Planning Your Move
There is no way to sugarcoat this: Moving isn’t fun. It isn’t fun if you’re doing it yourself. It’s not even fun if you’re hiring a moving company. Moving is when you box up your entire life and put it on a truck, and everything else stays behind – friends, family, your kid’s school, your favorite restaurants and shopping.
But moving also doesn’t need to be a hardship or a disaster. There are new friends to make, new schools to attend, new restaurants to discover and new places to shop.
A little planning is the key, so let’s go over a few things.
For many people anticipating a move, the decision of whether to hire a mover or move themselves is an easy one. The cost could be out of the question for some and for others, a do-it-yourself move, let alone even doing their own packing, is simply out of the questions. But if you’re at that point where you might consider hiring a mover, there are some important things to consider. Ask your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional to recommend a moving company.
The cost of a move is based on distance, type of furniture, day of the week or month and access. If you are moving out of state, have lots of huge antiques, live on the fourth floor of a “walk-up” and can only move on Labor Day weekend, plan on paying top dollar and then some.
What’s going to move?
Before you start talking seriously with movers, think about the job you’ll be asking them to do. Everything in your current dwelling needs to find its way into one of three separate categories:
- Things to be sold at a garage sale or thrown out
- Things that the movers will move
- Things you will move yourself
Once you settle on what the movers will handle, it’s time to reach out to potential moving companies.
Call at least three moving companies to come to your home and provide you with moving estimates. The estimates are generally not binding, but some movers will give binding estimates guaranteed to be your final cost. The guaranteed estimate may actually be higher than a non-guaranteed estimate, but there won’t be any surprises if your move ends up taking longer than anticipated.
Packing materials can add quite a bit to the cost of moving. Whether the movers are doing your packing or you are doing it yourself, try to get used boxes from the moving company — they should cost you about half as much as new.
Hire Reputable Movers
In addition to the estimates, consider the reputation of the mover. The lowest bid is not always the best choice. Wouldn’t you rather pay more and hire a reputable company that will stand behind their service? Check with local consumer protection groups if you’re making a short move. If you’re making a longer move, contact the Interstate Commerce Commission. That agency can provide a summary of the most recent performance reports of the largest moving companies.
If you’re moving to another state, the ICC requires the moving company to give you a document entitled “Summary of Information for Shippers of Household Goods.” It details your rights and how to protect them. If you’re moving within the state, check with the state attorney general for any regulations affecting the move.
Even when you use a professional mover, there are ways to cut expenses. If possible, avoid the peak summer season. Minimize accessory charges — hooking up appliances and moving heavy furniture up more than one flight of stairs. Also, do as much of the packing as you can, but leave expensive and fragile items to the movers (for insurance reasons).
If you pack your possessions and move in a rented truck, your moving bill will be a fraction of the cost. You’ll also increase the amount of work and worry for yourself.
Insuring your property for a move can be a tricky decision. If and when you get estimates from professional movers, ask them what their “valuation liability” is.
Valuation is not insurance. Valuation is the limit of their liability for your goods. For instance, their contract may place their liability at no more than $25,000. It will be written into the contract. Also, valuation only covers the value of your possessions, not necessarily their replacement cost. In other words, you could receive the cost of an old chair minus depreciation – not the price to replace it.
Make Sure Your Move is Covered
Movers in most states are prohibited by law from selling insurance. To get insurance, you have to go to an insurance company and, as always, be sure to have any policy explained before signing anything. Feel free to ask your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional for a recommendation on an insurance company.
For instance, insurers may cover your possessions for only 30 to 60 cents per pound, per item. And don’t forget, there will be a deductible that you will pay before the insurance coverage kicks in. Like other insurance, the higher the deductible, the lower cost – and the lower the deductible, the higher the policy cost.
Also, be sure to check your homeowner insurance policy to see what it covers. Often, it will specifically cover any damage to your goods while they are in your home (including while the movers are packing your things) but may not cover your possessions once they are in transit. Check the policy or call your insurance agent.
Do you think your possessions will spend any time in storage? If so, advise your insurance agent of that. Liabilities and how much you’ll be compensated shift depending on where your possessions are. What’s covered while it’s on a truck may not be covered while it’s in storage. Ask questions!
Before You Buy
Before you sign off on any coverage plan, read the fine print, and remember:
- Total loss insurance pays off only if all your goods are 100 percent damaged or lost, not if individual items are damaged.
- Perils insurance only pays off if specific things happen to your goods, like theft or fire.
- Look for references to “Household Goods Value Inventory” in the fine print. Depending on the coverage, you may need to list every individual thing going on the truck and give it a value.
Finally, save your receipts and the full names of the people you talk to. Your receipts will be needed for your taxes. Names will be needed if there are problems. If you need to complain, you want to be able to say, “John Doe at your company specifically told me this is what your company would do.”
A garage sale is one of the great ways to cut down on volume of items that have to be moved. Plus, they can put a few extra dollars in your pocket and at the same time give you a chance to start saying goodbye to your neighbors.
Old clothes, toys, furniture and many other items can be sold in garage sales and anything that doesn’t sell can be donated to a local charity. (But let’s face it, a lot of stuff that was once – but no longer – important to you may just have to be thrown out.)
Here are a few tips for holding a successful garage sale.
Preparation is Everything
Successful garage sales are not held spur of the moment. You’ll need time to organize, price and perhaps clean up the items you hope to sell. You should select a sale date well in advance, at least two to three weeks. Weekends and Friday afternoons are popular garage sale dates, but check the calendar to ensure your planned date doesn’t conflict with a holiday, or special event in your community.
If you know your neighbors well or have relatives nearby, you may wish to hold a joint sale with them. More sale items on display will attract more “drive by” customers to stop and shop.
Pricing Your Items
First-time garage sale holders will often overprice their goods, for sentimental reasons, and less frequently, under price items that may be collectable. Before you set your prices, you should visit other garage sales to get a feel for prices (but try to resist buying anything for yourself). Be realistic when pricing your items. You may also wish to review pricing on Internet auction sites such as eBay if you have an item that seems rare or collectable.
After setting your prices, you should purchase self-adhesive or tie-on tags at an office supply store and affix a tag to each item with the price clearly displayed. Ensure that the tags are firmly attached. If you are holding a joint garage sale, remember keep a log of items sold or mark price tags with seller’s initials to ensure you fairly split the proceeds of the sale.
Garage sales tend to bring out the haggler in everyone, even the seller. Don’t be offended if you find buyers hoping to bargain with you – its can be an enjoyable part of the sale. Hold firm if you’re confident about selling your goods, but be prepared to come down in price if you really want to get rid of an item, especially as your sale comes to a close.
Advertise for Success
Even on busy streets, you can’t count on a driveway full of furniture and sales table to get traffic to stop. Ask your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional about the availability of attractive, functional garage sale signs, or buy a few from a local hardware store.
If local ordinances allow, you should put signs at busy corners to guide shoppers to your sale. When posting the signs, be sure to write the date, hours and address in the largest letters the sign can handle – if it can’t be read in a few seconds, many drivers will miss it.
Grocery stores, convenience stores, Laundromats and other locations often allow shoppers to post garage sale notices, as well as schools and community centers. In some communities, sites like Craigslist.org can be a good, free source for garage sale advertising.
If you’re selling a large number of items and hope for large proceeds, you may wish to buy advertising in a local paper. Be sure to compare the cost of the advertising with the likely sales income before you invest in an ad.
Remember, there are strangers – and hopefully lots of them – who are going to be coming to your house. Do not allow strangers to go inside your house to use the bathroom, use the telephone or get a drink of water. If your children have their friends over, keep them outside as well. Make sure you have your keys and lock the doors of your house while you’re outside. You and your spouse or close friend should both be tending to the sale at all times. Keep a well charged cell phone in your pocket so you can call out if case of an emergency.
Success on Sale Day
In the days before your sale, keep an eye on the weather forecast, and if absolutely necessary, reschedule it. On the day of your sale, ensure all your signs are up, and park your own vehicles far from your driveway to allow parking for shoppers.
It’s usually a good practice to have a cash-only policy, unless the buyer of particular item is someone you know. If you are only accepting cash, you should note this prominently near the garage sale sign in front of your house, and again near your sale items.
Depending upon the number of items you have for sale and your pricing, you’ll need a varying amount of change. Ensure you have a good supply of $1, $5, $10, and perhaps $20 bills. While $50 in change should be enough, you may wish to have more on hand.
Keep a close eye on your money, and store it in a firm box or banker’s envelope. Ideally, two persons should supervise the sale – one to answer questions and deal with shoppers, and one to handle the money. Don’t forget that you’ll need to take breaks from time to time, and ensure that you have a place to sit down and rest.
If you’ve already done everything you can to cut the number of items you’ll need to move by giving to friends and family and holding a garage sale, and you still have leftover items, there basically two options remaining. If they have value, you can give them to charity; if they don’t have value, they need to go to the local recycling center.
If you’re not sure of which charities operate in your area, check the Yellow Pages listings for “Charities”, “Churches,” “Associations,” “Thrift Stores”, “Social and Human Services” or other categories. Internet searches may also turn up good organizations. Ask your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional for their recommendation.
Pickup and Drop-off
Many charities have pickup services for large items, but in some cases they may ask that you bring the items in yourself. Be sure of their pickup policies, and if you can’t accommodate each other’s needs, look elsewhere.
Charities often Accept Food
Don’t forget to clean out your kitchen. Moving foodstuffs can be a major chore, especially when going cross country.
- Canned goods that won’t make the move can be donated.
- Unopened dry goods like boxes of spaghetti will be welcomed.
- In some cases, cleaning supplies will be accepted
Alternatives to Charities
In addition to charities, local theater groups, and college and high school drama departments may be interested in accepting vintage clothing for their costumes department, or furniture and other decorative items for their sets.
Preschools and daycare centers may be able to accept toys and children’s furniture, depending upon their condition. In every case, ensure all items are clean and in good condition before you donate them. Overly worn or dirty material may be discarded by the charity.
Tax Credits for Donations
If you’d like to get tax credit for the donations, you should get a receipt from the charity during drop-off or pickup. Once you get the receipt, itemize the items you gave to charity, list them with their fair market value, and keep it with the receipt. As the overall value of your donation rises, you may need to provide additional documentation to claim tax credit. For more information on this topic, please review IRS Publication 78 on charitable giving.
On moving day, attitude is everything – and your attitude is strictly business. Think of yourself as the CEO of this operation.
Before the moving truck arrives, try to make sure your children are somewhere else – a friend or relative’s home. Also, the dog, the cat, the goldfish, all these things should be out of the way. Have the caregiver bring the kids back home just prior to the truck leaving so the kids can see where their belongings are going.
When the truck does arrive, find out who is in charge of the move. It’s usually going to be the driver. Get his or her name. For the rest of the day, your communications should be with whoever is in charge, for him or her to relay to the workers.
Likewise, you should advise him or her that all questions about what to load and when to load it should go through you. Here is a check list that should help the day go smoother:
Task One: Mark and Set Aside Items You Don’t Want Loaded
Tell the driver what not to load as you conduct your preload walkthrough. Make sure the paperwork pertaining to the move doesn’t get packed and shipped with your household goods.
Task Two: Pack Special Items for the Kids
Have the kids pack a box of their “special” items; things that they’ll want to have as soon as you arrive at your destination. Make sure the driver knows this box needs to be unloaded first.
Task Three: Get Rid of Trash and Flammable Items
Eliminate as much trash as you can before moving day. Last-minute garbage will inevitably build up the day prior to and the day of loading. Try making a deal with a neighbor to use their trash container.
The crew will not load anything considered flammable. Understand what these items are so that you are not stuck with trying to get rid of them on moving day. If you are uncertain what items can’t be loaded, ask your estimator for a list. Because movers can’t transport most household cleaners, they will be available for you to use throughout the day. Also remember to remove items from inaccessible areas like crawl spaces or attics.
Task Four: Reserve a Parking Space for the Moving Truck
If you live in a congested area, ask friends to park their vehicles together in a space close to your home and do not move them until the truck arrives. The closer the truck can get to your house, the better your chances are of not incurring an additional charge.
Task Five: Clear Walkways
Make it safe and easy for your movers to get in and out of your house by removing all obstructions.
- Move potted plants and planters from front porch, walkways and driveways.
- Remove all door and floor mats.Remove all rugs.
- The crew will protect the floors with a specially designed floor covering that does not slip.
- Remove low hanging items such as wind chimes or hanging plants.
- Disconnect the spring on the screen door so that it stays open during the loading process.If you had the moving company pack for you, work with them to keep walkways clear for the driver and crew.
Task Six: Point Out Special Items
Set these items aside the day before the move. When the mover arrives, point out items that are most special to you during the walkthrough. All your items will be handled professionally but take a moment to show them which ones need the most special care. Also, point out the boxes you would like to have unloaded first at your home. These boxes may include kitchen and bathroom items, or your children’s toys.
Task Seven: Take Care of Your Driver and Crew Members
Consider having coffee and cold, non-alcoholic drinks available during the day. Doughnuts are a good mid-morning treat, and a pizza for lunch is always appreciated.
- Advise the driver and crew where to locate the drinks and food so that they do not have to ask each time.
- Advise the driver and crew which restroom you want them to use.
Task Eight: Decide on Tipping
Should you? It is completely up to you. Many individuals do tip the driver and let him disperse the portion to the crew that they think is appropriate. Completely up to you.
Task Nine: Before the Driver Leaves …
Make sure you understand all the paperwork before the driver departs for your new home. If there is something that is confusing to you, ask your driver to explain it before you sign it.
Provide the driver with your destination contact information. Take down any information the driver can provide such as his cell phone, pager and tracking information. Ask the driver if your shipment is the last he/she will be loading. Find out when the last shipment goes onto the trailer. This will give you an indication as to when they will be departing for your new home. Ask the driver about his/her plans for delivering your items. Find out as many details as you can prior to the driver leaving your residence.
The driver may give you a delivery date and time, but keep in mind it is really only an estimate. Many factors can change the schedule, so remain flexible. Ask the driver to call you with changes so that you can adjust your plans accordingly. If you have a delivery spread (a sequence of two or more days that your shipment can be delivered on and still be considered on time) understand that you can and may be delivered on any one of those days.
Take one last sweep of the house before the driver leaves. Look through all closets, shelves, in the garage, attic, crawl space, storage unit, under the stairs, on the walls and any place else things may be hiding. Open all appliances staying behind, cupboards, cabinets, closets one room at a time. Once you have verified everything is packed up, close the door to that room. You do not want to find out, after the driver has left, that something was left behind.
A Last Few Practical Tips for Moving Day Include:
- Mark boxes to identify in what rooms they’re to be unloaded. This helps the movers be more efficient, and helps you know which boxes to unpack first.
- Pull out a few items upon your arrival at the new destination to provide instant familiarity. Label these boxes “Last in/First out.”
- Put children’s rooms in order right away to make them feel at home the first night.
- Prepare an easy-to-serve recipe like chili, soup or a casserole ahead. Then take a break from moving for a pleasant meal.Create a “kit” of things you may need when you get to your new home. You may want to include toiletries, baby supplies, pre moistened wipes, flashlight, and a few games to keep the children entertained while unpacking.
If you’ve ever thought about organizing those closets and getting rid of items that just take up space, the time to do it is now. Discuss with your family and Real Living Sales Professional how your needs have changed over the years and how your new home might accommodate them.
Look at Your Furnishings Objectively
- Sell, donate or throw away furnishings you no longer use or enjoy. Don’t move them.
- Decide where you’ll arrange furnishings in your new home by creating your own floor plan. Using graph paper, draw each room to scale, with 1 inch equaling 1 foot of space. Indicate the location of doors, windows, built-ins and electrical outlets. If you’re buying a newly constructed home, your builder may be able to provide a floor plan.
- Next, measure the size and shape of your major furniture pieces and draw them to scale.
- Cut the shapes from graph paper and arrange the pieces in different ways until you discover a floor plan you like.
- Consider using furnishings in different rooms of the new house. A favorite living room chair may work better in the new bedroom; a dining room cabinet may now look at home in the den.
- If space is at a premium, turn some rooms into multipurpose areas. For instance, in a living/dining room, define the areas by using a hutch or other large piece of furniture as a divider. A sofa bed turns a den into a guest room.
- Position living room furniture so six or more guests are within easy listening distance of each other. In the dining room, allow room around the table so guests may be seated and served with ease.
- Find a focal point in each room — something that draws your eye to it. Focal points are architectural, such as fireplaces, or decorative, such as wall hangings or window treatments. Accentuate your focal point with your furniture arrangement.
Group for Impact
Focus attention in a room with a handsome grouping of furniture. This room showcases a formal arrangement of furniture with space for a piano and two seating areas. Zones are defined by area rugs which can be placed on hard surface floors or over existing carpet.
Direct the Traffic Flow
A sofa or other large piece of furniture can become an effective barricade which guides people through a room in a desired pattern. This sofa was positioned to create a passageway behind it, as well as a cozy seating area in front of the fireplace.
Dare to be Different
A free-and-easy furniture arrangement lends a friendly atmosphere. With the conversation area arranged on a diagonal, attention is directed into the room. Folding screens shut off the bedroom alcove for nighttime privacy.
Your new home is a book of blank pages and it’s up to you to fill them – or at least decorate them. This can be fun, and should be.
Here’s How to Approach Decorating Projects:
- Before you move, if you know you will be redecorating, talk with painters, carpenters and craftspeople to get ballpark estimates so that you can budget and prioritize your projects appropriately.
- Look for ways to freshen the windows, walls and floors of your new home before investing a lot of time or money — particularly if you’re not ready to make a long-term decorating commitment.
- Be prepared to change window treatments that won’t fit the dimensions or color scheme of your new home. If the fabric or color is part of an overall room decor, look for ways to adapt your current treatments. Add inexpensive, ready-made sheers in a coordinating color or in crisp white. Shutters, woven shades, or mini-blinds help create new effects. Add tiebacks, decorative trim, or ribbon to complete a new look.
- Change the curtain or drapery hardware for a new image. Wooden rods can be painted and brass and chrome rods add accent.
- Consider the exposure of each window. Those that receive excessive sunlight may require extra coverage.
Try these Tips to Add New Looks to your Walls
There’s nothing like paint for a fast and inexpensive pick-me-up for walls. Paint can be an important bridge and help tie in the colors of your upholstery fabric or a bedspread.
- Paint one wall a different color for a dramatic effect. Or, paint the ceiling and/or molding a color that contrasts with the walls.
- Try texture paint, which resembles a stucco treatment, to add visual and tactile interest to a room. It’s perfect for hiding uneven wall surfaces, hairline cracks and small holes.
- Try “stippling,” a method of applying paint with a sponge in small points to achieve a decorative look. Consider hand stenciling a decorative border, or design a free-spirited wall graphic for a child’s room.
- Instead of painting, apply a wallpaper to add pattern, texture and color to a room.
Floor treatments have become increasingly important in the realm of decorating. Hard-surfaced floors are popular, while a myriad styles of carpeting make it a choice in almost any room. For a fresh look, add an area rug. Area rugs are stunning against hardwood floors and can give a rich, plush feel when placed over existing carpeting.
Get Advice, and Think Twice
Even if you’ve moved into a home that you think is a decorator’s disaster, don’t dive in right away.
- Don’t be too anxious to make final decorating decisions. Live in your home at least a few weeks to help you make sure furniture will go and what color the walls should be.
- Get recommendation from your Real Living Professional about local craftsmen.
- Contact those craftsmen, but be sure to get references – and call them.
As hard as moving is on adults, it is worse on children. Depending on their ages, you can expect everything from tantrums to the silent treatment. Even assurances that they’ll be able to keep up with friends via e-mail, Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter probably won’t make them feel any better.
While you can involve your children in various facets of the move, in the end, moving is an adult decision. But here are some tips to help make things easier.
Talk about Moving
Explain why and when you’re moving. If possible, let the kids go along on house hunting trips and to Open Houses. If they have questions for your First Call, Realtors Sales Professional, let them ask – children are more perceptive than you may think. Take them for a visit to their new school. Show them playgrounds, parks and recreational activities. If you can’t take the kids along, photos and video of where they’ll live and play can be an excellent substitute.
If you show happiness about moving, your kids will mirror your mood. Keep a positive attitude, but be prepared to accept their negative reactions. Listen to children’s fears and concerns, and share your own. Let them know their feelings are normal. Reassure them by reading age-appropriate books on moving.
Let the Kids pack their stuff and plan their new room
To small children, their possessions are their world. Reassure them that their possessions will move along with them. Have the children pack as much as possible. Give them special boxes and labels, and explain to them that all the things they packed will be in their new room when the family arrives. Talk about where they’ll put their things, and let them take part in decorating their room.
Get ready for Goodbye
Help your children prepare for the move by making a memory book. (Or, let them shoot their own video.) Include pictures of their old house, friends and favorite places. Write down addresses and phone numbers of friends. Plan a going-away party and hand out cards with your new address. If visits are possible, let your children know they’ll be able to visit their old friends.
Settle Comfortably in Your New Home
Help your kids feel at home before they feel homesick. Set up their rooms right away. Try to keep schedules as normal as possible, and be there to talk at mealtimes and bedtime. Call neighbors to find other children the same age. Sign up for one or two activities that will interest your children and help them meet new friends. Give lots of encouragement when kids tell you about their school experiences. Remember to set aside family time.
Easing New School Jitters
Find out as much as you can about the school before you move. Be informed about special needs, gifted programs, magnet school programs, and other school opportunities.
- Register before school starts so you can clear up any curriculum problems.
- If you move during the school year, check frequently with teachers to make sure your kids are adjusting well and are in the appropriate grade levels.
- For good social adjustment, ask teachers about “buddy” programs. Also, try to find neighborhood classmates your children can talk to about their new school.
Think Long Term
Your kids will eventually forgive you for moving. Remember that behavioral changes will likely disappear as children adapt to their new environment. Don’t be afraid to get professional help, however, if you feel it’s necessary. The stress of moving isn’t easy for parents, but with patience and enthusiasm, you’ll be rewarded with children who feel safe, happy and secure in their new home.
Moving doesn’t have to be a hardship, or a disaster, and your First Call, Realtors Professional can help all along the way – not just from the house you’re leaving, but the home you’re going to!