You’ve bought a new house or found a new apartment. How exciting, but don’t under estimate the amount of work and extreme stress you are about to face. I’ve had the great pleasure of moving 9 times in 10 years, or was it 10 times in 9 years? I’m married to a builder and in order to survive this unavoidable industry hazard, I’ve learned to stick to these 10 essential moving tricks.

1. Get started the minute you know you’re moving. It takes more time to organize, clean out, and pack than you think. So don’t waste one valuable second – get started now! Take the number of rooms divided by the number of weeks until the big day. That’s how many rooms you have to pack each week.

2. Know the terms and conditions of your lease or Sales Agreement. Be sure you meet all move-out requirements. If you’re renting, understand what you need to do to get your security deposit refunded. Most leases require a tenant vacate by 5:00 pm on the last day of the lease. When selling a home, unless other arrangements have been previously made, the owner is expected to turn over the keys at the time of settlement, so plan to be out of your property at that time. In addition, many leases and some contracts for sale require professional carpet and/or professional household cleaning to be performed when you vacate the premises. Since the new person is probably moving in the day after you move out, there’s little room for error. So schedule any required cleaning now.

3. Get organized and Stay Organized: Sort through that pile you’ve been meaning to get to, organize and put everything away, clothing, shoes, toys (make sure you have all the pieces), and you’ll even need to find the matching lids for all that Tupperware. If you have too much to fit into that toy box or the closet or drawer you’ve designated, or if any of the pieces are missing, guess what? You got it, go to step 4.

4. Give Away, Throw Away, Sell anything you don’t need, or can’t fit comfortably in the new place. In addition, if something is broken and you haven’t fixed it by now, you probably aren’t going to. If this move is temporary, then maybe, maybe a storage locker is in order. But most often a storage locker is a damp and forgotten place where things go to rot and die, so when in doubt, get rid of it now. Plus the money you make selling the things you can’t use will help fray your moving costs.

5. Have the Right Supplies Close at Hand. Start with approximately 10-12 boxes in varying sizes and get more boxes as needed. Boxes, packing paper and tape are available either through your mover, or from your local moving and storage store. You’ll need a few small boxes for heavier items like books, but mostly you’ll want medium and large boxes. When you pack the kitchen you’ll also need 1 or 2 dish barrels. They’re sturdier and designed to protect glassware and fragile items. And when it’s time to pack coats and hanging items, you’ll need wardrobe boxes.

Other things you’ll need to have on hand for packing include gallon and sandwich-size freezer strength plastic, zipper-lock storage bags. I use them for everything from silverware to underwear to lose or liquid items like makeup and office supplies. You’ll need tons of extra strength garbage bags, markers, packing tape, scissors or a tape dispenser and lots and lots and lots of newspaper or packing paper. If you have a lot of fragile items, bubble wrap is great, too. Store these supplies in a place that is clean and dry and easy to access, but not under your feet. And designate and clear a place where the packed boxes will go.

If you’re not using a professional mover, you’ll also need a dolly, furniture pads (old blankets are great), and something to throw across the floor, especially if the weather doesn’t cooperate or you have hardwood you want to protect.

6. Line up help: whether or not you chose to use a professional mover, you’re still going to need help. And if no mover is involved, you’re going to need every able-bodied man and woman you can find. Schedule them now, before they put something else on their calendar.

a. Arrange for babysitters

b. Designate one person to go to the new home, well ahead of the movers. Ask her to take her cleaning products, including a vacuum cleaner and trash bags, just in case it’s not in move-in condition.

c. Who will bring lunch? By the time the troops get to the new house, they’re going to need a break and something to eat.

d. Designate another person to stay behind at the old house. Ask her to double check that all rooms (including porches, decks, out buildings, attics, and other less obviously places like inside the dryer) have been totally emptied. Ask her to bring her cleaning supplies and a few trash bags, and do the final vacuum, remove any leftover trash, and make sure the place is left in broom clean condition.

e. Lineup that all-important person who’s going to disconnect and reconnect all that electronic equipment and have them bring their own tools. Also, try to schedule the cable guy to arrive late in the day, after the televisions are in place.

f. Do you need someone to hang window treatments? Who will that be? He should also bring his own tools and a ladder. Have you premeasured the windows and purchased what you’ll need?

g. In addition ask at least 2 more people to come equipped with an assortment of tools, a few extension cords, batteries for the smoke detectors, and make sure someone brings another step ladder.

7. Change your address: A postal address change will forward all regular mail. But that can take up to 10 additional days and forwarding is only good for six months. So things that come once a year, like your 1099, and other items that prohibit forwarding like vehicle registration, and drivers license renewal forms, will be returned to the sender. So, in addition to that generic Postal Change of Address that will catch anything you’ve missed, do your best to have all address change requests submitted at least ten days before you move. And don’t forget to notify your employer, your child’s school, your physician or any mail order items that come automatically, such as prescriptions, of your new address.

8. Schedule Utilities: You’ll need to turn on the utilities in your new place, and you’ll also need to terminate the ones in your existing home. If you don’t order final bills, and the new occupant doesn’t set up service, you could be held responsible for their charges. Also, avoid having utility service turned off, both at the address where you moving from and the one you’re moving to. It can be costly, damaging, and difficult to turn back on.

9. Plan and Pack for your NEW Home. Take photos or draw the kitchen cabinetry layout. Decide what will go into each cabinet, mark the location of dishes, glasses, etc on your photo or drawing, and pack your items according to where they will go in the new house, not where they are stored in your existing home.

Next get the room sizes, including locations for windows, doors, and closets and draw a simple sketch of each room in your new home using inexpensive graph paper. That way you can easily determine where furniture will be placed in advance. On moving day, give the sketches to the person who is going to the new house ahead of the moving team. Ask her to tape each sketch to a door or window or some other easy to see location in each room. That way one person can be putting away the items in your kitchen, while another can direct the heavy weights as to where to place that over-sized armoire you just couldn’t live without.

And make a list of any important items you will need to buy for the new house such as draperies, blinds, and shower curtains. Having these things with you on moving day will prevent unnecessary surprises.

10. Put one spare set of sheets for each bed in a box marked FIRST BOX TO OPEN. Keep the sheets clean by packing them separately in a plastic bag that is clearly marked: Terry’s room, etc. To this box also add one bath and one face towel for each family member, at least two rolls of toilet paper for each bathroom and other bathroom essentials such as shampoo, soaps, etc.

The morning of the move, have each family member strip his or her bed and place dirty sheets and any dirty clothes or towels in an empty laundry basket next to this box. Then each person should place all of his or her toiletries – separately packaged and clearly marked in a plastic zipper-type bag – inside this FIRST BOX TO OPEN. Each person should then put his or her pillow next to this box.

If possible this box, the laundry basket full of dirty items, and all the pillows should travel with you, in the back seat or trunk of your car. You might think that sounds ridiculous, but I promise, this simple step will prove essential, later on, when you’re exhausted after a hard day of moving and all you want to do is brush your teeth, find your pillow, and climb into a freshly made bed.

Good Luck and Good Move!

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