Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Managing Your Move: Preparations and Packing

Few transitions are more jarring than going from selling a home to moving one. You might have spent weeks or even months keeping your home in pristine condition for showings, constantly tidying and feeling as if you were tiptoing around a photoshoot set instead of living in your own place. Then suddenly a few phone calls are made, some paperwork is signed, and it's time to turn that perfectly maintained decore scheme into a chaos of boxes, packing tape guns, and Sharpie fumes. But moving doesn't have to be so bad.

First of all, if you lived in your previous home while showing it, you probably already had to cut down on the clutter and start purging extra items. Your realtor may have offered you staging advice or suggested you complete some repairs or rennovations ahead of time to help the house sell. The process of transforming your lived-in home into more of a clean slate is a great opportunity for you to pack up things you wanted to sell or donate to a thirft store anyways, and to assess which of your belongings are lowest priority. If you can live without it while the house is showing but still want to hang on to it, then it won't hurt to go ahead and box that thing up. Do this first round of packing room by room, and make sure each box is clearly labeled. Depending on your time table and the distance you will be moving, put those boxes in the basement, attic, or a storage unit.

Once it's time to pack all the rest of your home up, use the same strategy of establishing priorities. Set aside some necessities you will need as soon as you move into the new place, as if you are packing for a trip. You will want a few days worth of clothes, your toiletries, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, lightbulbs, daily medications, bandaids, pain relievers, and anything else that you might need to stay relatively clean and comfortable as you clean and set up your new home. After the highest priority box is mostly settled, set about packing up the things in each room you will need to unpack first. The key to moving smoothly is to pack your home in the reverse order you will unpack it. For example, when unpacking your living room, you will want to arrange your furniture first, then put the cushions and drawers back on/in, and then add the finishing touches by unpacking wall art, knicknacks, and throw pillows. Therefore, as you pack up your living room, start with the little things and set those boxes aside so they will be the first on the truck and the last off.

Speaking of the truck, you will also want to decide if hiring movers or bribing friends is best for you. For long distance moves, companies offer different degrees of service, from packing your belongings for you to simply picking up your boxes and furniture and loading them on and off the truck. Be careful when selecting a moving company. Naturally you will want one that is bonded and insured in case something is broken or someone is injured. You will also want to check if your belongings will be on the same truck as someone else's. Sharing a truck could lead to lost or mixed up items, delays, and other mishaps. If you choose to bribe friends with the traditional pizza and beer, remember that your friends aren't necessarily trained on how to best handle heavy or fragile items, or the most efficient way to load a moving van. If you don't have much to move or many expensive items, friends are probably the most cost-effective option, and you'll have pleasant company on what will inevitably be a hectic and stressful day.

Always plan a buffer for tasks that must be accomplished before moving day. Don't forget to change over your utilities and address as far ahead of time as possible so the lights will be on and the toilet flushing when you arrive to your new home. No one wants to spend their first day in their new home in the dark, or fretting over a replacement credit card lost in the mail. Also plan ahead as much as possible for the sale of any furniture, appliances, or other belongings before the move. You don't want to get stuck moving things you don't want or don't have room for at the new place just because a Craigslist buyer never showed or an eBay auction didn't end as hoped. Getting unwanted furniture and appliances out of the way early will also give you more room to pack, stack boxes, maneuver on moving day, and could put some petty cash in your pocket for last minute expenses like extra bubble wrap, tips for the movers, or extra nice beer for your hardworking friends. If you are hiring painters or the home inspection turns up something in need of a fix, be prepared for it to take longer than expected. A buffer will help keep the stages of your move from running into one another.

With a little pre-planning and a firm prioritization, you can make moving a seamless, reduced-stress process that gets you out and in as quickly as possible. Make lists, if necessary, to help you envision the step-by-step of packing each room. If possible, go to the new place ahead of time to measure and determine where the best place to unload certain furniture and boxes might be. With some forethought and strategy, moving becomes much less intimidating and much more managable. Good luck!