Moving can be a stressful and difficult time for individuals and families. A successful move is not a matter of chance, it is the result of planning and hard work. At the center of these efforts is you, the person that is moving. If you expect a good move, you must play an active role and prepare well ahead of time. I have moved 16 times in the last 21 years and I can assure you, each time was a little better.
It is your move, so get ready, no one is going to show up and rescue you from not preparing. You have a great deal of work to do and it’s difficult to remember everything that needs to be done, so take some time and create a to-do list to help you along during your 30 days of preparation time. Ask questions. Read and understand what you sign with the shipping company. Get involved and get to know the people you are working with. Are you moving near friends and family? Local contact to where you are moving can often provide information helpful to you in arranging a smoother move.
First, create an expensive and valuable items list (e.g., artwork, collectibles, and heirlooms) and have them appraised well in advance. Consider this part of your investment in the event of loss or damage. Attempt to locate original purchase receipts for your more expensive items and keep them separate from the rest of your shipment. Consider using a video camera or taking close-up pictures to record the condition of your furniture, working condition of your audio equipment, television and the actual appearance of your valuable items prior to the pack and pickup dates. This could help in the event you must file a loss or damage claim.
Don’t ship small packages of extremely valuable items such as stocks, bonds, jewelry, coins or private collections, or personal family items of great sentimental value such as photo albums. Pack them in your suitcases and hand-carry them, as well as your purchase receipts, pictures, and appraisals. Also, make sure you are protecting your personally identifiable information.
Thirty days in advance is a good time to begin preparing for your move. Make sure the mess or untidiness of your residence or pickup location does not hinder the job or performance of the crew that packs your property. Make sure to remove your TV cabling and disconnect your satellite dish and remove the televisions from the wall mounts if you have them.
Also, I recommend you empty, defrost, and thoroughly wash the inside of your refrigerator and freezer to keep mildew at a minimum during transit and storage, these appliances need at least two days to dry out. Leave the appliance doors open after cleaning so they can dry out and get to room temperature
If you have them, drain water from hot tubs and waterbeds and remove window air conditioners. Before cleaning, disconnect all appliances, such as washer, dryer, and stove. Charges are often associated with disconnecting appliances and they are part of your responsibility, so make sure you complete disconnections before the household goods packing and pickup dates.
If you are shipping or storing a front-load washer, you should provide necessary hardware (e.g., shipping bolts) when available, so the equipment is secure when it is moved in and out of the truck or storage warehouse. Make sure you dispose of foods that could spill or spoil in transit or in storage. Get rid of worn out and unneeded items before the move to avoid wasteful packing, moving, or storage expenses and excess weight charged to you. This is the best part of moving often, you get to embrace the opportunity to shed all your unused items cluttering your house.
Look around and remove hanging objects scheduled for shipping from the walls, ceilings, and cabinets. Make sure to include curtain rods, kitchenware (kitchen utensils, food racks), mirrors, and pictures. Get the screws out of the walls, spackle and paint if you can. It will get your rental deposit back or help sell your house when it’s on the market.
Dismantle the kid's outdoor play equipment and outdoor structures (e.g., utility sheds, playhouses, swing sets or gym equipment). Ensure that all personal property items are free of soil and pest infestation and compliance with USDA and state laws is your responsibility. So you don’t want to be responsible for tracking invasive species or other critters across the country. Don’t forget personal property from an attic, crawl space, or similar storage area you may have forgotten about.
If you are traveling a great distance during your move, take good care of airline tickets and passports during your packing process along with any other important documents. It is a good idea to keep these items locked in your car, or ask a friend or neighbor to keep them until your shipment is picked up.
Make sure you drain all gasoline, oil, and water from power-equipment (e.g., lawn mowers, snow blowers) prior to your scheduled pickup date. When the movers get going on your stuff, carefully read the inventory prepared by the shipping company before you sign. Look at it from time to time while the items are packed. Ensure all boxes and loose items are listed correctly on the inventory as they go on the truck. If a box contains crystal or ceramic figurines, make sure the inventory says “crystal,” instead of a generic description like “kitchen items” or “glass.”
Make sure major items (e.g., pieces of stereo equipment) are individually noted on the inventory with complete and accurate descriptions. If the packers list “color television,” have them add the size, make, model, and serial number if it’s readily accessible. This procedure also applies to stereo and video or any highly pilferable components.
Always remember, you have a lot going on and moving can be a stressful and difficult time for everyone involved. The success of your move is not a matter of chance, it is the result of planning and hard work on your part. At the center of these efforts is you, the person that is moving. If you expect a good move, you must play an active role and prepare well ahead of time. I hope this essay helps, and after 16 moves in 21 years, these tips and tricks have helped me and saved some heartache along the way.