15 Savvy Tips for a Smoother Move

By Ashley Marcin on 16 October 2014 0 comments

Whether you're moving into the house of your dreams or simply to a new apartment across town, the process can be daunting. I've been there, recently, and I'm only now recovering from the exhaustion of it all. Along the way, I learned some of the major DOs and DON'Ts related to moving, and I'm going to share them with all of you! (See also: How to Ensure You Get the Home Loan You Want)

1. Simplify

Now's the time to go through your stuff and weed out the extras. Throw away any trash that might be lingering in your junk drawers. Give away anything you no longer use to friends or donate to a local charity (some will come and pick up your items from you!).

A good place to start? Give your closet a long, hard look to see where you can pare down. Fewer things to move equals fewer headaches. (See also: 8 Essential Pieces for Your Capsule Wardrobe)

2. Sell

What you don't trash or donate, you should consider selling in a yard sale. Check to see if your community organizes any neighborhood-wide sales, which can help with getting more traffic to your location. Otherwise, use sites like Craigslist or even local Facebook boards to unload your items and earn some cash to help with your moving expenses.

3. Make a List

Everyday life can get rather hectic when all your stuff starts piling up in boxes. So, prepare yourself by making a list of what you need to accomplish during your move. This list might include any appointments you have, bills that need to be paid, or other obligations. Also put a couple moving-related points on there like changing your address with USPS or ordering checks and other necessities with your new number on them. Hang your list on the refrigerator so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

4. Start Early

As soon as we knew we'd be moving, I started packing. I packed away everything nonessential and even slimmed down my wardrobe to 10 simple, mix and match pieces. By packing early, you eliminate a lot of mess and everyday cleaning that would otherwise need to happen on top of all the other things you're doing. Designate one room in your house or apartment for boxes if you can, and pile them tall. (See also: Cheap Ways to Make Your Apartment Awesome)

5. Pack a Bag

Likewise, once you've determined what your essential items are, get a backpack or overnight bag out that you'll reserve for the move itself. You'll want these items handy when everything else in your life is in boxes. Our large suitcase contained a change of clothes, pajamas, personal care items, important documents, our laptop, and some other valuables.

6. Set Time Aside

I rather cavalierly thought we'd be able to pack our entire home in a couple hours each evening for a few days. Boy, was I wrong. Especially if you have children, it's important to set aside dedicated time for packing — preferably when your little one is being taken care of elsewhere. Not only is a half-packed home dangerous for young kids (lots of choking hazards hanging around), but it's also nearly impossible to finish everything you need to do. (See also: This Is Why Your Projects Always Take Longer Than You Expect)

7. Reserve

If you plan to rent a moving truck, reserve it as early as you have your move date. We learned the hard way that vans get scheduled quickly, and if you live in a smaller area — it can be hard, if not impossible, to find alternatives. Also be sure to check your local paper or the company's website for any deals they might be running. And read all the fine print before you sign on the dotted line.

8. Organize

When it comes to packing, don't toss everything in a box. Come up with an organization method that works for you. Maybe you pack all your office items in one box or all your dinnerware in another. Label the boxes clearly — including which boxes contain fragile items and even which box goes into what room — so when you arrive at your new digs, there's no guesswork involved.

9. Hunt Around

And speaking of boxes, don't immediately go out and buy brand new cardboard. Check grocery and big box stores for sizes big and small that will be recycled. We were able to get all the boxes we needed for our move with a few trips to a grocery store across town. Call ahead before making any big trips to see if the store offers its boxes to the public. Before you recycle them after the move, see if you can pay it forward to a friend.

10. Think Outside the Box

Better yet, pack what you can without the use of boxes. Suitcases can hold a good number of your clothes, tote bags can carry stuffed animals and other soft items, zip bags can house small items, and laundry bins are golden. You can even keep your clothes in the dresser drawers, just remove them while moving the dresser itself to lighten the load.

11. Repurpose

If you run out of packing material (bubble wrap, newspaper, etc.), use towels, socks, and even old plastic grocery bags to help cushion delicate items. You can use paper plates to cradle fragile china. I even used a couple pillows and big blankets to keep our television and other electronics safe from dings and dents during their travels.

12. Dig Deep

Reach into the far back of your pantries and freezers to use up any last bits of food you have hiding. It's best to keep fresh food purchases to a minimum in the week before your move to eliminate any waste that might occur in transit. Plus, there's nothing more gratifying than filling up your new refrigerator with a stock of fresh groceries.

13. Incentivize

For basic moves, you might need a few more hands. Invite your friends over and offer pizza and beer (or a quinoa bake and herbal tea — you get the idea) for their efforts. As much as moving is hard work, the whole thing is made much more pleasant when you spend the time with friends and family. And while you're at it, make sure that everything is ready to move when they arrive so no one is standing around awkwardly waiting.

14. Hire Help

For very large or tricky items (think pianos!), you might want to consider hiring movers. Did you know you don't need to contract them move all your stuff? Call and arrange for a quote for just the biggest, heaviest, and otherwise trickiest pieces of furniture. You may save yourself some money this way, as well as hold onto potential dollars you otherwise sink into medical bills or replacement items that are damaged by your amateur schlepping techniques.

15. Make Time

If it's at all possible, try to get some overlapping dates for your move. For example, explore the idea of pre-possession or post-possession if you're buying a home. Many lawyers don't love drafting up the extra paperwork involved, but we got pre-possession of our home for an extra two days and it made a huge difference. Just FYI: You'll need to arrange for insurance coverage and cover utilities during this time, among a few other considerations that your agent can help walk you through.

What smart tips do you have for people on the move?

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