The Moving Process

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The Moving Process

Most of us are not familiar with the moving process, so when it is time to move there are a lot of uncertainties that can lead to stress and confusion. It's been said that moving is perhaps one of the most stressful endeavors you will deal with in your lifetime. Planning and preparation will lead to a successful and less stressful move, but first you need to decide how you are going to get to your final destination. This article should clarify the pros and cons of using a professional moving company, as compared to moving by yourself. 

Hiring Professional Movers

Even if you hire a professional moving company, there is still a lot to consider. The average moving rates are controlled by the ICC (Interstate) or a state PUC (Intrastate), so it is wise to compare the integrity of a company. Where do you start when hiring a professional moving company? What qualities should you look for? The following checklist can help:

  • The more you plan for the move, the smoother it will go.
  • Planning well in advance provides the opportunity to find a good company. It will also give you time to obtain multiple estimates, which will tell you how much the move will likely cost.
  • Ask friends and family for recommendations. You should ask questions like: Were the movers on time? Were they professional? Did they have enough people and the right equipment for the job? Did they damage anything? If you would like more in depth information, contact your local Better Business Bureau and Chamber of Commerce for performance records on movers.
  • Take an objective look at your household goods, and decide how much time and energy you want to put towards your move. Knowing these important facts will help you get a cost estimate and decide what company is best for you.

Factors that influence the cost are:

  • Weight: In long distance moves, the more weight, the more cost.
  • Distance: The number of miles you're traveling between the origin and destination address. Some carriers only serve certain states.
  • Time: One factor is moving during peak times, such as the summer or holidays. This means that you'll pay more for your move. Local moves, which are within 100 miles of your destination, are charged by an hourly rate. Household goods, planning, and efficiency of the moving company will all factor into the final cost.

When hiring a professional moving company, the final cost factor is deciding between a "self-service" and a "full-service" move. In a self-service move, the moving company transports your belongings from the old house to the new, but you have to pack and unpack your boxes at both ends. In a full-service move, the moving company will pack and unpack your boxes, as well as transport all of your household goods. People who hire professional movers usually choose full-service. While a self-service move will save you money, long distance moves with lots of heavy, valuable items are best left to the professionals. 

It may not pay to move some things. Consider the value of a donation to Goodwill or the Salvation Army against the cost of moving something near the end of its life expectancy. 

Pack, Load and Drive

You can do it all yourself, and if so here are some things you need to consider: 

  • Do you have the physical strength?
  • Do you have access to moving vehicles?
  • Will you have friends and family assist you?
  • Are they capable of moving your heavy or precious belongings?
  • Insurance - What happens if someone or something gets hurt or damaged?
  • Are you prepared to make the long drive to the destination?
  • Have you calculated the cost of travel: gas, tolls, meals, lodging, possible medical expenses, and uninsured damaged goods?

The most important thing you can do is factor in all your costs (truck rental, insurance, gas, food, tolls, lodging) and then compare that to estimates from professional moving companies so you can make an educated decision.


How to Pack

You have two choices when it comes to packing.
  • Packing it yourself.
  • Letting the movers do everything.
Packing Yourself

If you choose to do the majority of the packing yourself, you stand to save a lot of money. Study these tips to insure you do the best packing job possible.
  • Limit yourself to packing only non-fragile items such as books, linens, clothing, shoes, and replaceable items such as plates, dishes (not fine china), and small kitchen appliances. These items will be cheaper to replace in case of damage as opposed to hiring workers for the extra labor. For the large items, such as furniture, mattresses, and heavy appliances, let the mover pack these.
  • Pack everything carefully. It is important to buffer and separate the fragile items that you pack with old newspaper, bubble wrap, sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels.
  • Wrap each fragile item separately. Fill in empty spaces to minimize movement during transit. Pack plates and glass objects vertically, rather than flat and stacked. Purchase strong adhesive based tape such as duct tape or plastic and strapping tape that professional movers use.
  • Create an inventory list of all your goods and cross reference them to their assigned boxes which should all be numbered.
  • Let your mover inspect your packed boxes, especially the fragile and valuable boxes. Movers do have the right to refuse to load any box they deem improperly packed. Any improperly packed boxes must be repacked either by you or the mover. All repacking services usually come at an additional cost. Professional moving companies use only sturdy and reinforced cartons. Although the boxes you can obtain from your neighborhood supermarket may be free, they are not nearly as strong or padded. They are more susceptible to causing damage to your valuables in transit. Keep in mind that movers are not liable for items they didn't pack.
  • Appliances - To protect themselves, many movers will not disconnect your major appliances. Before the movers arrive to pack and load, unplug and prep your refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, washer, and dryer.
  • Computers - Do this yourself. Make sure you back-up your important files and take them with you.
  • Plants/Pets - Movers will not transport plants or pets. If you do not wish to give them away, you will need to make separate arrangements to have them transported.
  • Hazardous materials - Movers will not transport or allow you to pack hazardous materials. These items include: paint, thinners, solvents, oils, varnishes, firearms, ammunition, bottled gas, propane, lamp oil, anything flammable, explosive or corrosive, motor fuels and oils, nail polish remover, bleach, and aerosol cans.


Moving Your Pets

Make arrangements for transporting pets:   Cats and Dogs  
  • Cats and dogs can be taken in your car. If you do this, remember to take along the following items:
    • Food.
    • Water.
    • A leash for letting your pet out of the car.
    • Newspaper or sheets to keep your car clean.
    • If you are moving a long distance away, check ahead to see if the hotels where you are staying allows pets.
  • Depending on the animal's temperament and size, it might be better to have your pet shipped by air. Be sure to check if your destination has any local requirements or restrictions on animals. Shipping Pets by Air


Shipping Pets by Air  

  • To have your pet shipped by air:
    • Have someone meet your pet at the destination airport and take care of it until you arrive. Sometimes kennels can make these arrangements for you.
    • If you are flying to your new destination, your cat or dog can ride in the baggage compartment. You may need the following items:
      • Health certificate. Obtain this from your veterinarian.
      • Pet container. Airlines may have special containers available, or you can use your own as long as it complies with airline regulations.
      • Tranquilizers. Your vet can provide tranquilizers to be given to your pet immediately before going to the airport.
      • Your scent. Your pet can be comforted by having a piece of cloth with your scent on it.
    • Smaller Animals:
      • Hamsters, birds, and other small animals can easily be transported in your car. To help keep the animals calm and quiet, cover cages with a cloth. Also, make sure they have food and water available.
      • Fish - It can be very impractical and risky to move fish. Check with your local pet store for recommendations on moving your specific type of fish.
    • Start using up pet food, so that there is less to pack and possibly spoil.

Moving Checklist

There's so much to do before you move that the list seems almost endless. However, here is a list of items that can be completed well in advance of your moving date. 

6 Weeks Before moving:
  • Fill out a change of address order form for the post office.
  • Prepare an inventory of everything you own. Divide this inventory into three separate categories: items to be handled by the mover, items to be handled by you, and items to be left behind.
  • Pack stock certificates, wills, and other one-of-a-kind items (jewelry, photos, and home videos) that will be difficult or impossible to replace. Plan to carry them with you instead of packing them.
  • Get rid of what you don't need either through a garage sale, give to friends or charity, or haul off to the dump.
  • Contact your insurance agent to transfer property, fire, auto, and medical insurance.
  • Organize dental and medical records. Include prescriptions, eyeglass specifications, and vaccination records.
  • Inquire about changes that you may incur in your auto licensing and insurance when moving.
  • Notify your childrens' school(s). Make arrangement for records to be forwarded to the new school district.
  • Contact any clubs or organizations you are associated with for information on transferring, selling, or ending your memberships.
  • Get acclimated to your new community. Drive around and learn where the important destinations are, e.g. shopping districts, hospitals, police and fire departments.
  • Contact the Chamber of Commerce or Visitor's Bureau to request information on schools, parks and recreation, community calendars, and maps.
  • If you plan to do any part of the packing, start collecting suitable containers and packing materials.
  • Cancel local deliveries.
  • If you have pets, call your new town to determine if there are any specific requirements for pet ownership. In addition, obtain and transfer veterinarian records.
  • Register your children in their new schools.
  • Fill out an IRS change of address form.
  • Make arrangements with your moving company, or reserve a rental truck.
  • Make travel arrangements, if necessary, with airlines, buses, car rental agencies, and hotels.
  • Transfer memberships in churches, clubs, and civic organizations.
  • Obtain medical and dental records, x-rays, and prescription histories. Ask your doctor and dentist for referrals, and transfer prescriptions.
  • Set up a checking account in your new city.
  • Check into the laws and requirements of your new city regarding home-based businesses, professional tests, business licenses, and any special laws that might be applicable to you.
  • Take inventory of your belongings before they're packed, in the event you need to file an insurance claim later. If possible, take pictures or video tape your belongings. Record serial numbers of electronic equipment.
2 Weeks Before Moving  
  • Switch utility services to new address. Inform electric, disposal, water, newspaper, magazine subscription, telephone and cable companies of your move.
  • Arrange for help on moving day.
  • Confirm travel reservations.
  • Reserve elevator if moving from an apartment.
  • Have appliances serviced for moving.
  • Clean rugs and clothing and have them wrapped for moving.
  • Plan ahead for special needs of infants.
  • Close bank accounts and have your funds wired to your new bank. Before closing, be sure there are no outstanding checks or automatic payments that haven't been processed.
  • Collect valuables from your safe-deposit box. Make copies of any important documents before mailing, or hand carry them to your new address.
  • Check with your insurance agent to ensure you'll be covered through your homeowner's or renter's policy during the move.
  • Defrost freezer and refrigerator. Place deodorizer inside to control odors.
  • Give a close friend or relative your travel route and schedule so you may be reached if needed.
On Moving Day  
  • Double check closets, drawers, shelves, attic, and garage to be sure they are empty.
  • Pack important documents, currency, and jewelry yourself, or use registered mail.
  • Strip your beds, and make sure the bedding goes into a 'Load Last' box.
  • Make sure to be on hand when the movers arrive.
  • Confirm the delivery date and time at your new address. Write directions to your new home for the driver. Provide the new phone number, and include phone numbers where you can be reached in transit (cell phone).
  • Make sure to take along the driver's name, address, and telephone number.
  • Spend as much time with the mover as possible. If you have special instructions, like what to load first and last, make sure it is explained to your mover. Communicate well with the movers. If you choose to have your mover handle your valuables or other fragile goods, tell the mover in advance.
  • Review all details and paperwork with driver. Accompany the driver as he or she inspects and tags each piece of furniture with an identifying number. These numbers, along with a detailed description of your goods and their condition at the time of loading, will appear on the inventory.
  • Make sure all of your goods are loaded.
  • Perform a final inspection of the premises.
After Arriving At New Home 
  • Renew your driver's license, auto registration, and tags.
  • Shop around for new insurance policies, especially auto coverage.
  • Revise your will and other legal papers to avoid longer probate and higher legal fees.
  • Have all utilities turned on. (Phone, gas, electricity, Internet, water, cable TV, etc.)
  • Locate the hospitals, police stations, veterinarian, and fire stations near your home.
  • Be at the premises when the movers arrive. Remain on the premises while your belongings are being unloaded. If you cannot be there personally, be sure to authorize an adult to be your representative to accept delivery and pay the charges for you. Inform the destination agent of your chosen representative's name.
  • Have payment on hand for your moving charges. Unless other billing arrangements were made in advance, payment is required upon delivery in cash, traveler's checks, money order or cashier's check. Most of the time, personal checks are not accepted.
  • Confine your pets to an out-of-the-way room to help keep them from running away or becoming agitated by all of the activity.
  • Review your floor plan so you can tell the movers where to place your furniture, appliances, beds, and boxes. Be available to direct them as they unload.
To prevent possible damage, televisions, stereos, computers, other electronic equipment, and major appliances should not be used for 24 hours after delivery, allowing them time to adjust to room temperature. 

If you follow these ideas, tips, and suggestions, you should be able to accomplish your move with a minimal amount of disruption and heartache.
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Nicholas Montgomery
Nicholas Montgomery