Moving is hard. Forget to do some (or all!) of these things, and you’ll make your move much more difficult than it needs to be. Or worse, you’ll end up with a full-fledged moving disaster.
1. Waiting too long to book your movers. Waiting too long, especially during the peak moving season (May-August), can cause major headaches. You may not be able to get the dates you want with your preferred mover, and if you need to move on that date, you may have to pay more to do so. And because most people begin packing after their move is booked, waiting to book your move may shorten the amount of time you have for packing and other preparations. Look to book your six to eight weeks ahead of your move date.
2. Using unlicensed movers. There are plenty of stories about scams and frauds perpetrated by unlicensed movers. These can range from requiring deposits, to unexplained fees to flat out collecting a deposit and not showing up on moving day. Always check that your movers are licensed with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation.
3. Underestimating how much work moving is. We tend to forget how much work things are when we don’t do them regularly. If it’s been a decade or two since you moved, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s no big deal. Finding a new home, gathering estimates, planning the move, packing: It’s a lot of work, and if you’re a normal family, you’re already busy. Take the time to plan, and get additional help if you need it, whether that’s hiring someone to clean, taking advantage of a packing service, or making sure your whole family pulls their weight.
4. Not keeping track of your paperwork. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in a move. Be sure you hang on to the estimate, move order and inventory/bill of lading, and that you sign all documents. Most importantly, check your inventory and bill of lading against what’s delivered, and be sure to note any visible damage to furniture and boxes before you sign off at the end of your move. In the event that you need to file a claim, the inventory and bill of lading will be used to establish the item’s original condition.
5. Procrastinating on packing. Procrastination may seem harmless, until it’s the night before you move and your entire house needs to be packed in ten hours. Rushed packing is sloppy packing, and you’re more likely to have damaged items if you pack them in a hurry. And if you don’t manage to get everything packed when the movers arrive, you may incur extra costs as they stand idle while you finish packing. Start packing three to four weeks in advance of your move.
6. Packing boxes too heavy. Or too full. Boxes that are too heavy invite accidents, injury, or both. Whether it’s a dropped box or the box breaking apart from the weight, the end result may be damaged items. Boxes that are packed too full, causing the sides or top to bow, can also break, causing damage. If you can’t get the top to close flat, remove some items. If you struggle to move the box out of the middle of the room, it’s probably too heavy and should be packed into two smaller boxes.
7. Changing your address. It’s not enough to file a change of address form with the post office. You should change your address with banks, credit cards, insurers, employers, healthcare providers and more. In addition to being sure that you’re getting all your mail, you’ll also help protect yourself from identity theft. Do this the week before your move, so that the new residents don’t get your credit card offers and other sensitive information.
8. Not saving receipts. Moving is expensive. If you’re moving across country, or even from one end of a large metro area to another, you may be able to deduct some expenses on your taxes. And if your employer is paying for your move, you’ll probably need receipts to claim reimbursement for moving related expenses. It’s a good idea to have a file folder or large envelope for receipts, so they stay together. You may want to write notes on the receipts to help you remember what they’re for.
9. Not taking care of the utilities. Forgetting to disconnect a utility can be expensive. Forgetting to request service can be a major disruption. No one wants to move into a dark, cold house, or live without running water for a couple of days. Make a list of all the utilities to be turned off, and another of the ones that need to be turned on, then write the date the request was made next to it. Another good idea: Make sure the utility reads the meter before they turn on your service.
10. Not taking a break. Moving is a long process. Plan a few nights where you get a break, and do nothing for the move, either by having a night out with friends or simply staying in and relaxing with a movie and take-out.