Although moving can be a stressful step for a family, it can be less of a hassle when you get a head start. Preparation is the key to a smoother move – whether you do it yourself or hire a moving company. Look over this moving and packing guide to find out how to time your move, choose a mover, rent a truck, get organized, pack your possessions and get settled in your new home.
The most economical way to move is to do-it-yourself. Sounds simple enough, just rent a truck, load up your stuff and go. This can be a good choice if you’re not going far, don’t have a lot of things to haul and have a strong back.
But think twice about a long distance do-it-yourself move. When you factor in all the costs, gasoline, motels, meals, insurance, packing materials, truck and equipment rental, you may not save as much as you planned.
Consider a few questions before you decide to handle your own move. Do I have time to pack, load, unload and drive? How many heavy items, like furniture and appliances, do I have to move? Am I physically capable to do this hard work? Do I have friends and family that can help me through relocation? Can I handle a big truck over a long distance?
Shop around for truck rates, and don’t rent more truck than you need. Rental companies have charts that help you calculate what’s needed to haul your belongings. Companies like U-Haul and Ryder make it easier with step-by-step moving and packing guidance.
Moving With Kids
Almost all children resist the idea of moving. The older the child, the more difficulty he or she will have with the family’s move. The thought of leaving friends, facing new kids in a new school and adjusting to a new community can be overwhelming. But there are ways to help your kids feel more comfortable before, during and after the move.
- Tell your kids about the move as soon as possible. Much of the stress associated with moving relates to dealing with the unknown. Share the details, encourage their questions and listen to what they have to say.
- Involve your children in all aspects of your relocation. Try to bring them along with you on house hunting trips. If this isn’t possible, photograph or videotape the house, as well as the neighborhood and new school.
- Take your children to see the new location before you move and walk in the new neighborhood together.
- Encourage kids to help with packing. Allow them to perform small moving chores that are age appropriate. For example, let them pack a box or two of their toys, games, books, blankets and other personal belongings.
- Help your child pack a carton or daypack with most prized possessions to carry with them on moving day.
- Ask your kids to exchange addresses and telephone numbers with friends. A letter or phone call to or from an old friend can boost the spirits of a child in a strange, new community.
- If your children participated in activities like scouts, little league, school band or choir, enroll them in the same or similar activities in the new community as soon as possible.
- Spend time with your kids after the move to help them get acquainted with their new home, neighborhood and school. Children are far more likely to cope with a move if Mom and Dad are positive and enthusiastic about the relocation.
Choosing a Mover
Finding the right mover will take from 6 to 8 weeks, but is time well spent. There are a number of different sources such as the yellow pages, local newspapers, the Internet, flyers, and recommendations from friends and family. You will need to request bids, check references, and decide which moving company is the best value for your money.
Here are a few tips to help you make the selection:
- Get at least three written estimates. Be sure to get them in person, rather than on the phone or Internet.
- Check with your local Better Business Bureau and the state attorney general’s office to see if there are any complaints against the mover.
- Ask to see a certificate of insurance showing all required insurance liabilities and verify that their license and certificate number is valid.
- Help the movers calculate the cost by showing them every single item to be moved. Reach a clear understanding of the estimate and all costs.
Timing your move is one of the first things to consider. Try not to move during summer months, May through September. The moving industry defines this as the peak and most expensive season for a move. Don’t schedule your move on a weekend or holiday when packers and loaders have to be paid overtime. The best time to move is in the middle of the week in any month outside the peak season.
Early in the moving process you should decide what items will be going to your new home and what things you want to dispose of. Gather up those things you don’t want and either donate them to a charity or consider having a garage sale. Arrange for the charity pickup and garage sale at least two weeks before your moving date.
Start collecting suitable moving and packing supplies if you plan to do your own packing or partial packing. You can purchase these materials from any moving supply company. Getting boxes from other sources may create difficulties either with size or strength.
Set aside a “packing room” and box up a few things each day. Pack seldom used items first. Collections and other small things take more time to organize and pack, so start working on them early in the moving process. Remember to dispose of all flammable, corrosive or explosive items well before the move.
Packing Do’s and Don’ts
Chances are you will start packing weeks before your move. You’ll need boxes, bubble wrap for packing fragile items, tissue and ink-free packing paper, scissors, a knife for opening boxes and rolls of packing tape. You’ll also need to know how to do the job in an efficient and organized way. Here are a few tips from the experts that can help save your household goods from damage:
- Get more strong packing boxes than you think you will need.
- Reinforce the bottom of each box with at least one strip of packing tape.
- Pack boxes firmly to prevent the contents from shifting during your move.
- Use clean, white crumpled up paper for padding.
- Separate all items with paper to prevent scratches.
- Place heavier items in the bottom of the box and lighter items on top.
- Use towels, linens, curtains, etc. to pad boxes of fragile items.
- Remove lids from ceramics and wrap each separately.
- Seal open bottles with tape before packing to avoid spills.
- Use an extra large box for lampshades and cushion them well.
- Remove bulbs before packing lamps.
- Put hardware from disassembled furniture together in plastic bag.
- Leave clothes in dresser drawers and hang clothes in wardrobe boxes.
- Wrap very small items in bright colored tissue so they won’t get lost.
- Place pictures in boxes between sheets and blankets for added protection.
- Plates and record albums should be packed on end vertically – not stacked.
- Remove bulbs before packing lamps.
- Make a master list of all household items and personal belongings.
- Number boxes when they are packed and sealed.
- Label each box and its room destination.
- Write the contents of numbered boxes on your master list.
- Pack room-by-room, keeping similar items together.
Preparing Appliances and Electronics
Appliances and electronics are some of the most expensive items you own. Take these simple precautions to protect them from damage during your move.
- Clean and dry washing machine. Disconnect and drain hoses.
- Unplug clothes dryer and clean the lint screen.
- Remove grease from the stove top/range/oven.
- Dry out refrigerator and freezer, especially those with an icemaker.
- Remove any glass trays from appliances. Pack them separately.
- Clean small appliances, fill empty space with paper and wrap separately.
- Use the original carton and packing materials if possible. If not, carefully wrap electronic components like a receiver, CD player or VCR, in clean paper to protect from dust and dirt. Pad them with bubble wrap.
- Carefully pack each item in a sturdy carton that is lined with paper or Styrofoam peanuts. Securely seal the carton and mark the outside of the box to indicate that it is “Extremely Fragile.
- Disconnect wires attached to movable hardware, such as a modem or mouse from your computers. Detach paper holders/feeders from printers. Wrap monitors in clean linen or paper to protect from scratches.
- Back up all files on your hard drive and keep the “back ups” with you, not on the moving van or truck.
Pets get “stressed-out” during relocation just like people. To make the move easier on you and your pet, plan ahead and take a few precautions.
Schedule a visit to the veterinarian to obtain copies of your pet’s health and rabies vaccination records and to update identification tags. Ask if your pet should be tranquilized during the move. If so, get enough medication to try out ahead of time.
Keep your cat or dog’s routine as regular as possible before the move. The day of the move, it’s best to let your pet stay at a friend’s house or a kennel. Be sure to have identification on your pet at all times.
Avoid temperature extremes. Never leave a pet in a hot car or moving van in summer time or a cold car in the winter.
When you arrive at your new home, don’t let your dog or cat out alone right away. Walk your pet on a leash for short trips around the neighborhood for the first 3 or 4 days.
Plants are another special moving item. There are rules in some states prohibiting the transport of plants across state lines, and most moving companies will not move them. One solution is to give your plants away to friends or relatives before the move.
If you plan on moving your plants by car, try not to let foliage rest against the windows, as the leaves may scorch. Thoroughly water the plants the day before you move, cover it to retain moisture and warmth and place in a study carton to keep it from tipping over.
Announcing Your Move
Four or five weeks before you move, contact the Post Office for a Change of Address form or visit the U.S. Postal Service Web site to change your address online. In either case, just fill in the form and be sure to include the date you want the Post Office to begin forwarding your mail to your new address.
Send change of address notes or e-mail postcards announcing your move to:
- Friends and family
- Banks, insurance companies and other institutions
- Credit card companies
- Utilities and phone company
- Cable or Satellite TV company
- Voter Registration
- Secretary of State, Department of Motor Vehicles
- Doctors, dentists and other service providers
- Any clubs or association memberships
- Local and Federal government agencies
- Schools and church
- Magazine and newspaper subscriptions
Remember to notify utilities and telephone companies at both old and new addresses. Set a date for utility disconnection here – and hookup there. Record all utility meter readings and check service and transfer dates. Be sure to keep telephone and utilities connected at your current home throughout moving day.
Moving and Packing Resources
The Movers Guide on the U.S. Postal Service site allows you to change your address, connect utilities, update email address and get moving and packing tips.
The moving section of this site is an excellent resource for planning, packing, organizing and unpacking. Good information on professional movers and how to move yourself.
Simple, helpful tips appear on U-Hauls Moving Guide. Tips on everything from the kind of boxes or truck rental you’ll need to a moving day countdown and planning chart.
This site is a network of relocating and home solutions. Moving companies are listed by state. You can get multiple quotes online.
Get online estimates, moving guide, storage solutions and moving supplies.
Nationwide Van Lines provides information that can help make your moving process cost effective, pleasant and efficient. Use the suggestions and planning guides for packing and moving tips and a moving day countdown.
In addition to free estimates and packing and moving information, this site provides related links to city information, home/school search, career search and other relocation services.
Powell Relocation Group has been in business since 1962 and assists families and businesses regardless or origin or destination. They are an agent for one of the world’s largest relocation service providers, Atlas World Group.