Moving Checklist

Moving can be incredibly stressful, no doubt about it, whether you're going across the country or just down the block. But though there's nothing we or anyone else can do to make a relocation "fun." However, outlined below are a number of very specific, chronologically arranged strategies that have helped us ease that awful "too little time; too much to do" feeling over the years.

 

The Urban Edge Moving Checklist:

 

Two Months Until Moving Day

  1. Sort through your stuff, and get rid of as much as you can bear. The key here is to be systematic, either going from room to room (if you currently live in a house or large apartment) or, if you're in a smaller home, from area to area (the bedroom closet; the kitchen cabinets; those boxes beneath your bed), and completing each assignment before moving on to the next.

    Make decisions as you go, and stick to them. Charitable donations to organizations and local thrift stores; holding a stoop or yard sale, or selling on eBay; e-cycling: all of these are excellent ways to avoid the expense and added burden of moving the things you no longer use, and all will be much easier to execute if you give yourself enough lead time.

  2. Start your search for a moving company. Though there are plenty of solid options, from companies big and small, scams and horror stories of moves-gone-bad abound. A personal recommendation from a friend or relative is a good place to start, but you should still get at least three or four in-person, on-site estimates of how much your move will cost.

    DO NOT use those "find a mover" websites to get your estimates; more often than not they'll be off by hundreds of dollars, or lead you to companies that don't exist. The Better Business Bureau, the American Moving and Storage Association, and the advocacy site movingscam.com are all good tools for conducting an initial screening.

  3. Create a Moving-Day binder. This will be your mobile headquarters, containing all of your documents, estimates, receipts and inventories. This will be invaluable, especially in the final days, when you don't have a filing cabinet at hand anymore. Also, you should carry it with you when competing moving companies come to give you an on-site estimate, because it indicates you're serious, organized and won't fall for any rip-off bids. And though it sounds silly, we've found that a bright color works best… easier to spot in a room filled with beige and brown boxes.  

 

Six Weeks Until Moving Day

  1. Get at least three on-site estimates from moving companies. Demand everything in writing and, if possible, ask for a "binding estimate" or, better yet, a "binding not-to-exceed estimate". Non-binding estimates are perfectly legal, but are unlikely to reflect your true final cost. You should also make sure to get each company's complete contact information (address, phone number, email, website, and other names under which does business) as well its USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) and MC (motor carrier) license numbers. And confirm that your contenders all have the proper licenses and insurance required to move you legally at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website.

    Note: it's very important at this stage that you communicate well with your estimator—don't forget everything in all closets, in storage spaces in your basement, attic or garage, and any outdoor furniture or other items--giving him or her a complete picture of your moving needs. Even binding estimates can be challenged if, on moving day, the job foreman sees that you have considerably more to move than the estimate called for. The movers can't force you to pay more, but they can refuse to complete the job, and simply drive away.

  2. Create a labeling system, and inventory as you go. There are dozens of ways of labeling your boxes and furniture—color-coded and numbered by room, for example, with accompanying list of items—but what's important is that you create a system that works for you, both now and in the coming post-move months; and for your movers, so they understand where to bring everything without insane micromanaging on your part.
     
  3. Order boxes, bubble wrap, tape and other supplies. Many national retailers sell moving supplies these days, including Staples and Home Depot, but you can also check with local movers and hardware stores. Don't forget such specialty packing supplies like wardrobe and dish boxes. The sooner you get your supplies, the sooner you can start packing such items as holiday decorations, little-used kitchen equipment, out-of-season clothing, etc.
     
  4. If possible, measure the heck out of your new home. Your moving day (and subsequent moving-in days) will go much more smoothly if you have a good idea of what will fit where in your new home, and, especially, if all of your furniture can squeeze through your new home or building's doorways, hallways, and elevators.
     
  5. Transfer school records. If you have children, now's the time start the process of transferring their records from their current school to their new school.
     
  6. Eat it, use it, finish it now. Try to minimize your food, paper goods, and cleanser purchases from now until your move; instead, eat what you already own—anything frozen or refrigerated, especially—and finish off your current cleaning and paper supplies, even if that means, for example, using that bottle of less-preferred dish soap that's been sitting under your sink for a year.

 

 

One Month Until Moving Day

  1. Pick your moving company and confirm final arrangements. You'll want to get a written confirmation of your moving date and locations, as well as all costs and any other details (for instance, that you're moving into a three-story walk-up building; or any quirky traffic or parking rules on your new street) that you may have discussed with your mover.
     
  2. Initiate your change of address. It's important to register a blanket change-of-address with the U.S. Postal Service, which takes about two minutes either online at usps.com, or by picking up the forms at any post office branch. You should also separately notify any and all of your regular correspondents, including credit card companies, brokerage firms and banks, accountants or tax preparers, doctors and dentists and therapists and other medical providers, phone companies, magazines to which you subscribe, extracurricular schools and classes in which your children are enrolled. And don't forget to tell your human resources department at work, as well as all of your relatives and friends.
     
  3. Request time off from work. How many days before and after your move do you want free to focus on last-minute packing and unpacking? We've made the mistake of waiting too long to do this step, and have paid when the boss had already scheduled an important presentation the day before our move. Not recommended.
     
  4. Start packing. If you've received the moving boxes and supplies you ordered (see above), you might as well begin boxing, labeling and sealing away—with accompanying inventory, of course—all of those items you know you won't be needing in the next month. Your out-of-season wardrobe (especially if you're moving in the summer, and you can pack away sweaters, jackets, coats, boots, etc.), and your DVDs, CDs, and books are just a few areas of your home you can tackle at this point.

 

Two Weeks Until Moving Day

  1. Establish a "safe box" for your valuables. Jewelry, important legal papers, passports, and small family heirlooms all belong in a separate box, to be carried by you personally, or shipped separately, fully insured and trackable.
     
  2. Arrange for utilities to be turned on/off. Your current and future utility companies need to know your plans, including, depending on your specific situation, cable or satellite television services, electrical utilities, landline and cell phone services, internet and providers, and water companies.
     
  3. Refill all prescriptions. Make sure everyone has an ample supply of their regular and/or emergency medications, especially if you're moving far enough away that you'll need a new doctor and pharmacy.
     
  4. Confirm with your moving company. No reason not to do this now, as well as once more a couple of days before you expect them to show up at your door.

 

One Week Until Moving Day

  1. Make sure you have child care / pet care for the big day. Little kids and anxious animals make for high-maintenance moving-day partners. Best if you can get children and animals safely and happily out of the way for those few hours when the movers are going in and out your home carrying all manner of heavy and unwieldy items.
     
  2. Defrost and clean your refrigerator and freezer. If your fridge is coming with you, make sure you leave yourself enough time to clean it properly, so it'll feel fresh and new in your new home.
     
  3. Plan how to pay the movers. Some companies require a cashier's check, cash, or money order for payment, but even if you've arranged to pay by credit card, make sure you have enough cash on hand that day for tips and such. Most movers will tell you that 10 to 15 percent of the total is considered a solid tip.
     
  4. Back up all data on all computers. It's extremely likely that everything will arrive at your new home safe and sound, but just in case…

 

Moving Day!

  1. Cell phones charged, contact info provided. Make sure everyone's phone is fully charged, and that your movers have your number, and you theirs.
     
  2. Take out all garbage. No need to leave any trash behind for your current landlord to have to deal with after you're gone. Plus: some movers, fearful of leaving anything behind, will actually move your garbage to your new home.
     
  3. Verify that these are, in fact, your movers. Check the USDOT number on the side of the moving truck, and make sure it matches your records. You don’t want a crew of scam artists loading all of your possessions into their truck and driving away to places unknown.
     
  4. Try to enjoy and appreciate the moment. It's a big step forward, to move from one home to the next, so if you can take a minute or three and reflect on all the good times you had in your old home, and to be excited about the possibilities ahead of you, all the better.
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