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You have searched for the best home for your needs. You have run through the real estate gauntlet of mortgages, inspections, and closings to close the deal. Now all you have to do is move. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as it sounds. Find help here.

Know Where You Are Going

It’s more than just a new address. It’s your new home.

You know where you are moving; you have a new address to prove it! Whether it is across town or across the world, your new home will not be the same as your old home. Knowing the difference can transform your move from a nightmare into an adventure.

Start with the obvious: the home

When you consider moving your household from your current home to your new one, think in two different directions: functional and cosmetic.

What repairs need to be made?

If you are renting your new home, inspect your living space as soon as possible. Note anything that needs to be repaired. Discuss these repairs with your landlord or home owner.

If the owner refuses to make the repairs, try to negotiate a reduced rent or reimbursement for the repairs if you want them made. Remember to check before you make any repairs yourself to avoid any contract violations.

Your options are much different if you are purchasing a new home. After you made an offer, you probably got a home inspection. If not, consider getting one as soon as you can.

Your home inspection will tell you about such things as rotting wood, electrical or plumbing violations, heating and cooling issues, roof and foundation condition, and so on. Any issues spotted in the inspection deserve attention.

In some cases, you can negotiate with the people from whom you are buying the home to make the necessary repairs. This should be a consideration for any major repairs.

Keep in mind that a note in an inspection report does not necessarily mean a defect in your new home. Your inspection report will also recommend minor repairs and maintenance issues, such as torn screens, chipping paint, leaky faucets, and normal wear-and-tear items.

Use your inspection report or your own observations to determine what repairs or maintenance needs to take place before you move in, shortly after you move in, in a year or two, or not until you decide to sell the home in the future.

What needs a cosmetic make-over?

Picturing yourself in your new home can be the most exciting part of moving. Visualize your furniture in your new home: Will it look good? You also want to consider your own likes and dislikes.

Sometimes it helps to consider options in the following categories:

External appearance: Does the home need painting, or do you want to change the color? Are the plants and yard in good condition and do you like them, or do you need to replace or trim plants? Are you a gardener at heart and have major landscaping in mind?

Before you make any external changes, check with your landlord or neighborhood or condominium association by-laws and local codes. There’s nothing worse than painting your home and planting trees than having someone say you have to re-paint or pull the trees out!

Furniture: Get a schematic drawing of your new home. If you are purchasing a home, you may have one in your documents.

But you can always draw one yourself. Take measurements, if you can, or beg a favor from the current owner, your landlord, or your real estate agent. Make sure to include closet measurements.

When you have a schematic, measure your furniture and figure out where it will go. You can do this with sophisticated computer programs or just pencil and graph paper.

What you will learn is whether you need to get rid of some furniture or obtain additional pieces. If you decide to purge some of your furniture, there are many good ways to do so.

Consider giving furniture to friends or family (recent graduates will take almost any furniture!), sell it at a garage or yard sale, contract with a consignment furniture store, or donate it to church programs or other community services such as Goodwill Industries and Salvation Army.

Decor: Do you like the color of your walls and the floors? Do your bedding and window treatments match what’s already there? Maybe you would prefer carpeting instead of wood floors or wallpaper instead of paint. Often, new carpeting is either a necessity or a high-priority desire.

If you plan to redecorate walls, ceilings, and/or floors, it is easier, faster, and less expensive if you can do it with an empty home.

Consider the order of your redecorating:

  • Any major installations, such as cabinets, countertops, or building improvements, need to be done first. These major projects cause chaos throughout the home.
  • Install wood floors or tile before worrying about walls. These are physical jobs that often result in gouges, splattered material, and smudges.
  • Paint, strip, and stain before installing new carpet. This includes walls, trim, and ceilings. The painters (you or someone else) will not have to worry about dripping paint on the floors, which will make the job faster and easier. If you pay someone to paint, faster and easier can also mean cheaper.
  • Install carpeting after painting. Although this could result in some minor touch-up paint (especially on floor boards), the result is a nice, clean carpet, free of traffic and paint splatters.
  • Wallpaper last. It’s just too easy to rip when other renovations are happening.

Of course, many of these types of changes can be done after you move. You will need to determine which will fit into your time and financial budget.

The little things: Though far from necessary, it’s the little things that make a house your home. Picturing your new home can give you ideas about decorating items that you want to get rid of, and those that you might like to obtain.

Considering these cosmetic items before you move can result in finding the perfect accent at a good price by taking advantage of garage or yard sales, consignment shops, clearance or sales at retail stores, or even finding a long-ago-forgotten item as you pack to move. Items like rugs, shower curtains, silk plants, window treatments, and even that perfect occasional table may unexpectedly jump out at you if you have your new home in mind.

What needs to be thinned, discarded, or stored.

Pre-move planning is the perfect time to re-evaluate your “stuff.” Pay special attention to the storage space in your new home.

Measure it! Compare your current storage space to the new space available. Does your new home have a third garage stall that can be used to replace your attic or basement storage? Do you have attic or basement space that is ready to use, or can you put plywood on attic ceiling supports to give you more storage? Did you gain or lose a coat closet?

Regardless of less, more, or different storage space, now is a good time to go through your possessions and decide what to do with them.

If you find that you can’t, or don’t want to, move everything, you can to do something about it. An easy, but expensive, option is to rent a storage unit near your new home.

You might consider building an external storage unit, as long as you have the yard space and it meets applicable codes (association and public). You might be able to build or install shelving in closets or garages to add valuable storage in limited space.

To decide if you need to reduce or replace your possessions, start by sorting them. Decide whether it you need to keep it, if you really want to keep it, whether it can be sold or donated, and whether it should just be thrown away.

Keep in mind that anything you donate is tax deductible. Be sure to obtain a receipt, itemize what you’ve donated, and estimate its value.

Look beyond your dwelling…the neighborhood

You don’t spend all of your time inside your home or in your yard. Your neighborhood will have a lot of influence on your happiness.

What are the rules?

Whether you are renting or buying, you have restrictions. Your real estate documents should tell you if you live within an association. Request the association covenants from the seller or ask your real estate agent if he or she can get them. Ask your landlord about restrictions if you are renting.

Review these rules before you make any changes (including paint or plants). You’ll also want to know if there are any restrictions on watering your lawn or burning yard waste.

Who are your neighbors?

Your neighbors will be very important to your future happiness. Anytime you can learn about them, do so. Of course, you don’t want to invade anyone’s privacy. You probably don’t want to know THAT much about them anyway.

You want to know what you can learn by talking to them. Walk or drive by your new home as often as you can. Whenever one of your new neighbors happens to be outside, stop and introduce yourself.

If you already know someone living near, talk to them. Let them know you are moving into the neighborhood, and you can get all kinds of information. A home closing that both you and the seller attend is a great time to ask about the neighbors.

See the big picture.

  • The Internet can be a wonderful tool to help you become oriented to your new home. Put your new address in and Zoom in and out, north and south, and east and west. Locate landmarks you know and their relevance to where you will live. Locate other areas of interest as well, like schools, the post office, airports, hospitals, and so on.
  • Another good way to learn about your new community is by reading the newspaper. Identify the local newspapers and get subscriptions or browse them on the Internet. You may be able to find local television news programs on the Internet if your new community is large enough. If not, try to find the closest large city that might have such a program.
  • Finally, it would be a good idea to compare the demographics and economies of your current community and your new one. Your real estate agent or landlord might be able to help with this. You can also go on the Internet to search for some sources.

Learn about the schools.

If you have children, they and you will be curious about the schools. Ask your real estate agent, the current owners, neighbors, or landlord about what schools your children will attend. You can probably also learn this information by searching the Internet for your new school district. School district websites often have boundary maps or provide a contact where you can get the information. If you are moving into a school district that allows open enrollment, you will definitely want to compare the schools in the area to find the ones you want to send your children to. To learn about schools, try these suggestions:

  • Order a school report from an Internet source.
  • Locate a state or school district report of standard test scores and their comparisons to state and national levels.
  • Search for the schools’ websites; many have them today
  • Call the schools and speak with their principals or guidance counselors.
  • Tour the schools with your children.

The more you and your children learn about their new schools, the more comfortable everyone will be when the time comes to change.


Determine How You Will Get There

Deciding to move is the easy part. Getting there is another matter.

If your employer is moving you, then the decision is out of your hands. But if you are moving yourself, you must decide whether to handle the move on your own or hire a professional mover. In the latter case, do your homework, as moving fees can be steep.

There are several ways to move. They range from packing a few boxes into your own vehicle to hiring a moving company that will do everything for you. What you choose depends on your answers to the following questions.

How much time do you have?

Can you pack a few boxes a day, move them to your new home across town, and spend several days doing it? Or, do you need to move everything in the space of a day?

If time is important to you, then you need to consider the various options and how long they take. Moving companies are usually the fastest alternative for moving a long distance.

The amount of time to pack your possessions depends on how many you have. You need to allow plenty of time before your move to schedule a moving company.

If you have plenty of time to pack yourself, you can have a moving company load your possessions, transport them, and unload them at your new home.

How much money can you spend?

Moving companies can help in a number of ways, but they can be very expensive. Before you totally write them off, remember the cost of fuel if you do it yourself.

For a general idea of what it will cost to move your household, use the guide most truck rental agencies use and count the number of bedrooms.

Here's a guide to moving truck sizes:

  • 26' will move 4 bedrooms
  • 24' will move 3-4 bedrooms
  • 17' will move 2-3 bedrooms
  • 14' will move 1-2 bedrooms
  • 10' will move an apartment

Contact truck rental companies for the costs. Be sure to ask for all of the charges, including if you are renting a truck for a one-way trip rather than returning it to the same location.

Next, you will have to consider fuel. Estimate how many miles you'll be traveling and how much the fuel will cost. Websites such as can provide directions and miles from your current home to your new one.

If you are considering your own vehicle, you should have a rough idea of how many miles you get to a gallon of gas. If you are considering renting a truck, ask the rental company for the gas mileage figure. Once you have these figures, you can calculate the cost of fuel:

  1. Add the total miles (remember, if you are making more than one trip, double the miles for a round trip and add as many trips as you estimate it will take).
  2. Divide the total miles by the number of miles your vehicle will drive on a gallon of gas.
  3. Multiply the gallons of gas needed by the current cost of gas (make sure to use the correct gas…some trucks require diesel fuel).

Example: If you plan to rent a truck and make three trips from your old home to your new one, which is 20 miles away, here’s how you would calculate the cost of fuel:

  1. 20 miles times 2 (round trip) times 3 = 120 miles.
  2. Your truck gets 10 miles to the gallon, so divide 120 miles by 10 to get 12 gallons of fuel needed.
  3. If the cost of gas is $3.00 per gallon, multiply 12 gallons of gas by $3 to get an estimated fuel cost of $36.

Once you've gathered these costs, call some moving companies and ask for a sample quote over the phone. Ask in advance about extra charges for heavy items, stairways, or pianos.

Be aware that having the movers pack for you will increase your moving bill by about 30 percent. Also, you may pay a premium if you schedule your move during busy moving times, generally after the 25th of the month or before the 2nd. Try to get recommendations from friends or colleagues.

You will have to provide movers with the number of miles involved in the move and the approximate weight of your belongings. The mover will help you in making this estimate. Be wary of a mover whose estimate seems too low. The services provided may be second rate. Many will insist on coming out to your place for an estimate, which may or may not be something you want to do.

You can also look for online quotes from companies; however, keep in mind that these quotes are not always guaranteed. Protect yourself by ensuring the moving company is reliable.

How complex is your move?

Do you have a lot of heavy or breakable furniture? The more family members in your household, the more complex the move will be.

If you are a graduate moving into your first apartment, on the other hand, you probably don’t have a lot of furniture and possessions. If you have fragile or special items, you will need to decide if you can move these yourself or if you need to hire someone to move them for you.

Consider the size and weight of what you are moving. A refrigerator, sofa, washer, dryer, and bedroom furniture can all be too heavy for a couple of people to move on their own.

How far are you moving?

Across town is one thing. Across the country is quite another.

Using a moving company to move across town might not be cost effective. However, unless you have a lot of time to move from one home to the other, you might consider renting a truck.

Consider hiring someone to help lug the heavy furniture unless you are confident of a strong labor force.

Prepare Your Children for the Move

When children don’t want to move: what next?

Disruptive as moving can be for adults, the experience can be even more traumatic for children. Your children may not be a part of the decision to move and may not understand it.

They may need some time and special attention during the transition. Take steps to make the entire process less stressful for everyone.

Making the decision to move.

Many kids thrive on familiarity and routine. So as you consider a move, weigh the benefits of that change against the comfort that established surroundings, school, and social life give your child.

If your family has recently dealt with a major life change, such as divorce or death, you may want to postpone a move, if possible, to give your child time to adjust.

The decision to move may be out of your hands, perhaps due to a job transfer or financial issues. Even if you're not happy about the move, try to maintain a positive attitude about it. During times of transition, a parent's moods and attitudes can greatly affect kids, who may be looking for reassurance.

Discussing the move with your child.

No matter what the circumstances, the most important way you can prepare your child is to talk about it early and often.

Try to give your child as much information about the move as soon as possible. Answer questions completely and truthfully, and be receptive to both positive and negative reactions. Even if the move means an improvement in family life, kids don't always understand that and may be focused on the frightening aspects of the change.

Involving kids in the planning as much as possible makes them feel like participants in the house-hunting process or the search for a new school. This can make the change feel less like it's being forced on them.

If you're moving across town, try to take your child to visit the new house (or see it being built) and explore the new neighborhood.

For distant moves, provide as much information as you can about the new home, city, and state (or country). Learn where your child will be able to participate in favorite activities. See if a relative, friend, or even a real estate agent can take pictures of the new house and new school for your child.

Moving with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

Kids younger than 6 may be the easiest to move, as they have a limited capacity to understand the changes involved. Still, your guidance is crucial.

Here are ways to ease the transition for young kids:

  • Keep explanations clear and simple.
  • Use a story to explain the move, or use toy trucks and furniture to act it out.
  • When you pack your toddler's toys in boxes, make sure to explain that you aren't throwing them away.
  • If your new home is nearby and vacant, go there to visit before the move and take a few toys over each time.
  • Hold off on getting rid of your child's old bedroom furniture, which may provide a sense of comfort in the new house.
  • Avoid making other big changes during the move, like toilet training or advancing a toddler to a bed from a crib.
  • Arrange for your toddler or preschooler to stay with a babysitter on moving day.

Moving with school-age kids.

Kids in elementary school may be relatively open to a move, but still need serious consideration and help throughout the transition.

There are generally two schools of thought about "the right time to move." Some experts say that summer is the best time because it avoids disrupting the school year. Others say that midyear is a better time because a child can meet other kids right away.

To avoid glitches that would add stress, gather any information the new school will need to process the transfer. That may include the most recent report card or transcript, birth certificate, and medical records.

Moving with teens.

It's common for teens to actively rebel against a move. Your teen has probably invested considerable energy in a particular social group and may be involved in a romantic relationship. A move may mean that your teen will miss a long-awaited event, like a prom.

It's particularly important to let your teen known that you want to hear about his or her concerns and that you respect them. While blanket assurances may sound dismissive, it's legitimate to suggest that the move can serve as rehearsal for future changes, like college or a new job. After the move, consider planning a visit back to the old neighborhood, if it's feasible.

You might want to consider letting a teen who remains strongly resistant stay in the old location with a friend or relative, if that's an option. This may be particularly helpful if you're moving midway through the school year.

After moving day.

After the move, try to get your child's room in order before turning your attention to the rest of the house. Also, try to maintain your regular schedule for meals and bedtime to give kids a sense of familiarity.

When your child does start school, you may want to go along to meet as many teachers as possible or to introduce your child to the principal.

Set realistic expectations about your child's transition. Generally, teachers expect new kids to feel somewhat comfortable in their classes in about 6 weeks. Some kids may take less time; some may need more.

After the move, if you're still concerned about your child's transition, a family therapist might provide some helpful guidance.

A move can present many challenges, but good things also come from this kind of change. Your family may grow closer and you may learn more about your child by going through it together.

©1995-2007 The Nemours Foundation.

Plan for the Move

Planning the move can be as difficult as the move itself. Are you ready?

Long before moving day, you will need to get your new home ready to move into and your old one ready for the new resident.

If you are moving across town, this will be easier, but if you are moving to a new town, your “to-do” list may be pages long.

Notify people of your move

Here is a list of people you should notify when you change your address and phone number. Although the list is not all-inclusive, it can be used as a starting point. You may need to notify these parties at both your old and new locations.

Bear in mind: You may need to follow the instructions provided by banks, utilities, and credit card companies in order to make your address change effective. For instance, a phoned-in address change may not become effective with a lender if the lender’s policy is to require written address changes.

  • The IRS (use Form 8822) and state and local taxing authorities.
  • The U.S. Post Office.
  • Home, auto, and life Insurance agents.
  • Debtors and creditors, such as mortgage holders, car lien holders, other lenders, and people who owe you money.
  • Credit card companies.
  • Publications.
  • Clubs and services to which you subscribe such as auto clubs, lawn mowing services, cleaning services, and book clubs.
  • The Social Security Administration.
  • Any organization that periodically mails you a check, such as a pension check or veterans’ benefits.
  • Banks.
  • Employers.
  • Doctors, dentists, veterinarians.
  • Motor vehicle departments.
  • Places of worship and non-profit agencies you are involved with.
  • The registrar of voters.
  • Utilities, telephone service, answering service, and trash collectors.
  • Your professional advisors.

Collect school and health records

If you have children, these items will be vital. Children usually cannot start in a new school or day care center without their old school records and good-health records.

At the very least, a school will require the latest report card. Immunization records will be required, as well. Many school districts have their own forms that need to be completed by a physician and many require a health examination prior to starting school.

Be aware that some immunization requirements differ between states and even school districts. To learn what documents are required to start your children in a new school, check with your new school district’s or schools’ Websites.

If you cannot find the information, call the school or school district. If you can enroll your children in school early, try to do this before your move.

Dental, medical, and vision records for your entire family may not be necessary, but could be helpful. If you are taking prescription medication, you should obtain your medical records to take to a new physician at your new home. You’ll also have to get the prescription transferred to a new pharmacy.

Dental x-rays and corrective lenses prescriptions can lower the cost of your first visit and provide valuable information to your new health care providers. If someone is in the middle of treatment (orthodontic braces, for instance), care can usually be transferred.

Get a recommendation from your current health care provider and contact them as soon as you can. Although often not necessary, the faster you can get a jump on finding new physicians, dentists, and optometrists, the more prepared you will be in any cases of emergencies.

Hook-up your utilities

There’s nothing more disheartening than not having lights or water in your new home. Take care of these things before you begin packing.

Utility companies will use the date you give them (the current owner usually has to contact them to provide their stop dates, as well). Some companies may require a credit check, and this can take some time.

Additionally, you might need to arrange for installation of such services as television or Internet. Scheduling installations and hook-ups before your possessions arrive will be less stressful for you. If this is not possible, arrange for necessary hook-ups (electricity and water for example) as soon as possible. Save services such as television and Internet for a few days after your possessions arrive.

You will want to call the utility companies at your current home and provide them a move-out or disconnect date. If your home will be sitting empty, consider not disconnecting utilities. Some of them are expensive to reconnect and if your home is still on the market, it will show better if the utilities are in working order.

Check your insurance

You not only need to change your address with your insurance companies and/or agents, you also will need to think about what insurance adjustments need to be made. Here are some common changes:

  • Home insurance. You definitely will need to call your home insurance carrier to obtain insurance on your new home and cancel it on your current home. You may need to shop for other home insurance if you insurance carrier does not offer insurance on your new home. Even if they do, getting several quotes on your new home could save you money and provide better coverage.
  • Auto insurance. You will also need to notify your auto insurance carrier of your new address. Your auto insurance premium will change. Like home insurance, this might be a good time to shop around for the best deal because auto insurance prices vary from region to region and company to company.
  • Health insurance. Review your health insurance to make sure you are still eligible for it after your move. Know how your insurance works in your new home if you use a PPO or HMO network. If your health insurance changes in any way due to your move, you most likely have the right to change health insurance plans.
  • Life insurance, retirement accounts, and other financial plans. Review your life insurance and other financial plans to ensure they will meet your new home needs. Do you need to increase your life insurance because your mortgage is increasing? Can you afford to contribute more to your 401(k) account because your pay is increasing?

Arrange for lodging while moving

You may be able to drive from old home to new in one day and spend the night there. Moving companies probably won’t be able to unload the same day they load, so if you are staying in your new home, you need to be prepared with whatever you can transport in your own vehicle or purchase.

If you need more than one day, you may need to reserve a hotel along the way. Staying with family and friends temporarily can be an option.

Just be careful that the time spent with them does not interfere with your move. The faster you get settled into your new home, the more comfortable you will be.

Contract repairs

Arrange for repairs, painting, carpet installations, etc. before move day. The more you can get accomplished before your possessions are unloaded, the easier, faster, and often cheaper repairs and cosmetic changes will be.

Store what you don’t need or can’t move

Most people would prefer to move directly from one home into another. But sometimes, you might have to move out before you can move in.

In these cases, you’ll have to arrange to have your furniture and possessions stored until you can move them into your new home. Moving companies might offer this service, so if you are hiring one, check with them.

Storage facilities can be found in the phone book. Decide where you will be staying while you are between homes, and choose a storage facility close by. That way, you’ll have access to it in case you find you need to retrieve something.

If you need to downsize your household, but want to keep things that you can’t fit into your new home, you will want to locate a storage facility near your new home.

Gather information from the former owner

Talk to the sellers of your new home or have your real estate agent do it. If there are any codes that need to be communicated, you will want those upon closing.

Warranties and instructions for household appliances that stay are also very helpful. If the seller does not leave manuals for you, you might be able to download them by visiting the manufacturers’ websites. Do this after you move in because you’ll need details from the appliance.

Pack Your Belongings

Let the fun begin: Pack those boxes.

Packing is a vital part of a successful move and it's one of the hardest things to get right. You may think you’re an expert packer. But when faced with boxing all of your possessions on deadline, even the best packer needs a plan.

Even if you are hiring a moving company to pack for you, you still need to be organized and do some packing yourself.

Get organized.

The worst part of packing is the beginning. No matter how small your home, you can guarantee that you'll look at it and not know where to begin.

If you wander round the house packing bits and pieces, you won't really get anywhere. It's better to take a military approach and tackle one room at a time.

If you're starting way ahead of schedule, you'll find that you won't pack everything in the room all at once. There will be things you'll continue to use before your moving day. That doesn't matter. You'll feel better and achieve more if you take a structured approach.

Even if you hate making lists, now is a good time to make one. You'll feel so much better once you can tick things off as completed! You might consider creating a “Move Notebook” from any blank notebook.

Take your “Move Notebook” through each room of the house and make notes on the following:

  • Large furniture pieces. Take a look at the furniture in each room and note whether or not it will need to be disassembled. Chances are if they got into your home, you can get them out. But if a piece was assembled from a box in the room, it might be too big to get out the door or down the stairs. If this is the case, you will need to dismantle them. Jot down in your notebook when you will disassemble them. Can you do it now, or do you need to sleep on that bed and take it apart the day of the move? It's a good idea to dig out original instructions for these items and put them in individual bags with all the screws and nuts etc. Put these bags in a single box that is clearly marked so you can easily find them later.
  • Itemize your boxes and rooms. Every time you pack a box or container, write the room it comes from/should go to in big letters on the top. Give it a number. Write the number in your move notebook and a brief description of the contents. This will make it much easier for you to unpack in your new home.
  • Special attention items. Note items that will need special attention, like pets and plants that will need to be transported outside of a moving truck for safety reasons. Most moving companies will not move liquids, even shampoos and lotions. Use as much of these items as possible before the move to minimize space you will need in your own vehicle. Keep in mind the reason these items aren’t moved: They can be spilled or are flammable (such as gas, paint, solvents, cleaning liquids, etc.), so you might not want to move them either.
  • Out-of-the-way spaces. Don’t forget key areas of concern…the attic, basement, garage, and storage rooms or sheds. Items in these areas often need special attention. For instance, lawnmowers need to be emptied of all gas and oil. Most moving people will not go into an attic for liability reasons, so note when you will get items down out of an attic.
  • Itemize your valuables. For insurance purposes, you will want to note any expensive or rare items and their monetary value. If something falls into the category of “irreplaceable and invaluable,” you may want to transport it yourself.
  • Know what is already broken. One of the most surprising things in unpacking is finding damaged items. Upon reflection, you might remember that something was damaged before it was packed. A moving company will attempt to itemize any damage they notice before your possessions pass into their care, but in the rush of packing and loading, this is not always comprehensive. Supplying a list of damaged items to movers when they begin a process will speed their process. You will feel better when you unpack something damaged if you know the movers didn’t break it.
  • Note your plan for fragile items. As you work through the rooms in your house ,you should keep an eye out for items that are perhaps not obviously fragile, but that need special packing. For example, if you're looking to move pictures and mirrors, then you need to either wrap them in bubble wrap or some other protective covering.

Pack in advance.

You can make the process easier by packing as much as you can in advance. Before you pack a single box, think about packing materials.

Don't simply assume that you can make do with what you have in the house. Using refuse sacks, bags, and old boxes to pack your prized possessions is no guarantee of protection. You should, however, try to fill suitcases, travel bags, drawers, and the insides of wardrobes with items. This maximizes your use of space.

You can often hire or buy special packing cases and materials from movers or moving rental companies. This is a worthwhile option.

Be careful about recycling old cardboard boxes. Cardboard degrades and the last thing you need is to see everything that you carefully packed fall out of the bottom of a box before it even gets loaded. As a guideline have the following packing materials:

  • Strong boxes of various sizes - if you'll be packing books, use book boxes. These don't hold hundreds of books, but hold enough to guarantee that each box can be carried by one person!
  • Scissors and a craft knife.
  • Something to wrap and protect fragile items such as bubble wrap, newspaper, packing paper etc. Remember that it will be cheaper to recycle old newspapers, but ink may come off on items, and you'll have to spend time cleaning them afterwards.
  • Marker pens so you can identify what's in each box.
  • Rolls of packing tape.
  • Screwdrivers and other tools to dismantle any furniture as necessary.

If you are using a moving company, you will want to check the terms and conditions of the contract before you start to pack. Movers have no quality control over boxes you pack yourself and will often refuse liability for damage.

As you go through each room, you will notice items that can easily be packed in advance. Decoration items, clothing that is out of season, books, toys, games, and other rarely-used items can be packed early and set aside against a wall.

Just remember to label each box. Write the room it comes from/should go to in big letters on the top. Give it a number. Write the number in your move notebook and a brief description of the contents.

Identify the destination room of each container. Some people use color coding for this and stick colored stickers on the doors of each room in the new house. You can also use a brief description of the room, so you don’t have to associate a color with a room when unloading gets chaotic.

For instance, “Master Bed” and “Boys Room 1” can translate directly from one home to the other. All your unloaders have to do is match the marker or sticker color on the box or item with the marker or color of the room.

Packing 101

When you are ready to pack that first box, you will minimize problems if you keep a few things in mind:

  • Pack like items together. It's useful to try to keep similar kinds of items together when you pack.
  • Watch the weight. Make sure that the weight of your boxes is evenly distributed. Don't be tempted to overfill boxes with heavy things - it's far better to place a few heavy items at the bottom and then pack the rest of the container with lighter things. Too much weight in one box will not only cause the person lugging it trouble, but may result in the box breaking. Remember that each box should be light enough to be carried by a single person. If it takes two, it'll just take longer.
  • Fill-‘em-up. Boxes should be filled to capacity at all times. Bear in mind that they will generally be stacked on top of each other and they need to be stable enough to cope with this. You can always fill spaces at the top with towels, bedding, curtains, and clothes. This will avoid boxes breaking and will also make sure they can be easily lifted.
  • Consider using wardrobe boxes. You can pack most of your clothes in boxes if you like. However, you might want to consider buying wardrobe boxes from a mover or truck rental company. All you need to do is put the box together, hang your clothes in it and they'll keep their shape during the move. This is particularly useful if you want to pack your clothing before the move. You can simply hang your clothes in the wardrobe boxes ahead of the move and use them until you unpack them later. Putting clothes in refuse sacks might seem a good solution, but it can be problematic. They tear easily and offer little protection from damage. It's far better to use clothes to balance boxes, fill drawers and wardrobe spaces etc.
  • Pack your fragile items. You can use bedding, towels, and sheets for this too - which gives you one less thing to think about packing, Make sure that the packing around these items is secured with packing tape or string to ensure maximum protection. Cushion the bottom of the box with bubble wrap or paper. Then wrap every item in at least one layer of your chosen packing material. Pack these items sensibly . They need to fit together comfortably enough to avoid moving around, but not so tightly they put pressure on each other. You can use packing material to fill gaps and should finally put another layer of bubble wrap or paper on top. Finally, stick a big label on them saying FRAGILE! Lamps are another example. A lampshade on a lamp base is not a particularly stable thing and it's worth separating them and wrapping them well for protection. Take the bulbs out before you pack them. They may become damaged in transit and either won't work or will shatter. Chair legs are also particularly vulnerable to scratching and other damage in a move - wrap them first and you stand a better chance of avoiding this.
  • Secure the box. Finally, make sure that every box you've packed is securely fastened with packing tape. DON'T pack your moving book, the paperwork from your mover, a couple of pens, markers, tape, scissors ,and a knife. Keep them with you; you'll need them at the other end.

Special attention items.

Here are some packing tips to keep in mind:

  • The most important box you should prepare is your “Essentials” box(es). You'll fill this as you go along, and it should be loaded last and unloaded first. You can put whatever you think you'll need in here. You could include a change of clothes, night-clothes, toys, toiletries, light-bulbs, drinks, a kettle, tea/coffee, cups, a torch, a telephone . . . whatever you need to get through the move and possibly even a night with no unpacking!
  • Take care with your large and valuable appliances and goods. Read the manuals for large appliances - they often contain information about necessary steps to secure them. For example, refrigerators and freezers need to be thoroughly defrosted and washing machines drained before they are transported to avoid water leaks. Their doors and loose inside pieces such as shelves and drawers also need to be tied up or taped down to stop them moving in transport. If you can, pack electrical equipment such as TVs and stereos in their original boxes. This not only indicates special care, but also minimizes damage, as the boxes are exactly the right size for the item. If you don't have the original boxes, try to find ones that are of a similar size and pack any gaps with tightly wadded paper.
  • It's worthwhile having one kitchen box that contains enough crockery, pans, cups, and cooking utensils to cover you for making a couple of meals. This means you don't have to unpack your kitchen boxes immediately.

Using friends and family

If friends and family offer to help, consider whether they will help or hurt your process. For example, if you know a friend can’t do anything else while visiting, he or she may be more hindrance than help.

If you can use the help, think of the things they can pack. Kitchen items, for instance, can take a lot of time, yet are not overly fragile or personal.

Books, videos, and DVDs are good choices, as well. On the other hand, you probably would prefer to pack your bedroom. You can ask your volunteers to help move the boxes and/or furniture if you are loading yourself.

Do not ask someone to lift anything heavy that may result in injury. Use equipment such as dollies for heavy items. Friends and family can also be great helps by arranging for meals and snacks.

The most important thing to remember: do not let your move endanger your friendships or family relationships.

Where are the kids?

If your children are old enough to really help, they can be around during the final packing stages and the day you load your vehicle. If they are young, they will just be in the way while you are trying to manage everything in a hurry.

Consider finding childcare for any child younger than 13 or so, or even older, if you think the child will be a distraction. This is a great way for family and friends to help out.

Unpack Your Belongings

Unpacking at best is controlled chaos. The key: Dive in and get it done as quickly as possible.

Just like the packing process, it’s important to give yourself the time you need to unpack your possessions as you move into your new home. Delaying the process too long can result in lack of motivation and even depression.

Key point: have an unpacking system worked out before you arrive.

Take care of essentials and perishables

As soon as you arrive at your new home, you’ll need to stow your perishables and place your essentials where you can always get to them.

  • You should have packed one or more special boxes (or suitcases) of essential items that you may need before you unpack your first box. These items may be toiletries, a change of clothes, kitchen items you’ll need in the first day or two, linens for sleeping (if you plan to stay in your new home right away), etc. Put this box in a place you will always be able to get to, such as a bathroom.
  • If you moved any food, it needs to be put away as soon as you can get to it, especially items that need to be refrigerated or frozen.
  • Any pets or live animals need to be tended to. Make plans to ensure they do not get in the way of unloading.
  • If weather permits, place live plants outside where they will be out of the way during the unloading process. Otherwise, locate a place for them that is out-of-the-way of unloaders, such as a bathtub or shower you won’t need to use right away.

Where are the kids?

Like the packing and loading process, the unloading and unpacking process may not be the best place for your children. If they are old enough to really help you unpack, they can stay.

If they are young, they will be in the way while you are trying to manage everything in a hurry. In addition, it could be dangerous for them to play near stacks of boxes.

Consider finding childcare for any child younger than 13 or so, or even older, if you think the child will be more bother than help. This is a great way family and friends to lend a hand.

Protect your floors

Unloading boxes and furniture can make a mess of your floor, especially carpeting. Protect the traffic areas with non-skid material. Try collapsed packing boxes.

If you plan to stack boxes on carpeting, put down collapsed boxes to protect the carpet from the weight of the boxes.

Unload large furniture first

If you can control the unloading process, start with the furniture. During the last few weeks in preparing for your move, you may have a detailed layout of furniture. If you weren’t that farsighted, take some time before you begin unloading to figure out where your large furniture items will go.

Have furniture like beds, sofas, large dining tables, hutches and dressers, large tools and equipment, washer, dryer, refrigerator, and any large, heavy furniture pieces placed where you want them to stay.

These items are difficult to move later and it could be days or weeks before you clear all the boxes away enough to move them.

Caution: If you have fragile furniture such as a glass china cabinet or antiques, do not assemble or unwrap these pieces yet. Just get them unloaded, and then take measures to protect them from the unloading and unpacking process.

Once these pieces are set in place, consider putting wardrobe boxes, or a row of larger boxes around them. Make sure you don’t create a stack of boxes that could tumble over and damage your furniture.

Moving companies have their own order of unloading, but ask if they can place the large furniture first. If you can’t unload your furniture first, you want to know where you are going to put them.

Make sure you don’t stack boxes where a large pieces of furniture will go or block the path to get there later.

Where will all the boxes go?

After the large furniture pieces are in place, your home will quickly fill with walls of boxes. The placement of those boxes can keep you from spending countless hours opening each one and rummaging around for something you need.

The goal is to open a box once, unpack it, collapse it, and move on. Here are some ways to accomplish this:

  • The most obvious rule, yet easiest to break amidst chaos, is to put the each box in the room where it needs to be unloaded. Be diligent! In the haste to finish unloading, boxes can end up anywhere.
  • Open closet doors and place wardrobe boxes that contain the clothing to go in the closet either in or in front of the opening. You won’t want to move a lot of boxes to get to the closets.
  • Don’t stack kitchen boxes on kitchen counters. You will need to be able to get into the cabinets to put things away. And besides, you might need to use the countertops before you get the boxes unpacked.
  • Use your furniture cautiously. Putting boxes on furniture you have already unloaded is tempting and may be necessary. Just be sure that surfaces are protected from scratching, gouging, and tearing. Protect surfaces from scratching by placing towels or sheets on them before you put a box on it. Don’t stack boxes that can fall over on beds or other non-level surfaces; keep boxes short and in a single layer. Don’t stack boxes on a bed that needs to be used in the first couple of days, unless those boxes contain the bed linens you’ll need when you sleep in it. You might consider using other furniture, like sofas and tables, to put decorating items and pictures on.
  • Find a wall in each room that can be stacked with boxes, but make sure to not block windows or doorways for utility and safety reasons.

Let the unpacking begin.

Now that you’ve got a home full of box walls, it’s time to dig in. If you’ve spent all day with the unloading process, consider a night of rest before you begin. Regardless of how organized your move has been, unpacking is frustrating and draining; not something you want to do tired.

After a good rest, you’ll be raring to go.

  • Unpack sleeping and living items first. Make sure you have a bed to sleep on and a way to eat. Bathroom essentials, bed linens (the ones you’ll need, not the ones you’ll store) and kitchen supplies are the best to start with.
  • Get the big boxes done as soon as possible. Large wardrobe boxes can quickly be unpacked, clothes put away, and the boxes collapsed. You will appreciate the space.
  • Try to unpack decorating items last. If your packing was very organized and your unloading systematic, this will be easier because your decorating boxes are tucked way in a back corner somewhere. Odds are, however, that you’ll open a box of silk plants or knick-knacks, stare at the contents, and wonder “Where am I going to put this?” Have a plan before then. Put boxes with these types of items in a protected back porch, corner of the garage, or basement. You won’t even want to think about them for a while.
  • Books are often packed in the smallest, sturdiest boxes. Despite the fact that you won’t gain a lot of space, unpack your books by quickly putting them in bookshelves. Don’t worry about the placement of them; books are easily and quickly re-arranged later.
  • If your children are very young, you will probably want to unpack their room for them. If they are older, however, they might want to do it themselves. It’s tempting to send your children to unpack their rooms, but think about this first. If you have an idea where things should be put, and you want to know where things are later, you and your child should unpack together. Ask your child to help you with the more urgent items first, then unpack the room together. This will also minimize damaging fragile items in your child’s room.
  • Use friends and family to help, but don’t abuse them; they are volunteering. Ask them to unpack things that can be easily re-arranged later, like books or your kitchen items. But make sure you relinquish control and don’t micromanage them. You might unpack a room together, too. And, of course, friends and family might be most helpful by caring for your children while you unpack or fetching fast food for meals.

Get rid of the boxes.

You will quickly find the boxes from your move in your way after unpacking. The easiest way to get them out of your way is to collapse each one as soon as you unpack it.

Have a dry location where you can pile the collapsed boxes. You will have to keep a box intact every now and then to put packing material into. Jam as much packing material as you can into these boxes, then close the flaps, so more boxes can be placed on top of them.

Moving companies may offer to pick-up the boxes when you call them. If not, you will have to find a way to get rid of them. You might be able to sell them or donate them. You can let your real estate agent know you have them and see if he or she can spread the word to anyone who is moving and needs them.

Some people put classified advertisements in newspapers or put signs on bulletin boards. You might try searching the Internet for someone near who would pick-up your boxes. Internet bulletin boards (such as could be a good option too, if you comfortable using them. Look through your phone book yellow pages to see if you can find a company to take them.

If all else fails, contact your trash removal company to see what they’ll take.

Consider Your Taxes

You’re not done yet: Save your receipts so you can lower your taxes.

In many cases, you can deduct moving expenses from your income taxes. This is especially true if you are relocating for a job. Be sure to save your moving expenses receipts, and they will put a smile on your face at tax time.

If you meet the requirements of the tax law for the deduction of moving expenses, you can deduct the following types of moving expenses, as long as they are “reasonable”:

  1. Moving your household goods and personal effects (including in-transit or foreign-move storage expenses), and
  2. Traveling (including lodging but not meals) to your new home.

Note: The rules applicable to moving within or to the United States are different from the rules that apply to moves outside the United States. These rules are discussed separately.

What are “reasonable” expenses?

You can deduct only those expenses that are reasonable under the circumstances of your move. For example, the cost of traveling from your former home to your new one should be by the shortest, most direct route available by conventional transportation. If during your trip to your new home, you make side trips for sightseeing, the additional expenses for your side trips are not deductible as moving expenses.

How to calculate the deduction if you travel by car.

If you use your car to take yourself, members of your household, or your personal effects to your new home, you can figure your expenses by deducting either:

  1. Your actual expenses, such as gas and oil for your car, if you keep an accurate record of each expense, or
  2. 20 cents a mile.

You can deduct parking fees and tolls you pay in moving. You cannot deduct any general repairs, general maintenance, insurance, or depreciation for your car.

Deduct for members of your household.

You can deduct moving expenses you pay for yourself and members of your household. A member of your household is anyone who has both your former and new home as his or her home. It does not include a tenant or employee, unless you can claim that person as a dependent.

Moves within or to the United States.

If you meet the requirements of the tax law for the deduction of moving expenses, you can deduct allowable expenses for a move to the area of a new main job location within the United States or its possessions. Your move may be from one United States location to another or from a foreign country to the United States.

Household goods and personal effects. You can deduct the cost of packing, crating, and transporting your household goods and personal effects and those of the members of your household from your former home to your new home. If you use your own car to move your things, compute the deduction under the rule discussed above under “Travel By Car.”

  • You can include the cost of storing and insuring household goods and personal effects within any period of 30 consecutive days after the day your things are moved from your former home and before they are delivered to your new home.
  • You can deduct any costs of connecting or disconnecting utilities due to the moving your household goods, appliances, or personal effects.
  • You can deduct the cost of shipping your car and your pets to your new home.
  • You can deduct the cost of moving your household goods and personal effects from a place other than your former home. Your deduction is limited to the amount it would have cost to move them from your former home.

Example: Paul Brown is a resident of North Carolina and has been working there for the last 4 years. Because of the small size of his apartment, he stored some of his furniture in Georgia with his parents. Paul got a job in Washington, DC. It cost him $300 to move his furniture from North Carolina to Washington and $1,100 to move his furniture from Georgia to Washington. If Paul shipped his furniture in Georgia from North Carolina (his former home), it would have cost $600. He can deduct only $600 of the $1,100 he paid. He can deduct $900 ($300 + $600).

Note: You cannot deduct the cost of moving furniture you buy on the way to your new home.

Travel expenses. You can deduct the cost of transportation and lodging for yourself and members of your household while traveling from your former home to your new home. This includes expenses for the day you arrive. You can include any lodging expenses you had in the area of your former home within one day after you could not live in your former home because your furniture had been moved. You can deduct expenses for only one trip to your new home for yourself and members of your household. However, all of you do not have to travel together. If you use your own car, calculate your deduction as explained under Travel By Car, earlier.

Moves outside the United States.

To deduct allowable expenses for a move outside the United States, you must be a United States citizen or resident alien who moves to the area of a new place of work outside the United States or its possessions. You must meet the requirements of the tax law for deducting moving expenses.

In addition to the expenses discussed earlier, the following may be deductible for moves outside the United States.

Storage expenses. You can deduct the reasonable expenses of moving your personal effects to and from storage. You can also deduct the reasonable expenses of storing your personal effects for all or part of the time the new job location remains your main job location. The new job location must be outside the United States.

Moving expenses allocable to excluded foreign income. If you live and work outside the United States, you may be able to exclude from income part of the income you earn in the foreign country. You may also be able to claim a foreign housing exclusion or deduction. If you claim the foreign earned income or foreign housing exclusions, you cannot deduct the part of your allowable moving expenses that relates to the excluded income.

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