Summertime is a popular time for people to move. With school out for summer and college graduation sending recent grads off to their newfound jobs, it's no wonder many Americans will choose the summer for their big move.
It is estimated in a given year, 43 million Americans will relocate and nearly half of those moves occur in the summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Whether you're moving across the street or across the country, moving can be a stressful time for many people.
Here are eight tips to make your impending move a little bit easier to manage:
1. Set up your move timeline: 6 weeks before.
As soon as you sign the papers on your new place and set a date to take possession, you should start thinking about how you will execute the move.
How soon will you start packing? When will you set up the utilities for your new place? How long is it going to take to get fully moved in? If you're moving to a furnished place, plan on a full day to move everything in and if you're moving to an unfurnished place, plan to stretch out your move over the course of two or more days, depending on how much stuff you have to move.
If possible, try to organize a “soft move” a day or two before the big move.
2. Take inventory of your stuff: 6 weeks before.
Moving is often a great opportunity to go through your personal items and discard anything no longer of value to you, as well as a great excuse to get new things.
Make a list of everything important you own and determine if you will take them with you, store them elsewhere or donate/discard them. You should also make a list of everything you will need to buy (furniture, kitchen appliances, etc).
Many stores (i.e. Target, IKEA, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.) have an online feature that will let you create shopping lists and registries. This is a great way to keep a running list of what you will need and what has already been purchased. Plus, this can help you stay organized throughout the move and help you sort out what are necessary purchases versus things that can be purchased on a future date.
3. Assemble your moving crew: 4 weeks before.
If you're lucky enough to be moving across town or somewhere you already have some friends and family, you can probably save yourself the expense of hiring a team of movers. Kindly ask everyone you know who would likely be able to help you move if they are available to help.
Try to find some people who can lift heavy furniture and some who would be willing to help move smaller items. Expect to reward your crew with cash (however much is up to you) or with dinner and drinks and return the favor if possible.
4. Create a packing system: 2 weeks before.
Packing is always the part of moving that is a true pain. It will be in your best interest to be as organized as possible while packing to avoid confusion on move-in day, especially if you will have boxes going to storage or other places that are not your new house.
So, if you're tempted to quickly throw everything into random boxes, don't.
There are many ways you can attack this:
- Pack items in their original packaging if you have it, to easily identify the item in the box and know where it goes.
- Clearly label all boxes on all sides. If it goes in your bedroom, label it “bedroom.” If it goes into the kitchen, label it “kitchen.” If those boxes contain anything remotely breakable, indicate it on the box.
- Create a color-coding system by taping a colored index card with a list of items on the card. At a glance, you either know if the box is going to storage, going with you or what room it belongs to. The list on the card will help you decide which boxes you will want to unpack first and which ones you can leave for another day.
- If you have items that will need to be unpacked immediately, make sure you indicate that on your boxes. This will help you and your moving crew determine what is high priority on the unpacking front.
- Put all hardware in individual bags. If you have items that require special hardware (cords, screws, special tools, etc.), make sure you put them in a clear sandwich bag, labeled with what's inside and put it inside the box with the item(s) it goes to. This will save you a lot of headache when it comes time to install your entertainment system or small items of furniture.
- If you have friends or family coming to help you pack, make sure you enforce the packing system you've created. Yes, they may all roll their eyes at you a little bit, but after all, you are the one who has to do most of the unpacking, not them.
5. Pack: 2 weeks before.
Ah, the fun part. Provided you already have a packing system in place and know what items will be coming with you (or not), this should be a breeze.
Be sure to plan plenty of time to pack, depending on your schedule and amount of stuff you have. If you have a lot of stuff to sort through and pack up, enlist a few friends and have a packing party complete with drinks and snacks.
6. Confirm your move-in date, set up the utilities and confirm your moving crew: 1 week before.
Nothing is worse than plans falling apart at the last minute. Call your landlord, broker or leasing agent to confirm your move-in date and make arrangements for a time you can come pick up your keys.
Double check on key details. For example, if you're moving into a high-rise condo building, you may want to ask if there is a freight elevator to move your couches and if you need to pay them to pad the elevators in preparation for your move. Triple check they have all the required paperwork that you may have had to send them.
If you are responsible for setting up utilities, make sure this is done as soon as possible (some people suggest having all pertinent services set up at least a day or two before the scheduled move). Some landlords will not hand over the keys if you haven't called the power company to set up service.
Have a receipt of services rendered on hand if there are any questions, as well as all pertinent information like account numbers on hand.
Also, confirm your moving crew. If you're renting out a crew through a company, make sure you give them a call to make sure they are able to come at the time you requested. If you have your own crew, give them each a call to make sure they're still coming. If it happens you'll be down a person or two, this will give you time to find people to take their place.
7. Organize a “soft” move-in: 1 day before.
If possible, try to have a day before the actual move where you are able to:
- Clean up your new place (if necessary).
- Paint and/or do small repairs.
- Set up utilities and/or be present for installation if required.
- Set up rooms that don't require heavy furniture, i.e. your bathrooms and kitchen.
- Fill up your fridge and pantry with snacks and cold drinks for your moving crew, as well as a few basic staple items to tide you over until you're able to fully stock your kitchen.
- Put your clothes away in the closet.
- Decide how to arrange your furniture (Put sticky notes on the walls, doors and floor to show where you'd like your movers to place everything).
- Make a list of additional, last-minute items to pick up at the store.
8. Stay cool: always.
Move-in day may not go exactly how you planned it. The movers may be late, you lost members of your crew at the last minute, you can't find important items and your well-meaning family is driving you up the wall.
Whatever the situation, remain calm. Everything is going to eventually get moved in and unpacked.
Here are some additional move-in tips:
Pack an overnight bag with a few days of clothes, toiletries and essential items like phone chargers and medications. With the craziness of unpacking, it may take you a few days to get around to fully unpacking all of your clothes, toiletries and other important everyday items.
Keep important documents like birth certificates, financial records and passports out of your boxes and in a secure place in case you need immediate access to them.
Keep your toolkit on hand. You'll need, at minimum, a level, measuring tap, screwdrivers, a hammer, nails and screws. Don't have a toolkit? Buy one or borrow one from a friend.
Have cleaning supplies at the ready. Come prepared to clean up a dirty apartment and any messes that may occur during the move. Also, have a first-aid kit nearby to address any injuries that may occur, like cuts and scrapes.
Make up your bed as soon as you're able. Having a comfortable place to sleep will be most welcome after a long day of moving and unpacking.
Moving can really suck, but you can make it suck a little less as long as you stay organized, give yourself plenty of time to pack and remain calm when things don't quite go as planned.