By Russell Tully, General Manager of College Hunks for College Junk Moving Company, Jacksonville
Buying or selling a home is stressful, but what can make it even more stressful? A poorly planned move and a bad moving company. With the right planning and research, a move can be managed with a limited amount of stress.
1. How to Pick the Right Mover
4-6 Weeks Out From Moving Day
When buying and selling a home, picking your mover is a very important piece of the puzzle. It pays to do some upfront research to ensure you have a business that will take care of your valuables and handle the move professionally.
A few things to consider:
- Reviews and Referrals. Read online business reviews on Google Business and Angie’s List. Review social media profiles to see the interaction, and check the Better Business Bureau for any open complaints. Be fair of course, and remember that some people can never be pleased (we all have that friend).If there is one bad review, look at the whole picture and/or talk to the business owner. Did the business respond to the complaint? Ask your friends and colleagues who they have used. What were the positives? Negatives? If it was a bad experience, find out why? Your realtor will also have names of movers and can ask their customers about their moving experiences.
- Services Offered. Consider what you need out of the mover. Do you need insurance for items? Do you have special packing needs for flat screen TVs or specialty lighting? Research various vendors to find out what services they offer for your special needs. If it is a distance move, professional packing can be well worth the extra money. Does the company offer that?
- AMSA Membership and Liability Insurance. The American Moving and Storage Association is the national trade association for Movers. It holds its members to legal, ethical and safety standards. Be sure your mover is an active member of the AMSA in good standing. Also, inquire about the company’s liability insurance. If they don’t have insurance, that is a red flag.
- Price. There is a lot of competition in the moving space. Oftentimes you get what you pay for. Different companies have different levels of service. If you have high expectations and concern over the safety of your valuables, cleanliness, and overall customer care, you may pay a little more than you would if you hired an occasional mover. But, it’s often worth that extra money.
2. It’s Time to Purge!!!
4-6 Weeks Out From Moving Day
Prior to moving, your moving company will need a rough inventory of what they will be moving, preferably broken down by room. Oftentimes an in-house assessment is needed. Cross country movers, for example, often charge by weight and will need to eyeball your belongings.
This is a wonderful opportunity to purge. Get rid of the stuff that you no longer need. Some organizations will pick up gently used items, but call ahead to get on the pickup schedule. Make sure you understand what they will and will not take as a donation. Is there anything you can sell? Don’t wait until the last minute for this. You will drive yourself mad dealing with Facebook Marketplace, Swip Swap, and Craigslist.
Think about the layout of your new home. Sometimes furniture just doesn’t work right in the next house. We’ve moved many an unwanted TV armoire! Get rid of it if you don’t need it in the new home.
Books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo can provide inspiration. You might even hire a personal organizer to assist in the weeding and planning phase of the move.
3. Checklist Time
1-4 Weeks Out From Moving Day
Moving is hard, even for the most organized. Checklists are critical in making a move go smoothly. Paper lists are great. Or, if you are in a busy household with
Here are a few example checklists to get you started:
4 WEEKS PRIOR
- Boxes. If you plan to pack yourself, now is the time to get boxes. Your mover likely sells them, and stores like Home Depot and Lowes have boxes and supplies. Don’t skimp on packing tape! It goes quickly. You can also hit up Craigslist or Swip Swap. Oftentimes there are people out there trying to get rid of their old moving boxes. Book boxes are great for all sorts of things and are easy to maneuver, but don’t forget to gather a variety of box sizes. Things like throw pillows and blankets need larger boxes. And wardrobe boxes make transporting hanging items a dream.
- Pack and purge. If you are packing yourself, get started on the more complicated packing areas like glassware, serving dishes and decorative items that aren’t used regularly. Remember to purge along the way. Do you really need 20 beer glasses? Books are fast, so they can be done towards the end of the pack period.
- Deep clean. Have your curtains (if you are taking them), heavy blankets/spreads, and rugs cleaned, and leave them in the wrapping from the cleaner so they stay clean during the move. Remember, by contract, curtains will naturally convey with a property sale unless you specify that you would like to exclude them.
- Transportation. Purchase a plane ticket (or other transportation tickets, where applicable).
- Schools. If you have school-age children, make arrangements with their new school. Be sure to check on registration policies, as most public school districts require a resident driver’s license and closing statement or rental agreement for registration!
3 WEEKS PRIOR
- Set up utilities:
- Establish a time to disconnect utilities in your current home. It’s nice to give the new owner a day or two grace period. During a real estate transaction, technically the new owner owns the day of closing. But, be kind if it is warranted.
- Place calls to the utility companies in your new destination. Services like gas, at least here in Ponte Vedra Beach, book out a month in advance sometimes.
- If you need a hotel along your journey, go ahead and set up reservations. Don’t forget about your dogs and cats. Sites like Bring Fido are super useful in finding pet-friendly stops.
- Pick up any medical records you might need. Most physicians offices can electronically send records to new doctors. However, it’s awfully nice to have a hard copy just in case. Same goes for veterinary records.
- Does your car need servicing? If you have a drive ahead of you, get your oil changed and your tires rotated and aligned.
2 WEEKS PRIOR
- Sell any unwanted items. Facebook Marketplace is quick and easy. If you are donating items, you should execute the plan now!
- What about your plants? If it’s a distance move, you can’t move them. If you have sold your home, have your real estate agent ask the buying agent if the new owners would like your potted plants. If not, these too can be sold or given to friends.
- Schedule your post move cleaning if you do not plan to do it yourself.
- If you have prescription medication, check your stock. Do you have enough for the trip? Also, now is the time to identify your new pharmacy and put in a transfer.
- Label. If you are using professional packers, label items that will not be moving and set aside in one area.
4. Time to Roll Up the Sleeves
1 to 2 Days Out
Now is the time to move from checklist to task list. If you are selling your home it needs to be left empty of all personal belongings and clean. Technically the Northeast Florida purchase and sale agreement requires that a property be broom swept; however, it is awfully courteous to leave the property well-cleaned and move-in ready. Planning early will help in this process.
2 DAYS FROM MOVE DAY
- Clean out the refrigerator. In most real estate transactions, the refrigerator conveys with the property, but if not, it’s time to defrost it. If you have been renting, you should defrost.
- Clean the oven. Does your oven have a self-clean function? If so, go ahead and run this so there is one less item during the final clean.
- Professional packing. If your moving company is packing, they will typically begin the packing process two days out from moving day. Put some upfront time in walking them through the house explaining your furniture and personal items. Point out any items that are not moving.
THE DAY BEFORE
- Cash needed. Take cash out of your account for miscellaneous spend and for tipping your movers. The general rule of thumb for tipping movers: 10-15% of the total, or $20 each for a small to average sized move. There will generally be at least two movers, the captain, and wingman. For large moves, there may be as many as four movers.
- Make sure to have checks, as well as credit cards, in case your mover does not accept credit cards or you have a need for a check along the way.
- Check your car. If you’re driving, fill the tank, have the fluids topped off, and check your oil and tires.
5. Moving Day!
It’s important to stay calm on moving day. Your planning should have put you in a decent headspace, and if you have a good mover with experience, the process should go smoothly.
A few tricks from the trade:
- Don’t be shy about asking questions. Your movers are there to help and know it is a high anxiety day.
- Wake up rested. No late night cocktails the night before! Hopefully, your going away party was a few days prior.
- Guard your cell phone and charger. Please don’t pack your charger or put it in an area where your movers might pack. Your cell phone is your lifeline on moving day.
- Hang on to your moving paperwork and get the cell phone number of your driver.
- Be nice to your moving crew if they are doing a good job. Providing water, Gatorade, snacks, or even lunch, will go a long way in making the day go smoothly.
7. The Arrival
Your furniture has arrived, what next:
- Ask questions. At this point, you should have developed a rapport with your movers. They are there to reassure you and answer any questions and quell your anxieties.
- Walk the movers through the home and identify rooms. It’s very helpful to label rooms so they know where boxes and furniture goes. This is easily accomplished with a sharpie and a sticky note.
- Be available at the front door to direct traffic. Two people work even better, if you can have someone near the truck and one on the inside in case one of you gets sidetracked.
- Carefully start the unpacking. Once the boxes are out of the truck, and the movers are down to the last few pieces of furniture, you can begin unpacking — but pace yourself. Try to empty the big bulky boxes first to get them out of the house – bedding, pillows, cushions, lampshades etc. Many movers can help you get rid of some of the bulkier boxes before they leave, which will make your new space feel much more pleasant. Some moving companies will even schedule a box pick up a few days after moving. Ask about that service if you need it.
- Ask for help. DO let your movers set up your beds and assist with furniture layout. This is not their first rodeo.