A Six-Week Checklist
What follows is an excellent guide for making your move go as smoothly as possible. It’s not necessary to follow it to the letter; feel free to read through it and pull out a few points you may not have thought of when making your own checklist.
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How to Pack Like a Pro
- Plan ahead by organizing and budgeting. Develop a master “to do” list (such as the one above) and a master “to pack” list so you won’t forget something critical on moving day. Also create an estimate of moving costs.
- Sort and get rid of things you no longer want or need. Have a garage sale, donate to a charity (such as Goodwill), or recycle.
- But don’t throw out everything. If your inclination is to just toss it, you’re probably right. However, it’s possible to go overboard in the heat of the moment. Ask yourself how frequently you use an item and how you’d feel if you no longer had it in order to minimize regrets after the move.
- Pack similar items together. While this might seem obvious now, it might not be at the front of your mind during the actual packing process. Put toys with toys, kitchen utensils with kitchen utensils. It will make unpacking much easier.
- Decide what, if anything, you plan to move on your own. Precious items like family photos, valuable breakables, or must-haves during the move should stay with you if possible. Don’t forget to keep a bag or box of necessities, such as tissues, snacks, and other items you might need on moving day.
- Consider a safety deposit box at your bank for especially valuable or sensitive items. The contents of a safety deposit box can be moved for you by your bank.
- Remember, many movers won’t take plants. If you don’t want to leave them behind, make sure that your mover will take them or that you can move them on your own.
- Use the right box for the right item. Items backed too loosely are prone to breakage.
- Put heavy items in small boxes so they’re easier to lift. Keep the weight of each individual box to under 50 pounds if possible. You might be okay with lifting it now, but will it be okay after moving a few dozen other boxes?
- Don’t over-pack your boxes. It increases the likelihood that that items inside the box (or the box itself) will break.
- Wrap every fragile item separately and pad their boxes. This is a case where a little more effort can save you a lot of stress in the long run. If necessary, purchase bubble wrap or other padding materials from a moving or shipping store.
- Label every box on all sides. You never know how they’ll be stacked and you won’t want to have to move other boxes to find out what’s there.
- Use color-coded labels to indicate which rooms/areas each item should go in, and color-code a floor plan for your new house to help yourself and movers. Colored labels are available at moving stores, or just use colored permanent markers on plain labels.
- Keep your moving documents together in their own file. Include important phone numbers, driver’s name(s), and moving van number. Keep your address book handy.
- Print out a map and directions for the movers. Make several copies and highlight the route. Include your cell phone number on the map. Don’t forget to make copies for friends, family, and anyone else who is helping out on moving day.
- Back up your computer files before moving your computer, and keep the backup with you or in a safe place. An offsite backup is the most preferable option if possible.
- Inspect each box and piece of furniture for damage as soon as it arrives.
Finding the Right Mover
Begin your search immediately after you know your moving date. This is especially important during the peak moving season, which stretches between May and August.
- Check with your Realtor. While friends or relatives might have gone through a move and can make suggestions based on it, Realtors oversee a lot of moves in their careers and can most likely recommend one or more movers based on more than one instance.
- Open up the Yellow Pages. There are almost always local subsidiaries of well-known national moving companies. Such companies have a reputation to uphold, and therefore their subsidiaries will have to adhere to their standards. Most large movers will have websites which provide more information.
- When you do get a recommendation, be sure to request the details. Were they prompt and courteous? Did they know the best route? Did they follow directions well, and did they place items where they were supposed to go?
- Get at least two or three estimates from different companies, and compare their services offered. Most estimates are based on hourly costs by a certain number of movers and what needs to be moved. Be sure you are provided with the number of movers the job will require, how long it will take (including transportation time), and the number of trucks or trips. Ask for estimates within the estimate – how much would it cost if the movers packed rather than yourself? If they pack, will they also unpack, including furniture assembly if necessary?
- Ask for references and contact those references, making certain they are “real” people and not just a friend or relative of the mover. Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any helpful information about the movers that you should know.
- How careful will they be with your things? Do they wrap furniture in protective materials? Do they pack computers, appliances, and breakable objects carefully?
- What about specialty items? Not all movers are capable of moving things such as antiques and pianos, and you might need to find specialty companies for these items.
- Ask about extra costs. With some companies, moving items up and down stairs will cost extra. Sometimes, moving on a weekend or a holiday will incur a fee.
- When you have decided on a mover, you’ll most likely need to make a deposit (usually about 10% of the final estimate) before the movers will begin working. Plan to have someone you trust on hand when the move is underway, and plan to be at the house the entire day. You will need to be there to supervise and answer any questions the movers might have. Do not hesitate to complain to the crew foreman or the office supervisor if things are not going as promised at any time during the move. Lastly, have some money on-hand for a tip. A typical tip is $50 per mover for an eight-hour move.