MOVING GUIDE Table of Contents Part 1: Moving Basics ....................................................................................................... 3 Getting Your Moving Act Together ............................................................................... 3 The Pre-Moving Day Checklist ...................................................................................... 4 Moving Expenses List..................................................................................................... 5 Self-Move vs. Professional Movers vs. Partial Self-Move ............................................. 6 When Movers Make Sense........................................................................................... 8 How to Tip the Scales by Renting Your Own Truck or Trailer: Advice for the Self- Mover .......................................................................................................................... 9 Mapping Out Your New Home ..................................................................................... 11 Important Paperwork for Your Move ........................................................................... 12 Part 2: Keys to Cost Control .......................................................................................... 15 Cut Down Your Moving Costs ..................................................................................... 15 Lighten the Load and Turn Your Clutter into Cash...................................................... 16 How to Avoid Moving Disasters .................................................................................. 18 Part 3: Keeping Up Communication............................................................................. 20 Keeping the Troops Happy: Tips for Making the Move Easier for Children............... 20 Get the Word Out: Letting People Know About Your Move ....................................... 21 Part 4: Settling In Your New Home .............................................................................. 23 Is Life Normal Yet? Advice to Minimize Post-Move Stress ........................................ 23 Moving and Your Taxes ............................................................................................... 24 Part 5: Additional Resources ......................................................................................... 26 Essential Home Moving Books and Web Sites ............................................................ 26 Part 1: Moving Basics According to the American Housing Survey for the United States, nearly 20% of the U.S. population moves each year, and many moves are stressful and disorderly. With the ideas in this moving basics section, you can make your move smoother and less stressful. Getting Your Moving Act Together Moving a household can be overwhelming. Where will I begin? What will I need? Who can help? The worry and tension often caused by moving can lead to friction in the household, but by being organized you can step into action without as much stress. Start Strong The opening act in organizing a successful move is having the right tools for the job. This means assembling everything you’ll need ahead of time so that when you need it, it’s there. It also means organizing someone to help. Everything else hinges on taking care of these crucial first steps, which you should start up to eight weeks before your move. • Tell your friends and family to save clean sturdy boxes for you. Lots of small boxes are better than big one s and can help keep you from straining yourself. If you need to, buy new boxes or better yet, find someone who just moved and reuse theirs. (Check your local craigslist.org; search for 'boxes'). You can often get boxes from grocery stores. Wardrobe boxes can be handy for moving things in the closet, and file boxes will help keep your records organized. • Save newspapers and other packing material like foam bits and bubble wrap. You can always buy packing material, but there’s a lot you can use around the house already, including towels and old clothes to protect breakable items. • Get permanent markers to label boxes. Set aside scissors, box cutters, and a notebook and pen. Buy packing tape, and remember that you’ll use it not only to seal boxes but to reinfo rce some box bottoms too. Too much is better than too little. • Set aside old blankets and pillows to use for packing material on the truck. • Plan specific packing dates and ask for help from friends and family. Compartmentalize and Color Code Pack room by room, numbering each box and cross-referencing the contents in your notebook master list (you may also want to transfer the information to a spreadsheet). Color code the boxes with markers or colored stickers, and document the room's color designation on your list. Hint: If you have to put things in storage for months or even years, you’ll know exactly where to find them with your list or spreadsheet. Take Frequent Intermissions Don’t try to tackle the packing job all at once. By starting up to eight weeks before you move, you’ll save plenty of time for family and rest. Good time management allows you to build time into your schedule to assess your progress and make adjustments. If you start to feel overwhelmed at any point, stop and get organized for the next session. By doing this, you’ll be better able to avoid burnout. Use These Handy Tips As the show moves on, you may need to know how to pack temperature-sensitive items, hazardous materials, and valuables. These suggestions can help: • Use up freezer items prior to you move if you can, and pack what’s left in camp coolers with your refrigerator items on the day of the move. Carry the cooler with you in the car and not in the moving truck. • Paint, pesticides, fuels, guns, ammunition, and corrosive cleaning agents should be properly disposed of, sold, or taken in the car with you. • Transport family heirlooms, jewelry, and other valuables in your car. As you pack, set up a separate staging area for your valuables so they don’t end up in the truck. Curtain Call With the right organization, you can operate confidently and systematically. You won’t get caught scrambling around on moving day, and it'll help you and your family better enjoy this transition in your life. The Pre-Moving Day Checklist Your moving day may seem to be months from today's reality, but it’ll arrive faster than you think. Here’s a checklist to prepare you for a smooth and uneventful moving day. 1. Eight to ten weeks before your move, determine your moving requirements. Think about: • Number of miles you’ll travel • Time of year you’re moving • How much you want to spend • How much work you want to do yourself 2. Give yourself plenty of time to decide whether or not you want to use a moving company. If you do, make sure to: Obtain a written cost estimate Hire a company that is licensed and insured Find out if the company has any outstanding complaints 3. Plan your packing by getting these supplies: Plastic bags and corrugated boxes (aim for about 10-20 boxes per room) Specialty packing materials for your good china and glasses Plastic mattress covers Bubble wrap and/or tissue paper Markers and color-coded labels for identification Strong tape and/or twine for sealing cartons Notebook and pencil for identification log Scissors and/or sharp knife 4. Consider donating items that are near the end of their life expectancy to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. They may even be willing to pick up large items free of charge. You might also want to consider having a yard sale to get rid of things you no longer want. We'll talk more about donating and yard sales in Lighten the Load and Turn Your Clutter into Cash. 5. Make sure to be at home on moving day. Supervise the loading process and, if you have a mover, the crew foreman as he fills out the inventory sheet. If self- moving, make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before. You can follow this checklist or create your own, but the most important thing is to be prepared. Good preparation can help you to avoid unwanted hassles on moving day. Moving Expenses List No matter how you step into the moving arena, budgeting for potential expenditures as well as any unexpected costs will help you manage costs. Here is a list of typical things that will go against your moving expenses scorecard. Add them up and track expenses as you go to keep tabs on your costs. A spreadsheet can be really helpful for this process. Actual Moving Expenses ü Hiring a mover ü Renting a truck ü Extra insurance ü Buying packing materials ü Child or pet care ü Storage unit rental ü Food, beverages, and token gifts for helpers Tidying Up Before You Go ü Cleaning supplies ü Cleaning service ü Yard work ü Incidental home repairs While You’re Traveling ü Food & Lodging ü Fuel ü Airline tickets ü Sightseeing expenses Take these expenses into account when you budget for your move. Self-Move vs. Professional Movers vs. Partial Self-Move More than 15% of American families will move during 2006, but they all won't have moved in quite the same way. Depending on the type of person you are and your economic situation, you'll choose one of the following types of moves: • Self-Move o You want to move everything on your own • Full Professional Movers o You don’t want to pack, unpack, or drive and would rather have someone take care of the move for you • Partial Self-Move o You want to pack and unpack, but want someone else to pick up your things and drive them to your next destination Self-Moving The biggest advantage of self- moving is that it can be the cheapest option, especially if you’re not traveling across the country or abroad. You can trust the handling of your possessions because you've done it. A self- move is advantageous for people who don’t have heavy furniture, valuable art pieces, or other large, delicate, hard-to- fit- in-a-box objects. Also, if you don’t have much furniture at all, a self- move is probably your best bet. You’ll need to set aside time to organize, pack, load, drive to your new place, and unload your items. Unless you own or have access to a truck, you’ll have to rent one. You’ll also need to pick up or purchase the supplies that we've mentioned earlier such as boxes and packaging materials. Self- moving can also be used as bonding time with family and friends. So, gather your friends and family, get the boxes ready to pack, and throw a self- moving party! Full Professional Movers Have a lot of heavy furniture to pack and move out of your home ? Can’t take too much time off from work? Don’t worry, you can hire full professional movers to take the load off your shoulders. This option is best for people who can’t afford to take too much time off and/or own lots of heavy furniture that’s difficult to pack and move. Keep in mind that hiring professional movers will most likely be more expensive than self- moving. Also, make sure to look out for hidden costs. Normally, movers charge based upon the following tariff items: • The container • The packing • The unpacking Extras like tape, bubble wrap, and other packing material should be included in the cost since it’s traditionally part of labor cost. The only exception is if they charge you based on time, which means the materials and labor will be charged by the hour. Most importantly when hiring full service movers, make sure they are insured and that their contract states they assume 100% responsible for the goods they pack. It's important for the company to be insured because it means that your things are insured as well. Partial Self-Move If you’re not totally prepared to self- move on your own and don’t want the entire expense of hiring moving professionals, then you’ll be happy to know that there are other options available. You can pack and unpack while the professional movers handle the transportation. This is advantageous if you’re traveling a long distance and don’t want to drive after all the time you spent packing. In addition to not having to worry about driving a large rental truck with which you're not necessarily comfortable, the cost of gasoline for the truck has been included in the cost of the move. Once you've reserved the truck, the company will drop a trailer at your home. You’ll have about two days to load your belongings and when you’re done, the trailer will be picked up and driven to your new place. You’ll then have two more days to unload your things before the company takes back their trailer. If you don't have room to park a large trailer at your home, you can also hire local movers to transport your belongings to a centrally located trucking depot and load the trailer on site. Which Is Best for You? As you can see, there are benefits to each of the moving choices; you just need to find the one that fits your lifestyle and needs. Make sure to shop around by browsing the Internet, getting different price quotes to compare, and asking friends who have recently moved for advice on what service to choose. Moving can be a stressful time, and you can help reduce this stress by being proactive and evaluating your possibilities for moving day. When Movers Make Sense Your time is worth money, and there may be no better way to feel comfortable and secure about your move than by hiring a moving company. Most people don't relish the challenge of negotiating tight corners with a 150-pound piece of furniture. They also don't want to pack and label dozens of boxes, in addition to switching utilities, managing the kids and pets, and saying goodbye to familiar places and friends. Some of these activities are unavoidable, but one thing within your control is hiring a mover to ease the impact and diminish the stress that comes with packing, loading, hauling, and unloading. Here’s what you need to know about choosing a mover. Reputation Counts Few people know better can provide better information about choosing a mover than those who have just been through the process. Start by talking with family and friends who have recently hired a mover, or ask if they know anyone who has. Their experiences can give you some useful tidbits to use as you select a mover. You’re likely to hear both good stories and bad, so take detailed notes. The next step is to contact several movers and compare services and costs. Three key requirements: • The mover is licensed • The mover is insured • The mover is a member of the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA)--a group of over 3,200 professional moving companies AMSA members “are companies that have voluntarily agreed to abide by a Code of Conduct that requires complete disclosure of moving information to consumers, written estimates of charges, timely service and prompt response to claims and complaints. They have also agreed to arbitrate disputes of up to $5,000 arising from loss or damage to the articles in your shipment.” This is protection is a must. In addition, check with the Better Business Bureau to find out if a company has had an unusual number of complaints. Estimates You’ll want to get several binding cost estimates. A binding estimate guarantees the costs based on the items to be moved and the services listed on the estimate. A non-binding estimate is only a guess, and final costs are determined by weight. A good company will send someone to your home to survey the project and leave you with a written estimate. Don’t accept just a phone or Internet quote. Anything less than a written quote potentially invites trouble once the move is underway. By using an estimator, reputable companies know exactly what they’re getting into, and so will you. The final cost depends on the distance you’ll travel and the number of rooms you need to have packed. Packing is the most variable cost, so be sure to show the estimator exactly what needs to be packed. If you omit anything or self-pack less than you say you will, even the most reputable firm will charge you more. Let them know if access to your new home will be complicated by steep driveways, narrow roads, or other obstructions that can impact the final cost. Finally, never pay a deposit. Reputable movers normally don’t require them. Protect What’s Yours Keepsakes and other valuables are difficult to entrust to the care of movers. For your own peace of mind, consider packing and moving legal documents, jewelry, coin collections, and heirlooms yourself. Large antiques and other valuables, however, may be too difficult for you to move. In this case, consult with your mover and clearly identify your concerns. Also, it’s wise to purchase additional insurance against loss or damage. Most movers are only bound to limited liability of 60 cents per pound. This doesn’t cover most items, so you may want to buy extra coverage or full replacement coverage. Your mover will be able to discuss costs and coverage during the estimate visit. As your items are put on the truck, make sure they are listed on your bill of lading. You will receive a copy of the bill of lading so that you can check the list again as your items are unloaded to make sure all your belongings make it to their final destination. For this reason, you should be there when your things are packed and loaded and when they’re unloaded. Relax and Watch Them Work The expertise you hire will give you the satisfaction of knowing the job is being done right. By putting the burden of the entire job on the shoulders of professionals, you’re buying stress reduction. The move to your new home should also go smoother. When you hire a mover, you’ll worry less over details and save valuable time that you can spend with your family and friends or doing other important things in your life. How to Tip the Scales by Renting Your Own Truck or Trailer: Advice for the Self-Mover How Big a Truck or Trailer Do You Need? For the self- mover, finding the right deal on a truck or trailer rental is a top priority. You don’t want to run out of space when you’re packing a truck or trailer. Calculate the size of the truck or trailer you need by estimating 150-200 cubic feet of truck space for each room. Look for the truck or trailer's capacity, not the length, because trucks are measured differently. Popular truck and trailer rental companies publish the following information; use it as a guide and take a look inside before renting to make sure you’re picking the right size. • 10' truck = 385 cubic feet = 1-2 rooms • 12' truck = 450 cubic feet = 1-2 rooms • 14' truck = 670 cubic feet = 2-3 rooms • 16' truck = 800 cubic feet = 2-3 rooms • 17' truck = 870 cubic feet = 4-5 rooms • 22' truck = 1,200 cubic feet = 4-5 rooms • 24' truck = 1,400 cubic feet = 5-6 rooms • 26' truck = 1,500 cubic feet = 5-6 rooms If your rooms are large or you have lots of furniture in a room, choose the larger capacity truck if you are offered two choices for the same number of rooms. You can maximize the truck space and pack a secure load capable of traveling long distances by stacking floor to ceiling (heaviest on bottom) and using mattresses, box springs, and other large pieces of furniture to lock the load in place. You can also rent furniture blankets to protect your belongings and have lengths of rope handy to keep items from shifting during the move. Cost and Requirements You’ll pay a flat rate based on the size of the truck and the distance you need to travel. This applies to both local moves and one-way hauls. Reputable rental companies base their pricing on the number of miles you plan to move and usually include additional days in the cost estimate to allow you to pack, drive to your destination, and unpack. If you go over on either mileage or days, you’ll pay extra (this will be specified in your contract). To give you a general idea of costs, a recent survey of rental companies found the following information for a move of slightly less than 300 miles within Washington State: Size Cost Mileage Days 17’ $297 365 2 16’ $371 343 3 16’ $539 Unlimited 2 The costs listed above do not include insurance, damage waivers, or extra equipment. Most companies require a credit card deposit and drivers to be 21, and in some cases, 25 years of age. Check with individual rental companies for their specific policies. Extra Equipment When You Need It Clean furniture pads, sturdy hand trucks, and strong dollies are all available from good rental companies to help you with your move. They’ll also have packing materials like tape, bubble wrap, boxes, and rope or twine available for purchase. If you’ll be transporting a car, you can usually rent a tow bar or a car trailer from the same company and they will show you how to load and unload your vehicle. Do You Need Insurance? Surprisingly, a lot of insurance policies will not cover rental trucks or trailers. Investigate insurance coverage before you’re at the counter signing a contract and making those decisions. You could be responsible for theft, damage, and liability regardless of fault if you decline the rental company’s insurance, so talk to your auto agent about coverage (ask specifically if you’re covered for rental trucks under 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight). Also, check with your home owner’s or renter’s insurance agent about coverage of your household belongings while they’re in transit. Reputable rental companies will offer some or all of the following: • Damage waivers to protect you from theft or damage to the truck • Personal Accident and Cargo insurance to protect you and your passengers in the event of injury or cargo damage • Liability insurance to protect you from bodily injury or property damage claims made by others • Towing insurance to protect you against damage to the vehicle you’re towing Does It Make Sense? The good news is that rental trucks are cost-efficient and don’t require a special operator’s license. Most are automatics and have air conditioning and decent shocks. Still, there are times when hiring a mover makes more sense. If you’ve never driven a big truck, have a bad back, or are short on time, it may be wise to leave the transportation of your belongings to full service moving professionals. You might also consider going the middle road and just having a moving service do the hauling while you do the packing and unpacking. However, if saving money, controlling the handling of your belongings, and perhaps taking in the sights while you’re doing it are top priorities, then hit the open road with a rental truck. Mapping Out Your New Home Movers plop furniture and boxes anywhere there’s space. For them, the job is to get the stuff off the truck and into your house as fast as possible. Even well- intentioned friends and family will resort to dropping things down wherever there is space. You might be reduced to frantically pointing and directing while piles start to accumulate and furniture lands out of place. But with an organizational floor plan, you can avoid the clutter. From Chaos to Calm You can start developing your plan by taking pictures of the interior of your new home and measuring the rooms to sketch a rough floor plan. We suggest using a scale of about ¼" to one foot. You can use an architect’s drawing from the builder or homeowner if one is available. Pictures will help you visualize where things can go. A useful thing to do is to make scale paper cut-outs of couches, tables, chairs, beds, and desks. Place these on your house drawing and see how things fit. You can play around with furniture arrangements and produce an initial layout for move- in day. It’s a lot easier to do it this way and have a layout ready than to see things pile up or discover that they just don’t fit. Use These Tools Lots of tools are at your disposal when it comes to laying out furniture in a new home. With room and furniture measurements in hand, you can use these tools to try all kinds of placements and see how they work before you even set foot in the door. Here are some free online tools (room layout software is also available for purchase from several companies) and books you can buy. Free Online Furniture Layout Tools: • Better Homes and Gardens Arrange-a-room [http://www.bhg.com/bhg/category.jhtml?categoryid=/templatedata/bhg/c ategory/data/arrangearoomtest.xml] • An Impeccable Design Furniture Arrangement and Layout [http://www.an- impeccable-design.com/AID/Asp/IDroom_layout.asp] • See My Design [http://www.seemydesign.com/] Books • Home Quick Planner: Reusable, Peel & Stick Furniture & Architectural Symbols, by Daniel K. Reif • Room and Furniture Layout Kit (From Stencils and Notepaper to Flowers and Napkin Folding), by Muncie Hendler • Room Redux: The Home Decorating Workbook, by Joann Eckstut • The Space Planner: A Home Decorating Design Workbook, by Meg Mateo Ilasco Show Your Help the Way to the Door Along with color-coded boxes to designate the rooms for which they're destined, the floor plan will help guide movers, friends, and family to the right places. Most of us don’t give it much thought, but being orga nized on move- in day is just as important as being organized when you move out. Give your movers a plan, and they’ll gladly follow it. Important Paperwork for Your Move During a move, you’ll want to hold tight to important documents and receipts. Here’s a list of paperwork you don’t want to let out of your sight. Anything That Involves the Movers The bill of lading, which you helped prepare, has a full inventory of the belongings that were put on the truck. Make sure to keep the mover’s estimate along with the moving contract and bill of lading. For the move in, check each item on the bill of lading to make sure all of your belongings arrive and don't sign the delivery receipt until your fully satisfied. You may also want to have your own personal list of items before you start to pack. That Packet the Real Estate Agent Gave You In case of unforeseeable problems, you’ll want to keep the packet of documents pertaining to the sale of your old house and purchase of your new one. Receipts Documenting Moving Expenses Oftentimes, some of your moving expenses are tax deductible. In addition to the cost of packing, crating, and transporting your household items or storing them, keep receipts for any transportation costs and lodging. Keep receipts for items dona ted to charitable organizations and any costs associated with connecting and disconnecting utilities. See Moving and Your Taxes later in this guide for more detailed information Medical Records and Health Insurance Information If you’ve already selected your new physician, dentist, and pharmacy, have your medical records sent to the new offices. If not, you can either pick up the records from the old offices or have the offices’ contact information handy so you can send for the records when necessary. Make sure you give your health providers plenty of notice so that they can make copies of your records. Always have your health insurance card at your fingertips; it’s helpful to have your policy information available as you shop for new physicians. Children’s School Records A move can be hard on kids; they might be nervous about attending a new school and making new friends. Getting them into a new routine as soon as possible can help your children integrate with their new surroundings. If you have their academic and immunization records available, they shouldn’t have any trouble enrolling in a new school district. Pets’ Documents You’ll want to pick up medical records from the vet. Again, make sure to give them plenty of time to make copies of your records. You never know when you’ll have to prove that Fido’s vaccines are up to date, and it’s a good idea to have his license accessible. Insurance Policies Auto insurance liability limits differ from state to state. Talk with your insurance company about their recommended course of action, to make sure you're continuously covered. Hang on to your old policies in case you ever need to show proof of coverage, and definitely keep your new insurance policy with you as well. Creditors’ Information Ideally, you’ve filled out your IRS and US Postal Service Change of Address forms, but just in case you end up having trouble accounting for your mail, you should have the phone numbers and addresses for all your creditors. You may also want to contact the Social Security Administration with your new address. Taxes, Taxes, Taxes Neither you nor the IRS wants you to lose your tax returns. Keep tabs on that big box of the previous years’ returns, and hold tight to pay stubs and other documents pertaining to the current year. Identity Documents: Birth certificates, passports, and Social Security cards should always be close at hand. Keep them in your car with you and not packed away. These documents are never easy to replace, and if you’re starting a new job, may have to present them to human resources. Your driver’s license is also important for this reason; plus, you may need it, along with your car’s title, to register your car in a new state. Knowing exactly where those documents are may help smooth out some of the bumps in the road during your move. It'll mean a return to your normal life that much sooner. Part 2: Keys to Cost Control According to the American Moving and Storage Association, the average cost of moving plus packing an eight room house for a 750 mile trip is around $6000 - $7000 and possibly more. Costs can quickly add up and push your total moving expenses up in a hurry. This section offers some important tips to keep costs in line with your budget. Cut Down Your Moving Costs Interstate moves can run into the tens of thousands of dollars, and even local moves can run into the four digit range when you factor in all your expenses. That’s a heavy blow to the average household budget, but we've got some suggestions to help you keep the savings account and credit cards out of trouble. The Purse Is Within Reach In one sense, extra money is already sitting right in your home. Holding a garage sale or donating to charity are two top ways to take advantage of it. You may not achieve a big payback on your moving expenses, but you’ll certainly be able to offset some of the costs. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society explains that the average garage sale raises $200-$400. We'll go into more detail in the next section, Lighten the Load and Turn Your Clutter into Cash. Pack the House For the self- mover or partial self- mover, fill your house with friends and family to help with packing. The figures cited above for an interstate move are for moving and packing, so if you do the packing yourself, you’ll find you can save hund reds of dollars in labor. Get your entourage behind you, and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get the job done (just feed them well and have plenty of beverages on hand). It’ll be far less expensive than hiring the movers to pack. The tradeoff is the time you may have to take away from work to organize and supervise everything. If you have some extra vacation time on hand, you can deliver a one-two punch to the expenses by eliminating the packing cost and getting paid to do it yourself. Use Alterna tive Tactics • If it’s practical for you, see if you can save some money by having your mover consolidate your load with another load. You may end up storing your belongings for a short time so take that time and expense into account when you calculate your savings. • Get your boxes free from grocery stores or people who have recently moved. Check online or local classifieds; someone may give you the boxes if you'll just pick them up. • Use old newspaper for packing and ask friends if they have Styrofoam peanuts in their garage instead of buying packing material like bubble wrap. Paper napkins bought in bulk can also make cheap packing material. • Use your old blankets and rugs for furniture padding during the move. • Buy a hand truck instead of renting one. You’ll probably be able to use one in the future. • If you don’t have too far to go, ask friends with trucks to help instead of hiring a moving van or renting a truck. • Consider the extreme: people have even been known to buy a trailer and sell it on the other end, for example, instead of shelling out rental dollars. Be a Contender When was the last time you budgeted for a move that might cost $4000 or more? If you’re lucky, you’ve had a little bit of lead time to save, but the reality is that moving expenses aren' t usually in anybody’s regular budget. Nonetheless, there are certain things you can do to mitigate your costs, and if you’re prepared, you’ll come out a winner. Lighten the Load and Turn Your Clutter into Cash You'd be amazed at what you unearth when yo u start to pack. The longer you’ve been in your current home, the more likely you have things stuffed and stashed in every nook and cranny. Even if you’re a neat freak, years of accumulation will reveal itself as you begin organizing your move. You can tur n these often forgotten items (and furniture that’s not going to fit or needs to be replaced) into cash with a garage sale or by placing them in online auctions. According to eBay Inc., where 24% of the ecommerce in the U.S. took place in 2004, most households have about $2000 worth of stuff lying around ready to sell. Letting Go As you sort through your things, memories will flood your mind, and you'll find that you have emotional attachments to more than a few things. Set those extra special things aside, but as you sift through closets and drawers, be pragmatic. Ask yourself, “Is there a place for this in our new home, or will it end up tucked away again for years?” Experts agree that if you haven't used something in the last year, you should get rid of it. Be ruthless, you'll be happy you didn't pay good money to move stuff you won't ever use. Clothes in good condition that haven’t been worn for over a year are a good bet to hit the garage sale. Excess tools, toys, dishes, kitchenware, and old videos might seem like throwaways, but they can also be good items to set aside for a yard sale. Remember the old adage: one person’s trash is another’s treasure. Garage Sale Success Tips A good time to have your garage sale (or start listing things online) is about six weeks before you move, shortly after you’ve started packing. This will allow you plent y of time to both sell and pack and in case it rains, will give you plenty of time to reschedule that garage or yard sale. • Price everything before the sale. People are more apt to buy when they don’t have to ask how much something costs. If you’re short on time, you can group several things and charge the same price for each of them. • Price reasonably and simply. Your goal is to move the stuff, not make a financial killing. • Sort things by type and price. • Clean sells. Take a minute and wipe things off. • Early birds buy. Start your sale about 15-30 minutes before the posted time. • Advertise in the paper and online. • Post signs and directions at key intersections the morning of your sale. Stick one out in front of your house the day before that says, 'Garage Sale Tomorrow.' • Remember, accepting a little less in price is better than not selling. If you're getting rid of it, don't expect top dollar. • Have plenty of change on hand, and lots of help. Selling online works well, and you’re apt to get good money for your items. Quality pictures are key to selling products online, so use a digital camera to market your wares. Use auction services like eBay or Yahoo! Auctions (free). If you just want to move the stuff and aren’t interested in top dollar, try your local craigslist.org--a free online classified service. Alternatives to Selling Consider giving items to friends and family who may want or need some of your things as well. Helping always leaves you feeling good, so think about which of your things might help some of your relatives and compatriots. Beyond that, donating to charities is a fantastic way to rid yourself of unwanted items, and you may get a tax write off to boot! Be sure to document everything you donate for your tax records (we'll go into more detail about this in Moving and Your Taxes). Here a few national charities that will take your stuff: Make-a-Wish Foundation of America [http://www.wish.org/] Salvation Army [http://www.salvationarmy.org/] Goodwill Industries International, Inc. [http://www.goodwill.org/] American Red Cross [http://www.redcross.org/] Many of the Web sites for these organizations also offer 'reasonable' estimates of what the items you donate are worth for tax purposes. After the Gold Rush Between friends, charities, and yard sales, you should have significantly lightened the load and hopefully added a few extra dollars to your wallet. Plus, the fewer items and cargo weight that you have to move, the less time and money you will need to complete the move. With a little more cash and a little less stuff, the job of packing and moving should be that much easier. How to Avoid Moving Disasters The following ten tips can help you avoid some of the big pitfalls of moving and make your transition an easier experience. Some of these points we've mentioned before, but we'd like to emphasize their importance once more. Check with the BBB There are many legitimate movers on the market, but there are also folks to avoid. No- name 'movers' may offer the best price estimates, but the last thing you need when you arrive at your new house is for the moving truck not to show up or leave you living out of a suitcase for a week. Before you chose a mover, check their record with the Better Business Bureau. Make sure that they give a binding estimate and include all expenses on the contract. Be vigilant during the loading and unloading process, and examine your belongings carefully before you sign the receipt. Get an Estimate in Person If you want the estimate to have validity, make sure it’s done in person. While many legitimate moving companies give estimates over the phone or on the Internet, talking with someone face-to-face gives you added assurance about the moving business that you've selected. When your estimator comes out to give an estimate, make sure they see everything so that you can receive the most accurate estimate possible. Label Every Box Remember what your writing teachers always said: be descriptive. Putting 'kitchen' on a box is just a starting point. When you’re scrambling for some dish towels or plates, finding the gravy boat and ice tea pitcher will not be a happy surprise. Marking your boxes by room and listing the items contained in the boxes will help you immensely when you have to unpack. When in Doubt, Throw it Out! Chucking five garbage bags worth of stuff can mean cost savings during your move, so you'll want to take time to evaluate what really needs to come with you. As we've talked about before, you should also consider donating to your local charities. But keep in mind that Goodwill doesn’t want clothing that is worn or stained. Your stuff does need to be in good condition to be accepted. Finish Your Packing Unfinished packing on moving day is a great way to lose friends and/or work up an astronomical bill from the movers. Packing can take anywhere from two to five times longer than you imagined. If you're a partial self- mover, do everything you can to make sure you’re completely packed before the movers arrive. You want to be guiding and helping them with the job, not stuck in the bathroom trying to figure out how to pack the shower curtain. Keeping the Children Happy Your children may have difficulty with such a major life transition or they may simply have lots of energy that they don't know what to do with. You’ll want to do everything you can to inform them about what’s going on. If your children are really young, finding a family member or friends with whom the kids can stay can help them stay out of the way of the packing and to be a little less upset while their home is being packed away. If they need to be with you, make sure some of the ir comforts are available. A beloved stuffed animal along with favorite storybooks, coloring books, or hand held video games can do wonders to calm and entertain. For older children, finding small projects they can do to help can go a long way toward making them feel better. We'll talk about this more in Keeping the Troops Happy: Tips for Making the Move Easier for Children. Keep Important Documents with You As mentioned earlier, there are things you just don’t want to chance getting lost: tax documents, insurance information, school records, medical records, and everything involving the move: estimates, contracts, and the bill of lading. Keep them close. Minding the Plants and Pets Pets and plants require special care during a move. If at all possible, find another place for these companions to stay during the transition. Doing so will keep them out of the movers' way and help keep the pets from getting lost or abandoned. Mind the Housekeeping Especially if you’re leaving behind an apartment, you’ll want to make sure you’ve left the space spic and span. Accompany the management staff on the final walk through so you can scrub that tub again instead of paying the $25 maintenance fee. If you’re leaving a home behind, show the new inhabitants some courtesy: vacuum and dust once you’ve got all your stuff out, and if you want some extra points, mow the lawn. Give Yourself a Break Moving isn’t going to be easy. Yes, planning ahead and getting things done on a schedule will make worlds of difference, but even so, you’re going to have to be flexible. Be sure to give yourself regular breaks so that you don't get overwhelmed or burned out. With a little of the right pacing, you'll be able to take your move in stride. Part 3: Keeping Up Communication Family and friends will be just as excited as you are about the move, but how do you keep them from getting in the way and make sure that they're happy and informed? We've got some suggestions to help you please everyone. Keeping the Troops Happy: Tips for Making the Move Easier for Children Moving is particularly hard on children because they often aren’t involved in the initial decision- making process and then they get blindsided with the news after it’s a done deal. This can make them feel alienated, rebellious, and fearful. Unfortunately, it can be difficult or impossible to involve your children in those critical first moments where matters of finances and your future come into play. However, you can avoid putting more stress on the family by involving them in the process and talking about it at every step along the way. Share the Concerns and Excitement From the onset, be positive, open, and honest with your children. Talk about why you’re moving, what’s going to happen, and how your children can have a say. Here are a few things you can do to turn down the stress a few degrees. • When possible, get their input on things such as which room will be theirs and how they plan to arrange their furniture and what color paint they would like. • Share pictures and videos of the ir new home. • Reassure them that they’ll make new friendships and fit into new schools and neighborhoods. Tell them how they can stay in touch with old friends through letters and email. • Explore new family hang-outs and investigate together places like schools, sports venues, churches, theme parks, movie theaters, restaurants, and local attractions before you move. Your excitement and enthusiasm will rub off on your children, and you can make them feel ownership by getting them involved. If you do this, they’ll start anticipating the move, which will make the eventual change more bearable and manageable. Making it a family adventure can be rewarding and fulfilling for everyone. Assign Age-Appropriate Responsibilities Give your kids a strong sense of responsibility by giving them tasks to do. This will help take their minds off the sad things like leaving friends and familiar places behind. • Kids who are old enough can box their own toys and belongings. Show them how to do it and give them the tape and markers to do the job. • Allow older children to fill out and send change of address forms and pictures of their new home to friends and family. • Put teenagers in charge of pulling together 'first-night' kits that hold toiletries and other essentials to which you’ll want easy access. • Use room layout kits and get the whole family involved in furniture arrangements and decorating ideas. Hint: keep your infant or toddler’s room set up essentially the same as it is now so it will seem familiar. • Ask older children to supervise their younger siblings. • When you get to your new home, encourage all children to seek out new friends. • Put children in charge of pets. Don’t Forget the Pets Your pets will undergo moving trauma too. Set aside a piece of your clothing and their favorite blanket to make them feel secure during the move and in their new surroundings. Use this checklist to help them stay happy too. • Make tags with the new address and contact information, and put them on your pets as you embark on the move. • Give a child the job of talking to a pet and keeping it company during the move. • Keep pets confined to the new house or on a leash for the first day or so. They may be anxious or panicky and try to run away. • Use sedatives only if absolutely necessary. Talk with your veterinarian about travel concerns. • If you’re moving interstate, contact the local authority or ask your vet about health certificates and other requirements that may be imposed in the new locale. • Pack a pet travel kit that includes leashes, food, water, bowls, medicines, litter cleanup, and a favorite toy. • Cover pet carriers to keep your pets calm in times of distress. The anxiety and fear of moving is shared by everyone, pets included, but you can lessen the hardships by involving the family and keeping them abreast of changes. Feeling like they're a part of everything will help them cope and feel needed during the move. Get the Word Out: Letting People Know About Your Move Family, friends, and companies need to know that you're going and where. At least two weeks before you go, contact current service professionals and organizations to cancel or change services and connect with new ones that service your new home to update your address information. Don’t wait until the last minute or you may forget someone or worse, not have the services you need when you arrive. Use the checklist below to put the word out and ensure that everyone knows about your move. • Get a change of address kit from the post office. • Make a list of all your magazine subscriptions and notify them of your new address. • Stop the newspaper and set up a new subscription at your new home. • Cancel dairy and food deliveries and investigate these services at your new locale. • Cancel your old telephone service and set it up for your new home. Do the same for email and cellular service too. • Notify any companies with whom you have on-going payments such as credit cards, car payments, and so forth. • Tell the water, gas, and electrical companies that you're moving. Find out how and when final readings are taken. Contact new providers to arrange for utilities to be on when you arrive. • Inform the garbage company too. You may have an abundance of trash on moving day, so be prepared for a larger than normal final bill. • Make a list of professionals you need to tell about your new address and telephone number. Here are a few to include: o Doctors o Lawyers o Banks/Investment Firms o Insurance Companies • If you have children, contact their current school and the new school to coordinate enrollment. Contacting these people and organizations is critical for an easy transition to your new home. If you wait until the last minute, you risk not being able to find all the contact information you need to compile a comprehensive list. Further, if these notifications aren’t timely, you risk jeopardizing your credit or not having critical services ready when you arrive in your new home. Nothing could be worse than not having running water or electricity. Don’t forget your friends and family. They’ll want to know when you’re ready to cast off, and maybe they’ll want to help too! It’s a rare thing to have too many hands on moving day. Broadcast your move with the same methodical way you pack, and you’ll be shipshape and ready to go when you arrive in your new home. Part 4: Settling In Your New Home It's easy to get caught up in the packing and the moving, but let's not forget the unpacking, arranging, and settling in your new home. The following are tips to help you finish your move. Is Life Normal Yet? Advice to Minimize Post-Move Stress Congratulations! You and your family have made it through the move relatively unscathed. However, you now have a sea of cardboard boxes, and nobody knows where the dog's food went. So, what do you need to do to get everything arranged in your new home? Get the Juices Flowing If you can, get your power and water set up in advance. If you haven't done this yet, then it's obviously top on the list along with activating a telephone line for your home if you need it. Getting the cable or satellite TV folks out to the house as soon as possible can give you something to watch while taking a break to relax. Know Where it Goes Earlier, we talked about figuring out where your furnishings should go by sketching out a floor plan. This is where you can reap the rewards of that plan. If you've told the movers exactly where the furniture goes, you won’t have to move it again later. Plus, your labeled boxes are in the right rooms so you don't have to spend extra time hauling items from room to room. Prioritize Your Unpacking Start with vital, every day items. Use your list or spreadsheet to find bathroom essentials and unpack those boxes right away; the same goes for kitchen essentials. It’s nice to get the beds set up for that first night, and depending on the length of the move, it will be a welcome change from guest beds and motel mattresses. Take Out the Trash! Boxes, packaging peanuts, and tape make for a lot of garbage. It will be a relief to get rid of the trash, and to do this, you’ll need to find out what day is garbage collection day. If it can't wait, you can contact your waste management company to find out where the dump is and how much it will cost to unload your refuse. Renting a dumpster may also be an option if you have a lot of trash. You may also want to learn about recycling options and protocol--all those moving boxes can be broken down and recycled. Once you get the garbage and recycling out of the way, you’ll see your new home taking shape. Find Important Locations If you haven't already scoped things out, you’ll want to know where the hospital, police station, and fire department are. For Fido’s sake, knowledge of an emergency veterinarian’s office is also important. You’ll have worked up a hearty appetite carrying all those boxes, so find a few nearby restaurants or a grocery store. You don’t want your car to run on empty either so it's a good idea to locate a gas station as soon as possible. Libraries and Shopping Malls: Finding Amenities Beyond the basics, you’ll also help your family settle in by finding places for recreation and leisure. Knowing where to find shopping malls or retail stores can help when you need new home furnishings. The library is a great place to pick up books, CDs, and DVDs--entertainment for the kids while you’re still getting settled. In the Near Future… While you’re getting settled in, it may seem like there’s so much more to do. Make lists and take it one step at a time so as not to get overwhelmed. Maybe you still need to enroll the kids in school, license the dog, and register to vote in that upcoming election. Do you need to change your auto and property insurance? Prioritize, but don’t forget to take time out to relax and enjoy your new home. Moving and Your Taxes If you’re moving to a new home, you could be eligible for major tax deductions related to your move. IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses provides detailed information about these tax deductions. In general, you should be eligible to deduct moving expenses if you’re a taxpayer and meet the qualifications listed below: • Your move is closely related to the start of employment or self-employment AND • You meet the Distance Test and Time Test (see IRS Form 3903, Moving Expenses). Distance Test For the IRS Distance Test: • Your new workplace must be at least 50 miles further from your old home than your old workplace. For example, if you used to travel 5 miles to work and because of your move you now travel 55 miles to work--you meet the test. • If you don't have an old workplace, your new workplace must be at least 50 miles from your old home. Time Test For the IRS time test: • If you are an employee, you must work full time in the general area of your new workplace for at least 39 weeks during the 12 months right after you move. • If you are self-employed, you must meet the same requirement AND work a total of at least 78 weeks during the 24 months right after you move. Information provided here is for your convenience. Make sure to read IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses and IRS Form 3903, Moving Expenses for specific details. Deductible Moving Expenses Ok, so let’s assume that you’re eligible to deduct your moving expenses. What exactly are deductible moving expenses? Deductible moving expenses include: • The actual cost of transportation (including gas and oil) from your old home to your new one or the IRS standard mileage rate. You can also include tolls and parking fees. • Lodging, but not meals. (Expenses for sightseeing out of your direct route are not deductible.) • The cost of storage; packing, crating, and unpacking; and transportation costs using a moving company or a rental truck for a self- move. Other deductible moving expenses may include the cost of: • Shipping yo ur car and boat • Transporting pets like dogs, cats, and tropical fish • Connecting and disconnecting utilities • Moving personal belongings from a place such as a summer home or relative’s home You can also see if you’re new employer can help you with moving costs. Many usually do, meaning you can still save a lot of money. Part 5: Additional Resources Here are additional resources that we recommend to help you make informed choices during your move. Essential Home Moving Books and Web Sites Browse through the following Web sites and books to help you efficiently plan, organize, and choose equipment, tools, and perhaps a moving company for your move. American Moving and Storage Association The American Moving and Storage Association is comprised of more than 3,200 professional moving companies that can help with your move. Aside from having a moving countdown calendar and moving terminology definitions, their Web site (www.moving.org) gives advice on how to: • Choose a mover • Get an estimate • Plan your move This site also provides moving tips on how to protect important items that are often included in a move like: • Electronics • Furniture • Pets EZ Move EZ Move (www.ezmove.com) focuses solely on moving and breaks the move up into steps that include information on: • Planning the details of your move • Determining how much moving help you need • Educating yourself on the moving process Their suggestions will help you plan a successful move across the country or across town. Move Move (www.move.com) gives advice on planning, moving, settling in, and improving your new home. The site also has: • A moving calculator • A checklist generator • Tips and tricks on packing difficult items and what not to pack With this site, you can also find moving truck rentals in your area and get free moving quotes from up to 6 moving companies. Move Your House: Plan it, Organize it and Decorate it by Sandy Payne This is a complete guide to moving in 224 pages. The book’s filled with advice, tips, and techniques that will help you through the moving process. Chapters include: • Pre-move preparations • Packing and unpacking • Organizing • Containerizing During your relocation, this book will help you plan, organize, and even decorate your new place. Simply Essential Home Moving Kit by Richard Stephens In 96 pages, this book covers moving essentials so that you know what to do to prepare your family for moving day. The tips and advice will help you move in an organized and timely manner whether you’re moving neighborhood-to-neighborhood, city-to-city, or country-to-country. The author includes information and checklists on the following topics: • Budgeting your move • Formulating a timeline • Troubleshooting the unexpected The book comes with worksheets and checklists included in MS Word and PDF format on a 3 ½" disk that can be used on any computer. The Moving Survival Guide: All You Need to Know to Make Your Move Go Smoothly by Martha Poage This guide will allow you to make wise decisions while keeping you organized and motivated throughout the relocation process. The book leads you through: • Selling • Packing • Relocating The author has successfully moved her family nine times in eleven years and offers practical advice and insight in 192 pages. This book will ultimately help you stay focused and informed for your move. These are only some of many resources available to help you survive a move while saving money and time. By taking advantage of the tips, advice, and valuable information found in these resources, you’ll avoid unneeded hassle and stress. Plus, you’ll likely enjoy a smoother transition into your new home and neighborhood. We hope all these thoughts and suggestions will guide you to a successful move and that all your belongings arrive safe and sound at their new destination.