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What You Need to Know to Prepare for a Move

family entering new home
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

The excitement of moving into your new dream home takes a back burner, temporarily, to the overwhelming feeling of anxiety that packing up the contents your home and moving them all to another location. There is so much involved with a move – so many moving pieces that must be organized accordingly. We hope this guide will help so that you can feel at peace with the process and enjoy your move.

Organization is key

Being organized is the best thing that you can do to ensure a smooth, flawless move. It’s important to make lists of everything that needs to be done – this includes purchasing packing supplies, packing itself, interviewing movers and securing a date. Make lists for your lists, if need be. Make lists of rooms and items to pack and be sure to keep them in a very secure location. Will you need to hire a cleaning crew to clean your home once it’s empty?

Will you need to hire a cleaning crew for your new location prior to your arrival? Will you be moving from one home to the other on the same day or will you need to arrange for a place to stay for a night or two. Do you have pets that have special needs? Do you have young children? If necessary call the electric company, water company and phone company to have these utilities turned on and put in your name.

Get rid of unwanted goods

There’s nothing more annoying than unpacking unwanted and unused items. Never mind the expense wasted on moving these items. Before you move purge your closets, drawers, cabinets, attics, basements and garages. Donate your items to charitable causes. Toss them in the garbage. Pass items off to friends as hand-me downs. Have a tag sale (or garage, or yard sale – whatever you call them in your area.) List them on eBay or Craig’s list. Just get rid of anything you don’t use and don’t foresee using. You will feel so much better when you do, especially when it comes to unpacking!

Research your moving company

All moving companies are not alike. They differ in many ways. Interview various companies and get several quotes to learn about their fees and their policies. Moving is very expensive.  How much more will it be for them to pack your belongings for you? Discuss with them how much it would cost to pack some, but not all of your belongings.

Ask about their insurance policies and their protocol for storing your possessions in their trucks overnight.  Ask questions, as many as you have. Do they charge per box, per hour, by distance? Get it in writing. Whatever you agree to must be documented in writing. You have a lot at stake.


Packing is the most mundane, most dreaded chore. It’s also the most overwhelming, the most intimidating. Take baby steps. If you have time to plan, the more time you allow to get your packing done, the better. The worst thing you could do is to save it all for the last minute. If you can afford to and would prefer to hire the movers to pack for you, then your stresses will be cut in half. But this is a very expensive proposal. You may want to have the movers packs some items – perhaps your more valuable, fragile items such as artwork, china, silver coffee service. They’re trained to pack well and safely. These items, if packed by the moving company will also be insured. You, then can pack the rest.

Start off by packing up the least used items. Save the items that get used the most for last. Keep very detailed lists of what you’ve packed into each box. This will make unpacking so much easier. Mark each box well. Mark each box on all sides. List the name of the room the box belongs in, and put a number on each box. So therefore, in the Living Room you will have Box 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, the dining room table, chairs and the buffet. You will have one master list for each box, with the contents. This too will make unpacking easier, allowing you to know exactly what is in each box. I highly recommend NOT labeling the contents directly onto each box.

Packing Supplies

You’ll need packing tape. Lots and lots of packing tape. More than you will ever imagine. Don’t skimp and buy discount here. You want a good packing tape that won’t tear or shred or stick to the roll. You’ll tape your boxes and re-tape and re-tape them. We don’t want the bottoms falling out now, do we? You’ll need bubble wrap, packing paper or newspaper, scissors, bold black markers such as Sharpies and boxes – lots and lots of boxes. When purchasing your boxes do shop around. If you purchase them from your moving company it is likely you will pay a small fortune.

Check out the boxes at self-serve moving companies and office supply stores. Go to your local liquor store. Not only will you welcome a nice stiff drink at the end of the day but there is always an abundance of boxes here that are only going to get tossed anyhow. Think “green” and reuse some of these boxes. Also contact your Realtor or local real estate company. Likely they will know of someone who has just moved and eager to get their moving boxes off their hands. When you move, do the same. Let’s help one another out and keep these boxes out of the landfills!

Don’t overlook your pets

Pets are very sensitive to moving. They are creatures of comforts and like their known home base. Make this new transition as easy for them as you can. In a well marked box, keep all your pet’s supplies together – toys, beds, medications and anything he will need. Make sure food and snacks or treats are easily accessible, as well as lead, collar and water dish. Help your pet acclimate to the new location -sights and smells, while ensuring there is plenty that he is familiar with. Many pets often run away from new homes in search for their old ones. Keep all external doors closed, and if necessary, locked. If you cannot be in your new home that first night, be sure to have a plan for your pet that includes a place to stay if he can’t be with you.

Comfort your Children

Involve your children in the moving process. Show them their new home, walk through it and the grounds. Let them have a say in what they might like their bedrooms to look like. Let them get familiar with the house’s floor plan and property. Why not have a picnic lunch there one day? Children love to feel involved and a part of the process. Like pets, they too can feel a sense of homesickness for their previous home. It is therefore important to pack the things that matter to them – their favorite stuffed animals, pajamas, blankets, even a few of their toys.

Pack a suitcase

Pack as though you are going away for a night or two. Have the most important and essential items together in this suitcase – clothes, medicine and toiletries, for example. This way, should you need anything you won’t have to rifle through box after box after box.

Have an unpacking plan

So you made it. You had everything packed up, loaded into the trucks and unpacked. As if you’re not already exhausted – now you need to unpack everything. Much in the way you had a packing plan, you need an unpacking plan. Thank goodness for those lists you made while you were packing – they will help you greatly in the unpacking process!

Start with what you need first. Start with the rooms that will be used first. Bedrooms – both master and children’s –  take priority here. Have the beds set up and made so that you have someplace comfortable to go to and crash at the end of the day. Have towels placed in bathrooms and your toiletries in place so you can wash up at the end of the day.

Unless you’ve arranged with your cable, internet or satellite provider ahead of time, you may not have a television to watch at the end of the day. Make sure lamps and reading lights are unpacked so you can read in bed… or on the couch… as you make your way around the sea of boxes.

The next most important room would be the kitchen. Start by unpacking pots and pans… tea kettles, coffee makers… the items you will be needing most. You’ll need items for food prep, plates, cups and glasses. Once the most important items have been put away, you can either continue with the rest of the kitchen or move on. I would suggest continuing with the rest of the kitchen – unless, of course, you plan on doing any work to the space. Then it would be wise to take out and use only the essentials.  Once the bedrooms and kitchens are unpacked you can go at your own pace. I would strongly suggest not to move on to the next room unless the one you are working on is all done. If you go back and forth you are more likely to take a longer time unpacking…

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