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Block the stress: how to best plan for a move

Jul. 25, 2017
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No matter how prepared you think you are, the hassle of moving always has a way of catching you off guard. I’m pretty sure it’s scientifically impossible to have a totally stress-free move, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get ahead of the game. Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, you should plan ahead to minimize the stress of your upcoming move. In this article you’ll learn when to budget, reserve rentals, get moving materials, and more. Piece of cake, right?    

3 Months Beforehand: Budget, Budget, BudgetPeople sometimes wait until a month or a few weeks before their current lease ends to find a new place to live. While in some cities with quick housing markets (like L.A. or NYC) you might not have much of a choice, I wouldn’t recommend leaving things that late if you can help it. 

Three months beforehand, you should know your new address. With this information you can make a moving budget.

When you budget for your move, take into account:

  • Truck rentals (estimate how much you’re moving to reserve the right-size truck);
  • Movers for hire;
  • Gas;
  • Dolly rentals;
  • Boxes;
  • Tape;
  • Newspaper;
  • Food and drink for everyone for the day(s);
  • Cleaning materials;
  • And some extra cash just in case. 

You may find that you already have some of these materials, or that you can get these materials or services for free (you might have the cleaning materials you need already, and your friends and family can be your movers). When an estimate is reached, you’re better suited to start (or continue) saving for your move.

Now that you’ve made a budget, you should rent a truck and find movers. A truck will always cost you, but if you want movers on the cheap, ask your friends and family to help you. Be clear about exactly what help you will need (and when you’ll need it) so that friends and family can give you an informed yes or no answer.

If you are moving across the country and you’re keeping a lot of things, including furniture, it’s best to hire a moving company to take care of the loading, transportation, and unloading for you.

1 Month Beforehand: Notify, Sort, Pack

Here, there’s a little more wiggle room. Notification of help needed, an address change, sorting, and packing may or may not require a whole month depending on your situation. Keep this in mind when you read the following.

Notify: Notifying the appropriate people of your address change is essential for a smooth transition into your new home. This can mean anything from letting your grandparents know the address of your dorm to notifying the proper utility companies to stop, move, or start services. 

Other people and places who may need this information could include:

  • Loan servicers;
  • DMV/Voter Registration;
  • Bank(s);
  • Employer(s);
  • Family and friends. 

In addition to updating everyone who needs to know, you can further ensure a smooth transition by signing up for mail forwarding services.

Sort: Once that’s out of the way, you will start to assess and sort your belongings. As stated, you could start this a month beforehand, but it could also take you as little as one or two weeks. 

Begin by sorting infrequently used items into throw away, give away, and keep. Go ahead and toss the first “throw away” items in the trash. Infrequently used items can be things like out of season clothes, movies, and games. 

When you’re closer to your move out date, sort the rest of your things. At this point, your place will look untended. Embrace it! It will make packing easier. 

If you are moving across country and you are not hiring a professional moving company to transport most or all of your things, you’ll need to pare down. A lot. Decide what you truly need (which often means keeping your belongings down to what will fit in your car).

Packing: At this point, you will buy packing tape, boxes, and newspaper. (Consider using out-of-season clothes and extra bedsheets in addition to or in place of newspaper.)

Many groceries will give you the boxes their products come in after they’ve finished stocking. Another alternative is to check Craigslist and similar sites for boxes from other recent movers. If you’ve already got storage tubs and totes, you can pack your things in those. You can buy boxes from moving companies if you don’t have any other options.

The first thing you should pack is a basics kit: dry or canned food, water, sports drinks, cutlery, cups, plates, a small pot, and some clothes for when you arrive at your new place. This doesn’t need to be huge, just enough to get you and the people helping you move through the day.

Next, you will pack items you want to give away. Doing this before packing things you want to keep may allow you to reuse boxes. Many thrift stores and charities have huge baskets you can dump your things in, allowing you to keep the box. You should drop off your give-away things at least a day before you move.

Pack the things you want to keep by theme or room and then mark them. If I’m moving, I’ll keep my bedding, clothing, and shoes in “Bianca’s room” boxes or tubs. The same for kitchenware in “Kitchen.”

Leave out items you will need to clean the place you’re moving from. If you don’t have all the cleaning supplies, you will need to buy them before moving day.

Moving Day

You might be nervous about how the day will go, but you’ll also be pretty excited that it’s finally there!

Before you have picked up the truck rental, a couple things. Make sure that:

  • You have food and drinks for yourself and your movers;
  • Cleaning supplies are unpacked and ready to use for when all your stuff is moved out.

On moving day, you’ll pick up the truck rental. If they didn’t charge you when you reserved it, you will be charged that and potentially other fees when you pick up the truck. If you are moving locally, the rental place will expect you to replace the gas you used while it was in your possession. 

The rest of the moving process is hard and time-consuming--I’m not going to lie to you--but the good news is, everything is pretty intuitive from here on out. When moving day comes, stay satiated and motivated to minimize stress. It might help to draw up a plan for the day ahead of time.

Now go get your move on--you’ve got this!