As a military family, we move A LOT (typically every 2-3 years). Having suffered through some bad moves, and thankfully also having experienced some very smooth moves, I’ve learned a lot about the process in the past 20 years that can help you prepare for this big event.
Sometimes you may not get a lot of notice before you have to move. We once found out we had to move two weeks before we were expected at our next duty station.
In these cases, it’s hard to start working on the moving checklist that you’re supposed to start 2-3 months in advance. However, anything you can accomplish BEFORE the moving truck shows up will save you hours of trouble and frustration later in the process so whether you have a year to prepare or just a few days, you should try to do as much as you can in advance.
While you are decluttering, start to set aside items you will need right up until the last minute so they don’t accidentally get packed. For example, cleaning supplies, paper plates, plastic utensils, paper towels, garbage bags, hygiene items, and some clothes.
Also, make things easier to find on the other end of the move by putting items in the room where they belong so they will be boxed and labeled appropriately. It’s not a bad idea to photograph expensive or new items as well when you are going through your home to prepare for the move. This will protect you in case items are lost or damaged during shipment.
Don’t forget to clean as you go. This will prevent the movers or your friends who are helping you move from being grossed out on moving day and it will make it more fun to unpack and arrange furniture in your new home since you won’t be delayed by dusting and wiping it all down.
Also, several movers have told me that they treat their customers’ belongings with as much respect as the customers do so if you have a bunch of junk that has a year’s worth of dust upon it, they aren’t going to take as much time and care handling it as they will if your house is pristine and well tended.
When you cancel and set up utilities, don’t forget to notify everyone else of your change of address including friends and family, post office, subscriptions, banks, insurance companies, cell phone provider, doctors and dentists.
Before you unplug your computer and all the peripherals or the TV and media components, use masking tape to label the cords/cables and ports so you will know how to put it all back together on the other end. Coil the cords and cables neatly and store together in a resealable plastic bag labeled with the device they go to along with the serial number. If feasible, tape the bag to the electronic device.
Make unpacking easier by bundling drawer items such as utensils or office supplies with rubber bands and then place them in a resealable plastic bag. You can also use plastic bags to contain small toys like Legos or Polly Pockets so they don’t get lost in the bottom of packing boxes or in packing paper.
Designate a closet or corner of a room as a “Pack Last” station where you keep all of the items you set aside while you were decluttering that you will need on moving day or during the move.
If you are moving yourself, try to leave lots of time for loading the truck. The couple of times we have moved our items ourselves, we damaged our belongings in an effort to get the job done quickly.
If you are rushed, you won’t be as careful as you should. For this reason, you should also line up as much help as you can get.
Even if you start the job with tons of energy and enthusiasm, the taxing job of moving a household will grow cumbersome quickly and you will find yourself being less careful than you should, thereby increasing the chances that you will damage your property or worse, hurt yourself.
If a moving company is moving your belongings, you will have other priorities.
First, you will want to oversee as much of the process as possible to ensure your items are being handled carefully and to make sure that when you sign the paperwork at the end of the day you are confident the information on it is correct. Second, it is in your best interests to befriend your movers.
In most cases, if you show them respect, they will show you (and your belongings) respect in return. Be considerate of the fact that they aren’t easily able to leave during the day to get a bite to eat or a cold drink since they will more than likely have only the moving truck for transportation.
Offer them water or something else (other than alcohol) to drink. If you can’t afford or don’t want to buy them lunch, provide a variety of delivery menus so they have a way to order food for themselves.
This is by no means a comprehensive moving checklist. Just some of the tips I have picked up along the way. For a complete moving checklist, here are two of my favorites:
If you have a great moving tip you’d like to share that I haven’t listed, please share it in the comments.