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5 steps for the ultimate smooth move

December 12, 2012 Filed under: The Buzz

Yes the dreaded “move", the next step after purchasing the house of your dreams! We sat down with Paula Spooner of Transitions grand madam of “organization” and asked her to hand hold us through 5 important steps to achieving the ultimate smooth move:

As we all know, moving can be a very stressful event.  It is, according to those who study stress, to be Number 3 right after death & divorce.  Adding one of the top two to the move can be almost unbearable. 

When moving, the overwhelming questions become where to start, how to move, who can help.  Below are 5 steps to an organized, efficient move.  Whether upsizing to accommodate a growing family, downsizing when the family leaves the nest, retiring to assisted living or simply locating to a different home, there is an organized way to make your move.

1. Sell, donate or trash what you no longer use, want or is not appropriate for your next house.  The Number one rule in moving is do not move what no longer fits your lifestyle.  Moving what does not serve you anymore results in higher moving costs & possibly more storage than you will have in the future.  Besides, you are making a change.  Lighten your load!

Discarding what you no longer use entails cleaning out closets, drawers, storage rooms & garages.  It means making the hard decisions to let go of what worked for you in the past but no longer serves a function in your future.  If you have not used an item in a year, let it go.  Although difficult to do, consider the following: a) it is taking up space needed for what you want now; b) although you may have paid a lot of money for it & you may not recoup what you feel is a fair amount for it, you have received years of use & enjoyment from the item(s); c) ask your children what they want - not what you want to them to have; d) keep a limited/representative amount of sentimental items.

Consider hiring a professional organizer or enlist a friend who can help you with this sorting process.  You will need an objective person who can keep you on track.  Deciding what is going & what is staying is not an easy process but is absolutely essential in making your move the best it can be for your family & you.

Start this sorting process well before the move.  It will take time.  Try doing one area, perhaps one closet or set of drawers at a time.  Get started & set yourself a deadline.  Perhaps putting your house on the market or making the move itself will give you your deadline but if not, commit the time & energy to a project that will be well worth it & very satisfying in the end.

2. How to determine whether to sell, donate or trash.  Some things are obviously donation or trash.  If you think you have items that are sellable, seek out advice from auction houses & dealers.  They are happy to give you a free valuation in hopes that anything of value they will be able to sell or consign. 

If you are going to consign items consider if the time & effort is worth the money received.  Because of the present economy, the market is flooded with contemporary furniture & clothing.  Consignment shops usually discount your items after the first month & will eventually donate them for you if they do not sell.  Ask them for their policies before deciding whether taking a tax write-off is better suited to your needs than the money.  Moving is a busy time.  Think about where you are putting your priorities/efforts.

3. Research the right mover for you.  There are an unlimited amount of movers out there but finding a reliable, careful one is challenging.  Start by getting referrals from family, friends  & your real estate agent.  Three bids from movers will give you an idea of what the current cost of movers is.  Do not base your choice strictly on price.  Your furnishings are valuable to you.  Damage to them as well as to the homes you are moving out of & into is not only costly but can be extremely distressing.

Make sure you feel comfortable with your movers.  Ask all questions that concern you, including insurance coverage.  Talk to your homeowners’ insurance agent to make sure you are fully covered.  Inquire about no-parking permits for moving trucks.  There is a charge for these but are absolutely essential in making access efficient & safe.  Ask, too, for the mover’s referrals & take the time to call them.  If you are storing with a mover, ask what his per vault per month fee is & what the fee is to have access to them if needed.

4. Preparing for the movers.  There are two important things to consider when preparing for the movers: a) gather like things alike; example: gather all framed photos together.  That way when you are at your new home you know what is in a box & can decide when you are ready to unpack it; b) mark individual or grouped items with a label of WHERE YOU WANT THEM TO GO IN THE NEW HOME.  Make these labels easy to read & visible.  If not told differently, movers will mark the box/furniture with the room things came from, not where you want the items to go, often making things unorganized & confusing on the other end. 

Insist that the movers mark the boxes ON THE SIDE.  When packed boxes are stacked, you will have no idea what is in them as movers usually mark boxes on the top of the box.  Make this very clear to the movers when you are interviewing them that you will have specific instructions for your move & ask that can you be assured that your instructions can be followed.

Finally, using an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, label the room name on the doorframe of each room in both the house from which you are moving & the one into which you are moving: Johnny’s room, laundry room, etc.  Instruct the movers if individual items within each room are not marked otherwise by you, to mark the boxes & the wrapped furniture with that room’s name on it.  This will make sure the boxes/furniture end up in the correct room on the other end, thus avoiding moving things twice, or worse yet, realizing after the movers leave that things have been placed in the incorrect room(s).

5. What to do on moving day.  If you have animals, arrange for them to be safely out of the way or, better yet, not home the day of the move.  No one needs the distress of a lost pet during a move!  Have enough people during the move to direct & supervise the movers.

Supply sufficient water for the movers.  Consider providing food.  The food may not be necessary, but both water & food go a long way to ensure that hydrated, well-fed movers will be able to take the best care of your valuable furnishings.  It also reduces the time the movers are away from the move getting food, thus increasing your chances of a shorter day of moving.

Moving is considered a service industry.  Therefore, tipping is appropriate.  The amount of the tip can be based on per man or a percentage of the cost of the move.  The longer, more difficult the move, the higher amount of tip should be given.  The tip should be given to the foreman of the job so that he can distribute to the men what their fair share is based on performance & time spent on the move.

As said before, moving can simply be overwhelming.  Consider hiring a professional moving organizer who can assist with the sorting & distribution of unwanted items, refer you to a mover, organize before the movers arrive & be onsite to supervise the day(s) of the pack & move.  It may be, for you, money well spent.  A complete-service organizer should have all the resources you need for your move including referrals to auction houses, dealers & trash disposal.  This person should also be able to provide you an inventory system for all items you put into storage as storage can become a “black hole” that will swallow up forgotten furnishings - & money! 

Remember that a professional can bring an objective, unemotional element to what can be a chaotic & stressful time – a real “buddy” in a time of need.

There you have it – 5 steps to a successful move.  Organization is the key.  Simplifying what is moving will make the move & the unpack easier & quicker.  Being confident you have the right mover & being ready for moving day will ensure you will arrive in your new home with not only your possessions intact & in the right place but also with your sanity!

Paula Spooner

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