During my move last weekend, I found myself saying, "Where did I put the ______," "Ugh, I still have to do ______," and, "Do I really need to take this with me?" I can't imagine that I'm the only one that this happens to, either. Moving is stressful, so I made a list of tips to make it easier.
Pre-move To-Do List
1. Make a Paper Trail. Get at least two file folder, one for your old place and one for the new. The file folder for the new apartment should contain any preliminary lease agreements, new utility contracts, change of address receipts, and confirmation numbers and receipts for new cable and internet hookups. As you get closer to moving, you'll add to this folder. Save any receipts for moving related expenses (packing tape, UHaul rental, etc). If you're relocating for work, these may be tax deductible. If you're renting, make sure you do a thorough walk-through of the new place and write down anything that's less than perfect. Make a copy for your files and turn one in to your management company. You don't want to lose your security over something you didn't do. In the file for your old place, keep receipts for returned cable equipment, utility disconnects, and receipts for professional cleaning services that your lease stipulates (we had to have the carpets professionally cleaned), so that you can prove you took the necessary steps to moving out. Keep all your paperwork (organized) and you should be able to settle any dispute that might arise.
2. Clean House! If it's still in the box from the last time you moved, haven't worn it in a year, or you just don't like it or use it, get rid of it! There's no use packing up things that you'll never unpack. You've heard the saying, "One man's trash is another man's treasure"? Donate unneeded and unwanted clothes to Goodwill. Check out Habitat for Humanity's website for Restore locations and donate furniture and household items there. Keep any receipts from donations - they're tax deductible (see #1).
Read your new lease or homeowners association agreement carefully to see if there are any prohibited items. My new apartment is on the third floor, and my new lease stipulates that only first floor apartments are allowed to have motorized workout equipment. I was able to sell my treadmill on Craigslist before the move. Not only did I score some extra cash for moving expenses, but I saved myself the trouble of lugging a treadmill up three flights of stairs only to have to move it out again. I also got rid of a mini-grill that wasn't allowed because my patio has PVC soffits that could melt.
3. Point A to Point B. Moving costs money. It's sad but true. Perhaps the expense of moving is a main contributor to the stress of moving. Before you move, make a budget. Plan for truck rentals, cleaning supplies, boxes, tape, meals for you and whoever is helping you, light bulbs, box cutters, tools, to name a few. This way, you'll know how much you should start setting aside, so that you don't find yourself sitting in a sea of boxes in your new home, flat broke, because there are things you will need to buy for your new place, too.
A note about moving trucks: UHaul is the cheapest. They charge a flat rate per day based on the size of the truck, about $.99 per mile driven, and require you to return the truck with a full tank of gas. Use GoogleMaps or another mapping site to plan out the shortest route from the UHaul pickup location to your old home, from there to your new home, and back to a UHaul drop off. Not only will you have a set of directions that you can copy for anyone who's helping you, it will help you avoid a costly wander around your new, and probably unfamiliar, neighborhood. It can also help you find the gas station closest to where you're going to be turning the truck in, so that you avoid the charge for a less-than-full gas tank (it's bad).
4. Necessary Items. Pack a Moving Box and Moving Suitcase. In the suitcase, pack enough close to get you through the move, plus a few. You will probably not have a fully stocked kitchen immediately upon arrival and your new base camp and will need to eat out, if for no other reason than to get away from the clutter. You won't want to go to dinner sweaty and in your moving outfit. Also, pack toiletries that you use daily, like face wash, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, and makeup. Include any daily prescriptions, such as birth control or blood pressure meds, and basic things like ibuprofen and PeptoBismol. The suitcase should have towels, your shower curtain and rings, and hair dryer. These are things that you will need and don't want to dig through a million boxes to find. Make sure you pack nail clippers and a nail file...you will break at least one nail during your move, I promise.
In the box: Both of your moving files (#1), cell phone chargers, address book (trust me), tools, first aid kit, toilet paper, hand soap, plastic cups and cutlery, paper plates, and paper towels. The goal of the suitcase an box is that you will be able to eat a meal, use the bathroom, take a shower, and have a clean change of clothes without completely unpacking. Make sure you have a few pens and a notebook to make shopping lists and to write down anything important. You'll be tired and don't want to forget anything. Keep an envelope of coupons for local home improvement stores and eateries, including pizza places. Having a pizza delivered on moving day is probably the easiest way to eat. That pizza guy that shows up at your new place with a hot, discounted meal is going to be the dreamiest guy you know for about 30 seconds. Note: You will probably be sweaty and disheveled so he probably won't want you to hug him. Resist the urge.
5. Parking. I know it sounds like a no brainer, but you want to know where the best place for the moving truck to park for ease of unloading. Know if your new apartment building has assigned parking, and if so, how many and which spots are yours. Ask if your new municipality allows parking on the streets and, if so, is overnight parking allowed? The last thing you want during a move is to have a vehicle ticketed, or worse, towed.