So you've decided to make a move. Are you ready to box up everything you own - all the belongings that mean "home" to you and your family - and ship them to another location, maybe even cross country? It's no wonder that moving is ranked amongst life's most nerve-racking events. However, with the proper scheduling and preparation, you can make your next move a smooth one. Use this checklist to act as your "countdown" to moving day.
Take an honest and objective look at what you own, and decide what must go and what can be left behind. Books you've read and will never read again? Go through your closets and consider relinquishing your fat clothes, skinny clothes, baby clothes and all those shoes you haven't worn in forever. Records you haven't listened to since college? The pan with a broken handle or the children's long- neglected games? Extra weight will cost more money.
If you have things worth selling, you may want to organize a garage sale.
Start a central file for all of the details on your move. It's a good idea to buy a brightly colored organizer folder with pockets - you'll be less likely to misplace it. Make sure to collect receipts for moving-related expenses. Depending on your reason for moving, you may be entitled to a tax deduction.
Create a floor plan of your new home, and begin thinking about where you'll want to place furniture. Advance planning eases the stress of making major decisions when your belongings arrive at your new home. Mark and label specific pieces of furniture on your diagram, and put it in your moving folder.
Start collecting boxes if you plan on doing some of the packing.
Notify the post office, magazines, credit card companies and friends and family of your change of address.
Pick up a Change-of-Address Kit from the Post Office and fill out:
Complete any repair work on your old home, and arrange for any critical services needed at your new home.
If packing yourself, start packing seldom-used articles like fancy dishes and glasses, specialty cookware, non-essential clothing, curios, art, photos, and decorative items.
As you pack, remember to keep each box light enough to be handled by any of the members of your family - not just the strongest person. Heavier items go in smaller boxes, lighter items in larger boxes.
If you are planning a garage sale, pick a date at least a week before the move, and advertise it locally. Think about teaming up with neighbors who want to sell some of their old belongings, and plan a neighborhood "super sale."
For full service moves:
For do-it-yourself moves, make arrangements for truck rental and moving help, and buy packing supplies:
Take inventory of your everyday household goods, such as radios, pots and pans and small appliances. Decide which items you will discard or put in storage.
Self-packers: start your serious packing. Label the contents of all boxes, and pack carefully.
As best you can, box essential items together, and write "Open First/Load Last" on these boxes. When you move into your new home, you'll be able to easily identify these boxes and get to important items like pots, dishes, silverware, alarm clocks, bedding, pillows, towels, cherished toys and essential items for babies or children.
Make sure you have your driver's license, auto registration and insurance records.
Contact your doctors, dentist and veterinarian to receive copies of medical records.
Stop by and make arrangements for picking up your important records:
Close out your bank accounts:
Contact your child's new school and notify them of your upcoming move to their area.
Contact the Chamber of Commerce in your new town. Request a relocation package.
Pack phone books from your old town to make staying in touch with old friends easier.
Make personal travel arrangements (flights, hotel, rental cars) for your trip.
Plan your food purchases to have as little as possible in the freezer or refrigerator by the time you move. Use up all frozen items, and buy only what you'll eat in the next three weeks, because you can't ship them.
Arrange to clean your new home, or plan to clean it yourself as close to move-in as possible. Since the home will probably be unoccupied by this time, make sure the cleaning is thorough and covers all those nooks and crannies usually blocked by furniture or appliances.
Hold a garage sale now.
Check with your insurance company to cancel current coverage or transfer coverage to your new home.
Make arrangements for transporting your pets and any house plants, because movers can't take them in the van.
Meet with your bank to change account status.
Transfer all current prescriptions to a drug store in your new town.
Cancel any delivery services such as newspapers. Consider starting asubscription to the newspaper in your new town to introduce you to local news happenings.
Have your automobile serviced if you're traveling by car.
Be sure to empty secret hiding places to remove valuables and spare house keys.
Make a back-up copy of any computer files.
Make arrangements to disconnect your utilities. Get refunds for any deposits made. Have meters read. Give new address for them to send their final bill:
Pack your vital documents in one place:
Make arrangements to connect utilities at your new residence.
Make arrangements for cleaning
Inquire about your new state's auto licensing procedure and auto insurance rates.
Mow your lawn for the last time.
Double check to make sure arrangements have been made to disconnect and service your major appliances being moved.
Pack your "trip kit" of necessary items that should go in your car and not the moving van: your checkbook, cash or travelers checks, medications, essential toiletries, light bulbs, flashlight, toilet paper, pet food, spare glasses or contact lenses, baby or child care items, toys and car games for children and your notebook with moving information
If you have young children, arrange for a baby-sitter to watch them on moving day. Since you'll have your hands full, the extra attention from a sitter will distract the child's attention from the turmoil of a move. Also arrange for a baby-sitter to be available when you arrive at your new home with young children.
Pack your own suitcase of clothes for the move.
Put your "open first/load last" boxes in a separate place so the mover can identify them.
Pay all outstanding bills. Be sure to indicate your new address on payment receipts.
Remove any fixtures you are taking with you and replace (if specified in your home- selling contract).
Dispose or drain any flammable items:
Plan what goes in the car with you:
Make travel arrangements for your pets and plants.
Purchase moving insurance if you have valuable antiques and collections.
Have your car tuned up.
Return library books and video rentals.
Pick up items from the drycleaners.
The movers will arrive to start the packing process
Arrange for payment to the moving company. This payment must be made when your belongings arrive at your new home - before your belongings are unloaded. Find out your moving company's accepted methods of payment, terms, and its policy for inspecting your belongings when they arrive to determine if any breakage has occurred.
Empty your safety deposit box. Plan to take important papers, jewelry, cherished family photos, irreplaceable mementos and vital computer files with you.
Write directions to your new home for the van operator, provide the new phone number and include phone numbers where you can be reached in transit - either a car phone or friends, old neighbors, a place of business or relatives with whom you'll be in contact. You'll never be out of touch for long, should an emergency arise.
Leave your forwarding address and phone number for your home's new occupants.
If your old house will be sitting vacant, notify police and neighbors.
Defrost, clean and air out your refrigerator.
Clean your stove.
Purchase traveler's checks for other possible expenses.
Pack your former town's phone book for future correspondence.
Get a simple breakfast ready for the next morning.
Pick up ice and beverages for moving day.
Take down curtains and curtain rods.
Gather house keys, garage remotes and appliance information for the new owner.
Get a good night's sleep!
Remove linens from the beds and pack in an "open first" box.
When the movers arrive, review all details and paperwork. Accompany the van operator to take inventory. Verify delivery plans.
Show movers around. Make sure your possessions to be moved are inventoried with them.
Write "subject to further inspection for concealed loss or damage" on contract when you sign to protect yourself should you find damage while unpacking.
Get all keys together. Put in a safe spot.
Make sure moving van driver has correct address, phone number and directions. Confirm delivery date with him.
Check all rooms one last time. Remember closets and cupboards, basement and garage! Make sure all windows and doors are locked.
If there is time, give the home a final cleaning, or arrange in advance for someone to perform this service the day after moving out.
Have phone numbers for your moving company, insurance agent, Realtor and mortgage company handy
If you arrive before the movers, take some time to tidy up your home (dusting shelves, etc.) so the movers can unpack items directly onto clean shelves. If you plan to line cupboards with shelving paper, this is a good time to do it.
Unpack your car.
Review your floor plan to refresh your memory about where you want furniture and appliances placed.
Check to make sure the utilities have been connected, and follow up on any delays.
Confine your pets to an out-of-the-way room to help keep them from running away or getting unduly agitated by all the activity. You might even consider boarding them overnight at a local kennel until you're settled.
Plan to be present when the moving van arrives. Be prepared to pay the mover before unloading.
One person should check the inventory sheets as items are unloaded. A second person should direct the movers on where to place items.
Once all items are unloaded, unpack only what you need for the first day or two. Focus on creating a sense of home for your family. Give yourself at least two weeks to unpack and organize your belongings.
Remember - many of your moving expenses are tax deductible, so hang on to your receipts. Call the Internal Revenue Service and request Publication 521: "Tax Information On Moving Expenses" to find out which moving expenses you can deduct.