Moving to a new home is a huge project under any circumstances. Moving long distance brings with it even greater challenges, as you try to make sure that all of your furniture, belongings, pets, and vehicles make it to their destination safely and at about the same time. If you are unfamiliar with all of the details that require attention leading up to a successful moving day, the process can seem quite overwhelming.
Moving is always exciting, but it does not have to be a chaotic rush against the clock on moving day. With a step by step approach to planning and packing, beginning as much as several months ahead of time, and with the assistance of reliable, experienced moving services, you can make your moving experience less stressful and far more enjoyable. Here are some tips to help you stay on top of your moving responsibilities and prepare your family and your possessions for the big day.
The further ahead you plan, the more smoothly things will go on moving day, and you will also be able to save money on some services and travel arrangements by scheduling them far in advance. You should try to finish these jobs about two months or six weeks before you move:
- Research and choose a moving company. The moving company you choose will have the responsibility of packing all your items, protecting them on the road, and safely unloading them at your new home. Make sure that you have plenty of time to research the available companies, read lots of customer reviews, and talk to other folks who have moved recently to see if they were satisfied with their movers.
- Get quotes on vehicle transport. If you have more than one vehicle, you will probably need to have one transported to your new location. The earlier you get bids from vehicle carriers, the lower the prices are likely to be. As with your main moving company, you should take the time to research carriers to make sure they are insured, bonded, and well reviewed by others.
- Get packing boxes. An inexpensive option is to contact local grocery stores and other businesses to get used boxes (usually for free). This method obviously requires a lot of footwork and time, and the boxes you get will not be of uniform sizes. You can also purchase moving boxes from a home improvement store or directly from a moving company. These specially designed boxes are reinforced for safety during packing and unpacking, and they fit together in a truck very compactly to save space.
- Begin disposing of items you do not plan to move. Especially if you have been in your present home for a long time, you have probably built up a large collection of items that you do not want to move. This is the time to sort through your attic, basement, and closets, getting unwanted items out of your house. A garage sale, yard sale, or church rummage sale is a great way to get a small reward for things you need to get rid of anyway. Leftover items can go to a charity for a tax deduction.
- Begin keeping expense records. Many of your moving costs are tax deductible, and the expenses can add up to a sizable amount. Designate a location for all your expense receipts, and when tax time comes around it will be easy to fill out the form and attach your receipts.
- Locate and secure all important documents and valuables. The earlier you begin placing medical records, birth certificates, passports, legal documents, and extremely valuable items in a single location, the less chance there is that you will forget one or misplace it. It is a mistake to try to pack these important items amid the rush of moving day!
- Transfer of services and insurance. The process of changing the information on your insurance accounts takes time. Write down all the insurance policies you hold and start letting them know about your upcoming move. If your current insurance company does not offer coverage in your new state, you will have to find a new provider.
- Make travel arrangements. This is another area where looking ahead pays off! If you have the luxury of time, you can research airfare and hotels and hold out for the best prices.
When there is less than a month to go before moving day, it is time to finalize plans and dive wholeheartedly into the packing process:
- Confirm vehicle transport plans. It is a good idea to stay in frequent contact with the carrier you use to move your vehicle, especially if the date/time of your move changes or if you decide whether or not to choose door-to-door delivery service.
- Research laws for transporting plants, pets, and other potentially regulated items across state lines. States are very conscious of the possibility of transferring diseases or pests and require certain shots, immunizations, and documentation for pets. Some plants may not be carried into certain states.
- Inform your mover of any special needs. Exceptionally large or heavy objects, like pianos or hot tubs, sometimes carry an extra charge. Eliminate any surprises and delays on moving day by making sure that these arrangements are made in plenty of time.
- Change address with the post office. Inform your family, friends, banks, credit card companies, subscriptions, doctors, and the IRS of your new address to reduce the chance of losing important mail after your move.
- Prepare for packing. Clear out any areas that have become cluttered over time to make packing easier. Empty the gasoline and other fluids from lawnmowers, weed eaters, etc. Also, make sure that you communicate clearly with your moving company about what you plan to pack yourself and what you would like them to pack. The moving company needs to plan adequate time for packing, and if they are surprised by the need to pack a lot of extra items on moving day, there will be expensive delays.
- Schedule transfer of bank accounts, prescriptions, and utilities such as power, water, gas, phone, and internet service.
- If you have any sensitive, valuable, or sentimental data stored on computers, you should back it up on disks, CDs, or an online backup service.
- Prepare payment for moving services. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out exactly what your fees will be for vehicle and moving services, and what payment forms you can use.
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In the week leading up to moving day, it is time to finish your preparations, get everything into boxes, and leave your old home behind.
- Prepare appliances for moving. Empty and clean kitchen appliances (refrigerator, range, microwave, freezer), and unplug your washer and dryer.
- Clearly mark whatever boxes are already packed to let movers know where they should go in the new house, as well as any special handling instructions. The fewer questions there are during loading and unloading, the more quickly they will progress.
- Make sure everything you need during the trip and immediately after moving in are packed separately. Plan to take these boxes in your vehicle to eliminate the need to search for them later. Also plan to keep any exceptionally valuable jewelry, musical instruments, electronics, and documents with you.
- Establish reliable communication between movers. It is critical that you make sure that your moving service, vehicle carrier, realtor, and any other people involved in your move be able to communicate with one another. Trade contact information ahead of time and make sure that you can quickly reach one another in the case of an emergency.
- Double-check your home to make sure you have not left anything behind. Basements, garages, attics, backyards, outdoor storage sheds, crawlspaces, and other seldom-visited parts of your home can often hide forgotten but important items. Having these items shipped later is expensive and unnecessary.
- Pay your moving partners! Avoid confusion and embarrassment by having a check or cash for the correct amount (and a tip if applicable) ready and available on moving day.
While these are the basics for any move, you might have needs or possessions that require special preparation. A boat or RV, for example, needs to be moved by a vehicle carrier that is capable of safely transporting it to its new location. Collections, vintage cars, or heirlooms may require packing by an expert who knows how to protect them.
If you require storage of your belongings or vehicle before or after your move, you should make sure to arrange the details with your moving company well ahead of time.
If you are having one or more vehicles carried by a transport company, decide whether to take your vehicle to the company’s local terminal or have it picked up at your home. Likewise, decide whether to pick it up at the ending terminal or have it delivered to your new home.