Moving Tips from the Master Mover
Updated: Jan 30
Yep, it's that time once again for a Swindell move and just days away from that glorious feeling of seeing the moving truck pull up in front of our house. I know, I know, I know I am completely nuts. My husband looked at me this weekend as I was filling nail holes and touch up painting our current house for our new buyers, and he said, "You are so in your element right now."
Because I am a professional mover and so organized that I have time to write a blog post, I thought I would share all my moving secrets to have a smooth and seamless moving experience. After 30+ moves, I have encountered every hiccup that could possibly happen, and now I will help you avoid those pesky hiccups when the time comes for your special day, you lucky person you!
By now, you already had the joy of either getting an offer on your current home, or coming upon the end of your lease. You have found the home of your dreams, and your head is spinning with all the new decorating ideas swirling around up there. As exciting as it all is, its time to get to work little lady!
If you are lucky enough to be paying cash for your new house, you have just avoided the hardest part of buying a home and my least favorite part of the process. Getting approved for a home loan is as invasive as going to the Gyno and just as enjoyable. That's why you pick a lender that you don't mind knowing all your deep dark financial secrets...Amy E., you are the BEST! Once you survive the loan process, the real fun begins.
*TIP! I always try and get at least a three-day leaseback to make sure the house you are selling gets funded in plenty of time for the closing on the new house, especially if you need those funds for your downpayment. Any delay in the first closing dramatically affects the entire planning process. You also don't have to rush getting out of your current house and worry about having it cleaned for the new owners on the day of closing.
ONE MONTH away from moving day! Now is the time to start cleaning out all the crap you have collected over the years. Just think for every large trash bag you fill, it is one or two fewer boxes to unpack. I like to create two piles; one for donation and one for trash. Really think about if things are worth keeping, or if you are just moving clutter from one house to the next. You will discover you have a lot of trash items, and now is the time to start throwing stuff away with only four trash collection days left. Otherwise, you will be making trips around town to find dumpsters and will feel like a serial killer dumping a dead body. I obviously listen to true crime podcasts as I pack. If your neighborhood allows it, it's a great time for a garage sale!
Get at least 2-3 prices for moving companies; you will be surprised how different they all will be. Ask friends who they have used and have had a good experience with. A good company will not only be more professional but will save your furniture from being ruined by not being packed correctly. Ask them to be sure to have extra boxes available for those last-minute items you didn't get to. I always ask them to bring wardrobe boxes and have them pack all the clothing; it's so worth the extra money. Taping up and loading wardrobe boxes is NOT fun nor easy.
THREE WEEKS AWAY! Start asking friends, family, and businesses for boxes. Boxes are not cheap and range from $1.50 to $10 for wardrobe boxes. Invest in the super-strong tape that is in the dispenser and tape the bottom at least three times to avoid everything crashing out because you made the box too heavy. The sooner you start packing, the better. BUT check with the Realtor of the family buying your home that all is going smoothly with their loan. You don't want to pack up your entire house three weeks early, only to find out the loan fell through. This may or may not have happened to me.
Start packing the items you won't be needing for the next few weeks—holiday decor, winter clothing if it's summer, etc. I start at the front of the house and work my way back, doing only a few boxes a day. It saves your back and your nails packing in short intervals. Get a big box of black trash bags for things like blankets, extra bedding, and pillows. It is MUCH easier to just rip those babies open at the new house than the time it takes to cut open and cut down a box. I put a piece of masking tape on the bag for what room it goes in for the movers. Write details of what is in each box, as it is worth the extra time doing it vs. searching hours for that can opener in the sea of "kitchen" boxes.
Make a shelf somewhere for the things that stay in the house, like manuals, extra paint, tiles, etc. I put sticky notes on those items that say "do not pack." Movers are like little army ants, you blink, and it's being packed up or loaded up. I also make a list for my new buyers with all the service companies I have used for the house, such as exterminators and yard people.
TWO WEEKS AWAY! Now it's crunch time, and when I get my handy notebook out and start my checklists of things to do because you WILL forget things if you don't. My husband is really good at starting and stopping all the utilities since you can do most of those things on line. Don't wait until the last minute to do this, especially with setting up cable and internet since those appointments can get booked fast. I also have him do the address change with the post office around this time. Again, anything he can do online, he is all in and one less thing for me.
If you still have little ones at home, this is an extra challenging time with the disenrolling and enrolling process for schools. I won't go into this because it is way too much to share, and I still have PTSD from doing it so many times. But I will say I made each child a folder to keep all the paperwork organized and easy to keep track as the big day gets closer, especially if they are in different schools.
With two weeks left, I start to get creative with food that is in the fridge and the pantry so I won't need to pack much of that, if any. If you are not moving far, keep a big cooler handy to load up on moving day to take to the new house.
ONE WEEK AWAY! This is when I start to get really excited! By now, all should be looking good for successful closings on both sides so you can breathe a little. Most of the house should be packed up except for what you use every day. Each room should have at least two clear empty bins with lids to put your essentials in on move out day. This makes all those important items easy to find on the first night in your new house. I also keep two black garbage bags in each room ready for your last-minute bedding, towels, and pillows. While the movers are loading the truck, I always wash all the sheets, so they are all nice and clean for the new house. There is not much you can do while the movers are there anyway. Why? Because you are so organized, you have time to do laundry before they load it up.
In my kitchen, I usually have at least three clear bins to pack all the important stuff that I want to get to quickly, like the coffee pot, silverware, plates, cups, pots and pans, wine glasses, and of course, a Bota Box ready to crack open that first night. Having clear bins makes things so much easier to get to than digging through boxes.
Confirm with your moving company that you are on the books. I also ask how many guys will be coming, so I have enough gratuity to give them at the end of the day. I also have water bottles handy for them and have been known to order pizza if it looks like it will be after dark until they are done. Happy movers are more likely to go the extra mile for you, such as move things around once they are done or put something together.
Make sure you arrange to have a "move out" cleaning for your home, and also confirm that your new house has been cleaned professionally. We moved into a house once that the owners did not clean after they moved out, and it was pretty darn gross. Not fun after a long day to move into a filthy house. Your Realtor should make sure that will be done, but now I always double check.
THE BIG DAY! This always feels like Christmas morning to me, and I can hardly sleep the day before. As silly as it sounds, be sure to wear something with pockets or workout pants that can hold your cell phone. Your phone will be ringing, and texts will be coming non-stop. EVERYONE will need you on this day because you are the director of this Broadway Show, and only you will know the answers. This is when my sweet husband knows to just let me be me. Even though I love it, I do get a little stressed on move day. His job of the day is just making sure I am fed and watered so I stay calm. He is also great at running last-minute errands because he likes to stay as far away from this day as possible. The control freak in me is in full force on move day, and that is fine with me!
Right when you think the movers are almost done, make one final walkthrough to be sure they got everything. Open every drawer, cabinet, and closet...you WILL find something I promise. Don't forget garden hoses, doormats, etc. I have left too many of those to count. If you have a built-in safe, don't forget to get your stuff out. One house we bought had a built-in safe, and the owner had forgotten to grab his adult-only VHS tapes. Thanks for the house warming gift!
Don't forget to leave all garage and/or gate openers, and extra keys that are labeled at the house. I have had to mail one to many garage openers in my day!
*TIP! I used to be too nice and would give the new owner my phone number if they ever had any questions. Well, some new owners have hundreds of questions, and you will be the first person they call when something breaks. Let the Realtors relay any information after closing. You will thank me for it. That is why you leave manuals and buy a home warranty for them, but I do usually make a small list of things that might be tricky to figure out. I also leave a little plant with a card or a bottle of wine for the new owner.
At the end of the day, pour yourself a glass of wine or a beer and pat yourself on the back at a job well done! It is no easy task to organize a move, but if you can avoid potential issues, it will be much easier. Now it's time to turn on your favorite tunes and start unpacking your beautiful new home. Enjoy!
Sarah Swindell's memoir, Rounding Home, is now available here! http://bit.ly/RoundingHome