Your Best Move

Stress- and cost-reducing strategies for relocating

Story by Jamey Bradbury

Whether you’re relocating across town or across the continent, moving is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some strategies you can use to cut down on the stress – and the cost – of your next move.

Question and Answer

The keys to a low-stress move, says Serena Kraft, co-owner of Golden North Van Lines, are pre-planning and communication. “As a moving company, we know moving is multifaceted, so we look at all aspects of the move to reduce the stress involved.” She advises homeowners to get quotes from at least three reputable moving companies – “so you’re comparing apples to apples” – and to do a pre-move survey with the company you choose.

“We’re in your home, so you want to make sure you’re comfortable with the crew,” Kraft explains. During the survey, the movers will explain how long it will take to pack and move your entire house, and how your things will be shipped if you’re moving out of state.

This is also your chance to ask questions about the moving crew and the services the company offers. Particularly if you haven’t finalized the purchase of a new home, find out if your movers provide heated temporary storage and how they’ll handle getting your belongings from the truck, to the storage unit, to their final destination.

While you’re asking questions, don’t forget to check with your homeowner’s insurance representative to see if your valuables will be covered during the move.

Packing Strategies

If you choose to pack your belongings yourself, Cheryl Cummings, owner of The Closet Divas, has two words for you: organize and downsize. “Moving is the best opportunity to get rid of things you haven’t used or seen in ages,” she says, adding that once you’ve made your “keep,” “donate” and “trash” piles, be sure to actually throw out the trash and take in your donations so they don’t accidentally get packed.

Next, get organized. “Set up a moving kit – a box that has your tape, scissors, markers, measuring tape, everything you’ll need so you don’t have to waste time looking for anything,” Cummings shares. Make sure you have plenty of boxes, too. “You’re going to blow through it. You look at a closet and think it’ll take two boxes, then eight boxes later you’re out of containers.”

As you pack each room – starting, Cummings suggests, with the rooms you use the least – smart labeling will prevent frustration once you get to your new home. “You’re packing in your old home but for your new home,” advises Kraft, “so you want to label boxes for where they’re going, not where they’ve been.”

Designate one box for parts – screws, hooks, electronics cables – so you’re not searching for these things once it’s time to put furniture back together and hang pictures on walls. Set aside breakable items that need special crating, and consider taking them to The Packaging Store or another expert packer, even if you aren’t using professional movers for the rest of your things. “There’s nothing more devastating than getting to the other end,” says Kraft, “and finding one item broken, just to save a few dollars.”

Finally, offers Cummings, “Deep cleaning every room as you pack it will ease the pressure off whoever’s doing the final clean.”

Moving Day

The last day in your house can be a chaotic one, with people coming and going, loading boxes and needing direction. Cut down on the chaos by having a game plan: Arrange for the day’s meals ahead of time, double-check your to-do list, then assign tasks to specific people.

“Loading the moving truck is critical,” says Kraft. “The packing can be great, but then someone who doesn’t know how to load a trailer puts the heaviest boxes on top of the china – that’s when the damage occurs.” Keep this in mind when you’re cutting costs: What you save by not hiring professional movers, you may end up spending on replacing damaged items.

After a final walk-through that includes your crawlspace, attic or other hidden areas, you’re ready to close the door on the old house…

Already at Home

…and open the door on your new home. “One of the biggest causes of stress is the uncertainty about what’s ahead and whether you made the right decision,” says Cummings.

Even if you’re relocating out-of-state, though, there are things you can do to make your family feel more at home the day you step foot into an unfamiliar house. “Learn ahead of time where your kids will be going to school, what the neighborhood’s like,” advises Kraft. “Just having that sense of community when you arrive can make for a much easier transition.”

“When you get caught up in the stress of the move itself,” adds Cummings, “it’s easy to forget the end reward.” With a little pre-planning, though, your family can make your next move a less stressful one.