I’ve been off the grid for the past few weeks because my family recently moved to a new home. We’ve reluctantly become experts in this arena as my wife and I have moved 5 times since we got married in 2009. It’s not something I ever want to do again but since I’ve learned a few things along the way, I thought I would share some tips that could help you and your family, especially if you have young kids.
Plan Ahead -
Don’t wait until the last minute to get things done. It sounds simple but it is very easy to let things get away from you and all of a sudden, you are a week away from your move date and you haven’t done a thing. I guarantee everything will take way more work and time than you think. You also have no idea how much CRAP you have accumulated over the years, especially if you have been living there for a long time. Getting rid of stuff you don’t need is one of the smartest things you can do but if you wait too long, you will end up throwing it out or giving it away, instead of making some extra money on it. More on this to come in the “Purge” section.
Start Organizing and Strategizing Early -
As I mentioned before, this process takes a long time. The earlier you can decide that you are moving, the better off you will be. I had things hidden in our attic and garage that I completely forgot about and hadn’t used in years. It took awhile to go through it all, as well as decide on what to keep, sell, give away, etc. We bought a house quicker than we expected which meant we had to get our home ready for an open house just as quickly. This leads to the next suggestion…
Staging for the Open House -
You want your house to look nice and clean, and as minimal as possible, while still looking like someone lives there. This means living on as little as possible for a few weeks which means you have to do something with all of that extra stuff. So if you are smart you will...
Use Pods, Door to Door Storage, Storage Facilities, etc.
You can have units delivered directly to your driveway or street if you live in certain areas. It’s nice and easy and everything can be moved away in a quick manner. You can also fit some large items like couches, chairs, etc. The main issue is that it has to be done in 2-3 days before they pick them up, so you better move quick.
Not everyone has this luxury though, so you may want to consider a local storage facility to get rid of that clutter. This can work out well if you PLAN AHEAD because you can drop off a few boxes and whatever else at all times of the day or night over the span of a few weeks or more. No need to rush around but it will be harder to move bigger things without borrowing or renting a truck.
I ended up putting a lot of stuff in storage to clean up for the open house, and eventually got rid of most of it when we got to the new house. It wasn’t ideal and would have preferred to have time to go through everything to make a real decision on whether to keep it or not. When you have to move quickly, you end up just keeping things because you aren’t sure if you will need it. If you give yourself time, you will most likely make better decisions. This leads to the next point...
“Purge” aka Get Rid of Stuff You Don’t Need or Use -
As mentioned before, you probably have a lot of things you don’t need or use anymore. On top of that, there are plenty of people out there that could use those things that are still in good shape, and there might even be people willing to pay you for it.
My wife and I fight a bit when it comes to this because I am a bit of a packrat and can find a reason to keep almost anything since I “might” use it in the future. She likes to just throw everything out without even considering other options. So we are opposite ends of the spectrum.
Luckily after a few years, we’ve both gotten better at meeting in the middle. We have given away a ton of clothes, shoes, furniture, and miscellaneous housewares to organizations like Goodwill, shelters, and many other local alternatives. If you haven’t worn it or used it in about 2 years (maybe even just a year), you probably don’t need it or won’t use it again. Give it away to someone else that could benefit from it and would appreciate something nice.
If you have things that can’t be donated, or aren’t in the best shape, consider a local transfer station. Not all towns have them but if you can find one, they are an awesome option before and after a move. You can drop off things that can be fixed or reused, and most likely, someone else will pick it up right after you drop it off. They also offer areas for recycling glass, cardboard, paint, etc. which isn’t easy to get rid of and you will most likely have a large amount of before/after the move.
Other alternatives include a Yard Sale, Craigslist, eBay, etc. If you have the time and can make a little extra money on the side, why not give it a try? This will also help offset the cost of the move.
Preparing the Kids Mentally -
If you can, let the Kids see or even visit/drive by the new house if you are doing a somewhat local move. Even if you are moving a few hours away, it might be worth the drive a few weeks in advance because the parents can get familiar with the location and learn what resources are nearby for the days following the move such as markets, hardware stores, coffee and sandwich shops, etc.
For the kids, they will hopefully, at the least, get to drive by the house and make it feel realer than just a few pictures. If the people who owned it are moved out before you close, maybe you can even walk around the yard and kind of “touch and feel” the house. Every little bit helps based on our experience.
We were lucky enough to move across town this time around, so we could randomly drive by and get the kids excited about the move instead of it feeling like a complete shake up of their lifestyle. It seemed to work well.
Even if these things are not an option, I recommend talking about the move early so it’s not a shock and they have time to adapt mentally. Speak positively about the move and why things will be better, discuss the possibility of new friends, a better playground, bigger yard, or whatever it may be that are upgrades over the old place. Anything you can do to do to get them excited will help you in the long run. Waiting to spring the change on them will just cause unnecessary drama.
Timing and Seasonality Issues -
If you plan on moving at the end of August or early September, be prepared to call around. This is prime moving season because of ending leases, as well as college kids going back to school. In the Boston area, the city and surrounding areas are a nightmare during this time and moving trucks or crews are hard to find or you will pay a premium.
Also, if you are in a location that gets hit hard with snow, rain, and ice in the winter, just be prepared to have delays and understand that the whole process will take much longer than just one day. Some things you just can’t control (like a snowstorm) and there will be unforeseen delays no matter what time of year you decide to move.
Find a Good Moving Company -
Some people prefer to move themselves but if you can afford it, get a moving company to do it for you. It was easy enough to move a few rooms and a couch when you were in your early 20’s but finding anyone to help you once you are older is almost impossible. Everyone gets busier and they’ve also learned through experience that moving sucks. It ends up being a stressful, all day affair and it’s like working a REAL job. No one wants to do that on the weekend and certainly no one is taking a day off from work to help. If you have kids in the house, this will virtually be impossible to do as well since no one will be keeping an eye on them and they will definitely get in the way at some point.
Also, get referrals from friends or family nearby or look for good reviews online. I worked for a moving company back in college and know there is a big difference between a good moving company and a bad one. The problem is, you don’t really know ahead of time unless you get word from someone you trust. Good movers will not only save you money, but they will eliminate a lot of stress and worry by delivering your stuff efficiently and safely. It’s worth paying a little extra for a company that has a good reputation. You get what you pay for in this industry, more often than not.
Pay for People to Pack Your House -
Another thing to consider, if you can make it work monetarily, is having the movers pack everything for you. It will probably come close to doubling your cost but believe me, it will eliminate a ton of stress when you know someone else will do all the hard work and literally do the heavy lifting. Plus, they know how to properly pack things in boxes to keep breakage to a minimum, and they also offer insurance in case something actually does break. You won’t get that if you do it yourself and I guarantee boxes will get crushed in the move. That’s no bueno.
And if you have young kids, multiple kids, or even just one kid, you know it’s virtually impossible to get anything done for more than a few minutes at a time. Imagine trying to pack a whole house with them in the mix. It’s just a major challenge that would be best to avoid.
Call in Reinforcements -
If you have to do it yourself because of the cost, just do yourself a favor and call in reinforcements. Either pay for a babysitter for a few hours each weekend until you are done, or ask for family, friends, and neighbors to take the kids for a few hours. You will get a lot more done when you can just zone out and focus, as opposed to dealing with constant interruptions and delays. Which leads to...
Unpacking and Rearranging -
You will also want to do the same thing when you move into the new house/apartment to get some time to unpack, rearrange, etc. It might not be as easy to do this if you are moving a long distance or don’t know anyone in the area but do your best to find a local babysitter that can give you a few hours of relief. This will be helpful during the unpacking process and go a long way for your sanity.
Also, unpack everything ASAP so you can get boxes out of the way and move to the trash/garage, etc.. These boxes will stack up quickly and take up space or just get in way. Don’t forget to break down the boxes by taking out the paper and folding them up to save space. Empty boxes will take up your whole house or garage if you don’t keep up with this process.
Miscellaneous Issues and Things to Consider -
Call early for Cable/Satellite & Internet - There can be long wait times for getting this installed, especially during the fall moving season. Being without TV isn’t the worst thing ever because you can always hook up an antenna to get a few channels or find other things to pass the time but being without internet can be a serious issue if you work from home, or just need something to distract the kids.
I had to wait about 10 days to get cable and internet from the time we moved in and this felt like an eternity. It’s not the end of the world but certainly something to consider, especially when the NFL season just started and I almost missed the first Patriots game!
Call Electric Company Ahead of Time - This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure the electricity is on before you even show up. There is nothing worse than getting to a house that has no lights or electricity for refrigerators, appliances, etc. There will usually be an overlap from the when you move in and when the previous owners will be shut off, so you should be OK, but just do yourself a favor and get it out of the way early.
Appliances, Mattresses, Furniture, and Other Big Items - Be sure to order any new Washer/Dryer/Fridge, etc. as early as possible so you have them at the house when needed. Many retail locations may need at least a few weeks to deliver after you make the purchase (depending on the model and brand) so be sure you take care of this advance so you can schedule a day that is as close to your move.
You might want to consider the day after the move to bring these things in, or even the day before, if possible. We had a mattress delivered the same day as the movers and it was a bit of a nightmare having so many people in the house at the same time crossing paths. It will be easier for everyone involved if you can spread it out a bit.
That’s everything we dealt with in the last few weeks that I can think of but if you have any other tips that you can provide based on your own experiences, please leave a comment.