It's official. You've finally signed the papers. Congratulations! That new house (or apartment) is yours! After the excitement wears off, it slowly dawns on you: there's a lot of hard work ahead. To actually move into your new space, you have to pack up everything you own, move it across town, state—or even country—and set it all up again.
And, of course, if you're moving to a new state, you'll need to change your car insurance. And you'll need to change or update your home or renters insurance. We can help with that part. As for the rest, here are some useful tips and suggestions that might make moving easier!
Are you going to move yourself (with the help of friends and family), or are you going to use a professional moving company? It's a big decision, and it might be a moot point if you have a lot of belongings and furniture to move, or if it's a long-distance move.
Research various moving companies and talk to people you know. Make sure that the company has a good reputation, and try to negotiate a fixed, set fee for the entire move. Such a "binding estimate" will often require the company to visit both your current and new home in order to come up with a realistic price.
Many companies offer a range of services—all the way from packing everything, moving it and unpacking it again—to more basic options such as just loading, just unloading, or only driving the truck. You can even hire a moving company to move a single item, such as a piano or a particularly unwieldy piece of furniture. Expect extra charges if your move crosses county or state lines, and if multiple flights of stairs are involved.
Many moving companies offer insurance on your belongings, with different coverage options. Most will require an extensive home inventory, outlining particularly expensive or valuable belongings. Putting together an inventory is always a good idea anyway, and moving is a good opportunity to do so.
Start collecting moving boxes as early as you can. It's better to have more than you need. Ask local stores if they have extra boxes, or if they can set some aside for you. The best kinds of boxes to use are ones that once transported fragile pre-packaged items, such as glass bottles. Make sure that all the boxes are clean and sturdy—you can reinforce them with duct or packing tape.
Each packed box should get a number, written clearly on each side of the box, along with a note saying which room it came from and which room it should end up in, and a rough indication of what's inside it. Keep a list, and check off each box as you deliver it to its destination room. If you're using a moving company, make sure to put your name on each box, since many times boxes from multiple customers are put in the same truck and can shift during the trip.
Clothing can be transported in leaf or trash bags. Just make sure they are clearly labeled so they don't get tossed! Use clear bags if you can, or white ones, to differentiate between trash and clothes you want to keep. You can also transport clothing in suitcases, which is a great way to use all available containers.
If you have clothing that is fragile or needs to be kept neat, consider purchasing a wardrobe box. These boxes keep clothing fresh and unwrinkled because they allow you to hang clothes as you would in a closet.
Find your lowest rates on car insurance quotes. Changing locations can affect the insurance quotes you receive, so this is a good time to compare rates. Make sure to check home insurance quotes or renters insurance quotes, since these can change as well.
Typically, you'll need to update your utilities and services: electric, gas, water, newspapers and magazines, telephone/cell phone, Internet provider, and cable companies. Make these arrangements several weeks before you move, if possible. You can provide the date of your move to these companies, and they should be able to transfer service so you can make a smooth transition.
Let your bank and credit card companies know about your move as far in advance as possible so they can switch your mailing address on the day that you specify.
Don't forget to tell your employer that you're moving. Update your address and contact details with your human resources department as soon as possible. This is especially important for pay and 401(k) information. If you have investments or 401(k)'s from other companies, contact these financial organizations too.
Get pre-printed address labels for your new house as soon as you know the address, and use them liberally—on boxes, notes, anything of importance. Mail a few to friends and family to remind them of your new address, and make sure to give them your new telephone number.
Before you even start packing, measure your furniture and check the doorways and tight corners at your new house. You might find that some items will have to be dismantled to get them into your new home—or even to get them out of your old one!
If you have children, bear in mind that this is probably both an exciting and scary experience for them too. They will be giving up friends and familiar places and things for the unknown, and however intimidating that might be for you, it's probably going to be worse for your children. Keep them involved during the preparations, and on the day of the move. Give them something to do that keeps them occupied, yet out of harm's way. Have plenty of distractions for them, and plenty of patience too.
Day of the Move
Make sure the new house is child and pet-proofed before you start moving boxes in. When dealing with young children, make sure that any safety gates for stairs or outlet protectors are in place before you bring your child into the new house. It'll be much easier to add any safety items before the house fills up with boxes.
You should transport anything irreplaceable or expensive in your car, if you can. This could include fragile items, personal records, your computer, television, etc. Check that items are secured, and that your field of vision won't be impaired when driving.
Remember that your tire pressure should be checked ahead of time, if you intend to load your car with more weight than usual.
If you are driving a rental van, remember that it might handle differently from what you're used to. Give yourself more room for turns and a few extra seconds of braking time. And remember that the truck may be higher than usual, so watch your overhead clearance.
If possible, move on a weekday. Important services such as banks, government offices and utility companies will be open if you need them.
Packing can be just as traumatic for your pet as the move itself. Keep pets out of the boxes and the packing materials. Get a blanket or piece of clothing with your scent on it, and keep it with the pet in the weeks leading up to the move. It may offer your pet some comfort in the new house.
Pack a special box with some kitchen and bathroom items that you might need immediately at your new house. A change of clothes and some clean sheets might also be good things to put in this box. Keep this in your car, or make sure it's easy to get to once your move is over. There's nothing worse than arriving at your new place and having to buy supplies that are still packed or are in the back of the truck. Also, make sure to bring curtains for your bedroom and bathroom if you need them.
Don't pack flammable or heat-sensitive items that could sit for awhile in unpredictable temperatures. If you're not sure, pack them into the back seat of your car, and don't leave them sitting around for any length of time. Certain items (such as medications) might need to be packed in a cooler, while others might need to be kept warm in the winter. Carefully consider how you'll need to treat such items during your move.
Make sure everything arrived! Use your checklist and make sure each box is accounted for, and is in the right room. Unpack what you need for the rest of the day, and don't feel under pressure to unpack everything right away. Rest, and enjoy your new home!
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Originally posted April 6, 2006.
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