Before You Move
Tips to Help Make the Process Easier
By Laura Raines
Moving is frequently listed as one of the top 10 most stressful events in a person’s life. After all, you have to deal with a seemingly never-ending pile of details, decisions and costs, not to mention the sheer physical exertion of packing up your life and rearranging it in a new place. Fortunately, there are things you can do to significantly reduce your anxiety. Here are some ways to take the hassle out of moving to a new city.
One of the most important things you can do is to start writing things down. “Even if you don’t live by a planner, this is one time in your life when it pays to be organized,” says professional organizer and time-management expert Leslie Walden, owner of the productivity training company It’s Time to Get Organized.
“Buy yourself a notebook that you will enjoy using,” she says, “and begin compiling lists of things you need to do in your old home, and things to set up in your new one. You will save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you have the moving company documents and numbers for Realtors, new schools, utility companies, etc., at your fingertips. And when you think of a detail, write it down. Otherwise, it floats around in your head or gets forgotten.”
Other handy organization tools include sticky notes, new address labels, and change of address forms. Plastic baggies or zipper envelopes can come in handy for small things like keys and mirror screws, receipts and so on.
And while you’re in the planning stages, it’s never too soon to start the process of finding a moving company. “The summer, the end of the month and weekends are all prime moving times, so you want to nail down your mover early,” says Kathy Householder, chief executive organizer of On the Move Organizing, which provides relocation services for individuals and corporations. “Always get three quotes, and know exactly what services you are getting. You can save money by packing boxes yourself.”
As the big day approaches, “arrange for the utilities to be turned off the day after your move, and turned on the day before you move in,” says Walden. If you need to buy appliances, shop early and have them delivered the day you move in. Call several weeks ahead to schedule appointments.
If possible, Walden adds, “take measurements and make a layout of your new space, so that you can plan where furniture will go ahead of time and have movers put pieces where they belong.”
Taking Care of Business
Another way to help minimize the pain, time and labor of moving is to downsize your possessions ahead of time.
“Having less to move saves both time and money,” says Walden. “If you haven’t worn it or used it in several years, let it go. If you have time, hold a garage sale, and then arrange for a charity organization to pick up what doesn’t sell afterwards.”
“Get your kids involved in de-cluttering,” says Householder. “You may be surprised by what they are willing to donate to others or sell in the garage sale as they begin to plan their new rooms. This is also the time to begin using up frozen food, cleaning supplies and lawn-care chemicals, which movers won’t put on a truck.”
This is also a good time to attend to important paperwork—closing out bank accounts, making appropriate changes to insurance policies, emptying your safe deposit box. Put all important documents such as birth certificates,stock certificates and tax records in one safe place (you may want to purchase a fireproof lockbox). Refer to your moving notebook for a list of people and publications you need to notify of your address change.
Starting early can also help make the process of packing less daunting, says Walden. “If you pack a few boxes a day, you won’t be so overwhelmed at the end.”
Pack on a room-by-room basis, labeling the general contents of each box with a permanent marker. Clearly mark bedding boxes for each bedroom—you’ll need these first.
“Try to use real moving company boxes, which are sturdier and aren’t as likely to get crushed,” says Householder. “Color-code your boxes by taping sticky notes to several sides. Before you unload, tape the appropriate color sticky note to the door of each room, so that everyone knows where to put things.”
When packing electronics, label the wires and plug-in points with colored stickers, or take a picture to help you reassemble things later. Make sure to back up your computer files to a hard drive or external service. Pack valuable jewelry and other irreplaceable items yourself, and move them with you in your car.
And as you’re packing away your kitchen or bathroom items, be sure to stash some away for an essentials survival kit. “These are the things you’ll need before everything is unpacked,” says Householder, “such as antibacterial wipes, cleaning supplies, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, cups and utensils, a can opener, scissors, a hammer and screwdriver.” Either put this on the truck last or pack it in your car.
With a little forethought and preparation, you can take a lot of the drama out of moving, allowing yourself to concentrate on the excitement of your adventure.
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National Association of Professional Organizers
Group of professionals who can help with moving and relocation, organizing your home, and more.