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How to Organize Your Own Move

(without causing yourself a nervous breakdown)

If you’ve ever moved, you know that it’s a big job, no matter how near or far you are going.  If you’re not hiring a home organization company to help make the transition as smooth as possible, follow these steps to make sure you are prepared for your big day with minimal stress and aggravation.  

Three to six months before your move date:

  • Secure a quality mover. This should be done well in advance to get the best teams for cross country moves.
  • Schedule appraisals and consignment/auction pickups for high value items no longer desired.
  • Schedule specialty packers for art, fine clocks. As needed, contact specialists in tech, equine and auto transport.  If you’re going across the country or world, consider crating services that begin before regular packing. 
  • Make sure your data is backed up.  If your photos are in disarray, contact a professional photo organizer to scan, organize, and/or back them up.  

Two to three months before your move date:

  • Review contents.  You’ll need at least a couple weeks before you start packing to sort through and make sure you’re not moving items you no longer need or want.  Here’s our post on top areas to pare down before you move.
  • Confirm locations of vital documents (passports, birth certificates, deeds, non replaceable documents)
  • Do a walk-through video to inventory your possessions before they are packed and moved. Or use this thorough guide.

Three to five weeks before your move date:

  • Order packing materials
  • Begin packing, starting with out-of-season items, knick-knacks and decorations, and other items that are not used on a daily basis.

Two weeks before move date: 

  • Order street permits for parking and reserve loading docks and elevators in your building
  • Pack books, toys, games, etc. 

One week before move date: 

  • Schedule utility services to be cancelled and started, 
  • Schedule mail forwarding
  • Pack non essential kitchen items like specialty appliances, excessing baking etc.

Five to seven days before move date:

  • Pack personal suitcases
  • Give small valuables to trusted person (coins, jewelry, watches, etc.) 
  • Prepare for movers to be in your home. 
  • Find someone to look after your kids and pets on moving day.
  • Photograph furniture items to have a record of their pre-move condition

Two days before:

  • Pack remaining kitchen items
  • Give away or discard refrigerated items that you won’t consume before you vacate

One day before

  • Return communications equipment, if you’re not keeping the same internet or cable provider.
  • Pick up snacks and drinks for Moving Day.
  • Be prepared to tip your moving team.  In most areas, the going rate is $20-50 per person per day.
  • Have empty boxes on hand for packing bedding. 

Moving Day

  • Consolidate all items that movers should NOT take in one room or closet (suitcases, etc.) and mark it with a large sign, and tell the lead mover upon the team’s arrival.
  • Place hanging clothes in wardrobe boxes.  
  • Strip beds; pack bedding.
  • Drop off kids and pets 
  • Be on hand to answer questions, and to monitor the handling of your belongings.

Having a roadmap for organizing a move is the first step toward accomplishing it with minimal pain.  However, for most of us, life does not stop just because we’re relocating! Even though moving can add enough tasks to keep a person busy practically full-time for weeks if not months, you likely have family and work obligations that continue throughout– leaving you stressed and anxious and possibly unprepared.  If this describes you, call a professional organizer that offers moving services, and see if there are parts of the moving process that would be helpful to have someone else handle.  

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