by Mario Acosta on April 1, 2013

in Buyers, First-Time Home Buyers, Local Topics

movingIn the coming weeks I am going to pass along some basic tips on moving.   Let’s face it, this is an underappreciated aspect of buying and selling a home.  “The Move.”  As if the life stressing event of buying and selling a house isn’t enough – you have to move too.  So I thought I would try and pass on a few great tips I have found over the years to help minimize the chaos of the move.  Your move prep to go, and the unpacking once you are there.

I’ll start with organizing to move and packing. Then I’ll move on to getting your new home ready, unpacking and getting organized.  It may take a few weeks, but I think it’s worth putting it out here.

So let’s start with –  Getting Organized.

Start by sitting down and making a plan.  Walk around and look at the task.  Start deciding what you want to sell, donate, toss and last of all – what you will pack to take.  It’s the ultimate opportunity for spring cleaning your life.

Don’t forget to take a long view of your pantry, refrigerator and freezer.  Start planning your meals to use up as much as you can. You don’t want to try and move frozen and refrigerated foods for any real distance.   No matter the distance the food stuff in the house will become a pain when you’re down to the wire.

Make A List.

Write everything down! You’ll thank yourself later. Before you pack even one box, create a simple record keeping system. Create a computer-printed list of numbers with a space to write the contents. Or have a spiral-bound notebook for the job. You’ll place a number on EVERY box you pack and list the contents on your list. Don’t put the list down unless it’s in a place you’ll call Packing Central. This is where you’ll find your labels, marking pens, box tape, and other supplies. When describing the box contents, be specific — “A-D files” is better than “files”, and “Tulip dishes” rather than “misc. kitchen.”

OK, not everyone can be this organized.  But make an effort to at least label the contents of each box.  You will be so glad you did when you’re facing a mountain of brown boxes at the other end of this event.

Have Plenty Of Supplies.

Don’t make me say this twice– you’ll need LOTS of boxes–probably more boxes than you think, and having enough boxes will make your life easier! (If you buy your boxes from a moving company, you can always return unused boxes for a refund. If you got them free from the grocery, just toss any leftovers.)  There are some real advantages to buying boxes.  They stay together better, are easier to organize as they are regular sizes, and easy to label and keep organized.

Have about 10 boxes set aside to use for last minute items on moving day, such as bedding, clothing, and cleaning supplies. You’ll need strong plastic packing tape to close up the boxes securely. Use unprinted newsprint (newspaper can stain your items), packing paper or bubble wrap to wrap and cushion household goods. Again, you’ll need a lot more supplies than you think, so get extra so the packing can go smoothly. Return any unused supplies after the truck is packed.

Define A Space For Staging

Empty a room or make space in the garage to start collecting all of the packed boxes.  It is much easier to keep the boxes together and out from underfoot.   After all, you still have to live in the house as you are preparing to move out.

Utilize Wardrobe Boxes.

These tall boxes are perfect for bulky, lightweight items such as comforters, pillows, and blankets, as well as clothes that need to remain hanging. Call your mover to ask the width of the wardrobe boxes they’ll be bringing. Then measure the clothes in your closets (including coat closets) to see how many wardrobe boxes you’ll need. You can also use them for closet storage boxes, shoe boxes, and other bulky items such as fabric bolts, large baskets, or gift wrap tubes.

Use extra boxes.  More boxes make for lighter boxes.  You will appreciate this as you find yourself moving your stacks as you prepare for that final day.  Don’t make the boxes too heavy to lift, however. One mover told the story of someone who put a bowling ball in a wardrobe box! When the box was lifted off the truck the bottom gave way, sending the bowling ball on a wild ride down the ramp, across the street to the gutter, then down a hill where it finally came to rest in a roadside ditch. (Is that a strike or a spare?)

Strategize Wardrobe Box Use.

Moving companies will be happy to deliver boxes ahead of your moving day. Or if you’re doing the move yourself, get things organized as early as possible. A few days before your move, fill some sturdy handled shopping bags with bulky closet items such as shoes, sweaters, belts, and jeans. On moving day, fill the bottom of the wardrobe boxes with some of the shopping bags, then add your hanging clothing. Pack hanging items tightly so things won’t move around and fall off of hangers. Finally, cover the shoulders of your clothes (a dry cleaning bag works well), then add a few purses or sweaters on top. You’ll have fewer boxes, and closet items remain together. Also, the shopping bags will make it easier to retrieve your belongings from the bottoms of a tall wardrobe box.

Color Coordinate.

Designate a color for each room in the new home, such as yellow for kitchen, orange for dining room, etc. Apply colored stickers on the box. In your new home put a matching sticker on the door to each room. The movers will know where to put everything when they arrive at the destination. It’s also helpful to post a big sign on the wall in the room where you want boxes stacked, (“Boxes here please”) to keep them out of furniture and traffic areas.

Insist on keeping things together when you or the movers are packing boxes. Keep bookends with books, light bulbs with lamps, and extension cords with appliances. Small, loose parts can be attached to the item they belong to with tape or placed in small envelopes — to keep picture hooks with pictures, shelf brackets with a bookcase, a special wrench and bolts with the wall unit. Keep larger corresponding items (such as a cable TV cord) in re-sealable bags, and tape these to the underside or back of the item. As a backup, have a “Parts Box” open on the kitchen counter and fill it with cables, cords, parts, pieces, brackets, or nails that are removed from any items of furniture. Keep this box with you, or mark it well with a rainbow of colored stickers so it can be easily located on move-in day.

Pack Ahead.

Anything you can pack ahead will save you time on moving day. If it’s summer, get your winter clothes out of the way. You don’t really need 5 radios or TV’s around your house for the last few days there. Box up your shampoo and extra toothpaste and live out of a travel cosmetic case for the last week or two. Pare down cooking utensils and food supplies to bare essentials. Wastebaskets can also be packed (put things in them!) while you switch to using plastic grocery bags (hang them on a cabinet door or door handle to collect trash.)  No matter how you do it, work at getting down to the bare minimum of what you would have available to you in a hotel on vacation.

Use Your Luggage.

Along the lines of getting to a vacation minimum, start living out of a suitcase by the last week.  It will also meet your basic wardrobe needs the first week in your new home as well.  This single step can de-stress the whole event.  You won’t be in a panic to find your toothbrush or the tie you need for work on Monday.

The balance of your luggage can be filled with clothing, sheets, towels, and paper goods.  Even for local moves you’ll be able to quickly spot your navy suitcase holding your favorite sweaters, whereas “Box #189” might remain elusive for days.

Safeguard Valued Items.

It’s a good idea to keep valuable possessions, such as silverware, collections, or antiques, with you. If you have a long move and no room in your car, bury the items in a box titled “Misc. from kitchen pantry”. Either way, check your homeowner’s insurance to see how you are covered during the move, and if you need additional insurance from the mover. Also, find out what paperwork (receipts, appraisals, and photos) you might need to file a claim in case of loss.

Don’t Forget The Kids.
No, I am not saying to not leave them behind. I know it can be tempting around 13, but that’s not what I meant.  Don’t leave them out of the move.  Let them help.  It will give them a better sense of control if they help pack their own things. It also lets them make sure what’s important to them gets hand carried.  I made this mistake by packing a little rubber figure of a girl not more than three inches tall in with my daughters toys.  When moving day came the entire event came to a halt while we frantically helped her find “Pony Tail Girl”.  Live and learn.

Keep Important Papers With You.

Your list of “important” papers might include: birth certificates, school records, mover estimates, new job contacts, utility company numbers, recent bank records, current bills, phone lists, closing papers, realtor info, maps, and more. Don’t leave these with the mover. Keep them with you!

Personal Boxes.

Use brightly colored storage tote boxes, one for each person. Let each family member fill theirs with items they’ll want ‘right away’ in the new home — a set of sheets, a towel, a couple of extension cords, a phone, nightlights, address book, pens and paper, keys, kleenex, and travel cosmetic case, and so on.

Moving may not be the most fun you’ve ever had, but planning ahead will go a long way toward making the process bearable.

Ok, so that is step one.  I’ll be back next week with more tips on the ongoing process of “The Move.”

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Post by Mario Acosta

Mario has written 117 articles.

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