‘Tis the Season – Moving Season that is, the month of May marks the official beginning of moving season and is also known across the United States as the National Month of Moving. Did you know that according to the U.S. Census Bureau more than 37 million Americans move per year?
Moving can be overwhelming and easily be one of the most stressful times in anyones life but it doesn’t have to be if you plan ahead. Use the following 17 tips for an organized and successful move as your personal road map so you too can have a stress-free move. Some of these tips I picked up throughout my career as a professional organizers while others I learned the hard way having moved more than 15 times in my life – two times from one continent to another. Believe me I have seen the good, the bad and the real ugly.
Make this move the perfect reason to finally get organized, embrace the idea of a fresh start; what better time to sort through all your belongings and rid yourself of expired, broken, unwanted and unnecessary items that have accumulated throughout the years. This way you will not only save time during the actual move, but also save money.
Now if you are one of the 37 milion Americans that will pack up and move this year, I suggest that you organize your move by following these simple steps which in return will make for a much smoother experience for yourself and your family members and help ensure a trouble – free move.
1. Start as soon as possible – Start sooner rather than later, at least four to six weeks ahead of schedule. Many people underestimate how long the packing process will take and how much they really own. The earlier you start, the more organized and smooth your move will be.
2. Get free boxes – Start collecting free boxes the second you find out that you are moving (grocery stores, furniture stores etc. will be more than happy to give you what they have… you just have to ask)
3. Use a checklist – Create a To Do / Moving Checklist. The checklist should include an outline of all that must be done before moving day is here and during moving day as well.
4. Ask for help – Enlist help and make it fun – family members, friends even your kids if they are old enough should be involved and part of the process. Contact a professional organizer, after all, that is what they do. They can help you get started or help you throughout the entire moving process from getting organized, purging, packing and setting up in the new place.
5. Get rid of clutter now and forever – De-clutter, purge and rid yourself of broken, unwanted and unnecessary items you have accumulated over the years. Part of the process when I work with a client is to sort through their entire belongings before one single box gets packed. Ensuring a fresh start in the new home and avoiding moving items they no longer need as is not only expensive moving unwanted items but time-consuming and just plain unnecessary. Take the time to dispose of anything broken, expired, old toys, old clothes, paper work and anything else you no longer need or have not used in at least a year.
6. Be kind – Donate items that are in good condition, there are always families in need. Knowing that your unused items will be put to good use will make you feel good about yourself.
7. Select a moving company – Start calling different moving companies for pricing; compare and get at least three in-home estimates. Keep in mind this is not the time to pick the lowest offer. You want to be sure you are hiring a reputable moving company that is licensed, bonded and insured. You can ask the company for a copy of its Certificate of Insurance for confirmation. Get a written contract once you decide which company should be your mover and be sure to read the terms and conditions of the contract as well as the limits of liability and any other disclaimers. And do not forget to make sure pick-up date and time is clearly marked. I also suggest you contact the American Moving and Storage Association as well as the BBB for more information in regards to selecting your moving company.
8. Get packing supplies – Purchase essential packing supplies and arm yourself with the right tools such as different sized moving boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, etc. I suggest get more than you think you will need to ensure your packing goes smoothly. There is nothing worse than having to stop in the middle of the packing process to get more packing supplies. My professional and personal experience is that we always believe we own less than we actually do; this is one of my only exceptions where I do believe the more the better – you can always return what you don’t need.
9. Assign Zones for the new home – Draw a blue print of the new home, if it is multi-leveled I suggest a blue print for each floor. Assess and determine how you will use the space, assign zones such as craft room, kitchen, master bedroom, guest room, office and bathroom and so on.
10. Color-code rooms – Assign a color to each room and notate color on the blue print (I suggest you purchase different colored paper from the craft store –one color for each room). The papers will be placed on each individual box, so when you and a whole team of movers are unloading the truck they will know exactly where each box will go.
11. Have a plan and start packing – Create a packing plan and stick to it, such as packing one room per day or two boxes per day to ensure you are ready when the movers get there. Consider what items you most frequently use and what items you don’t use on a regular basis. You want to start by packing the most infrequently used items first and then work your way up to the items used on a daily basis. Pack all belongings by type and by room and be sure to pack heavy items such as books in small boxes.
12. Assign box numbers – Tape assigned colored piece of paper on the side of each box and mark each individual box clearly using the number system box 1, box 2 and so on and be sure to mark the number on the colored sheet of paper as well as the actual box just in case the paper somehow gets removed during the moving process. This will help you, the movers and all your helpers; everyone will know exactly where everything is going to go.
13. Create a spreadsheet and itemize – Start a spreadsheet with box 1, box 2 and so on, along with a short description of what each box contains, the designated color and location in the new home. Keeping you from endlessly searching through your boxes. Once a box gets unpacked cross the box off the spreadsheet giving you a sense of accomplishment through all the chaos.
14. Prioritize – Not everything has to be unpacked the very first day. Prioritize the boxes that contain essential items – Priority A. Contents that are important, but not crucial – Priority B, and everything else – Priority C. This will give you a good outline of where to start unpacking once you get to your new home.
15. Moving Day – Plan on take-out meals for the entire day – Pizza and Soda’s are a very popular choice. Discuss with the movers what items you want loaded first. Loading – Start with Priority C, then Priority B and Priority A. Furniture last. Unloading – Clearly mark zones and make sure everyone understands your system. Start unloading and arranging your furniture first, moving it directly to its assigned location making it easier to place boxes around the furniture.
16. Kids – If your kids are old enough let them help, however if they are still at a very young age I suggest having someone watch over your kids – keeping your focus on the moving process.
17. Pets – Moving can be very stressful on your pets. Be sure to give them special attention during this time. Keep cats in a separate bathroom with their litter box and place dogs in a fenced yard if possible. Repeat the same in the new home and have some of their favorite toys ready for them.
And here is my bonus tip: Do not fill out the USPS Change of Address Form: This is how junk mailers will track you. Instead, let everyone know you moved by sending a few postcards such as: “We moved cards” to family members etc. or email instead – Most credit card companies and magazine subscriptions will let you change your address online these days.