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From Start to Finish: A Full Guide of All You Need to Know When Moving House

Sarah PritzkerBySarah PritzkerMar. 12, 2020
From Start to Finish
If you are one of the estimated 32 million Americans who move house every year, it's important to set yourself up for moving success by preparing well in advance. Give yourself at least 2 months to get organized. While this seems like a long time, breaking up and spreading out the necessary steps will make the process easier and less stressful, so you can make the move with peace of mind.

Two Months to Moving Day

1. Know where you are going.

It seems self-evident, but the first step is to know where you are moving. Only around 15% of Americans who move house in any given year are leaving the state. If you are staying local, this simplifies the preparations. What you need to do for a move largely depends on why you are moving. For example, if you are pursuing a new job opportunity, make sure that your new digs are conveniently located for your commute - for example, near public transportation. If you have decided it’s time to leave the city and find a quiet neighborhood to start a family in, then take some time to research schools and make sure your home will be close to parks, your chosen school, and isn’t on a busy street.

2. Prepare your friends and family.

Moving is often stressful, and one major source of stress is leaving friends and family. Give your loved ones time to get used to the idea of you being away and prepare an epic going away party. This is also a good time to begin speaking to kids about moving. If you are a parent, there will likely be far more logistics involved with moving. For example, if you are moving outside of your child's current school zoning area, you'll need to register in a new school. While this can be a minor hassle, for a kid, this a life-changing decision. Give them ample time to get used to the idea of making new friends in a new school.

3. Decide if you’re hiring a moving company.

Choosing to move on your own or hiring a moving company will depend on how much stuff you have and how far you are moving. While renting a truck for local moves is cost-effective and easy, for farther moves, you may want to consider investing in a professional moving company. Once you've decided how you will be moving, you can start researching options with sites that also offer advice. Using a reliable moving company may be more expensive in the short term, but can save you time, hassle, and possibly damage to your property at the hands of less reputable movers. So, start digging around and asking your friends who they recommend before signing a contract.

One Month to Moving Day

1. Plan your budget.

Moving companies typically charge between $30 to $50 per hour per mover (including truck rental and gas). A small 1-2 bedroom apartment will likely need two movers for six hours, so the total cost of hiring a moving company will be between $360 to $600. For farther distances, this cost is understandably higher, with out of state moves costing $4500 on average. However, even if you’ve decided that you prefer hiring a moving company over moving on your own, there are still numerous expenses to consider. Planning a budget in advance will save you from nasty surprises later on and help you understand where you can cut costs. Some additional costs to factor in include:

  • Packing materials
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Specialty items (i.e., piano, jacuzzi, etc.)

2. Book your moving company or moving truck rental.

Once you’ve decided how you are moving, what your budget is, and have done a little research via online reviews, personal recommendations, and quote generator sites, you can choose your moving company or truck rental. Planning in advance will let you pick a cheaper time slot and give you ample opportunity to negotiate. On the other hand, if you have a specific day on which you want to move, then booking in advance will help ensure that your chosen moving company is available when you need them.

3. Start decluttering.

It's way too early to be fully packed (what will you wear??), but it's always a good time to start figuring out what you own and whether you need to move it with you. If it doesn' t spark joy, in the eternal words of Marie Kondo, don't pay to schlep it. This is particularly important if you're moving out of state. Long-distance moves are generally charged by weight, so the less you pack, the more you save. An added bonus: you'll be able to help someone in need with your good-condition cast-offs. Contact local organizations with free pick up to do good while saving time and money.

Two Weeks to Moving Day

1. Transfer your accounts.

Getting this done in time will make sure that when you move into your new home, you'll be able to turn on the lights and take a shower. If you don't, your first days will be bumpy. Contact utility providers and let them know you'll be moving and where to so that installation is planned ahead of time. Both private (like cable, phone, electricity, and internet) and public services (like water and trash) will need you to submit a change of address so that your bills go to the right place. Submit your new address to mail service providers to forward all of your mail until your accounts are changed over.

2. Start collecting packing materials.

If you are moving on your own or using a moving company but not paying for extra packing services, then this is the time to start hunting for cheap or free packing materials. Look for boxes at local grocery stores or retailers, collect newspapers, and look out for bargains on packing tape or foam peanuts for more delicate items. This is also a good time to confirm details with the moving company or truck rental company you have chosen.

3. Start packing.

Much of the contents of your old home can start getting boxed up once you have secured the boxes and the packing materials you need. If you've sprung for packing services, they will do it all for you, but if you're on a tighter budget, starting early with non-essential items will make the process simpler and less stressful than procrastinating. The closer you get to your moving day, the more rooms should be packed, labeled, and sealed for transit. Clear labeling by room will also make unpacking much easier.

One Week to Moving Day

1. Confirm moving details.

If you haven’t confirmed with the moving company or truck rental company, this is the time to do so. Moving on your own can be tiring, but enlisting friends or family ahead of time to help you get the truck loaded will ease the burden - it’ll also give one more opportunity to say goodbye if you are moving far away.

2.Confirm change of address and bills.

It’s a good idea to make sure any account changes have been executed as requested to ensure that you have the utilities you need when you get into your new home. If you’ve hired movers, this is also a good time to set aside some cash for tips on the day of. Budget around $5/hour per mover.

3. Clean up time

Finish up packing any non-essentials and prepare a bag for the first few days in your new home so that you aren’t digging through boxes for a toothbrush. Once you’re mostly packed, tidy up your old home. Renters may also need to paint their apartment upon leaving, so find out if you need to do this. If you can get into your new home before moving day, give it a once over as well so that you can unpack in a clean place. Check that any repairs are done and that basic things like lightbulbs and toilet paper are stocked, so you don’t have to go shopping as soon as you get through the door.

Moving Day

The big day has arrived, and since you have been preparing for weeks, there is likely little left to do. If you have hired movers, they will load up your packed and labeled boxes and meet you at your new home. Of course, if you decided on a full-service move, then the company will do all of the work for you (except for the sorting), so you won't need to pack, label, load, unload, or even unpack. Otherwise, make sure that when your belongings arrive at their new location, the boxes are unloaded directly into the rooms they are labeled for. This makes unpacking much easier and saves needless aggravation. You made it! Now, you can begin a new life in your new home, without stress or nasty surprises - order in dinner from your new favorite local eatery and put up your feet (you can start unpacking tomorrow).


Sarah PritzkerBySarah PritzkerMar. 12, 2020