“Organization is the key to having a great moving experience,” says Charlie Morse, general manager of Ward North American Van Lines. “Any move is stressful, but being prepared makes all the difference in whether you look back later on your move as a wonderful introduction to your new home or as a very traumatic time.” Morse says that the best moves are the ones that are planned well in advance before moving day. Using an experienced, professional moving service can help you maximize the most of your time, and alleviate your moving anxieties by helping you anticipate potentially tricky situations.
In addition to their expert packing services, professional moving companies often offer additional care protection up front before the big move. “Check with your homeowner’s policy to make sure your items are covered in case something unforeseen happens,” advises Morse. “If they aren’t, you can often buy additional coverage from your insurance company or moving insurance from us. That way, your goods are insured against anything that could happen during transit—including road accidents, tornadoes, lightning and even van fires.”
Remember that a packer’s job is to do exactly that: pack. “The packing team doesn’t pick and choose what goes, they just pack everything,” explains Morse. “They don’t have any bias on what you want to take or not. Often when people do their own packing, they spend valuable time thinking, ‘Do I need this or not?’ It takes our people less time because they don’t worry about that. So, unless you tell them otherwise, everything goes.
As a result of the “everything goes” philosophy of packing, be sure to keep your personal items that you want to take with you on your trip in a “safety zone.” Tell the packers and the movers that these items are going with you and not to pack them.
As for making sure your possessions arrive on time, Morse says you can relax: “Many of our trucks are equipped with GPS tracking systems, so all they have to do is plug in your new address and they’ll find you. And the driver will give you his phone number so you can keep in touch with him in transit along the journey. We do our best to get your possessions from Point A to Point B safely.”
On Your Mark:
A few weeks before you move
Get Rid of It: Once you’ve decided to go for it, make a major purge of all your unnecessary goods and possessions. Have a garage sale, donate your unwanted items for a tax write-off, and advertise them in the newspaper or on craigslist.com. Getting rid of extra things you don’t need makes for a cleaner move, and drops the shipping weight and bulk.
Meet and Greet: If you’re using a moving company, an agent will meet with you at your home and conduct a survey of the items you want to move to your new home. Some of the points your moving agent will review with you include the items you want to move and the items you will leave behind, items that will go into storage, care and handling of items of exceptional value, and items that will need to be disassembled because of size or access out of your residence.
Get Set: A few days before you move
Take & Grab Party: Instead of filling up the landfill with perfectly good condiments and other food items, invite friends over to “take & grab” whatever they want from your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Do you really want to transport those one-third-full bottles of alcohol across the country? A “Take & Grab Party” is a fun way to get together one last time before the move and responsibly discard some things that won’t be going with you, like plants.
Big Ticket Items: Disconnect, defrost, and clean refrigerators and freezers, empty the evaporation pan and drain the water reservoir of the automatic icemaker. Leave the door of your fridge, freezer, or washing machine open at least 24 hours before loading to allow all moisture to evaporate. Make sure that your stove has been cleaned and all pots and pans have been removed.
Electric Boogaloo: Electronic equipment requires a little extra tender loving care. If possible, pack your electronics in their original cartons and packing material. If not available, make sure your mover provides professional packing materials. Disconnect your wiring and code it with colored tape to make reinstallation easier at your new location. Back up important files on your computer’s hard drive, and if it has a CD/DVD drive, make sure it’s disc-free.
Precious Car Go! If your moving company is transporting your vehicle, make sure your car has no obvious fluid leaks and secure your battery in the mounting bracket. Have your car cleaned so that movers can perform a valid quality inspection on moving day (a dirty car might limit your ability to file a claim on major damage). Make sure that your gas tank has at least one-eighth tank of fuel and disconnect, disable, or turn off all alarm systems. Remove all non-permanent luggage racks, bike racks, or ski racks on the exterior of your car and take out any personal items from your car’s interior. And last but certainly not least, have an extra set of car keys and alarm remote ready to hand over to the moving team, as well as a working phone number where you may be contacted.
Make Advance Reservations: Depending on where you live, you might need to obtain a parking permit for the moving truck or van. Also, if you live in a high-rise building, you should check to see if you need to reserve use of the elevator.
Smile and File: Gather and organize your important documents in advance and have them ready to go; you never know if you might need access to them in your new home. Never place these items in the trunk of your car. A short list of documents to take with you includes birth certificates, life insurance policies, medical and dental records, real estate documents, and school records. Other helpful items include an address book, appliance manuals, appraisals for high-value items, and your copy of the household goods descriptive inventory.
The day of the move
Get in the Zone: The safety zone, that is.
Anything that you wish to take with you and not have packed should be placed within an area that you identify to the movers as the “Do Not Pack/Do Not Move Zone.” This would include anything from your important papers and documents, luggage, medications, travel clothing and toiletries, and favorite toys for the kids.
Create a First Night Care Kit: Separate the items you will need the most when you first arrive in your new home and have the movers pack and load them separately so they will be the first to unload in your new home. If you are putting items into storage and you need special items for a temporary living situation, clearly mark and separate these items before the mover arrives. Some items to consider for your First Night Care Kit include alarm clocks, a can opener, first-aid items, clean sheets and pillow cases, toiletries, a flashlight, extension cords, basic tools, and hardware from disassembled furniture.
A Note about Utilities: Call a couple of weeks ahead to have utilities connected at your new home the day before or the day of your scheduled move-in (resources for phone, Internet, cable, gas, electric and other utilities are listed in this section). Check to make sure the utilities have been connected, and follow up on any delays. Make sure your phone is connected, if you have a land line. Ideally, you should have the phone company hook it up the day before you move in.
Electronics: Most moving companies advise, that to prevent possible damage, televisions, stereos, computers, other electronic equipment, and major appliances should not be used for 24 hours after delivery, allowing them time to adjust to room temperature.