date to establish service in your name.
This would be a good time to learn about the availability of services you use regularly in your new area. This would include nearby shopping, schools, libraries, gyms and recreation. Drive around the neighborhood, if practical, and learn all the routes to your new home. Try to meet the neighbors.
A checklist can be helpful to make sure you don’t forget to do anything. Some items on the checklist might include:
• call water company
• call gas company
• call electric company
• call telephone company
• call cable company
• set up house cleaning
• set up lawn care
• make moving truck reservations
• hire babysitter
• purchase moving supplies
You will also need to purchase moving supplies well before moving day. If you are hiring professional movers, you will need to check with them to find out what is already provided. Otherwise, the following is a suggested list of supplies that will make your moving day easier
• furniture pads
• bubble wrap
• moving boxes
• packing tape
• box cutters/razor knife
• Sharpie pens
• hand truck or dolly
• moving ramp (for wheeling the dolly or hand truck onto or off of the truck, and up and down stairs if applicable)
• furniture sliders (discs that go under furniture to make it easy to move on carpet)
Finally, as soon as you know your moving date, plan to take time off work. Follow the protocols at your job right away to make sure this happens. Two weeks would be ideal, but even one week can make a huge difference. Take as much time off as you possibly can.
Strategy V: Make the most of moving day
Go to bed early the night before the big move so you can rise early and have all your energy for moving day. By this time, your boxes should be packed and organized according to the room they go into. Your babysitting arrangements should be taken care of, if applicable, and you should have your moving service lined up. If you are moving your items yourself, pack the large items into the truck first so you can pack the smaller items and boxes around it.
When unpacking the truck, take the time to deliver the boxes into the rooms they go into. Arrange the furniture and large electronics right away, before unpacking any boxes, and put appliances where they go. When unpacking the boxes, start with the kitchen and bathrooms. Setting up these rooms will make you functional right away. Of course, you will not be able to unpack everything in one day, so you should only unpack the most essential aspects of the kitchen. Since you marked your boxes, you will easily know which boxes to unpack. You should be able to unpack the bathrooms in one day. Making the bathrooms neat and tidy in addition to unpacking them will provide a nice sense of accomplishment and a feeling of progress.
After you have the essential aspects of your kitchen set up, and your bathrooms are unpacked, work on the bedrooms. Start by putting the beds together, then adding linens and bedding. If you were lucky enough to get this far on the first day, the day will probably be spent. If you still have time and a little energy, you could start putting clothing away. Otherwise, use a gift car to get a bite to eat, and get some rest. Tomorrow is another day. Depending on how much you were able to accomplish, you may have to spend your first night in a hotel until you get the beds put together.
Strategy VI: Complete the move
Once the beds are put together and the clothing is put away, you will really start to feel like you are functional in your new home. You will still have a lot of work to do, however. If you have a large family or just a lot of clothes, putting the clothes away could be an all-day job. Try not to overwork on any one day, and take plenty of breaks. If you have children, unpack their toys as soon as the clothes are put away, so they have a sense of familiarity and something to occupy themselves with while you work.
You may have already scheduled the cable and phone companies to come out, so be sure and have your TV’s and computers plugged in and functioning by the time those companies arrive. At this point, you can go through each room and unpack your marked boxes. The children’s rooms should be unpacked first, followed by the Master bedroom. The living room would be next, followed by additional rooms and the nonessential kitchen items. Your decorative items and wall-hangings would be last. Once the inside of the house is unpacked, you can work on the garage. Even if your house is very large and you have a lot of things, you will find this organized fashion of moving to be productive and effective in making the move simple.