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What's Up Magazine

Are You Relocation Ready?

Jul 07, 2014 08:00AM ● By Lurdes Abruscato
By Lurdes Abruscato

Between Annapolis, our neighboring big cities (Baltimore/D.C.), and the Shore, we live in the Bermuda Triangle of residential relocations. Home to some major academic, military, government, health care, and corporate facilities, this area sees an inordinate amount of moves, relocations, re-assignments and transfers.

Whether it’s just down the street or across the ocean, relocating is a time-consuming and stressful process. But with a little pre-planning, it doesn’t have to be. What’s Up? Sourcebook consulted with moving specialists and frequent movers to develop these top strategies for a smooth and successful move:

Chart your timeline. Starting with an approximate move date, work backwards (preferably at least three months prior) to determine when projects need to get done, says Scott Roewer, a certified local professional organizer.

Allot extra time for difficult jobs, like purging junk drawers and basements, or time-consuming tasks, such as sorting through photo albums and keepsakes. Using a timeline will focus your efforts—you’ll know exactly when to submit change of address forms, purchase packing supplies, hire a mover, start on a closet, etc.

Don’t Forget: This is a good period to research your new neighborhood, prepare your family, and wrap up any to-do lists, such as doctors’ appointments. “We always tried to find children’s books about our new destination for the kids when they were small,” says one local Navy mom.

Declutter … then declutter some more. Even though sorting through possessions before a move may seem overwhelming, the last thing you want to do in your new residence is to spend countless amounts of time unpacking items you no longer use, says Jennifer Ott, owner/designer at Jennifer Ott Interior Design in Austin, Texas.

Ott, who has relocated repeatedly because of her husband’s career in academia and is ramping up for a move to San Francisco this summer, recommends the tried-and-true method of purging items that have sat in a box or remain unused for a year or longer. “Is this something I can easily and … affordably purchase again in the future if I suddenly need it? If yes, I’ll sell or donate the item,” she adds.

Don’t Forget: This is also a good time to clean or dust off items you’re taking so you don’t have to do it while unpacking. Once your home is sorted and cleaned, take pictures or a video inventory, notes the Navy mom. This will help with both missing items and layout/placement of objects in your new home.

Image titleStock up on the right packing supplies and tools. “Always have more supplies than what you ‘think’ you’ll need,” Roewer says. Moving companies often provide materials, but may only deliver limited quantities or sizes. Invest in sturdy boxes, packing tape, unprinted newsprint, bubble wrap, and thick markers, Roewer suggests, preferably from stores that allow returns of unused materials.

Don’t Forget: Have on hand any disposables (paper plates/cups for easy meals), backup items (extra chargers for phones/electronics), and easy cleaning supplies so you’re not scrounging for them on moving day.

Cluster like objects. In your day-to-day world, you might have similar possessions—like shoes or wrapping paper—in three or four different places, but when moving, group similar items together to pack them together, says Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton, owner of an organization business in D.C.

Don’t Forget: Be careful not to overload boxes (impossible to lift or likely to tear) or not filling a box to the top with packing paper (causing it to split or collapse when stacked), Roewer says.

Use a system. Whether it’s numbering boxes, color-coding labels, or other marking techniques, find or create an easy system that works for you, your family, and anyone who is helping with your move. “We’ve created our own color-coded system for moving. Each box is color coded, which represents a room that it should be delivered to in the new home. A kitchen might be yellow, the master bedroom might be green… We also label the room to use the color code,” Roewer says. And remember that specific notes on boxes may be overlooked as “your movers may or may not speak the same language you do,” says the Navy mom.

Don’t Forget: Label boxes on the side or on several sides, Roewer suggests. “One of the most common mistakes I see in DIY moves is individuals who label the boxes on top. As soon as you stack another box on top, the contents and location aren’t visible,” he says.

Set aside what NOT to pack. These include important electronics/chargers, clothes and toiletries for moving day(s), prescriptions, expensive/sentimental jewelry and keepsakes, and important documents (don’t forget insurance cards for any frantic urgent care visits, notes the Navy mom).

Create an electronic and hard copy folder with any necessary documents for moving day and important telephone numbers, such as utility companies at both ends of the move, realtors, and the moving company, suggests Philippa Foreman, a military wife and frequent mover currently stationed abroad.

All these items should be set aside, roped off, and clearly labeled DO NOT PACK so that you can personally transport them or put in an “open-first” box. “We stash all of our stuff in the bathtub and put a sign over it saying not to pack it,” Ott says.

Don’t Forget: Include a few creature comforts in your open-first pile: mugs, kettle or coffee pot and a bag of coffee or tea, as well as a child’s favorite stuffed animal or toy, Foreman says. -Other items you’ll want to access immediately might include sheets and pillows for your bed, toiletries and clean towels, cleaning products to tidy up your new residence, and food/pet supplies for your pets. For a quick break from all the hard work, have “relatively comfortable chairs so we can sit and relax … portable folding lawn or camping chairs are great,” .

Make any special arrangements for moving day. Have a game plan in place for how moving day should proceed, whether it’s timing flights, planning the long drive, or coordinating who’ll be at the old residence and who’ll be at the new one. “Your movers will be fast. And everywhere. Think you’ll have time to get to all those last-minute things before the movers do? Not likely,” says the Navy mom.

Don’t Forget: Have easy food/drinks available for yourself, your family, and possibly the movers to prevent lengthy delays during the packing and unpacking process.

Don’t forget the day-of tasks. Whether you’re renting a van and doing it yourself or using professionals to move your entire household, the day of the move will be a flurry of activity. Be prepared for unavoidable last-minute tasks, like cleaning out breakfast dishes, finding miscellaneous objects behind/under moved furniture, and emptying out vases and trash bins. Movers don’t have time to distinguish between what should stay or go, so they’ll pack an empty Doritos bag and half-eaten rawhide bone, says the Navy mom.

Don’t Forget: Consult with your movers to determine any items they can’t transport, such as paints, aerosol cans, or even wax candles, Ott notes. Be prepared for one final cleanup before exiting your old home, and try and arrive at your new residence before your household goods to clean as needed, says Foreman.