A few days ago a friend of mine asked for advice on choosing the best moving company. She was moving from PA to FL and had never moved before. I had to mentally hit the pause button when I read that….never. Like in....never. I then counted...from age 21 I have packed up and moved my stuff at least 15 times. Might be closer to 20. Four of those moves were to England and back. My husband and I recently had another move into our new home 8 months ago. (We call it the FRP ‘final resting place’. So, hopefully I am done moving.)
Moving is second nature to me. I don’t have to think about it. I just do it. But, for some of you who haven’t moved before or aren’t really sure how to organize a move, I thought I would give you some tips and advice. Personal advice from personal experience. I have created a checklist for you too - click here or the button below.
Purge - Go thru your stuff...I mean ALL your stuff (closets, drawers, boxes - everything) and purge. What is broken. What does not fit. What do you not use. What have you owned for years and years and just want to replace. What is still in a box from your last move. And then….Sell it. Give it away. Donate it. Just don’t move it. It costs money to move and takes time to pack and unpack. For me, selling takes valuable time, so I give it all away or donate it.
Will it fit - If you know where you are moving to, look at what you did not get rid of in #1 above and determine if the ‘to move’ stuff will fit in your new place. If not, purge some more.
Video - Get your phone out and video everything. Open every door and drawer. Zoom in so you can actually count the forks, socks, and earrings. Have someone help you open doors and drawers - makes it go so much faster. Get serial numbers for TVs, phones, computers, cameras etc. You need this for insurance (I do this every year). What if your moving truck never shows up (happened to my mom) or blows up (happened to a good friend of mine). How can you put $’s to the claim if you can’t remember or have no idea what you own?
Who is packing - Decide if you will pack your stuff or if you want the moving company to do that for you. Keep in mind - if you pack yourself it is not covered by the moving company’s insurance (unless there is physical damage to the box). I usually pack my non breakables/non valuables like towels, clothes, shoes, games etc. Then I have the movers pack my fine china, dishes, and valuables.
TV’s - Flat screen TV boxes cost about $200. I know...a total rip off. But, you don’t want to have your tv get broken or damaged (save the box) . Have the movers pack your TV. They won’t cover it if you pack it. This happened to my daughter recently. (Actually, her TV looked fine on the outside. Something got disconnected on the inside.)
Fees charged - Movers charge for the box and the labor to pack the box. If they are packing you need to make sure they don’t pad the box with paper. This is a trick they use to charge you more money. Now, if you have a fixed quote (see #5 below) it does not matter.
Chemicals and stuff - The moving company will NOT transport paint, empty gas cans, aerosol cans, bleach, paint thinners, oil, or anything else considered flammable. Give them a box or 2 to put those items in so they don’t get thrown away. If you are driving to your new location then take them with you (if you have room) or, give them to a friend/neighbor if that is not possible.
Quotes - Call 3 name brand movers. They are all pretty much the same. (Keep in mind tho, each office is independently owned and operated.) You need to know ahead of time If you are packing yourself or not. If a combination of you and them - be very specific in what they are packing. And, you need to tell them all the same thing. I type up a list (my handwritten is awful so I type), by room, and give them a copy. Then we go over it together. This way, when the quotes come in, you are comparing apples to apples. And, I also have a record of what I told them.
You want firm quotes. Not estimates. I promise you, they always under estimate because they want your business. I did not heed my own advice during my last move. The firm quote I got was like $4200 and I thought he was nuts! So, I went with the hourly quote. That move ended up costing me $5200!! boo :(
Confirm that they will put together your beds, and anything else they took apart.
Insurance - Buy the movers insurance. You will have damage…..guaranteed. Homeowners insurance has a deductible. And, if you sold your house, you don’t even have homeowners insurance anymore. I would recommend the insurance with zero deductible, AND replacement value. If your TV gets damaged you need the money to actually replace it - not just a value on an old TV. Again, I did not need my own advice recenty and had a $3700 claim....and got reimbursed $271. Another boo :(
Stuff you need - Set aside anything you THINK you might need for the move, as well as, anything you want to move yourself. I put it all in one place with about a million signs that say ‘Do Not Pack’ - ask me why I have so many signs?…..because they get on a roll and don’t see the sign - and it all gets packed. another boo :( Here is a short list -
Phone chargers, computers, tablets.
Measuring tape, paper tablets, pens and pencils.
Jewelry, important documents, passports, and items you either cherish and cannot live without.
Pet food, bowls, leashes, treats, carriers, poop bags, cat boxes.
Children’s games and toys, comfort animals or blankies.
Clothes for x # days. Add about 7 days to that list - it might take you that long to find your clothes boxes.
Coffee pot, tea pot, coffee/tea, breakfast items, food for the kids, snacks.
Pillows, blankets, sheets - for your 1st night in your new place!!!!
Flammables and aerosol cans.
Miscellaneuos Information -
Boxes - Home Depot has the cheapest boxes around. They have 2 weights. Regular and extra sturdy. I usually buy the regular. Buy twice as many as you think you need. You can always return them.
Wardrobe boxes - I buy my wardrobe boxes from the moving company. I ask them to deliver, and they always do because they want my business. I buy 8-10. They are great for clothes, and rakes, brooms, Christmas trees, and any other large items.
I also buy my picture boxes from the moving company. Great for mirrors too.
Tape - USPS tape is great. It’s clear and thin. So it sticks really well. I buy it at the grocery store. Or, buy this tape - it is awesome too and you can have it in 2 days. The dispenser is awesome.
Packing paper - You will need paper, paper and more paper....buy a bunch. Home Depot sells paper. The size is smaller than the moving company so compare the prices.
Bubble wrap - if you are packing your own breakables invest in some bubble wrap.
Signs - Create signs with the names of the rooms in the new destination - keeping room, Nicole’s room, master bedroom, etc. That way the movers know where the boxes and furniture go.
If your items are going in a different room than where they started (Ie - it is currently in the basement but you want it in the kitchen at the new house) make sure you let them know how to label the box. Otherwise you are personally moving boxes all around the house!
Change of Address - You can put in a change of address online at the post office - here is the link.
Now what happens when you unpack...
Some quotes include the unpacking....you need to ask.
Look at each box as they bring them in. Now, this can be difficult when a bunch of people are bringing in 4 boxes each! Just do your best.
Once you see a damaged box or item , even slightly damaged, take a pic of the box and the sticker on the box/item.
Unpacking damaged box - You have 1 of 2 options and you need to ask what is the best for their company -
Open it up on the spot
Open it later when you have time.
BUT, in either case, take a pic of broken item. Save the box and item for your claim.
To do before the move -
Measure your furniture pieces. Height, width and depth. Record the measurements for future reference. (I put mine in my notes on my phone so I don’t lose them in the chaos of the move.) That way, when looking at a new house, a rental, or deciding on location of furniture placement, you can measure for fit. Movers will move a piece of furniture from the truck to a room…1 time. So, be ready for the location.
Pets and children
Moving is very stressful for adults and they know what is going on! Children and pets feel it even more because they don't understand. A few tips and tricks -
Pets - Decide ahead of time where they will hang out during the process. Packing, moving out and moving in. I put my cat in a bathroom with his box, food and water. He hangs out there. I do that on both sides of the move. I also make sure his carrier for the car has not been packed.
Children - Make sure they have plenty of activities to keep them busy. Better yet, if you can afford it, have someone come in and keep them busy. Or, have them go to a friends to play.
Have all of their comfort things for them - things for the car, plane, and new destination.
Pack them their favorite snacks.
Make it an adventure.
During one of our moves, my daughter had the chicken pox. Sheesh! We had to sneak her into the hotel because she was contagious! Just adding another layer to the adventure!
I have created a short check list for you. Click the button on the right. Please refer to this post for more detailed information.
I sure hope this helps you have an organized and successful move. Enjoy your move. Try not to get too stressed out. If you have any questions please let me know.
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