Things to add/change:
- Have a yard/garage sale to get rid of stuff
- Don't stock up on unnecessary stuff before you move
- Change "curb it" to "recycle it if possible"
- The phone company now offers a service where you can record your own greeting to callers that you moved and for your new phone number. Costs are not anaylzed here.
- There are now many, many options for a phone including land line, cell phone and cable phone. Most references here are to land lines (which were the way to fly when the bulk of this was written). Check out your telephone options.
The purpose of this write up is to document some hints for preparing and doing and recovering from a local move that make it a whole lot easier. These are not all my own ideas, they have evolved from a number of people over a number of years.
The ideas in this write up are broken into a number of areas. The first few sections are ideas for planning and preparing for your move, the next are hints and ideas to actually pull off the move and the last section offers some consolations to make it easier to unpack and get settled into your new digs.
But first a few disclaimers. The specific intent here is to assist the single person or small family making a LOCAL move of a few blocks or miles with the bulk of your possessions being moved by non-professional movers. This is not a tutorial to help the large family move a whole house full of 20 years accumulation of furniture from one end of the country to another. That is a much larger set of problems. This write up is a group of ideas presented for your consideration. See if they fit your situation. See if they make sense to you for your move. See if something needs to be added, deleted or modified to make you comfortable with it. Make those changes to your plan and then follow your plan.
Let’s Get Started -- Spiral Notebook
As soon as you know for sure that you are going to move and where you are going to move, acquire a spiral notebook to collect all the information about your move. Start a new page whenever you have a new type of data to record and you will end up with all of the information significant to your move in exactly one place. Later sections will go into gory detail about what that information should be, how to gather it and what to do with it. As information becomes obsolete in your notebook, cross it out or put a checkmark next to it but don't throw the page away. There will be something in there that you will need to refer back to. Don't throw pages away, and don’t scratch the pages out so much you can’t read them. Plan on keeping this notebook after your move is complete so you will also have a leg up for the next time you have to move.
Know the requirements of your landlord
The second thing you should do is figure out what you have to do, notify, clean and such to your old place. If you rent, talk with your landlord. If you lease, get out your copy of the lease and read it end to end. If you own, there are a lot more things involved, which is way beyond the scope of this writeup.
Things to be considered include the following:
- How much notice to the landlord is required that you are moving? You should tell your landlord that you will be moving and exactly when you expect to be out as soon as you know for sure yourself. Don't disappear during the night and leave him or her a note. Your lease probably says that you have to give a month's notice or such.
- If you are breaking your lease, what is the penalty? If you can't give as much notice as is required, what happens?
- What are your arrangements, if any, for getting your security deposit back? Do you have to clean the place? How long should you have to wait after moving out before you get it? How much interest should you expect to get on your deposit? (Surprise, you forgot about that, right?)
- What happens if you give notice to your landlord and then actually get moved out a week or so sooner? Do you get a refund on any of the rent for that time? How about the other way, if you can't get moved out until a few days after you told him? Do you have to pay more rent? Can’t you rent by the week for a short time? If so, how much? Is there a new tenant coming in? If so, when?
- Are there any special rules about moving? For instance, some apartments won't let you back a truck up to the front door of the building, you have to use the back door. Are there any restrictions on what days or hours you can move?
- Does the landlord pay the utilities? If not, then you will have to make the arrangements directly with the utility companies to either turn off the service or transfer the service to the new tenant. Check with the landlord before having the service turned off. If it is in the dead of winter, the landlord might be interested in taking responsibility for the utility bills instead of having the pipes freeze. Take a reading of the electric and gas meters yourself so you’ll know later if your final bill is correct.
Prepare to Notify Everyone
The next area of early preparation is to identify all of the people or organizations who could, should or may care about the fact that you are moving. Some are obvious like friends and family. Others are more subtle like your insurance carriers. And others may be forgotten, like the alumni association from your high school or college.
Ask at your post office for a "Change of Address Kit". This contains special cards which can be sent to others to notify them of your address change. This is free and handy.
One real requirement
It should be noted here that the only real form that you need to notify someone of a change of address is the pink form 3575 for the post office itself. You can just write letters or post cards for everyone else. The form that the post office provides makes it easier, though.
The post office has a number of rules and conventions about what happens on a change of address. You'll be better off if you are familiar with them: A change of address notice to the post office is normally valid for 12 months. That means that if you get mail to your old address more than 12 months after you move, it will be returned to the sender marked “addressee unknown".
Here’s how to get a change of address form:
- Go to ‘Contact Us’ on the main screen
- Go to ‘Select A Topic’, choose ‘Change Of Address’
- That will display a menu with a wide number of topics that should answer every question about filing a change of address.
- Change of address is form 3575.
- Allow up to 7 to 10 postal business days from the effective date of the change of address to begin receiving forwarded mail at your new address.
- They recommend filing a COA a month before moving.
- If in doubt, drop by your local post office branch and talk with a clerk.
Caution: If you live with someone else (such as parents or a roommate) and not everyone is moving with you, be sure to put in an individual change of address for each person who is moving. For instance, consider that you are married, Mr & Mrs John and Suzie Doe, currently living with one set of parents. When you submit the change of address, do one for John and a separate one for Suzie. Even though *your* whole family is moving (which you view as John and Suzie), the post office considers everyone receiving mail at the specified address as one family. Be careful.
Whom should you notify?
The next problem is to determine exactly who needs to be informed of the move. We made the mistake of not notifying a weekly magazine that we were moving because the subscription was due to run out. Unfortunately, the magazine kept on coming for another 8 weeks after it ran out. We were paying to have magazines forwarded. We couldn’t refuse to pay for this one and still get the rest of them.
Anyway, the following is a list of things that have your address attached or groups that would want to know about your move.
- Your manager or supervisor
- Your secretary (does anyone still have a secretary?)
- Payroll Office
- Personnel Office
- Stockholder relations (if you own stock)
- checking accounts at a bank
- stock broker
- financial advisor
- Credit union
- Savings accounts
- Safe deposit box
- Department store credit cards
- National credit cards (Visa, MC, etc.)
- Oil company credit cards
- Car or personal loans
- School loans
- Local newspapers (by carrier or a tube route)
- Newspaper subscriptions (by mail)
- The alumni association at your high school or college (PARTICULARLY if you are from Penn State. We wouldn’t want them to lose track of you <G>).
- Life insurance
- Car insurance
- Apartment/home insurance
- Electric company
- Gas company
- Water company
- TV cable company
- Cell phone company
- Telephone company (see later section on this)
State or County Department of Motor Vehicles:
- Car registration
- Driver's license
- Election board (if you have ever voted at your old address)
- Any companies that you have placed mail orders with
- Church or synagogue
- Any clubs or social organizations
- Schools if you have children in school
- Schools if you are taking a class somewhere
- Doctors, pediatricians, if any
- Licensing agencies if you have any special licenses or permits (such as nursing or teaching license or a gun permit)
Prepare to pack it up
OK. You have done all of the above, now you are all ready to start packing, right? WRONG. Now you need to sit down and plan some more. You need to think about the following:
- What needs to be moved?
- What can be thrown out or given away?
- What things need to packed in boxes?
- What things can be moved by a bunch of friends?
- What things should be moved by a professional mover?
- What things are fragile and need special handling?
- What will I pack things in?
- How many boxes will I need?
- How in the world will I move all that junk?
- Where I put things in the new place?
If you have been at the current address for any length of time, NOW is the time to sort through stuff and GET RID OF WHAT YOU NO LONGER NEED. If it is "too good" to throw out, fine, hold a garage sale, give it to the Volunteers of America or Salvation Army or give it to a friend. But getting rid of it before moving day means that it will not have to be moved.
Get some boxes
Start accumulating a bunch of boxes. The best source of good boxes that often have tops on them is from (would you believe?) liquor stores. One way (which often works) is to just drop in to a bunch of different stores and ask if they can spare any empty boxes. Generally they get some boxes nearly every day, they will often have half a dozen at any point in time. Ask a store if it will save boxes for you for a few days. Offer to stop every day for 4 or 5 days (they may not have room to store them long). I've gotten as many as 40 or 50 in one stop. If they have saved them for you, be sure to take as many as they’d like to get rid of. It’s not hard to recycle them.
If you want to pay for them, you can get some real packing boxes from a business supply store (like Staples), moving company or U-Haul or some discount stores (like Sam’s Club). These are nice because they are all the same size and can easily be sealed shut (but you have to supply the sealing tape). These can often cost $1 per box or more.
Check with someone who just moved in to see if you can borrow or have any of their packing boxes. People will often keep wardrobe boxes and such for a year or two. Ask around. Ask your friends or business associates to help you get some boxes. If you have a small vehicle, find someone with a larger one to help you pick up stuff.
But try to stick with fairly small boxes. You don't need large cereal or paper products boxes from the grocery store. Someone will break his back trying to lift a box that big when it is full of books.
And don't be afraid of getting too many boxes. It is easy to recycle empty boxes that you don’t need. It is not easy to get more boxes in a hurry if you run out when you are packing in the middle of the night.
Get some Newspaper
As soon as you decide to move, start saving newspaper or ask friends to save for you. Or you can buy blank newsprint from a printer or a moving company (such as U-Haul). This will be used to pack dishes and glass items. Check any boxes you get from liquor stores for dividers (to separate the bottles of liquor). You can use these as natural protection for knick-knacks and such. Wrap then in wrapping paper or newspaper and then put 2 or 3 in each divided section of the box. Or take out the dividers and use them as padding or packing material for larger objects.
CAUTION: If you use standard newspaper, you can get newsprint ink on your hands or the item being wrapped.
Start Packing Stuff into Boxes
The first thing to start packing is stuff that you won't use between now and the time that you move. Start with that bookcase full of books. Load the books into small boxes and pack each box full but not overflowing. If the box has a cover, the cover should close flat so the boxes can be stacked on top of this one.
It will help you if you need to find something and in unpacking if you put things that go together in the same box. Don't separate items that have to function together like the coffee pot and its cord.
As you pack, use lots of packing paper. Too much may waste a bit but never caused something to be broken, too little may cause a problem. Newsprint is plentiful and cheap. To pack an item, open up the newsprint so you have 3 or 4 single thicknesses of it. Lay the item along one edge or corner of the paper. Then just roll the item until it is covered by the newsprint. Tuck in both sides and roll it some more. Put it in a box next to something, or put it into a divided liquor box to keep it from unrolling, or put a piece of tape on it. Then go on to the next item. It works the best to do this on a table with a counter full of input items and a stack of paper for wrapping. Then it goes fast.
As you fill each box, label the contents on the outside of the box, number the box, and write the number and a general description of its contents in your notebook. If there are multiple stacks of boxes, note which stack this box is in. If you know what room this box wants to go into in the new place, mark this both on the box and in your notebook. Then, if you need to find something that has been packed, you can open (hopefully) only one or two boxes to find it. If the contents are fragile, mark this on the outside of the box as well.
Real War story: We signed papers to buy our first house at the end of a September with the closing estimated to be about November 1. So I packed up all our Christmas stuff and a lot of other things. November 1 came and went and we were no closer to the closing than were in September. (We finally closed on February 2 of the next year). But because we had numbered and marked all of the boxes, I could find the Christmas gear without having to open and sift through all of the 100 or so boxes that were packed by then. It was a big help to know what was where.
As you find things that should stay behind, carefully label or segregate them so they WILL get left behind. Such items would include any sort of furniture which belonged to the landlord and things that you will need to clean the old place after all the furniture is moved out.
Real War story: all the cleaning material at our old house was packed and moved by a friend who intended to do us a favor. We had to find and move them all back to clean out the old house
Start Organizing the Move Itself
The next step should be to organize how the actual move will be accomplished. One way to do this is to move everything yourself. This doesn't take a whole lot of planning, you don't have to coordinate anything with anyone else and it should be easy.
Real War Story: We tried it this way when we moved across the street from one furnished apartment to another. We packed up a few things every night, moved them to the new place and unpacked them into the closet or wherever they would go. WHAT A PAIN. We did this for a week. Any time we needed something, it was ALWAYS where we WEREN'T. There was no central coordination. It took a week of evenings to do this and it was the most difficult move that we have ever made.
Another way to move is to hire a local professional mover. This can be done but it can get expensive. The mover charges a flat fee per hour from the time they leave the terminal until the time they return. The mover helpers (if any) will move anything you ask them to move and in a very efficient manner. But if you don't have everything packed and ready to go, you don't want to have them waiting while you pack things up. They will pack for you but that can get expensive also. You might want to consider hiring a local mover for things which are very heavy or bulky that would not fit easily into a mini-van or a pick up truck. Or for things in your basement which will not come out easily. This category might include pianos, freezers, refrigerators and the like.
Ask around to find a mover that someone has had a good experience with.
Hold a Moving Party
Another way is to get a bunch of people and vehicles together and have a MOVING PARTY. A moving party is a gathering of friends and associates at a specific time at your old place. As vehicles are loaded up with your belongings, some of the people go to the new place to unload. When everything has been moved, there is food and drink for everyone as a thank you.
For an average size apartment or small house, you want to end up with 12-18 people and 3-6 mini-vans and/or pick up trucks. The best time to schedule it is either a Saturday morning or, if that won't work out, an evening during the week. If you have everything packed up, you might find that all the stuff can be moved in an hour for an apartment up to a couple of hours for a house full of stuff. The logistics of such a move are shown below:
Old Place Help
- 2 people to finish packing anything that is left
- 2 people to move things to the staging area (garage or front door)
- 2 people to load vehicles from the door or garage
- 3-6 vehicle drivers help load, drive to new place and help unload
New Place Help
- 2 people to unload the vehicles
- 2 people to move from vehicles to the staging area
- 2 people to move from the staging area to the proper room of the new place
On one sheet of your notebook, write down the date and starting time for the move and keep a list of exactly who will be participating and who has the mini-vans or trucks. Tell everyone to let you know if they can't make it because everyone is needed. Check with everyone a few days before the move to be sure they remember. If you come up short of hands, some of the jobs above can be done by fewer people or jobs can be combined. The total of 18 people is definitely a FAT number intended for moving a whole house. Moving a modest amount of stuff from one apartment to another that are not too far apart can be done easily with 8-9 people and 2-3 vehicles. Its tough to have too many people, there is always something to do.
One way we have used in the past is to queue things to the garage if you have one, back a vehicle into the garage, load it, drive it out, bring on the next one, load it, etc. Loaders load, drivers drive, unloaders unload. At the old place it is one constant bucket brigade of stuff to the garage and into vehicles. At the new place, a vehicle would back into the garage and be unloaded into the staging area. Everything is just unloaded into the garage or a room nearby. The people in the new place would use the target room marked on the box to move it to the proper room in the new apartment or house. As soon as one vehicle is unloaded, it would move out and go back to the old place for another load and a new vehicle would be backed in to be unloaded.
Flights of stairs can be a problem with this moving process. Try to set up the staging area so as few stairs are required as possible. If you have bunches of stairs to negotiate or the staging area is in a parking lot a long way from your apartment, arrange to have someone bring or rent a hand truck or dolly to help move at least the bigger things. Also, try to have some rope on hand to tie things on to a vehicle and some plastic in case of rain. (If you don’t plan for rain, you *know* that it will).
Be sure to have a set of directions (preferably written down) to give to each driver so they can find your new place.
Can you handle ANOTHER War Story? We moved once when my wife was 6 months pregnant, so she could not lift or move anything. She sat inside the door at the new house and directed incoming traffic (boxes and furniture) to the right room. Everything was in the right room of the new house in 2 hours flat...
Plan the Party Part of the Party
And now the party part needs some planning. You should gather all of the following items ahead of time and put them together and where you can find them in the NEW place for the party after the move. Pizza is popular and readily available so that is pretty much a standard choice. Be sensitive, however, to people who can't eat it for one reason or another. Assign SOMEONE ELSE to go get the pizza and have it ordered ahead of time (or order it when the moving party reaches the new place). The amount should be based on how many people are expected. The following should be planned for:
- Pizza, figure 3-4 pieces per person, get at least 2 different types, be sure it is hot
- Beer, 1 or 2 cans per beer drinker, be sure it is cold
- Soft drink, 2 or 3 large (2 liter) bottles total of a cola (Pepsi or Code or such) and a non-cola (Sprite or such)
- Maybe some sort of salad or such from a deli or Kentucky Fried.
- Soap and paper towels for people to wash up with
- Paper napkins
- Paper plates
- Plastic forks
- Glasses for the soft drink
- Some ice or ice cubes
- A trash bag or can for the cleanup committee
- A table or counter should be identified which can be used to serve things from. Try to reserve it so it won't get piled high with stuff.
When you can get into your new place, don't just start moving every box you happen to stumble over. Move things that you want to get unpacked so you can start living there like bathroom stuff, some of the dishes, a minimum set of clothes. Leave the bulk of stuff which you won't need right away for the moving party to move. You'll get tired out fast if you start hauling all the books first by yourself. Identify your valuables (either in dollars or in sentimental value) that you would not want disaster to fall upon. Then work out a plan to get these to a secure area of the new place BEFORE the moving party.
Handle the Utilities
Arrange Electric, Gas, Cable, Water Service Transfer
In parallel with planning all of the above, you need to plan what happens to each of the utilities both at your old place and the new one. If you are moving from one apartment to another and both are in apartment complexes, this will probably be easy. Ask both your old and new landlord what needs to be done to terminate and establish the electric, gas, TV cable and (maybe) water. Usually, this will simply be a matter of a phone call. Save one sheet in your notebook for each utility to write down the specifics of the arrangements for each utility. Note the exact date that the final reading will be taken at your old place. If possible, read the meter yourself on that day to check your bill for errors. If someone has to let the meter reader in, will you be there or will your landlord be there? Note when service will begin at your new address. Again, you should take a meter reading on that day to check for billing errors. Are arrangements needed there to terminate service with the old tenant?
NOTE: this section is mostly focused on a land line. If you don’t have a land line, then figure out what you have to do to change the address for your cell phone or whatever else you do have.
The telephone is a little bit more complicated. If you are moving within the same town, you can probably keep your same phone number. However, if you are moving from one phone district to another, you will either have to change to a new number or pay a monthly fee to keep your old number (which at that point is called Foreign Exchange service or FX for short). To actually make the arrangements, you can either call the telephone business office (listed in the front of the phone book). When you call, you need to have available the following information:
- Your phone number
- Your old address
- Your new address (along with supplementary information like first floor, second floor, back apartment, etc.)
- Are there any telephone jacks at the new address? If so, exactly where?
- An idea of exactly what sort of telephone service you want in your new place, and whether you will need new jacks installed
The phone company always needs at least 2 or 3 days notice when making a change so don't leave it to the last minute. Also, it is really handy during the move if you have a telephone in both the old and new place. If you have to change your phone number, this is easy, just make the installation of the new one before moving day and the termination of the old service after moving day. If you are keeping the same phone number, ask about "Duplicate Service". This means that you will have the SAME phone number in both places for a few days. The last I knew, it was still available and there was not even an extra charge for this.
Don't be surprised if the telephone representative tries to convince you to upgrade your telephone service. They are paid on commission and you may mean more income to them if you will take more service (at more expense to you).
The phone company may ask for the information about your new phone:
- The Jack code (is probably RJ-11-C),
- The FCC Registration number (on the bottom of the phone) and
- The Ringer Equivalence Number (also on the bottom of the phone).
Also consider some of the less expensive access types (such as Basic Budget). But be sure to set all of this up at one time. If you change your mind later, more than likely, there will be another service charge to do it over.
Start Serious Packing
Pack up everything you can live without for a while
When all of the above planning is done or at least in motion, you can start serious packing using the various guidelines in the preceding sections. As stated above, keep like things together, pack things which are fragile or breakable in lots of packing paper, mark contents, number and target room on the outside of each box and keep track of everything in your notebook as you pack it.
Clear out part of one room to be used as a queue for packed boxes. This may be part of an unused room, a corner of your bedroom, etc. As you get more and more packed, you'll find that you need 2 or 3 or 4 of these areas.
Now is the time to sort out and clean out your storage bin, if you have one. Don't forget about it until the last vehicle is loaded. That won't work. If there are big things, get them on the first loads so they will be sure to get moved. Don't forget the outdoor furniture, the barbeque grill, the lawn mower, the snow shovel and all of that sort of stuff.
During this period, you should pack up everything except what you will need for the day or 2 on each side of moving day. Leave the things that you use every day or for which there is no substitute to be packed on the morning of Moving Day itself.
Moving Day Is Here
At last the BIG DAY (or evening) is here. You should get as much sleep as you can the night before and get up early to pack up all the last minute things. As people start arriving for the moving party, have the first people help you pack up remaining things, have the next people start queuing things to the staging area and as you get to 5 or 6 people, hopefully the first moving vehicle will have arrived and can start to be loaded. If things need to be disconnected (like the washer and dryer) now is the time to get someone working on it.
If you are moving rugs, tell people so they can get moved during the first few loads. There is nothing worse than having to move a whole bunch of stuff so you can get the rug down. Also have identified or segregated any type of "problem" items that are large, heavy, bulky, fragile or the like. Bicycles don't pack well, large plants, big bookcases, aquariums and all of this sort of thing should go into a vehicle first and then pack small things around it. This becomes hard to do if all the difficult things are left to last.
You can stay at the old place or the new place, whichever you are more comfortable with. If there are lots of things yet to be done at the old place or there are lots of things which have to stay, you might want to stay and "direct traffic" there. If things at the old place are reasonably done, you might (again) "direct traffic" at the new place to answer questions about what room you really want things in. You should be there when major furniture is placed in a room just so you won't have to move it again later. What is really helpful, if you have the time to prepare it ahead of time, is a map of each room showing where each piece of furniture should be placed.
Please don't leave so many of all of these decisions and planning steps until the last minute or everything being moved will have to pass by you for a decision of room or placement or the like. One of two things will happen, neither of which is necessary. The first is the move will take forever. The second is that stuff will be piled all over everywhere, you will have no idea of where to look for anything and will have to move it again later.
During the move on Moving Day, keep in touch with the other place (be it either old or new) by land line or cell phone. If more people are needed in one place or the other, ask someone to go on the next trip in that direction. As things seem to be getting finished up, tell drivers to stay at the new place and get that pre-assigned person to go pick up that HOT pizza so the party can start. Who said moving day couldn’t be fun?
After the Moving Party
Those first few hours are always a pain. You have a headache and can't find the aspirin or you can't read something because you can't find your glasses or you need to call someone and you can't find the phone book. Somehow, you'll get over all of that and find, open and unpack the boxes that you need to function. (You might want to place an asterisk next to these boxes in your notebook to help reduce this problem, or better yet, use some sort of indicator on the box itself or have important boxes go into a separate room).
To help you get curtains in the windows, pictures on the walls, etc., you may want to save out a set of tools and fasteners to get you going. This tool box might include the following:
- Adjustable wrench
- Nails of various sizes
- Assortment of screws and wall hanging fixtures
- Gray duct tape (sticks anything to anything)
After you are out of the old place, go back and clean it using all the cleaning materials which were (hopefully) correctly left behind. Then check around the old place for items left in secret corners or hanging on the walls or around the windows, behind the stove, refrigerator or furnace. Be sure to collect up all your cleaning stuff and move it to your new castle.
Moving List Notebook Summary
Let me emphasize once more the importance of having all of your moving information stored in one notebook or on a clipboard. The types of things to be recorded here include the following:
- One page for utility arrangements
- One page of phone numbers and addresses you may need
- One page for moving party arrangements including list of names
- One or more pages of people to notify of address change
- Multiple pages of box numbers and contents
Good Luck on your move. It still may not be a picnic but at least maybe it may not be quite such a disaster. If you can add any hints to this list, please let me know so this can be updated for someone else's move.
Please email suggested changes or other comments to email@example.com
Originally written in the late 80s or early 90s
Last serious update, Sep 99
Reformatted to Microsoft Publisher, Jul 05
Reformatted to www.tomdef.com, May 10