A Well Planned Move

You can tell from the time between now and my last post that I've been a little preoccupied lately. (Sorry to my loyal readers!) Since then a lot has changed. My husband's company moved their headquarters to Boston (we currently live outside NYC), we learned we're going to be parents (again!) and we decided to sell our home and move to New England (besides, our current house won't be big enough with another bambino).

Over the last few months I've been in the throws of preparing for a well planned move. People say that the top three most stressful life events are moving, having a baby and starting a new job (heck, we don't mess around, do we?) So I figured I could minimize the stress of moving by planning well for it. In this post, I'll share my ideas for a relatively seamless move, whether it be across the street or across the country.

  • Get a jump start on packing before your house even goes on the market. Most realtors would agree that minimizing personal belongings and streamlining your possessions is a must when selling your home. Think about the items you or your family are not likely to use in the next few months and pack them away. If you don't absolutely need it to use personally (like a waffle iron) or to show your home (staged), pack it away. Don't just shove things in closets! You'll save time on the back-end if you pack them away now. Prospective buyers will be looking in your cabinets and closets (partly because they're nosey and partly because they want to see the depth of your cabinet/closet space) and if there are a minimal amount of items in them, they'll feel that their belongings can fit too.
  •  Use a master inventory list! Don't get stuck after your move, wondering what box your iron was packed away into. Most people mark boxes with the room they belong in and that's it. Yes, that's a good move, but minimize chaos of trying to find which of the 18 boxes labeled "family room" your favorite CD's are in. Create an inventory list. Here's how:
    • Create a master document that has columns for box #, contents, room, and special notes. This can be done electronically in a word or excel document, handwritten on a legal pad, or printed and then filled in by hand (my choice for ease of use). Here's a version I use.
    • Number each box you pack. Start with box #1 and be sure to clearly mark the outside of the box (on all sides) with the box #.
    • Start in the room that you use the least. Keep like items in the same box (such as office supplies or kids' craft supplies). 
    • Jot down the contents of each box as you pack. Don't be afraid to put down detailed items, such as "hand-painted platter from Spain" or "framed pictures from stairwell". You'll be glad you did when you're trying to decide which boxes should take priority when unpacking.
    • Mark which room the box belongs in. Okay, common sense here. If you're type A, like me, you can pre-print a bunch of labels from your home computer with rooms so you can quickly stick them on multiple sides of the box so the movers have no question where it goes.
    • Know where this list is at all times! Every time you go to pack a box, grab your handy inventory list and jot down the contents of the box. Believe me, it will be your lifeline when you move-in to your new home and have no idea where anything is...oh, but wait...you do!  
  •  Don't worry about keeping box numbers consistent for all rooms. Chances are you'll need to leave some things to use in each room before the actual move. So you're likely to go back to a room and finish off the last few boxes of items a few days before your move. Don't get caught up in trying to keep all bedroom boxes numbered 10-20...if you do, you'll just frustrate yourself. The important thing is that you know which boxes things are in when you go to look for them. It doesn't matter what number the box is.
  • Count how many rooms you need to pack and how many weeks you have left before the big move day. I'd like to take credit for this, but my DH thought this one out and it has worked like a dream! We had six weeks before our closing and 12 rooms to pack up. So we agreed to pack up two rooms per week to avoid the last minute rush. I started by choosing the rooms we use least often, like the dining room (when was the last time we used that beautiful china?!) and assigned each week two rooms. I put it on our family calendar so I could always reference which rooms I should be focusing on that week.
  • Create a timeline. Determine everything that needs to be done (and there's a lot) and make a timeline that works best for you. You can find a ton of them on the web, but you're better off creating your own to work with your schedule. Here's one from About.com that will give you a pretty good idea of what to put on your timeline and how far in advance to plan for things.
  •  Create a move binder. This has been my lifeline for the last few months. Think about what information would be handy for you to have all in one place. Use a 3-ring binder (mine zips all the way around which I find securing in some way), and include some clear sleeves and pockets. Mine has an ongoing to-do list in the front and includes sections for:
    • Packing Inventory - the list mentioned above (I just keep adding pages as needed)
    • Moving Company Documents - quotes from moving companies and final contract from selected mover
    • New House Info - MLS sheets from search, house tour notes, specs on selected house, mortgage documentation, web printouts of new washer and dryer I want :-), etc.
    • Utilities - telephone numbers of utility companies and confirmations for shut-off at old house and turn-on at new house
    • Change of Address - a checklist of all accounts that need to be notified of a change of address, with phone numbers and account numbers to make process easy. Don't forget all loans (student, car, etc), cell phone companies, credit cards, investment accounts, car/life insurance policies, magazine subscriptions, etc.
    • Insurance - home owners insurance quotes, insurance policy documentation and contact info
    • Remodeling Plans/Documents - plans and quotes for any work to be done in new house
    • Schools- printed web pages of preschools to consider, notes from conversations and potential tours
    • Doctors- referrals for new doctors in new area, notes on where to send records, checklist of current doctors contact to forward medical records
    • Other - a place for miscellaneous items that don't necessarily fit into the other categories.
So there you have it. A few tips on a well planned move. Ironically, not matter how well planned you feel like you are, things are bound to come up that you don't and can't plan for. According to my timeline, I should have moved nearly two weeks ago. (Sigh.) But while I await our new move date, I'm 90% packed and at least I know where to find just about anything my family may need.

Good luck on your Well Planned Move!



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