Plan and Plan Early. You can't put enough importance on organization...
- How will you be moving (rental truck, moving company, a friend's pickup)? If you are renting a truck or hiring movers, get a number of quotes or let us help you get connected with them. Check your insurance. Make sure that your renters insurance will cover your belongings during the move. If it won't, purchase a rider or separate moving policy. Most moving companies offer some insurance as part of the moving price; make sure this will cover full replacement value for any items lost or damaged during the move.
- Gather important papers. Bank statements, bills, medical records, veterinarian records, insurance records, school records, the mover's contract, leases, mortgage papers, deeds, car records and other documents should be kept together in a briefcase or small file box and never packed.
- Turn on utilities. Contact the utility companies at your new home and give them your move-in date. This will ensure that you have a phone and electricity when you get there. Likewise, notify your current utility companies of your move-out date (have utilities turned off the day after you leave) and new address (so they can send the final bill).
- Notify the post office of your change of address. The post office can also supply you with change of address postcards for magazine subscriptions, credit cards, banks, friends, and anyone else who needs your new address.
- Get boxes. Get plenty of boxes -- you can usually return those you don't use. Also get plenty of heavy duty plastic tape and bubble wrap or clean paper. Most movers and truck rental companies have calculators to help you determine how many boxes you need.
- Purge, and purge ruthlessly. Take an objective look at your belongings and ask yourself, "is this so important that I am ready to pack it up, load it on a moving van, unload it, unpack it, and find it a place in my new home?" If the answer is "no," discard it. Hold a yard sale if you can; give things away; donate items to Goodwill or like organizations; give them to a thrift shop, shelter or other charity. Think of the move as a great opportunity to do that spring cleaning you've never quite gotten around to.
- Pack. And keep your packing organized. As you pack each box, keep an inventory, and number each one. Pack one room at a time. You can even color code the box labels by room. (Remember, things should be labeled with their destination at the new home.) You should start your packing early with those things you won't need until after the move. Make sure to use bubble wrap or clean paper to protect breakables.
- Keep a box of cleaning supplies. Most leases will require that you do some basic cleaning before leaving, so keep cleaning supplies together, and clean each room as it is emptied. When you get to the other end, you will be ready to do any necessary cleaning at your new home.
- Beat the movers. If you are using a moving company, make sure you are at your new home (with a cashier's check or money order for payment) before the movers arrive. They will want to be paid before they unload the truck, and you will want to direct them where to put your stuff.