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How To Live Your Life While Moving Without Going Insane

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If you’re one of the lucky souls who’s able to move while between jobs, when the kids are at summer camp, and are generally able to put life on hold, you are part of a very exclusive and fortunate club. While preparing for a move is a lot of work for everyone, this post of for the rest of us; this is for the people who have to work 8+ hours a day, and generally manage our lives, while preparing to move. Here’s how to do it:

Image Public Domain via Pixnio

Make a To-Do List

Preparing for a move is almost easy when you break it up into small, manageable pieces. Say you have 100 boxes to pack (not uncommon), if you pack five boxes per evening, you’ll be done within 20 days. Involve the spouse and the children, and it will be less. Pack books and knick-knacks first. It’s doubtful you’ll be needing them before the move. Pack off-season clothing next. Pack in-season clothing, the kitchen, and linens last. Here is an excellent moving timeline. We all know how satisfying it is to check items off your to-do list.

Purge

Preparing for a move is the time to clean out, to get rid of what you no longer need. Go through your closet and your drawers. If you haven’t worn something for two years, donate it. If you are waiting to fit into an outfit again, you can store it, or get rid of it. Don’t you want new clothes when you reach your goal? I would advise keeping one item to keep you motivated, though.

Plan Relaxation Time

Even you can’t be all work all the time. Plan some relaxation, whether that means a hike with the dog or a day at the spa. You’ll be even more energized to work afterwards.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

You might be Superwoman or Superman, but that’s on a normal day. Preparing for moving is not normal, at least not for most people. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Leave the kids with the in-laws. Hire a housekeeper. Do takeout or a meal delivery service. Take a day or two (or five) off from work. Or, hire a mover to do all the packing for you.

Make it Fun

No one says moving has to be all work. Crank up the music. Have a dance-off. Make it a competition; whoever can pack the most boxes, wins. Of course, always pick them up and do a quick shake to make sure everything is packed tightly.

How To Recruit Friends To Help With Your Move Without Destroying Friendships

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When you think of asking friends to help you move, you probably think of college days, when all it took was a pickup truck, a few pizzas and a few cases of beers. Times have changed. Your furniture is now worth more money and your friends have bad backs and not much time on their hands.

recruit friends

If you’re over the age of 30, don’t ask your friends to help you load and unload trucks. That’s a good way to lose friends, but if you do play your cards right, they can help.

Ask for food

One of the last things you want to think about when you’re packing and moving is cooking. That’s where your friends could come in. If they offer help, ask them to cook a little extra for you and bring it over. In exchange, feed them with takeout one night.

Ask for help packing

Besides the fact that extra hands are always a big help, a neutral eye can help you cut down on your moving costs. A friend can help you purge by taking the emotions out of packing. Do you really want to pack those two sizes too small pants? A good friend might tell you that while you might one day fit into them again, they are long out of style.

Ask for help cleaning

This one might be a little tricky. No one (well, almost no one) likes to clean. Friends can be a good discerning eye, though. If you have lived with spots and stains for a while, you may have gone blind to them. Ask your friends to inspect your work. Odds are, they’ll pitch in, but even if they don’t, they’ll keep you company.

Regardless of what your friends do to help, thank them with a nice dinner (not just pizza) and perhaps some flowers. Be sure to reciprocate once it’s their turn to move.

What To Pack First

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packing-24472_640Your new home is arranged, the movers are hired and your moving date is near. Now what? You have a home full of belongings and you have no idea where to start packing. It can be pretty overwhelming.

As someone who’s moved many times throughout my life, I’ve developed a system and it works, at least for me. Here are the keys:

  • Prioritize
  • Break it into manageable pieces
  • Involve the family

The first thing you want to do is buy boxes. Don’t feel you have to buy all the boxes now. You can make multiple trips, but if you overbuy, you can always return the extras. Moving.com has an excellent packing calculator to get you going.

Prioritize – What do you need now and what don’t you need? I always begin with books. They don’t take long to pack and they give me a quick sense of accomplishment. Plus, I don’t generally need them right before the move. Then I move on to knick-knacks, off season clothing, extra linens. As moving day approaches, hold aside a few cooking utensils, a few items of clothing and a place setting per person. Pack those items on moving day.

Break it into manageable pieces – On average, you might have about 20 boxes per person. If you pack just two boxes an evening, after work, your packing will be almost done come moving day. If you have less time, you can pack more. If you have more, you can pack less. Keep in mind, though, that’s just an average. I’ve seen many, many homes with literally hundreds of boxes. You have an idea of how full your home is. Ask your moving consultant how many boxes you’ll have. Even if you’ll have to pack five a day, that’s not that much.

Involve the family – Even toddlers can help pack – non-breakables, of course. Little children love to help out, so why not have them pack their toys and some of their clothing? That way, they’re far less likely to complain when their toys aren’t easily accessible.

How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part One (Local Moves)

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You’ve done your due diligence. You’ve gotten three estimates for your move, but why do they look so different?

The reality is, they shouldn’t look so different. All reputable moving companies will follow the exact same formula for estimating your move and the exact same formula for your final charges.

There are four types of moves – local, short hauls, interstate and international. Each of the four types of moves have different formulas in the way they are charged. But, despite that, calculating the cost of a move is not all that complicated.

Over the next four weeks, we will analyze types of moves and the types of estimates you will receive. 

If you are moving locally, your move will be charged by the hour. Of course, your mover might choose to cap or guarantee the price, but ultimately, that cap or guarantee will be based on the number of hours the move will take. You will also be charged for packing.

It’s recommended that if your home has more than three rooms, you should have a mover come inventory your home.

If you are looking at three estimates that all list a different number of hours, don’t fall into the trap of choosing the estimate that lists the fewest hours. Sure, some people might physically move faster than others, but at the end of the day, no matter who does the move, it will take approximately the same amount of time.

You will be charged based on the number of movers and the number of trucks. Fewer movers will not mean a cheaper move. As a matter of fact, unless there are so many movers that they are tripping over each other, shorting a move on movers typically ends up adding to the cost of the move, simply because efficiency goes down. On average, it requires approximately three to four man hours for every room in a home, without packing. If there are two movers, it will take about one to two man hours per room. If there are three, about one.

Obviously, these numbers are only averages. If your home is relatively empty, it will take less time and if you have a lot of items, it will take longer.

You might find more variables with packing, but they should be fairly easy to navigate if you keep these few facts in mind:

All items that aren’t furniture should be packed. You can pack them yourself or you can pay the mover to do that. You will be charged for material and the time involved in packing will be charged by the hour.

Of course you know that all clothing, linens, decorative items, dishes and cooking utensils need to be boxed but when I say that all items that aren’t furniture should be packed, I am referring to all electronics (including TVs), mattresses, lamps, framed pictures and mirrors. These boxes can be purchased through your mover (who generally delivers for free) or through box supply stores.

The more packing is required, the more the move will cost, but professional packers will pack much faster than most homeowners. Most full packs and moves will be completed within one to two days – as opposed to weeks of packing for most homeowners. Professional packers also do a much better job of packing than most people, helping to ensure the safety of all breakables and ensure that everything is well-organized.

Still, packing choices are a matter of priority. If budget is more of a concern than time, the first piece of advice most moving consultants will give is to pack for your own move.

If nothing else, many, if not the majority of customers, have the movers pack difficult to pack items.

If you are finding huge discrepancies between estimates, break them down based on what you now know and question companies. Are they willing to guarantee (or “bind”) their too-good-to-be true estimates and even if they are, ask yourself if you are willing to risk having movers who are rushed and possibly even sloppy and grumpy, because they know that they won’t be getting paid what the move is worth. If the difference is between an hour or two (on larger moves), that’s probably not worrisome, but it’s always a good idea to get a guarantee on even the most realistic estimates.

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Two (Long-Distance Moves)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Three (Short Hauls)

See How Moving Costs Are Calculated – Part Four (International Moves)

What to do with the Kids on Moving Day

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Moving is an emotional experience. Even when life’s changes are positive, it’s not uncommon to see adults let stress get the best of them or even break down in tears. One can only imagine how much more stressful it is for children – who have no choice in the fact that they are losing their rooms and even their friends.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help ease the transition and even to make moving day fun for the kids – all while keeping them occupied while you direct the movers.

1. Put them in daycare – If your children are young, perhaps the best thing is to get them out of the way. Send them to a friend’s or family member’s house or put them in daycare.

2. Involve them – Ask the movers if the kids can take a quick tour of the truck (they probably won’t be able to ride in it for liability reasons). Give them a box or two and let them pack some of their non-breakables. Let them pack a suitcase with “necessities,” which might include favorite toys and stuffed animals, toothbrush and toothpaste, favorite books, and pajamas.

3. Have them decorate their new room – Hopefully, they’ve seen their new room, but if they haven’t, draw them a picture on architectural drafting paper. Even better, at many craft stores, you can buy magnetic room planners, complete with furniture-shaped magnets. Let them show you how they want to arrange their furniture.

4. Send them shopping – Give them a limited amount of money and instruct them (with a babysitter) to buy something for their new room.

5. Resurrect the lost art of letter writing – Most kids have never received a letter. Think about that for a moment. You can change that by giving your kids some stationery and a few forever stamps. Have them call or visit their friends and create an address book.

6. Journal – Buy your kids a journal and let them write about their feelings and experiences.

7. Scrapbook or create a photo album – Let your kids create a visual journal of both their old homes and their new.

8. Send them to hang out with their friends – If they are old enough, give them enough money to treat their best friend to a movie or a trip to a favorite food place.

9. Send them on a photo expedition – Give them a camera (and adult supervision, if necessary) and have them take pictures of all their favorite places and people. If they are too young, let them take pictures of the house and of the move as it progresses (make sure they stay out of the movers’ way). Visual memories of your children’s old home will help them describe it to their new friends and they will cherish the pictures for a lifetime.

10. Send them on a scavenger hunt – This will take a little planning on your part. Hide trinkets with clues at various locations throughout the yard and neighborhood. Have the hunt send them to friends’ houses so they can say proper goodbyes.

The Packing Advice You Won’t Hear Anywhere Else

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The most time-consuming part of any move is the packing. It’s generally recommended that you begin packing one to two months before the moving day. Personally, I like to set a goal of about two to three boxes per person per evening. At that rate, it’s not very daunting, but the results add up quickly. You’d be surprised at how often you’ll get momentum going and pack more.

In the beginning, packing starts with the best of intentions. It’s an opportunity to purge, you think. Then, as time starts to get crunched, the packing gets a bit more sloppy as everything in sight lands in a box. Now for the packing advice you won’t hear anywhere else – don’t throw things away.

For most people in the process of moving, purging is a very unproductive use of their time. Unless you belong on the show “Hoarders,” it’s unlikely a purge will save you more than a handful of boxes. You will, however, spend hours deliberating over whether items should stay or go.

You’d be amazed at how your new home will give you a different perspective. An item that looked out of place at your old home might have a perfect place in your new. On the other hand, something that seemed worth keeping might seem ridiculous in a new surrounding. More importantly, you won’t be under time restraints as you unpack.

In the same vein, don’t even open photo albums while you’re packing. Have packing paper in hand before you pick up a keepsake, so you’re less likely to mull over it. Wait till the unpack. If a box is already packed and stored in your garage, keep it sealed. One of the reasons that professional packers are so fast (other than years of practice) is that they have no sentimental attachment to your belongings. If it’s not furniture, it gets packed.

Of course, there are exceptions. If you do belong on “Hoarders,” purge away. Even if you’re moving locally, it might be a good idea to stock your new refrigerator with new food. Get rid of old paint cans and chemicals (check with your local municipality for disposal instructions). If you have papers that need shredding, rather than hand feed them through a home shredder, take the papers to a shredding company. For a small fee, they’ll shred your paper into a finer state than most home shredders and they generally recycle. If something is obvious trash, of course, get rid of it.

One thing that does make a difference in the cost of your move is furniture. If there is furniture you won’t be using in your new home, give it away or if it’s in horrible condition, throw it away (again, check with your local municipality).

Of course, you can always hire your mover to pack for you.

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