Once the realtor places a sign in your yard, life changes. And when “for sale” officially becomes “sold,” the stress meter can rise as the prospect of moving merges with reality.
If you’re part of that group changing addresses, you probably have a to-do list five pages long. Don’t sweat it. There are some simple tips that can help maintain your sanity, make things easier on your family and minimize last-second problems to turn your move into a memorable journey.
Here are some tips from do-it-yourself moving company U-Haul.
1. Reserve equipment in advance
Don’t wait until the week before to reserve your moving truck, trailer or auto transport. If you have a flexible schedule, consider moving on a weekday when equipment is more readily available, and your preferred pick-up location is more apt to have the equipment on site. Dodge holiday weekends if possible – there is no busier time for movers.
Search online to learn what size truck and trailer you need, or phone a moving company for advice. Consider mobile self-service options for your equipment pick-up and return to expedite the process and avoid lines at the rental location.
2. Pack with a plan
Packing requires thought. A healthy dose of compulsive behavior will serve you well here. Pack by room and by contents, considering where each box will go at your new residence and labeling it. There are boxes designed specifically for wardrobes, flat-screen TVs, dishes and mirrors, as well as bags for your mattresses and box springs. Spend a little extra to protect these items, and make sure you have enough tape, bubble wrap, packing peanuts and boxes. Some companies will buy back your unused boxes with a receipt.
Keep your toiletries, clothes to wear during the move and other daily-use items easily accessible. Cleaning supplies for your new residence should be among the last things you put on the moving truck, so they can be the first things unloaded.
3. Involve your children
Children want to feel like they’re participants and not just bystanders to a process that involves changings bedrooms, backyards and the familiarity of home. Saying goodbye to a home is hard. If you are changing cities or states, consider a trip to a child’s favorite restaurant, park or special spot to mark the occasion, all while building up excitement for the adventure ahead.
“Letting kids pack their own toys or clothes is a good way to help them feel like they’re part of the process,” U-Haul product expert and spokesperson Sperry Hutchinson noted. “Contributing to the relocation and packing their favorite things also lets children know that nothing is getting left behind.”
4. Donations and yard sales
This one is tricky for those of us affectionately known as hoarders, but moving is hard enough without transporting and find a new space for everything you own. If mementos have personal value, and belongings have practical use, keep them. But if an item is going to be stuffed in the back of a closet, attic or garage for the next 20 years gathering dust, make a trip to Goodwill® and have a yard sale. Gifting toys and clothes your family has grown out of to your favorite charity, or a less fortunate family you know, can make an impact and put your mind at ease. This not only translates to fewer boxes on the truck, but it may put money back in your pocket, too.
5. A happy place for your pets
When it comes to Max, Buster or Mr. Whiskers, your first concern is how to handle your furry friends on move-out day. If there is a long drive ahead and they haven’t spent much time in a vehicle, consult your vet for the best options. But also know that pets may become anxious and stressed well before move-out day as the process disrupts their daily environment.
“A cat or dog will wonder what’s happening to its familiar territory,” explained Mike Keaton, spokesperson for the American Moving & Storage Association. “Designate a room to stay (as is) just for your pet while the move proceeds around them, with the pet’s familiar toys, food and water bowls. This will give them a reassuring and familiar space.”
6. Turned off, turned on
When making your checklist of things to do before – and on – moving day, consider everything that has to be “turned off.” Know all those things need to be “turned on” at your new residence in advance. This includes electricity, gas, water, internet, TV and other utility/service providers.
Think of everyone who requires your change of address information, from the USPS and your bank to the Human Resources department at the job you may be leaving so those tax forms make it to the right place. Lastly, don’t forget copies of medical, dental and other personal history records, if those components are changing.
7. Take your time – and pictures
The average person moves 11 times in a lifetime. Some of those will always stand out: the leap from your parents’ home to a college apartment; your first home with your spouse; and perhaps that momentous cross-country move with your children in tow.
Mark these life journeys by taking pictures along the way, not just of the old and new homes, but of the faces involved. Pause to take a deep breath. Be patient on the drive. There will be stressful moments in the moving process, but remember to smile. You’re going to make it.