Moving from one home to another can be quite the project. This guide to moving can help.
A new home can be exciting. It can symbolize the beginning of an adventure or a fresh start. Different surroundings can change your entire outlook. No matter how you feel about your new place, though, there’s one thing that few people enjoy about this experience—and that’s the process of actually getting from Point A to Point B.
A basic guide to moving: planning is critical
It’s pretty much universally accepted that the most stressful part of moving to a new place is the moving itself. You have to get yourself, your family and all of your belongings out of your current home and into another one, which is usually much more challenging than you might expect.
For one thing, you likely have stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. An old axiom about relocating is that you never realize how many things you own until you have to pack and move each and every one of them. And you need to multiple an individual person’s average volume of belongings by the number of people in your household.
There are many little details involved in a move and it can quickly become overwhelming if you let it.
The good news: this process will be much less stressful and much more efficient if you have a plan.
Break up tasks into a timeline
Obviously, the more time you have to prepare, the better. But even a relatively spur-of-the-moment move will go more smoothly if you do some prep work beforehand.
Determine your budget and timeline.
Finances will dictate how much of this you can outsource. Hiring a moving company or someone to handle the packing will alleviate a lot of stress, but if you’re on a tight budget, consider throwing a “packing party” where you recruit friends to help—this will only cost you the price of a few pizzas and refreshments. Mark your planned moving day in bright colors on the calendar, and then work backwards to plot out the timeline. Getting an early start will prevent the last-minute panic.
Research movers and reserve your spot.
If you decide to hire movers, check out your options carefully. Online review sites are filled with complaints and warnings from people who have endured nightmare experiences with movers. Ask for recommendations from friends and your Realtor, and check out the reports online. Once you have chosen your moving company, reserve your date. Don’t risk waiting too long and getting shut out because their schedule is already ful.
Ditch what you don’t need.
This is a great time to go through your stuff and do a major purge. Each thing you get rid of is one less thing you have to pack, transport, and unpack. You will probably find things that you can sell for a pretty penny (to help pay for the move) or donate to charity.
Take care of the details.
When you need a break from the physical exertion of packing, that’s a good time to get the “red tape” stuff out of the way. This includes submitting a mail forwarding request with the post office, scheduling the transfer of utilities and putting in “stop notices” for any deliveries or ongoing services you routinely get at your current place. Tip: this is the perfect opportunity to “go paperless” with as many things as possible, which cuts down on the number of things you’ll need to update or transfer—and will also reduce the amount of mail and other paper clutter that will follow you to your new home.
Make packing an extended project.
Especially if you are doing most or all of it yourself, packing can seem like a monumental undertaking. Spreading it out over several weeks (or longer) makes it easier to handle. Start with stuff you won’t need before your move. Then try to break it up into smaller mini-tasks—say, by doing one room at a time. If anything will be going into storage, clearing that out early in the process will give you a head-start and free up more space in which to work.
Devise a packing inventory system.
Everyone who has ever moved has a horror story about the important thing that somehow disappeared or the treasured family memento that accidentally got left behind. Label each box with a number or other code. Keep a list of every box, and check it off as it goes into the moving truck and again when it comes off. Using a label or code to designate the room or area where the box belongs will also help keep the unloading process more organized.
Take photos of the important items.
This serves as proof of the condition in which they went onto the moving truck. It can also help with any insurance claims that may need to be filed, should the worst-case scenario happen.
Do strategically-timed inspections of your new and old homes.
The best time to do this is when the place is empty, or as close to empty as possible. In your new place, this gives you a chance to look for any issues you may have missed, and also to take measurements or otherwise plan out where everything will go. In your current home, you can spot anything you will need to repair before the place is sold (if you are buying and selling a home at the same time) or you give the keys back to the landlord. If you are renting, you want to make sure to leave the place in good condition so you can get your security deposit back and get a positive reference in the future.
Divide and conquer.
You should plan to have a crew—and a responsible crew leader—at both sites. This way, someone is supervising the stuff as it is being loaded and also as it is being unloaded. Make sure there will be copies of your inventory list in both locations.
Long-distance moves require extra planning.
A long-distance move can be extra tricky. If you are moving across the country and won’t be at your new place when your stuff arrives, it’s imperative that you have a trustworthy, organized representative there as your proxy. They should arrive in advance so they can have everything ready before the movers arrive. If you plan to be there to meet your movers, get a firm timeline in writing so you know exactly when to expect them.
Make arrangements for kids and pets.
Any household members who are unable to be used as free labor on moving day will only get in the way.
Estimate total moving costs.
According to Trulia Research, more than 50% of homebuyers who also sell a home, move within the same city, and 86% move within the same state. If you’re part of the majority moving locally, you should expect to pay an hourly rate of at least $80, and the numbers are based on how much you’re moving. Check out these estimates from HomeAdvisor:
Size of home Estimated time (door to door) Average price range:
|Size of home||Estimated time (door to door)||Average price range|
|1 bedroom||3 – 5 hours||$200 – $500|
|2 bedrooms||5 – 7 hours||$400 – $700|
|3 bedrooms||7 – 10 hours||$550 – $1,000|
|4 bedrooms||10+ hours||$800 – $2,000|
If you’re moving across the country, don’t be surprised if costs are broken down by weight and a per-mile fee, with additional fees to cover tolls or larger ticket items (cars, boats, etc.).
Have an “urgent” survival kit.
There should be a designated box or container for the most important things you will need immediate access to, such as your keys, garage opener, chargers, critical paperwork, etc. It’s also helpful to have a tool-bag handy.
Prepare for stress management.
Even if everything goes exactly according to plan, moving can be tiring and can produce periods of anxiety. Fuel up first with coffee and/or a good breakfast, and then try to incorporate some brief breaks into the day’s agenda so you can take a breather when needed.
Be ready very early.
The moving crew may show up earlier than planned, and you don’t want to be scrambling to throw things in boxes as they are trying to work.
Don’t expect miracles.
Settling into a new home doesn’t happen instantly. It’s unrealistic to expect that you will have everything unpacked, organized and in its place in one day. Designate your post-moving priorities in advance. For most people, that will mean setting up a place to sleep, finding something to wear and having at least one usable bathroom. Tip: order in or opt for takeout, and get to sleep as early as you can. Your mind and body need a chance to recover!
And as always, never be afraid to reach out to your real estate agent for recommendations and resources!