Stressed about moving? Here are some tips for planning your next move
You’ve decided to move and found your new home – there may be a rush of excitement at first. A new place, a new chapter in life, a fresh start but then slowly, as the move out date gets closer, there is a feeling of being overwhelmed. It is so natural to feel this way. You may ask yourself, where do I begin? Do I have too much stuff? How is this all going to fit in my new home? Should I get rid of things and declutter? When should I schedule the movers? Did I make the right choice in moving?
Almost all my clients have expressed these thoughts to me in one form or another. My response: it’s all going to work out. The more prep work you do beforehand will make your move a successful one.
Here are the steps that I take with my clients to help make their move easier and more efficient:
1) Walkthrough and/or reviewing of the floor plans of your new home – it’s a good idea to do a walkthrough in your new home. Compare the closets, kitchen, and bathroom storage to your current home. See if the clothing hanging space is the same, if the cabinets in the kitchen are comparable to yours, and if the bathroom storage space/medicine cabinet is like what you have in your current home. Another thing to check for is shelving in closets and how much vertical space you have. Shelving is great for storing items you don’t use often! Next compare the floor space to your current home. If you see that the space is smaller, it may be a good idea to take measurements of your furniture and “stage it” using tape or post-its on the floor of your new home. This is also helpful on moving day when the movers unpack and set up the furniture.
2) Declutter, declutter, and declutter – this is the best thing you can do to create more space and most importantly not take items into your new home that you don’t really need. Go through everything in your home. I usually start with large items like clothes, shoes, kitchen items, and toys. Things like paperwork and nostalgic items can be saved for last. If you have some time before your move, and you feel like decluttering will be overwhelming, you can make a plan that includes the areas of your home and designated hours/days you’ll work on the areas. For example, on day 1 you will tackle your pots and pans. Take all the pots and pans out of the cabinet and decide what you’ll like to keep, donate, and toss. On day 2 you can go through your dishes, cutlery, and utensils. On day 3 the pantry, etc. If you’re very ambitious you can work on a whole area at once (kitchen, bedroom closet, bathroom, office, etc.). Keep these things in mind when you declutter: Do I love it? Do I need it? Have or will I use it? The more you let go of the easier it will be to pack, unpack and organize. Also remember that you will purchase more things in the future so it’s good to have that extra space!
3) Drop off donations – so you’ve decluttered (great job!) and you have several bags of donations and things you’re ready to let go of. Do not keep these items in your home. Plan to drop off donations or have someone pick the bags up. If you have large items that you would like to donate/dispose of, you can call a paid junk removal service to pick the items up or there are some donation centers that will pick items up.
4) Contact movers and get quotes – about a month before your move (especially if you are moving in the summer which is peak season), contact a couple of movers to get quotes. I recommend getting quotes from the movers that include their packing services vs without. If you have the budget, having the movers pack for you makes the packing process quicker and more efficient. They will bring all the packing materials and label boxes.
5) Logistics – if you live in an apartment building, they may require that the movers submit a COI (Certificate of Insurance). This is very common and can be handled quickly by the movers. Most of my clients in NYC live in apartment buildings with elevators. Once you decide on the movers you are using, it’s time to reserve the elevators. Some buildings have restrictions on the times you can use the elevators and there may be multiple moves happening if you are moving at the end or beginning of the month so make sure and schedule the elevators in advance. Once you’ve reserved the elevators, confirm the exact date with the movers you are working with.
6) Pre-label boxes – some of you may be packing on your own and if this is the case, make sure and label the boxes with the room you would like the box to be dropped off in. It will be easier when the movers unload for the boxes to be in the correct places (you don’t want a situation where you must lift a heavy box!). If you are having the movers pack you, pre-label each room and areas. When will you label an area within a room? An example of this is if in your new home you will have an office (which you didn't have in your previous home). Let’s say you have office supplies currently in your kitchen. You will want those office supplies to go to the office and not the kitchen so label that area “office” instead of kitchen. There are many instances where items from your current apartment will go somewhere else in your new apartment. The more exact you are in labeling the easier it will be when you unpack. You should label your items to match the rooms in your new home. Common labels: living room, primary bedroom, bathroom 1, bathroom 2, kids’ room, playroom, kitchen, linen closet, and entryway.
7) Day of the move – the movers have arrived either to start packing or if you’ve already packed your things on your own, they are there to load. Depending on how much you have and where you live (elevator building, walk-up, large home), it can take anywhere from 3 hours to a full day. When the movers arrive, if they are packing, you’ll want to do a walkthrough with them. You should have your rooms labeled at this point so it should be easy for them to follow. Usually when I’m managing the movers on a pack day, there will be some questions so it’s good if you are around, or of course you can hire a professional organizer to manage the movers for you, so you don’t have to be on site. It can be very hectic on the day of the move, especially if you have young kids and a lot of my clients prefer not to be onsite.
8) Unloading – you’ll want to label each room before the movers start unloading. Remember, the labels should match with the labels on the boxes. This will make it a lot easier for the moving team to unload the boxes in the right room. I usually will do a walkthrough with the foreman and show him where everything is. You will want to stand by the door and direct the movers (especially in the beginning). There may be some items without labels, this happens frequently with furniture when you are not sure exactly where which room it will fit in. The movers will also need your input on where you would like your furniture, TVs and (the direction of) beds to go. The more communication you have with them, the better. You don’t want a situation where they leave, and you have to move heavy boxes or furniture around.
9) Boxes, boxes, boxes – if you have help, try to unpack as many boxes (especially big ones!) as you can while the movers are there. Most movers that I work with will take empty boxes. The more you get rid of the less trash you have to dispose of on your own.
10) Unpack – ideally, you’ll want to try and unpack everything first and dispose of the boxes, if you can. Unpack boxes and categorize the items by type. For example, if you are unpacking your bedroom, categorize it by type of clothing (shirts, pants, dresses, socks, underwear, etc.), nightstand, and non-clothing items. For the kitchen, unpack and categorize by dishes, pots and pans, pantry, small appliances, etc.) Unpacking by category will make it easier to organize.
11) Organize – once you have everything unpacked, organize by type and things you use the most. You’ll want to have things that you use the most in easy to reach places while things you don’t use as often put away on top shelves or in hard-to-reach places. The general rule is to keep things in categories and organize your things in a way that makes the most sense to you.
12) Organizing products – there may be a need to purchase some organizing products like hangers, bins, shelves, drawer dividers, and other organizing items. Unless I know if a client needs something beforehand (by walking through the new space and seeing what they have), I purchase organizing products after I unpack and organize.
13) Live in your space – once you’re all unpacked and organized, live in your new space for a little bit. You may need to make some adjustments as you live in your space. This is perfectly normal!
Moving is something that we will do at least once in our adult life. The more prepared you are the more smoothly the move will be. I hope that these tips will help you with your next move! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me directly, I’m happy to help near or far.