Wagons Ho!! The low-down on loading up and heading out Nobody but a lunatic enjoys moving. Moving is work not pleasure. It takes time, energy, money, and attention. So it won’t be fun but does it have to be painful? No, but
like the dentist says, “it may pinch a little”. When you think about it, making a move is like making a movie. Every movie needs a good beginning, middle and end. (And like a Disney movie you’ll want to make sure it has a happy ending). Here are some steps that will make sure yours is an Oscar winning move!
Step 1. – The Beginning – You’ve decided to move and you’re excited. Take a deep
breath. Make a cup of your favorite hot brew; sit down with your mug and a pad of paper
or a keyboard.
Reality Check – ask yourself whether the move will be a do-it-yourselfer or whether you
will call in the pros. To help you make the decision, try this; picture yourself running
from grocery store to grocery store collecting boxes—most of which have no lids, big
gaps in the bottoms, and no handles on the sides. Next envision yourself pouring through
the recycling box to unearth newspapers for wrapping endless dishes and other precious
-Envision your car filled to the visor with stuff. Watch yourself drive through rain, sleet,
snow, drought, dust storm, cyclone, and hurricane, only to arrive at your destination
without a key to your new home. Introduce yourself to your new neighbors. Ask them to
mind your valuables while you dash back home (old home) through rain, sleet, snow,
drought, dust storm, cyclone, and hurricane to pick up the missing key.
Forget about doing it yourself! Hire a mover! Start looking for a reputable company
right away. Before you decide on a mover, you need to know about their track record
(what they actually do as opposed to what they say they do) and their policies.
Start by asking for recommendations from people you know and respect—people with
high standards. These may be friends, co-workers, employers or real estate agents.
MAKE A CHECKLIST:
• Are they efficient? (Clean, thorough, careful, and diligent—no snoozing on the
• Are they punctual? (Show up when they say they will)
• Can the driver read a map? (U-hoo, where are you?)
• Will possessions arrive damage-free? (Delivered in the same condition you last
• Will they stick to their estimate? (Should be within a reasonable percentage of the
• Will they supply enough crates and buffering materials? (No wasted time tracking
down packing materials)
• Will they move everything you need them to move? (Some items may have to be
shipped by other means)
• Are they bonded and licensed? (Paid their dues and, theoretically, playing by the
• Has the Better Business Bureau had any complaints? (Anybody gunning for
KEEP 2 LISTS: 1) moving companies recommended
2) moving companies from Hell.
It’s important to have both because they’ll all start sounding the same after awhile and,
depending on who you talk to, you might get both good and bad comments about the
Next, when you’ve finished your initial research, choose three or four companies at
the top of your list and get the following information from them:
• Based on the size of your current dwelling and the amount of furnishings and
possessions, what will it cost to make the move if:
• You pack?
• They pack?
• This price includes what?
• This price does not include what?
• Do they unpack or do you?
• Will they move furniture into position?
• Will they remove their shoes before tramping on the white carpet?
• How long has the company been in business?
• Will they provide a written estimate?
• What sorts of guarantees and assurances do they offer with regard to safe
handling of goods, timely arrival and special services?
Now that you have all the data, consider their attitude when speaking with them initially.
Was your contact person courteous, helpful, candid? Take all this into consideration and
make your decision based on the service you expect, not solely on the bottom-line price.
Step 2 – The Middle – Now that you’ve decided on a mover you have to prepare for
the “Big Day”. Book the move. Reserve well ahead and try not to schedule your move at
the end of the month when everyone else is also making tracks.
Here are the ABC’s of Step 2:
A. Take care of business at both ends of your move:
• Cancel newspaper subscriptions
• Re-direct magazines and mail
• Cancel or transfer phone numbers
• Disconnect and re-connect electrical, gas, water, and other utilities
• Check with your insurance to see what’s covered and what isn’t. Get extra
insurance if necessary.
• Transfer your bank accounts and prescriptions
• Video tape or photograph all your possessions and keep this record with you as
part of your personal luggage when you move. You may need this information for
comparison purposes if something is lost, broken or damaged along the way.
• Prepare to have locks changed at the other end. If your new home has been
previously lived in (or even if you’re the first occupants) you never know how
many keys are in circulation with previous tenants and tradesmen.
• Alarm systems – arrange to disconnect or uninstall system in old home and reinstall
in new one.
• Remove or cancel your cable or satellite system.
• Smoke alarms – bring new batteries and/or smoke alarms (if needed) to your new
home (you might want to consider a carbon monoxide detector if your new home
doesn’t have one).
• If at all possible visit your new home and take some measurements and make a
quick drawing of the rooms, so you can decide where your major pieces of
furniture will fit (and look fabulous!)
B. Deal with your possessions — Clean! Sort! Chuck!
This is an excellent opportunity to get rid of all the items you never use. Be brutal. When
you’re making a fresh start in a new place, you don’t need to be weighted down with
debris. Not all stored items are necessarily garbage but if you’re not using them, they’re
excess baggage. Give them to someone less fortunate than yourself or if you have the
time and need the money, sell them.
Most plants don’t survive moves if there’s any distance or discomfort (heat, cold etc.)
involved. If you have a particular plant that you must take because you have nurtured it
through all those childhood diseases, and you feel it’s hearty enough now to battle the
elements, your best bet is to carry it with you in your own vehicle. If you’re taking a
chance on shipping it with other items, make sure it’s in a break- and leak-proof
container, not glass or pottery. If you’re traveling within the country or internationally
check with government departments of agriculture to see whether transporting live plants
is even legal. For more information, consider checking with local nurseries and gardening
clubs and associations.
D. Clean! Empty! Store!
• Of course you want to clean your home for the next person, just as you want the
person ahead to clean for you. But beyond that you should clean the things you
are taking with you, so you can start fresh in your new home. Area carpets, drapes
and off season clothes should be cleaned and left in their packaging, ready for the
• Be sure to empty propane tanks and anything else with flammable substances, like
your lawn mower or barbeque.
• Defrost the freezer.
• Store items you will not need or use immediately.
• Make backups of all important computer data and carry the disks with you.
Whether doing it yourself, or having the packing done for you, a little organization is
necessary. And there are some items you will want to take with you regardless of your
faith in the moving company.
First decide which items will travel with you. At the very least, these should be:
• suit cases with a few days worth of clothing
• jewelry, small antiques and heirlooms
• medications and toiletries
• insurance papers
• bill of lading from the moving company
• all other valuable documents and files
• photos of your possessions
• kids, spouses, pets – (don’t laugh, some people need to be told this!)
Even if you are not hand-packing everything yourself, you should prepare labels and lists
of items that will go together in each box. Label the boxes at least by the room: John’s
bedroom, master bathroom, kitchen, games room, family room, KITCHEN….
Drapes & Blinds – Here’s something you may not have thought of, if your new home
does not come with window coverings you will want something on your windows before
you spend your first night in your new home. If you have had custom drapes or blinds
made up, make sure you can find them easily. Otherwise be prepared to drape some
sheets or blankets over your windows.
Step 3 – The End. The Big Day has arrived, and so will you. Breath deeply, you’re
almost there, there are just a few more points to consider.
A. Saying goodbye to the old place:
Don’t leave the movers alone to pack your belongings. Have someone on hand to talk to
the movers as they are loading, in case they have questions. Remember, first on is last
off, plan accordingly and make sure someone tells the movers.
First things first – Beyond a bed and bedding, when you get to your new digs you will want to unpack the
kitchen and bathroom first:
• In the bathroom that will be soap, toilet paper, towels, dental items, shampoo,
razor, and hair dryer.
• In the kitchen, you’ll want the coffee maker, kettle, dishtowels, detergent, cutlery,
and a few mugs and plates. You will probably be too tired to cook, so don’t worry
about pots and pans and food right now. Consider ordering in, or picking up deli
dishes along the way.
• You may also want a broom and some cleaning supplies.
Say Goodbye! Once everything is packed-up and in the vehicles, do one last check.
Make sure everything is turned off and nothing is left in closets, cupboards, or storage
spaces. Say good bye and don’t look back!
B. Turning your new house into a home
• Arrive before the movers and make a good impression on the neighbors by
ensuring their driveways are not blocked, their lawns mutilated or their flowers
and shrubs mangled. Check out your new home and decide where the major
pieces of furniture will go BEFORE they arrive.
• Be sure the movers do it your way! Once the movers arrive, pull out your
drawing or your layout plan. Ask the movers to place furniture in their alreadydesignated
spots. That way you won’t be straining to move furniture back and
forth or up and down stairs for days on end. Have boxes deposited in the
• To tip or not to tip, that is the question. If the movers have provided excellent
service, you might consider giving each person a tip (one consultant recommends
$25 – $50 per person for a full day). A beverage and snack would be good, too.
• Check for damage. Check all appliances, plumbing, and electrical outlets to
ensure everything is in working order. If something is amiss notify the moving
company then introduce yourself to your new neighbors and find out about good
repair people in your area. (This can be a good icebreaker)
• To each his own. Get family members to unpack and arrange their own things, so
each has a say in their new surroundings. This encourages them to participate and
they will feel more comfortable with the choices they’ve made for themselves
rather than choices made for them by someone else.
• Know the basics about your new home. Make sure you know where your
electrical fuse box is located and how to shut off your water and gas.
• Safety first. It won’t take long to find out where the nearest hospital, police
station and fire station are located and post their telephone numbers in your
kitchen for quick and easy reference.
• Nighty night! Rome wasn’t built in a day, do what you can to make you and your
family comfortable then call it a day. Have a good night’s sleep in your new
home, surrounded by family and personal treasures! (Now that’s a happy ending)
Moving is a big job with many details to consider. If you can afford it, find a reputable
moving company. Next, have a checklist of everything that needs to be disconnected,
cancelled, transferred, and reinstalled. Get rid of anything you no longer need, and take
an inventory of everything that’s to be transported. Take care with the packing, and label
If you can’t hire a moving company and must do it yourself, ask responsible friends for
help and promise to feed and water them in exchange for their labor. You can call
companies like U-Haul and get their tips for self-movers. The more planning that goes
into your move, the smoother the transition will be from old home to new.