Home and Furniture Moving Tips

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What should NOT go in my moving truck?

What Not to Pack

Some things shouldn't go in your moving truck, either because they are hazardous, or because they are irreplaceable.

In the first category are many paints and cleaners. Drain oil and gasoline from your lawnmower before moving, and have a professional seal any propane containers.

In the second category are any personal, irreplaceable items. Some of these may be practical -- birth certificates, Social Security cards, tax records -- but also be sure to keep sentimental items such as photo albums close at hand. You'll also want to supervise the moving of valuable items such as jewelry, silver, and coin or stamp collections.

   
What are some last-minute things I should remember before leaving my old home?

Last Day in the Old Place

Before the movers arrive, set aside special items that you want to have with you during the move, plus items your kids will need during the transition. Secure these things (maybe in a car trunk?) or clearly label them so they don't get loaded into the truck.

Get rid of as much trash as you can before the moving process begins. Inevitably, you will generate some trash during the process; if you can't leave it out for pickup, you may need to leave the moving-day trash with a kind neighbor.

Make things easier for your movers by removing obstacles like plants, hanging items, and floor mats, and keeping your kids and pets out of the way.

Whether you're being moved by pros or friends, it's a good idea to make sure they have food and drinks available. Keep these separate from kitchen stuff that's being moved.

Finally, leave a little extra time to clean your old place on your way out.

   
What supplies do I need for my move?

Moving Supplies

-- It is virtually impossible to have too many boxes.

-- It is virtually impossible to have too much padding.

-- It is virtually impossible to have too much packing tape.

Get the picture? Even if your movers are doing the packing, it will be helpful to have some supplies of your own, for those items you need to keep with you during the move, or for valuable things that you don't want to trust to the movers.

Many truck rental companies offer specialty boxes for clothes, dishes, and files. Get your boxes early on, so that you can pack in an organized fashion, with good labels to help you get settled at your new place.

You may need several types of padding -- blankets or foam for furniture, bubble wrap for dishes and breakable items, paper to fill in empty spaces.

Along with your tape, buy a couple of box cutters to make unpacking easier.

   
What should I keep on hand on moving day?

What to Keep Handy on Moving Day

Have a floor plan of your new home available in case you need to make any last-minute adjustments to your program for where things should go.

Make a packing list as things are loaded into the truck -- this is a good chore for an older child -- and refer to it to make sure everything arrives at the new place.

Set aside a container for your "moving day survival kit." This should include house keys, prescription drugs, address books, checkbooks, basic bathroom supplies, box cutters, a few trash bags, a tape measure, and a change of clothing for each person.

   
What should I unpack first?

Smart Unpacking

It's over! You've moved. Now what?

If you packed sensibly, you should be able to look at your labels and figure out easily what's in each box. You won't have to dig through six boxes labeled "Stuff" to find a can opener. Even if you haven't, though, you can apply some basic organization to your unpacking.

Be sure each box is in the room where its contents will go. Then you can start unpacking basic supplies. Kitchen and bathroom basics should probably come first, followed by bedrooms and living room. Decorating, unpacking fine china, and setting up entertainment systems can come on Day 2 or later if need be.

If you are starting a new job, prepare the day before to make sure proper work clothes and grooming items are available. The first day is no time to be late because you couldn't find socks!

   
Should I hire a mover or move myself?

DIY or a Mover?

Moving yourself is often considered the cheapest option. Don't forget, however, that moving yourself takes time, energy, and still involves some costs.

One option for a smaller move might be a hybrid service, in which you (and your friends and relatives) load the truck, but a hired driver actually gets it to the destination. If you're nervous about driving a truck, this might save you from adding stress to an already draining experience.

Professional movers are worth the expense if you're moving a large amount of material and/or going a long way, or if you need to care for kids on moving day.

   
What are the most important things to do once I've gotten to my new place?

First Day in the New Place

Many parents prefer to get kids' rooms set up as soon as possible, to help kids get started with the work of settling in. Where possible, give your kids some control -- "do you want your bed in the middle, or along this wall?" Along with their familiar furniture and toys, kids need familiar routines like dinnertime and bedtime.

Whether or not you have kids, you may find it useful to make time for a walk around your neighborhood. Check out the houses and yards on your street, perhaps saying hello to a neighbor or two, and make note of the locations of useful items like mailboxes, street signs, parks, convenience stores, and bus stops.

   
How can I save money during my move?

Saving Money During a Move

Traditionally, moving is a time to find out who your true friends are. For a very small move, you may need nothing more than a friend with a truck (and some cash to treat your friend to food and drink!).

If someone wants to help, but is not physically up to helping you move boxes, he or she might be able to care for your kids or pets on moving day, or help with cleaning your old place.

If hiring movers is too expensive, you may be able to hire helpers to load and unload a rented truck that you drive yourself.

Consider low-cost options -- a friend's house? camping? -- to save on lodging during the move. Plan and pack a cooler of healthy picnic food to save money and care for your family's nutritional needs in transit.

   
What insurance do I need for my move?

Insurance for Your Move?

Your homeowner's insurance covers the cost of your goods while they're in your hands, but not while your movers have possession of them. So if you're using professional movers, even if they have insurance, it may be worth purchasing some additional protection to cover your furniture freight during transit.

Even if you're not purchasing separate moving insurance, it's a good idea to create an inventory of the items you're moving. This will be a useful reference to make sure everything arrives safely at its destination. On your inventory, describe the item, note its approximate weight and estimate its replacement value. For antiques or other much-valued items, it may even be worthwhile to have a friend with a digital camera document the item's condition before being loaded.

   
What do I need to know to safely move my computer?

How to Move Your Computer

First, make backup files of everything! It's unlikely that anything will go catastrophically wrong during your move -- but what if it did? Simply copying your most valuable files -- family pictures, that novel in progress, your tax records -- onto a CD can save you all kinds of grief.

PCs have a utility called SHIPDISK.EXE which can "park" the heads of your hard drive to prevent problems in transit. Once you run this program, turn the computer off and unplug it from the power source. When you plug it in and turn it back on, the heads will unpark themselves.

If you have the original carton in which your PC was shipped, use it. If not, pack your PC with plenty of padding (particularly on the monitor screen) in a sturdy box.

   
What equipment do I need for my move?

Moving Equipment

Besides a truck, you may need various pieces of equipment to make your move easier. If you're doing your own move, check with your truck rental company to see if these items are available.

For appliances and other large objects, a dolly with heavy straps will help move equipment and large pieces. Many rental trucks have ramps to ease loading, but in special circumstances -- for instance, a crowded street where it will be hard to make room for the truck and a ramp -- you may want to rent a truck with a liftgate instead.

If you must move many loads up a flight of stairs, you may want to ask about a stair-climbing dolly. These have special arrangements of wheels which rotate to make it possible to pull the dolly up the stairs.

   
What do I need to know in choosing a mover?

Choosing a Mover

Before you talk to any movers, figure out how much stuff you'll be moving. When possible, have a representative from the home moving company come to your home and see the load in person before giving an estimate. This person may be able to bring up factors you hadn't considered or items you overlooked.

Check your mover's DOT license, and ask for references. Interstate movers are required to publish their rates and to participate in a dispute resolution program; even for an in-state move, these are good indicators of an established company.

Be very sure you understand the process for resolving claims if your mover loses or damages any of your items. Ask them to be clear with you about extra charges, payment arrangements, and packing requirements.

   
What are some tips for moving furniture?

Moving Furniture

Before you move furniture, make sure it fits. A very common problem in furniture moving is the discovery that your beloved sofa, large-screen TV, or other large piece will not fit into your new home, or cannot be moved to the location you prefer.

If possible, bring a tape measure to your new place before moving day, and make a plan with real dimensions. Then you can measure your larger pieces and make sure they will fit where you want them to go.

If your measurements show cause for concern, you may want to sell or give away your couch and start over with a sectional, as they are usually much easier to move.

If you need to squeeze an upholstered piece into a too-small door, it may help to take the door off its hinges and use two pieces of clean cardboard to smooth the journey and protect the door frame.

   
What's the most efficient way to load a truck for a move?

Strategic Truck Loading

Put the heaviest and bulkiest items into the truck first – appliances, large pieces of furniture, mattresses. Use dollies and ramps as much as possible to prevent injuries, and don't try to move big items alone.

After those items are in, the first boxes to be loaded should be the heaviest ones, particularly book boxes. Wardrobe cartons – boxes with a bar inside, like a cardboard closet – are particularly useful for transporting clothes, but be careful not to overload them. The bottoms aren't meant to hold heavy items in addition to the clothes.

Remove drawers from desks and bureaus for loading. After the item is in the truck, put the drawers back and secure them with cords to keep them from moving during transit.

Try to maintain a consistent load height from front to back to minimize shifting of objects during your move.

   
Does it make sense to have my furniture shipped?

Shipping Your Furniture

Shipping furniture is different from using a mover. A shipment of furniture goes by truck, as freight, and needs to be packed accordingly. It also takes longer to ship furniture than to use a mover.

When should you ship furniture? Sometimes, you may want to send pieces to someplace other than the place you're moving -- for instance, if you're moving to Ireland and you want to send Grandma's antique desk back to your mom's house in Kansas. Another example might be for an overseas move, though unless you are planning to resettle permanently it might be cost-prohibitive to ship all but a few very treasured items.

See tips on "Freight Shipping" for more about choosing a freight carrier and packing your shipment.

   
How can I best organize the packing process?

Packing for Your Move

It may be tempting to rush through your house and throw as much as you can into boxes. A few minutes of planning, though, will save you hours of wondering where your socks are later on. Here are some tips to proper packing:

-- Label, label, label. Describe each box's contents and their destination. When time gets tight, it is tempting to start writing "Misc. Stuff" on every box. Don't give in. Keep labeling.

-- Pack one room at a time. That will help with labeling and if you have extra stuff from one room, you can label that particular box Bedroom: Misc.

-- Heavy items (books are the most common culprit) go in small boxes.

-- Double-box fragile items with more padding than you think you need.

-- Don't apply tape to painted or finished wood surfaces. Cover them with a layer of cardboard before taping.

   
What are some ways to manage moving-day stress?

Managing Moving-Day Stress

On moving day, it's easy to get caught up in a frenzy of managing boxes and furniture. One way to keep yourself from getting too stressed out is to take a moment to mark your passage from one place to the next. Take a few "last day" photos to remember your old place, and spend a little time relaxing and remembering positive times you had here.

At the new place, give yourself permission not to get everything done at once. Unpack enough that you can "nest" a little and enjoy your new place, then go ahead and chill out while you get acclimated. Go for a walk and get to know your new neighborhood -- walking is a well-known stress reliever.

   
How should I decide what to keep and what to toss?

Move It, Store It, Sell It, Pitch It?

Moving is a time when many of us have to confront the clutter we've allowed to accumulate in our lives. Especially if you're downsizing in your move, it's important to start early in paring things down so that you move only things you need and want.

Here are some questions to ask as you make decisions about your things:

-- Is this useful to you now? (For instance, does it fit? Is it out of date?)

-- Are you using it now? When was the last time you used it?

-- Is it something you would choose for yourself now?

-- Are you keeping it because of the person who gave it to you? (You can get rid of the item while still keeping your feelings for that person.)

Start by getting rid of anything the movers won't handle – hazardous wastes, open bottles of liquor. Next, start sorting things into three groups: Stuff you want to keep, stuff you want to sell or give away, and stuff to throw out.

It might be wise to set aside an area in your house to hold garage-sale items. If you don't feel like adding a garage sale to your pre-moving list of responsibilities, donate these items to charity.

If you still have more stuff than your new place will hold, consider a storage unit – but beware, they can be expensive. Decide ahead of time what belongs in the unit and how long you will keep it.

   
What do I need to know to move a piano?

Moving a Piano

Moving a piano -- particularly an instrument that you play regularly -- is not a job for amateurs. The sheer weight of most pianos, combined with their awkward shapes, makes this a job for a professional piano mover.

As you work with the mover, be absolutely sure that your piano will fit into its new home by the path you plan to use! Even a grand piano can be moved by two or three people with the right equipment and knowledge. Usually, the movers place the instrument on top of a "piano board," then cover it with blankets and secure it to the board with strapping.

Many piano movers prefer to use a crane and hoist to move a piano to or from an upper floor. Moving a piano up or down stairs is very hazardous because of the instrument's weight.

Piano moving is usually not harmful to a piano's tune, but it is very common to find that the temperature and humidity in its new location are different from the ones it's used to. Plan on having your piano tuned a week or two after you move, so that it's had time to settle in.

   
How can I help my kids have a positive experience of moving?

Kids and the Moving Process

Moving is stressful enough for adults, who presumably have some motivation for making the change. For kids, who don't have a lot of control over the process, it can be even harder.

One of the best things you can do for your kids is to manage your own stress. When Mom or Dad is irritable, it rubs off on everyone in the family.

In communicating with your kids about the move, emphasize positive aspects of the new place -- a ballpark, getting their own rooms, etc. -- while setting up ways to keep in touch with old friends.

Moving will disrupt their routines -- there's no way around it. When you arrive in the new place, make it a priority to get them back on schedule. Unpack their rooms first, and give them a chance to spend some "down time" reconnecting with familiar toys and objects in their new space. As soon as possible, re-establish consistent times for meals and sleep.

   
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