6.Moving Guide

Important Items to Consider Before You Move

When it comes to moving into your new home, organization and planning are the keys to a successful stress-free move.

Determine whether to Move Yourself or Hire Movers:  While it may seem as though the cost for professional movers makes moving yourself appealing, it’s important to fully analyze the differences between the two processes and determine which is best for you.  The more furniture and material you need to move, the longer it will take and the more logical it might be to hire professionals.  You can hold down the cost of a professional move by packing your household goods yourself.  Check trusted online resources such as Nextdoor, Yelp or Angie’s List for recommendations and ratings of moving companies and call at least three of them to get bids for your move.  There are often significant cost differences among moving companies so getting several bids will be worth your while.

If you decide to move yourself, remember to include in your cost analysis of doing so all of the cost components of your move — packing materials, boxes, truck rental, gas for the truck, parking fees, cart and hand truck rentals, disposing of the packing materials and pads and the cost of securing assistance from your friends and family members.

Whether you pack yourself or have professionals pack your possessions for you, accurately labeling boxes is key to a smoother unpacking process in your new home.  Label boxes with both the room from which their contents came as well as a few words regarding what their contacts are.  A box labeled “Kitchen – canned food” is much more useful than a box that is simply labeled “Kitchen.”  Accurate labeling will make it easy to find your dishes when the take-out food you order on the first night in your new home arrives.

Establish and label a few “Open First” boxes that contain things such as chargers for your electronics, health and beauty items, toothpaste, body wash, a few bath towels, a couple of changes of clothes, etc.  Fill these with things you will need or want within the first 48 hours after you arrive at your new home and you will save yourself from having to dig through many boxes looking for clean underwear or your electric toothbrush.

Always keep particularly valuable items – passports, currency, birth certificates, irreplaceable family photos – in your control.  If you will be driving to your new home, pack them in your own car and take them with you.  If you will be flying, be sure to take with you what you logically can, and always keep passports, identification, currency, medicine and birth certificates with you.

Budgeting For Your Move: Set up a moving schedule along with a moving budget. Stick to them both as much as possible, but it’s a good idea to have a bit of cash set aside for emergencies such as extra packing materials and any other unforeseen expenses.

Call Your Utility Companies: If you are moving locally, transfer the utilities between your old home and your new one, including cable, Internet, gas, water, electricity. If you’re moving out of the area, you’ll need to have contacted all of your new utility companies in advance of your move.  You’ll probably need to schedule the disconnections and reconnections at least a few weeks in advance to make sure they happen on your preferred dates.

Change Your Address: Fill out a change of address form with your post office so you’ll experience uninterrupted service. You can do this in person or online.

Common Mistakes When Moving: Research shows common moving mistakes such as:

  • Forgetting to notify service providers before the move
  • Failing to complete a change of address form
  • Not completing a property inspection
  • Not following the proper move-out procedures
  • Not obtaining insurance coverage on your new property

Generate quick cash by having a garage sale: Moving also provides another opportunity to make some quick cash by holding a garage sale of your unwanted items. As an alternative, you can donate items to a charity of your choice.  Be sure to keep receipts for these donations, as you may be able to deduct their value from your income taxes.

How Much Will A Move Cost? According to the American Moving and Storage Association, the average American family of four occupying an 1800 square foot house has approximately 7,400 pounds of household goods to move. The average cost of an interstate household move is about $4,300 (a distance of 1,225 miles) and the average cost of an intrastate move is about $2,300 (4 movers at $200 per hour).

Obtain and Retain Those Records: If you have children who will be changing schools when you move, request copies of their school records well before you move or have them transferred directly to their new schools. The same applies to your pets – ask your vet for their immunization and treatment records and maybe even a recommendation for a vet in your new home area.  If you are moving far enough from your current home that maintaining your medical, dental and orthodontic relationships will not be possible, obtain your medical and dental records before you move so that you can provide them to your new doctors, dentists and orthodontists.  If you or someone in your family regularly takes prescription medication, be certain that you have enough with you to see you through the amount of time that will pass before the next doctor’s appointment.  If you don’t already use a mail-order pharmacy, consider switching to one so that your prescription supply can continue uninterrupted by your move.

Moving Is The Perfect Opportunity To Purge Unwanted Items. In the words of organization guru Marie Condo, hold an item in your hand and ask: “does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge.” In other words, don’t lug around items during a move just because someone in your family gave them to you, unless they spark joy, of course.

Plan Days Off From Work: If you’re moving across town, you’ll need to take at least one day off work for your move. Two would be even better, as you can get settled in more before having to return to work.  If you’re moving a greater distance, you’ll likely need to arrange to take even more time away from work to do so.

Take Photos To Document Valuables: If you’ll be moving large furnishings or items of value, it’s a good idea to take photos showing their current conditions. You can make a detailed inventory list of these valuables including serial numbers, if applicable, appraisals and/or certificates.  Examples of such items include artwork, heirlooms, ceramics and antique or otherwise valuable furniture.

When Are You Moving? You’ll need to establish an exact date. If you’re relocating during peak season, hiring movers will cost you more, while weather conditions may need to be considered during winter.

Ask the Right Questions When Selecting a Moving Company

Ask family, friends and co-workers for solid, first-hand recommendations. The AMSA suggests obtaining three written in-home estimates before selecting your movers and to utilize movers within the ProMover program to ensure your move goes as smoothly as possible. Reputation is key within the moving industry and an immediate red flag scenario is if a mover asks for a large down payment to reserve their service or hold dates for your move.

According to the experts at Angie’s List, “the moving industry is plagued by rogue operators who will quote a low price and then demand much more before they’ll unload, it’s important to check out any company you’re considering trusting with your possessions. They go on to suggest checking out the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA), along with asking for your potential moving company’s US Department of Transportation registration number so that you can  review their complaint history at fmcsa.dot.gov

Professional movers who take pride in their work will be more than willing to answer any questions you may have such as:

  • How long has the mover been in business?
  • Ask for their registration number and check with the AMSA. Ask them directly how they’ve resolved complaints with past customers.
  • Is this mover part of the certified ProMover program? https://www.moving.org/home/find-a-promover/
  • How many years of experience does their moving crew have? Are they employed full time or part time? (Part time could suggest a lack of business or a high staff turnover)
  • What types of moving equipment will they be using? Ask about sharing their experience with a challenging move they experienced and how they faced the challenge.
  • Ask what services the mover is offering including assembly/disassembly of furniture; packing/unpacking; hoisting or temporary storage.
  • Ask what extras they will charge you for including large items, a carry fee if they can’t park close enough or an elevator fee if your new apartment building’s elevator isn’t functioning that day. Find out if you can reserve an elevator, if possible. Is there a cancellation or change fee? Do you need to pay a deposit? Tipping your professional movers at the end of the day isn’t necessarily expected, but use five to 10% as a guideline if you choose to do so.
  • What insurance options does the mover offer? Consider purchasing a full value protection policy, which protects the replacement value of any items that become lost or damaged.

Checklist for Your Move

  • Establish a moving date
  • Do it yourself or request quotes from movers
  • Research and then hire a mover
  • Set up a moving budget
  • Establish a moving timeline
  • Purge and donate items as you pack
  • Consider holding a garage sale
  • Consider packing as many items as possible yourself
  • Transfer utilities
  • Post office change of address
  • Obtain school, medical and veterinary records as applicable
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