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Are You on the Move – Literally? 


Article by Lisa Harris

Photography by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

This past year has changed not only the way we live, but where we live. Odds are you’ve noticed a lot more “for sale” signs around your neighborhood this spring as the effects of Covid and the opportunity to work remotely are motivating city dwellers to make the move to the suburbs in huge numbers.

With many given the opportunity to work from home, some are using that freedom to move out to areas where they can have more space for their families or just enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. Others are taking advantage of a seller’s market to downsize, move closer to family or just want to sell at a time when house prices are at their highest so they can pay off bills or pad their retirement nest egg.

Regardless of why you’re moving, whether you’re selling your house, ditching the city in favor of the suburbs, or you just finished building your dream home, moving can be one of the most exciting times in our lives. However, it’s also one of the most notoriously stressful. Between planning and organizing for your move, sorting and packing all your possessions and then figuring out how to pay for the whole thing, moving can be emotionally, physically and financially overwhelming. The number of decisions and choices you’ll have to make number (literally) in the thousands. 

Surviving the process with your sanity intact requires a lot of effort and planning ahead. It will never be an easy process, but here are 15 tips that will help. 

1.    Declutter First, Pack Later

The whole process of packing and moving can be overwhelming, but the most difficult thing is figuring out where to start. As a professional organizer, I’ve helped many people declutter and pack up their homes, and the one mistake people often make is leaving the decluttering process to the last minute. If you’ve lived in your current home for a long time, you may have years’ worth of belongings and you’ll need to make choices about all of them. Keep or toss? Donate or sell? Sometimes the amount of ‘stuff’ we own can be a yoke around our necks, and it certainly makes everything about moving more difficult.

On the flip side, moving presents us with the opportunity for a fresh start and allows us to focus our energy on getting rid of things we don’t need. With that in mind, the first order of business is to declutter. Be absolutely as objective as you possibly can be, especially about items you’ve held onto for years ‘just because’ but never use. Don’t move what you don’t need, want, or love. Schedule a donation pick-up if they’re offered in your area to pick up the items you’re able to donate. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Hiring a professional organizer is always an option. Time after time, my clients tell me how much less overwhelmed they feel hiring a professional to guide them through the process. 

2.    Get Your Packing Materials Ready

Did I mention that moving is expensive? Whether you’re hiring a moving company or doing it yourself, the costs of moving can quickly add up. Depending on how much you have to pack, packing materials alone can cost you hundreds of dollars. Reuse your original boxes for electronics if you still have them – not only does this ensure that your items will fit perfectly in the box, but it also saves you from having to spend money on more boxes. See if any family, friends or neighbors are giving away packing materials leftover from their own moves.   

3.    Get Multiple Moving Quotes

The costs of moving can vary dramatically depending on how far you’re traveling, how much you’re bringing, whether you’re moving internationally, etc. Whether you’re renting a moving truck and DIY-ing or you decide to hire a moving company, it’s wise to get more than one quote. I recommend three, so you’ll get a good range of prices without overwhelming yourself with too much information.

4.    Label Everything!

Label, label, label! This might sound like old information, but it’s so important to be meticulous with your labeling. Many people make the mistake of being too broad or generic when labeling, and while you don’t need to specify every single item in each box (though you can if you want to), make sure you have enough details to help the unpacking process run smoothly. Also, label which room you want the box to be placed in when it arrives at your NEW location.

5.    Manage the Weight

While packing your boxes is one thing, actually moving them can present a whole other challenge, especially when the boxes are too heavy. Make sure you manage the weight by putting heavier items in smaller boxes. This makes them easier to carry and lowers the risk of the items breaking through a big box because their weight. On that note, make sure you find a good quality packing tape and generously tape the underside seams.

6.    Pack Smarter, Not Harder

Managing the weight of your boxes is important, but you also want to make sure everything fits! Have you heard the expression, “think smarter, not harder?” The same can be applied to packing. Utilize your space! You can use suitcases to pack your clothing, but you can also use them to pack heavier things, like books. This is especially helpful if your suitcase has wheels since rolling is a lot easier than lifting.

7.    Take Pictures

Document the process and your items via your camera, not necessarily for sentimental reasons (though that may be important to you too), but to help you remember. For example, it can be difficult to recall where wires go on things like TVs or sound systems, so take a picture of how your electronics are connected before you unhook everything and refer to it later to save time and frustration.

8.    Coordinate Accordingly

If you’re working with a moving company, make sure to coordinate logistics prior to the day of moving. This is especially important if you’re not moving to a private residence but somewhere the mover will need to navigate parking, elevator use, etc. You may also want to check with your town to confirm whether or not you’ll need any sort of permit or special permission to park the moving van in the street for an extended period of the day. Have extra cash on hand to tip the movers, too. The rule of thumb is to tip about 15-20% of your moving cost, which the crew can divide. Of course, you can tip more, depending on the difficulty of the move.

 9.    Take Care of Paperwork Before You Go

Moving involves a lot of paperwork and it’s important to take care of it before you go. As soon as you know you’re moving, make sure to call the utility companies to notify them. You will also need to fill out a change of address form, which can be done two weeks before you move.

10. Have a Plan for Kids and Pets

If you have little ones running around – whether they have two legs or four paws – have a specific plan for their care on the day of the move. If your kids are too young to help with packing, schedule a playdate or have them visit family members. This will reduce your stress a bit while ensuring their safety.  The same applies to your pets. Do your pet, the movers and yourself a favor and find a pet sitter for the day, so you don’t have to worry about your pet getting loose or hurt in all the chaos.

11. Do a Final Walk-Through

Before leaving your old residence for the last time, make sure to do a final walk through. Check inside closets, behind doors, inside drawers and cabinets, etc. to make sure that nothing is left behind. If you’re renting, definitely take photos of both your cleaned-out space and your new home before moving in.

12. Pack a Bag of Essentials

The last day or two before you move can be challenging since everything is all packed and ready to go, but you still need certain things to function in the meantime. I recommend putting together an “essentials” bag for your moving day. This can include toiletries, medications, clothing, important documents, water, a tool kit, snacks – anything you and your family might need not just for your move but for the first day or two of living in your new place.

 13. Prep Your New Space

While saying goodbye to your old home can be hard, it’s also very exciting to start fresh in your new space. Make sure your new home is ready to welcome you. If you can access your new home before move-in day, get in and give it a pre-clean. If not, do this before you start unpacking! It will never be this ‘empty’ again.

14. Change Your Locks

Once you’ve finally moved into your new home, I recommend installing new locks as soon as possible. Many people may have had access to your home prior to your arrival when they were getting the house ready to sell. To be safe, or just for added peace of mind, take the time and spend the money to get the locks changed as soon as possible. 

15. Unpacking – Reach Out to a Professional Organizer!

By now, you’re mentally and physically exhausted, but there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to unpacking. Take this time-consuming process off your plate by hiring a professional organizer. Hiring a professional to get you settled will take away some of your stress and help ensure your new home is organized and looking its best, not just when you move in, but in the years to come, so you’ll be happier in your new home even when it’s no longer new. 

Better yet, hire a professional organizer to help you organize and pack before you move. Whether it’s decluttering, organizing, packing or handling logistics, I’ve helped many clients significantly reduce the stress of moving--and I can help you, too. Having OWL on your side every step of the way can significantly reduce your load and make an overwhelming task as manageable as it possibly can be. 

Now that you’ve read these tips, you’re ready to take charge of your move! Let me leave you with one last piece of wisdom: Planning ahead and preparation is important in anything you do, but it’s also important to expect and accept that some things will not go according to plan. Along with your family, pets and prized possessions, don’t forget to pack your sense of humor, and the phone number of someone who can help: 1- 201 214 0652