Mastering the move
Mention you’re moving to someone, and you’ll likely be met with a commiserating groan. The schlepping of heavy things, the packing and the unpacking, the inevitably broken items… Moving can be quite a pain, but it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
Remember how excited you were when you closed on your new home? Try to channel some of that energy to get motivated and organized. Moving can mean a fresh start—the perfect time to take inventory of your things, get organized and get excited about your new space. The best thing you can do is plan ahead. Start making the checklists, coordinating the little details and simplifying where you can. Here’s how you can pack with perfection and mitigate the hassles associated with moving.
The packing plan
From tips on how to efficiently pack your clothes to color-coding systems to dish-packing hacks, there are some ways to make your life a little easier.
Bring on the boxes
Whether you’re a “save the box, the instruction manual, the warranty sticker and every piece of packaging possible” type of person or not, you won’t have enough boxes at your disposal for a big move. You can start by asking any local retailers or businesses if they have extra boxes on hand, as well as checking in with friends and family. Know anyone that recently moved? They may have a stash on hand that’s yet to be recycled.
Next, turn to the internet. Check local community groups and tech platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or Freecycle. If you’re going to buy boxes, consider whether you want them delivered to your door or if you’re looking for a full moving kit, expert advice, etc. Depending on what you’re looking for, there’s a retailer that will have the perfect package.
No matter where you’re getting your boxes from, take inventory of your things early—before you order any boxes—so you have a good estimate of how many you’ll need. It’s surprising how quickly they can fill up.
Make an essentials box
Think about all the things you’ll want to pull out shortly upon arrival. May we suggest the coffee pot? You’ll likely want to plug that in right away. But things like towels and sheets, pillows, clothes you’ll want to wear in the next few days, etc., are nice to have in an easily accessible place.
Label, label, label
When all the packing and organizing gets away from you and suddenly it’s 11 p.m. and you’re digging through boxes trying to locate a fitted sheet, you’ll wish you had labeled your boxes. Be sure to mark which boxes are fragile as well as a description of their contents. Here’s where color-coding can come in handy. Whether you go room by room or by item type, consider a box of multi-colored markers or some colorful packing labels.
Pack an overnight bag
Besides the essentials boxes of things you’ll want to unpack right away, make sure to pack toiletries and any items you’ll need that evening/the next morning in a separate bag, away from the boxes. That way you don’t have to unpack anything to find your toothbrush or your child’s stuffie, bedtime book or whatever the “I can’t sleep without it” item happens to be.
Consider these packing hacks
Here’s where garbage bags, plastic wrap and Styrofoam come into play. Instead of pulling all of your clothes out of your dresser and off your hangers, you can leave some things in place. Keep clothes in your dresser but wrap with plastic to ensure they stay in place; leave your clothes hanging and cover with garbage bags (or you can get fancy and pull out some garment bags); and skip hand-wrapping every dish and place Styrofoam between plates to keep them secure.
Your moving mission
Whether you’re moving many miles or just a few blocks away, you’ll need reliable movers (or at least some reliable helpers and a rented truck). Here’s what to keep in mind when booking your movers or truck.
Do your research
If you’re hiring movers, start gathering estimates about eight weeks before your move. Try to speak with a few different companies to compare prices. Depending on the size of your city and the current demand, you might be able to negotiate.
You’ll also want to look at credentials to ensure the company you choose is licensed and insured, abides by ethical business practices and is compliant with federal regulations. You can email the American Moving and Storage Association to see if the company is a member, as well as check reviews online at sites such as movingscam.com or the Better Business Bureau.
Understand your insurance
While most renters and homeowners insurance policies don’t cover damaged or lost items from a move, you’ll want to carefully consider your coverage. This will depend on whether you’re moving yourself, hiring movers or a combo of the two.
If you’re moving possessions yourself in either your own vehicle or a rented truck, homeowners insurance might cover your items. That being said, there can still be gaps in coverage and it’s a good idea to look into relocation or trip transit insurance.
If renting a truck or hiring movers, each respective company will likely have their own insurance options to choose from. Know that there are a variety of circumstances that can arise to warrant loss of coverage, such as damage from a natural disaster or not informing your mover in writing about items of significant value, etc.
If you’re moving out of state, federal law requires moving companies to offer two types of coverage: full value or released value protection. Full value protection is as it sounds, and your mover is responsible for the total replacement value of your items, with coverage costs varying by company, whereas released value protection is typically provided at no additional cost but offers limited liability that covers only 60 cents per pound of a lost or damaged item.
There’s an app for that! There are multiple moving apps that can help you coordinate your move. From collecting quotes from movers to scheduling logistics, these apps can save you both time and money. Here are a few to check out: Moved, Dolly and Unpakt®.
Cover all your bases
While you’re focused on big-picture things like packing and hiring movers, it’s easy to overlook some of the other tasks at hand.
Consider the kiddos
If you’re moving with children, besides the formalities of transferring records, etc., make sure to take time to continue checking in with them. When processing significant changes, kids look to their parents for guidance.
It’s easier said than done, but try to keep your stress levels down. While moving is inherently stressful, knowing that up front can help you anticipate potential hiccups and manage your emotions. You’re making this move for a reason.
The sooner you can get out and explore your new community with your kids, the better. Enroll them in a class or activity right away so they can meet friends and have some exciting things to do to take their mind off all the changes going on. If your kids are old enough, enlist them for help with packing and unpacking and setting up their new room. It’s usually a good idea to pack their room last and unpack it first.
Moving for a child can be a good early exercise for resilience, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. By being aware of these potential challenges, you’ll be prepared to help them cope when they need you.
Nail the little details
From your mail to your cable to your voter registration, you’ll want to ensure everything moves along with you. If you have school-age children, you’ll want to take care of transferring school records, and (depending on how far you’re moving) finding a new doctor, dentist, etc. The sooner you do all of this, the better.
Next up, change your address. The United States Post Office recommends changing your address at least two weeks before your move. Don’t forget about any recurring deliveries you may have—vitamins, razor blades, anything on auto-refill that comes directly to your door—as well as switching any prescriptions from your pharmacy. And with all the shipping delays lately, make sure any backordered items you’ve been waiting on are going to ship to the right location. You don’t want that piece of furniture you’ve been waiting months for to end up sitting outside your old address.
With some extra planning up front, you’ll be able to keep the moving hassles to a minimum. And keep in mind that those upfront hassles will be worth it in the long run. Allow for an adjustment period and a few inevitable mishaps and know that all your hard work will pay off once you get into your new place.