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A Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Moving


Take some of the hassle out of moving - whether you are packing the household
to go across country or across town

Household moving can be a horrific event for all concerned, even the family pet, without adequate planning and advance preparation. Whether you are moving your belongings with a rental truck and dolly or hiring a professional company, planning is key. That means no last-minute decisions about which toys to keep or what box will hold the last few pots and pans.

If you begin planning a move a few weeks in advance, it will not seem as daunting as the days and hours wind down much too quickly to the big day.

Begin with a planning calendar. At least three weeks prior to moving day develop a log/checklist. This timeframe and list will provide you with ample time to complete each task and reduce the stress of the unknown.

List each utility by name and set a date to call to schedule cutoff (and to turn on at the other end). Don't forget internet service. Make sure you will have the necessary utilities on the day of your move. Have destination utilities turned on at least two days before you arrive. If you are out of town, have a friend or the real estate agent verify if they are in operation.

Your checklist should be set up something like this:

3Weeks before the move:
-Decide size and type of rental equipment needed; i.e., truck size, whether you will need an appliance dolly, furniture pads, and a tow dolly or trailer for hauling an automobile.
-Obtain quotes from truck rental agencies.
-Begin collecting boxes (break down until needed). Moving boxes are expensive; purchase only those you need for odd or extra-large sizes. Ask friends to bring their extras (from home shipments or equipment purchases). Ask at your favorite small stores if you can have their emptied merchandise boxes. If you live near a shopping center or grocery store, you can also collect a few sturdy boxes near the trash bins. (OK, to avoid embarrassment - go early in the morning.)
-Begin saving newspapers for packing. Again, ask friends to bring their old papers.
-Start packing. Purchase packing tape and a dispenser - they will come in handy for more than just closing boxes. You'll need something out of a box, probably more than once. Each box opened has to be re-sealed.
-Label each box. Mark it clearly with contents and destination room; do not mix items from various rooms. You will save a massive amount of time on the other end if boxes are 1) labeled and 2) intended for unpacking in one room. Labeling means helpers do not have to ask where each box goes and if you need something in a hurry, you'll know exactly where to locate it.
-Dispose of all flammable items, including paint. If it is flammable, don't move it.
-Pack books and magazines. Use small boxes to reduce weight - keep each box under 30 pounds-40 pounds.
-Clean ashes and grease out of grills/smokers. Secure the racks and lids with cable ties.

Two weeks before the move:
-Sort through unused items and keepsakes; discard those never used items through a garage sale, deliver to landfill, or to "friends." If you are not sure you'll need it - don't move it!
-Schedule mail forwarding and newspaper stoppage.
- Contract and schedule rental equipment. (Make sure the rental agency has guaranteed availability.)
-If possible, begin taking your pets for a visit to their new home. Make sure you have their vet records handy.
-Clear closets and pack all items that will not be used prior to the move date. Do not include items such as towels, blankets, pillows, throw rugs as these will be required for packing art, mirrors, and other breakable items.
-Drain water from garden hoses, roll tightly, and tie off with wire or tie wraps.
-Continue packing; again, all but the necessities at this point can probably go into boxes. Label each box. For boxes with multiple items, make a handwritten list and tape it to the outside of the box.

The week before the move:
-If possible, scale your new residence for furniture placement. Be sure to include storage requirements.
-Check attic and other "out of mind and sight" places for stored-and-forgotten articles.
-Finish all packing, except for clothes and necessities. Keep a few kitchen/food items separated for easy access in the new house. These will go in the car and not in the rental truck.
-Attack the garage. Prepare lawnmowers and edgers by draining oil and gas, chainsaws, etc.
-After a final yard cleaning, fold cardboard over the ends of shovels, hoes, rakes, etc., and secure with packing tape
-Try to do as much deep cleaning as possible; i.e., ranges, stovetops, cabinet interiors. It will be much easier now that most items are boxed. Close as the cleaned areas as you can.

The day before the move:
-Clean refrigerator and air dry (if electric is to be turned off for a few days). Fill a plastic bag with charcoal briquettes and leave the bag opened in the fridge.
-Unplug all electrical cords, roll them, and tape or use tie wraps.
-If this is a do-it-yourself move, try to have the rental truck at the house by mid-afternoon to begin loading. You may be sleeping on the floor (or leave the mattresses for last), but you will also be fresher in the morning.

If you have driven all day, plan to unload in the morning after a night's rest, if possible. Unloading after dark or following a long drive can lead to accidents and shortened tempers.

These checklist tips should help you build your own log. Timeframes will vary with family size and needs. You can still expect some last-minute flurries, but with a detailed schedule, those flurries may not turn into disasters.

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