Starting a new life in a new home is exciting but let’s face it, moving is a pain. Even if you hire a comprehensive service, you still face weeks of turmoil and disruption. While there’s not much you can do to make it a joy, here’s what you can do to make it easier.
There’s three crucial things you can do to minimize the stress of moving. They are organize, organize and organize some more. The more you get done before the actual day of the move, the smoother things will go. Ideally your preparations should start at two months prior to the move, even if you have not finalized your new home.
Get the facts
Every move is unique and no general guide like this can prepare you for all possibilities. You need to consider special circumstances like:
Make a list
Write everything down! You’ll thank yourself later. Before you pack even one box, create a simple record keeping system. Create a computer-printed list of numbers with a space to write the contents. Or have a spiral-bound notebook for the job. You’ll place a number on EVERY Box you pack and list the contents on your list. Don’t put the list down unless it’s in a place you’ll call Packing Central. This is where you’ll find your labels, marking pens, box tape, and other supplies. When describing the box contents, be specific.
Have plenty of supplies
Don’t make me say this twice– you’ll need LOTS of boxes–probably more boxes than you think, and having enough boxes will make your life easier! If you buy your boxes from a moving company, you can always return unused boxes for a refund. If you got them free from the grocery, just toss any leftovers. Have about 10 boxes set aside to use for last minute items on moving day, such as bedding, clothing, and cleaning supplies. You’ll need strong plastic packing tape to close up the boxes securely. Use unprinted newsprint or packing paper or bubble wrap to wrap and cushion household good. Again, you’ll need lots more supplies than you think, so get extra so the packing can go smoothly. Return any unused supplies after the truck is packed.
Utilize wardrobe boxes
These tall boxes are perfect for bulky, lightweight items such as comforters, pillows, and blankets, as well as clothes that need to remain hanging. Call your mover to ask the width of the wardrobe boxes they’ll be bringing. Then measure the clothes in your closets including coat closets to see how many wardrobe boxes you’ll need. You can also use them for closet storage boxes, shoe boxes, and other bulky items such as fabric bolts, large baskets, or gift-wrap tubes.
Don’t make the boxes too heavy to lift, however. One mover told the story of someone who put a bowling ball in a wardrobe box! When the box was lifted off the truck the bottom gave way, sending the bowling ball on a wild ride down the ramp, across the street to the gutter, then down a hill where it finally came to rest in a roadside ditch.
Strategize wardrobe box use
Moving companies will be happy to deliver boxes ahead of your moving day. Or if you’re doing the move yourself, get things organized as early as possible. A few days before your move, fill some sturdy handled shopping bags with bulky closet items such as shoes, sweaters, belts, and jeans. On moving day, fill the bottom of the wardrobe boxes with some of the shopping bags, then add your hanging clothing. Pack hanging items tightly so things won’t move around and fall off of hangers. Finally, cover the shoulders of your clothes a dry cleaning bag works well, and then add a few purses or sweaters on top. You’ll have fewer boxes, and closet items remain together. Also, the shopping bags will make it easier to retrieve your belongings from the bottoms of a tall wardrobe box.
Designate a color for each room in the new home, such as yellow for kitchen, orange for dining room, etc. Apply colored stickers on the box near the box number. In you’re new home. Put a matching sticker on the door to each room. The movers will know where to put everything when they arrive at the destination. It’s also helpful to post a big sign on the wall in the room where you want boxes stacked, “Boxes here please” to keep them out of furniture and traffic areas.
Keep things together
Insist on keeping things together when you or the movers are packing boxes. Keep bookends with books, light bulbs with lamps, and extension cords with appliances. Small, loose parts can be attached to the item they belong to with tape or placed in small envelopes — to keep picture hooks with pictures, shelf brackets with a bookcase, a special wrench and bolts with the wall unit. Keep larger corresponding items such as a cable TV cord in Ziploc bags, and tape these to the underside or back of the item. As a backup, have a “Parts Box” open on the kitchen counter and fill it with cables, cords, parts, pieces, brackets, or nails that are removed from any items of furniture. Keep this box with you, or mark it well with a rainbow of colored stickers so it can be easily located on move-in day.
Anything you can pack ahead will save you time on moving day. If it’s summer, get your winter clothes out of the way. You don’t really need 5 radios or TV’s around your house for the last few days there. Box up your shampoo and extra toothpaste and live out of a travel cosmetic case for the last week or two. Pare down cooking utensils and food supplies to bare essentials. Wastebaskets can also be packed while you switch to using plastic grocery bags hang them on a cabinet door or door handle to collect trash.
Consolidate cleaning supplies
If you must clean your old place after moving out, put together a kit of basic cleaning supplies and rags. Clean anything possible ahead of time,the inside of kitchen cupboards, the oven, windows, etc, and if possible, vacuum each room as movers empty it.
Use your luggage
Fill luggage and duffle bags with clothing, sheets, towels, and paper goods. Even for local moves you’ll be able to quickly spot your navy suitcase holding your favorite sweaters, whereas “Box #15” might remain elusive for days.
Safeguard valued items
It’s a good idea to keep valuable possessions, such as silverware, collections, or antiques, with you. If you have a long move and no room in your car, bury the items in a box titled “Misc. from kitchen pantry”. Either way, check your homeowner’s insurance to see how you are covered during the move, and if you need additional insurance from the mover. Also, find out what paperwork receipts, appraisals, and photos you might need to file a claim in case of loss.
Keep important papers with you
Your list of “important” papers might include: birth certificates, school records, mover estimates, new job contacts, utility company numbers, recent bank records, current bills, phone lists, closing papers, realtor info, maps, and more. Don’t leave these with the mover. Keep them with you!
Make use of personal boxes
Use brightly colored storage tote boxes, one for each person. Let each family member fill theirs with items they’ll want ‘right away’ in the new home — a set of sheets, a towel, a couple of extension cords, a phone, night lights, address book, pens and paper, keys, Kleenex, and travel cosmetic case, and so on. Moving may not be the most fun you’ve ever had, but planning ahead will go a long way toward making the process bearable.
Lighten your load
Do you really need that twenty-gallon stockpot or the antique anvil collection? Is there really room for two pianos in your new home or just for one? The more you get rid of the less you have to move. Have you used it in the last year or two? If not, Leave it behind. Cash takes up less room than clutter.
Make an inventory of your goods for insurance purposes and for establishing claims should anything go wrong during the move. Photograph or video your valuable items, noting their condition. Get sufficient replacement value insurance based on your inventory. Put visible or hidden identifying markings on or in valuable items.
Important documents, computer data backups, small valuables and irreplaceable items should travel with you, not on the truck. Make copies of as much as possible and leave the copies with a friend or relative when you go.
Keep your important contact numbers and shipping information handy.
The better you pack and load the safer your things will be. Supervise the loading, whether you are using professionals or volunteers to help you.
Pack things snugly so they don’t rattle about. Use cardboard, paper, plastic and even cushions to pad and fill spaces. Use cords or strapping to secure large items.
Pack useful items last like the vacuum cleaner, the coffee maker and the stereo.
One last look
Make sure that you allow some time to relax and recharge as you prepare. Get lots of sleep the night before and drink lots of water on the day. Dehydration causes drowsiness and impairs your thinking. Energy and wits are going to be essential on the day.
On the road
Make a survival kit for the trip and to sustain you for the first day at your new home. Pack convenience foods, toiletries, spare clothes, basic tools, scissors, tape, utility knife, multi-driver, a flashlight, hammer, light bulbs, utensils, can opener, travel cups, paper plates, paper towels, plastic cutlery, dish soap, useful supplies garbage bags, toilet paper, toiletries, prescriptions, pain relievers.
Bedroom, bathroom, kitchen. In whatever order. Take care of the basics and then take the rest at your own pace. If you have pets you’ll want to find some time to spend with them as soon as possible, when it’s quiet and the doors are shut.