You bought a new house. You’re ready to make a major move. Perhaps you’re downsizing. Maybe you’ve lived in your current house for years or decades. Maybe it holds belongings not just of yours but of your children and other family members. Where do you start?
There are a lot of things to do, and to stay organized, especially if you’re downsizing to a smaller house. Get organized as early as possible and get moving! Follow these steps for how to pack smart.
Three to Six Weeks Ahead
Research and Hire Movers
As with many services, a great place to start is by asking friends for recommendations. Next, check reviews and Better Business Bureau ratings. Thoroughly vet any potential moving company. After all, you’re entrusting most of your worldly possessions to this company and its employees. Ask about their experience with any special items you might have, like antique vehicles or priceless artifacts. Make sure you fully understand their insurance policies and your recourse should something get lost or damaged. Finally, find out their timeline so that you can time your arrival at the new house with the arrival of your belongings. This is especially important if you’re moving long-distance.
Call the kids. If your offspring have stored everything from their high school yearbooks to their comic book collections in your basement, it’s time they move it out. A move is a great time to reduce your stuff. Get rid of things you’re not completely enamored with, or things that you don’t use regularly. Use a floorplan of your new home to decide where to put your furniture. Jettison whatever doesn’t fit your new design. Consign, sell, or donate it.
Make an Inventory
This is especially important for peace of mind. It’s important to know what you have, and to have a record of your most valuable possessions, especially if the unthinkable happens, and things are damaged or even lost. It will also help you to put things away systematically when you unpack.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
Homeowners policies don’t necessarily include coverage for the act of moving, according to State Farm. Instead, the company suggests that you reduce your risk by getting a moving insurance policy. Insurance providers offer various types, such as:
- Released value coverage (or basic carrier liability). As the most basic coverage required by federal law, this liability coverage is free and based on weight, paying up to 60 cents per pound for an item. But if your $500 one-pound tablet gets damaged during a move, well, it hardly comes close to the full replacement value.
- Full value protection (or full replacement value protection). Experts recommend this coverage because it pays for either the current market replacement value of an item, replacement with a similar item, or the item’s repair. If you opt for full value protection, make sure to get details of your moving company’s specific plan to see how it determines replacement value, especially for items of extraordinary value, and to learn what actions might limit your mover’s liability.
- Separate liability insurance. Some movers might offer this optional insurance for purchase. Governed by state law, separate liability insurance pays for the insurance amount purchased minus the basic carrier liability amount that the mover pays (up to 60 cents per pound). If you go this route, make sure you get a copy of your policy and understand the amount of insurance you purchased and the cost.
One Week to One Day Ahead
You’ll have professionals to pack your stuff, but there are other things to do to relieve some stress. It’s important to think through your moving plans and contingencies.
Keep Necessities Available
Medications, jewelry, and valuable items are probably not things you want to leave to movers. Carry your valuable items and things that you know you’ll need immediately to ensure that you have them. You will also lessen the chances that something gets lost or damaged. For a long-distance move, you may be without your things for several days. Pack enough clothing and personal items to see you through.
Make Sure Movers Have Easy Access
This is a logistics thing, but it’ll simplify the job for the movers, and reduce your headache. On the day of the move, make sure that there’s space for the movers’ trucks. Also, make sure they have access to doors, especially double doors or garage doors, which they may need to use when moving out larger items. Don’t make it harder for the crews at your old place, or at your new one. Label everything and clearly explain to movers what to pack and what–if anything–they should ignore.
When moving locally, you may want to make quick trips back and forth on moving day. Don’t disappear on your movers. They don’t need your help with everything, but they may have questions or need your input. Instead, you might want to consider having someone hang out at your new place (or at your old one), so that there’s always someone at either location to work with the movers.
Moving is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be a nightmare. With some preparation, and attention during the work, it can be manageable and efficient.