13 Biggest Moving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
You Think You Can Wing It or DIY
Even a move across town can be very complicated and takes extensive advance planning. There are a huge number of potential pitfalls, including wear and tear on your body, damage to your household goods, and unexpected fuel costs. In the end, a do-it-yourself move might not be as cheap or easy as you thought. Give yourself plenty of time to research how you want to move and discover everything that's involved. Talk to friends who've moved and to movers to get the full picture before you decide to take on moving yourself.
You Forget About "Rush Hour"
With almost 40 million Americans relocating each year, there can be a moving "traffic jam" certain times of the year. The most reputable movers get booked early during the late spring and summer months when half of all moving takes place, so plan ahead! You don't want your only option to be a less experienced mover or one who has to hire temporary labor to do your job. Give yourself enough time—3 to 4 months before the scheduled move-in day—to get moving estimates and referrals from several companies, to get your family on board with the idea of moving, and to plan carefully. Ask your mover about overbooking; some make a habit of taking on too many jobs to make sure they get enough work. You don't want to be the job they drop the day of the move.
You Didn't Get an Estimate
You don't buy a car or house without knowing its cost and the same should go for your move. Most movers offer two kinds of estimates: binding or nonbinding. The nonbinding kind gives you an idea of how much your move will cost, based on the mover's estimate of the size of your current home, its contents, and how far you're moving. You get the estimate in writing and can only be charged 10% more than the estimate. A binding estimate is a legal document that clearly describes the charges, which can't be changed unless you request significant add-on services (i.e. the movers have to climb three flights of stairs they didn't know about). Most experts recommend that you get three estimates, and ask a lot of questions about possible hidden fees. With today's high gas prices, you don't want a surprise fuel surcharge to blow your budget. You also don't want to go with the cheapest bid; there is bound to be a reason that mover is cheaper, and it usually isn't a happy one.
You Didn't Check on Insurance
Whoops, the movers just dropped a box of your favorite dishes. Who is going to pay for that? Well, nobody is (or you are), if your mover doesn't have enough insurance. Find out before you start the moving process. Your chosen mover might have some insurance but it may only pay for a fraction of your heirloom dishes' or TV's value. Then check with your home insurance provider to see what's covered and when and where. Does your policy cover moving and items in transit? If you don't think you have enough coverage, moving companies offer a variety of deals on additional insurance. You should also find out if your chosen mover has workers' comp insurance. Some small companies (with fewer than five employees) don't, and that could mean that paying for an injury someone sustains in your home is your responsibility.
You Forgot to Consider Valuables
Most moving companies won't be held responsible for expensive items, like jewelry. You'll want to pack your valuables carefully and plan to transport them yourself. The same goes for any coin collections, documents, or expensive technology; if it's fragile or extra special to you, you'll probably want to take care of it yourself and keep it with you. Read your moving contract carefully to find out if your mover can transport your grill (the tank will have to be emptied by a professional first), any firearms you might own, and any alcohol.
You Didn't Prep for Your Pet
With all of the other things to worry about, it's easy to forget that the family pet needs to move too, and that's one thing you can't have the movers throw in a box! Visit your vet before moving day to make sure your pet has current shots, tags, certificates, and proper identification. If your pet will be traveling by air or in a car a long distance, ask about travel recommendations, portable kennels, and motion sickness medication. Make sure you carry the animal's papers with you, especially if you cross state lines. When you get to your final destination, reinstate your dog's routine and reward it with a special treat.
You Forget Plants Have Special Requirements
Lots of movers won't handle plants, especially if you're moving more than 150 miles or crossing state lines. If plants are on your to-do list, first check with the USDA to make sure there aren't rules about bringing plants by car into your destination state (those that have big citrus crops, for instance, might be picky about incoming plant and potential insect life). A few weeks before the move, transplant plants from your breakable pots (the movers can pack and transport those) into lighter-weight unbreakable ones that will be easier to for you to move. If it turns out you can't move your plants, donate them to friends, a botany class, or a local retirement home.
You Didn't Clean Your House
Face it, there are tons of things in your home that you haven't used in years. But you'll be paying to pack them up and move them, and then you'll be faced with unpacking them and finding a place where you can store them, unused, for another 10 years. Bad idea! Instead, plan a reuse, recycle, regift weekend where everyone in the family gets rid of the things you really don't need or use. Donate items to charity, hold a garage sale, or give furniture to the kid next door who is getting his own apartment. It'll save you time and trouble in the long run and will prevent extra charges when your moving men stumble upon an old dining room set hidden in the back of the garage.
You Didn't Pack a Survival Kit
Smart movers make sure they have a personal survival kit that they carry with them so that move-in day (and night) goes smoothly for everyone in the family. This might include must-haves, such as scissors, a screwdriver, your address book, a flashlight, a map of your new town, your child's can't-sleep-without blanket, toiletries, dog food, a can opener, soap, coffee, toilet paper, and necessary medications for the whole family. Remember to have enough handy cash, too, so that you'll be able to tip your movers and pay for that pizza delivery you'll most certainly need.
You Didn't Look at the Inventory and Check It Twice
Your moving inventory list is incredibly important. It's your way of checking that everything from your first home was packed up as it should be and got on the truck. You can't watch every single item get boxed up and loaded, of course, but a perusal of the inventory document before you leave will give you some reassurance that nothing was left behind. Don't let the movers rush you through this inventory process. Check the list again as items are unloaded at your new residence. It's easier to locate a missing item on the day of the move than a month later when you discover you can't find an important box. Before signing off on the inventory sheet on delivery day, make sure you understand the process for filing claims for missing items.
You Didn’t Prepare Your Family for the Move
Moving often brings up a lot of emotions due to changes in schedules and environments. To help cope with the stress of the move, talk openly with your family about the change that is coming and don’t be afraid to express emotions. Research exciting things to do in your new city or visit your favorite places before leaving your existing home. Maintain rituals like family meals or game night to build a sense of consistency that’s reassuring.
You Didn’t Make Important Updates
Think about every service you use and directly contact them to change your address. Banks, insurance agencies, credit card bureaus, fitness centers, and subscription-based services are just some of them you’ll need to contact. Forward your mail to help you from missing important bills and notifications. You’ll also need to speak with your doctors about medical referrals and transfer your medical records. Be sure to get all records for your family members including school records and veterinarian paperwork. And make sure you change your voter registration before the next election.
You Neglected Your Current Home
Although your focus is probably on your new home, your current home still needs attention. You’ll want to deep clean your entire home and make any needed repairs to make sure your property is in ready-to-sell or rent condition. Be sure you get rental deposits back and cancel any services like lawn care and pest control. Lastly, cancel utility services at your current home and set up utility service at your future location.