Moving is a huge stress--right up there with the really bad stuff like divorce and job loss. So even in the best circumstances, household tensions are high and everyone's nerves are out there competing to be the last one stepped on. If you're like 99% of the population, the thing that keeps you up at night is the actual move--a weeks or months long process that threatens to consume your every waking minute--and since you can't sleep anyway there are a LOT of them. It's overwhelming for even the most organized and clutter-free family; you've got to sort and purge and wrap and get boxes and figure out how to pack the boxes and take furniture apart and then get it all from point to point.
This is where a professional, full-service moving company can take over and let you focus on your new house, new job, new schools, and new life. Whether you're moving across the neighborhood or across the country, every single thing in your old house has to be packed up or thrown out. Most people focus on the part of the move that involves loading the trucks and lumbering down the highway, but like most household projects, the prep work is the iceberg and moving day is only the visible tip. An experienced team of professional full-service movers can help you navigate that iceberg for smooth and easy sailing right up to your new front door.
First, you've got to find the right moving company. Ask your friends or your realtor for referrals, and interview a few to find the right fit for you. If you've never hired movers, there are some important questions to ask.
-Are you licensed and insured? Ask to see a current copy of their commercial policy.
-What is your damage liability, and do you carry a rider for fine furniture or antiques? Good movers will go over all your fine things and point out existing damage or weak spots before they wrap, these days they'll take pictures, too.
-Can I pack some things? Do you really pack dirty ashtrays? Lots of people want to pack really valuable or fragile things themselves, and most packers are okay with that. However, the pros really know how to wrap fragile items so there's less chance of breakage, and to place those things in boxes so they're secure but not too tight (fun fact: threading packing paper through the handle of a coffee cup or mug and stuffing paper into it reduces the chance the mug will crack or break). And most professionals will ask before they pack dirty dishes--the ashtray might have happened but it's likely and urban legend.
-Will you take beds and furniture apart and put them back together in the new house? Full-service movers are adept at disassembling and reassembling anything from dressers to beds. There are few things in life more gratifying than a man who knows the tricks of those little cams and bolts. Also, the movers bring their own tools so you're not digging through boxes to find the screwdrivers.
-Do you charge one price or can I choose a la carte services? Again, most movers will work with you on services. However, you might pay more for piecemealing the services. If you think you'll save here and there buying your own packing supplies, or taking apart furniture, chances are pretty good that you won't. When you factor in that you'll pay higher prices at moving supply or big box stores and have no idea how much you'll really need, and will make umpteen trips, letting the professional packers do it is a better bet.
Now that you've hired the perfect movers--you're on their schedule for packing and moving--you can check that off your to-do list and move on to the details of starting life in a new house.
If your move is local, you're lucky in that you can keep the nuts and bolts of your life the same--same schools, dry cleaners, gym, etc. But if you're like most people, your move is not local and you've got to create a whole new database for life; the good news is that without the move stress hanging over your every waking moment, you can get a head start on all the things that turn a new town into a home town.
The devil is indeed in the details, so here are some tips to help you prioritize. Now is the time to gather all your documents that are scattered all over and condense them into a folder, either digital or a hard copy. You'll need birth certificates, social security numbers, medical and immunization records, driver’s license, passports--at some point during the move and settling you'll need to get your hands on everything. Changes in federal and some state laws require two forms of photo government ID, so yes, you do need to dig out your passport and go ahead and renew if it has expired.
If you've got kids in school, getting them sorted into their new environment as smoothly as possible is crucial. Check with the local Board of Education to confirm the documents you need to register in the system. School districts have different policies regarding attendance; some have rigid boundaries and others are more fluid. If you're interested in magnet schools, you'll need those guidelines to register for special programs. For proof of residence, you'll need a copy of your deed, mortgage, or lease to confirm your address, and usually a utility bill as a secondary source. Also, remember to obtain the appropriate immunization records and transcripts from previous schools.
Ask your primary care physician for referrals in your new area--there's usually a trusted buddy from med school they can recommend. As so many practices now are part of large corporate networks you might be able to make an easy transition to a new group; if not your insurance carrier can direct you to in-network practices. It's likely to be hit or miss to find the right pediatricians, internists, orthodontists, and witch doctors, but be patient and you'll find a good match. Don't forget to transfer prescriptions; chances are good that you'll just have to switch to the new location and keep the same company.
Utilities and Maintenance
Your realtor should be working with you to ensure all your utilities are turned on and functioning when you get to your new house, but you're the one who has to open the accounts and schedule service. You've got the basics--power, water, and gas--where there's one provider and that's it. Most towns have a number of options for communications, and if your current provider does not service your new area you'll have to find a new one.
If your new neighborhood has an HOA they'll have all the relevant information on things like trash pickup, mail delivery, and lawn maintenance standards. If you manage your own yard now might be a good time to upgrade the mower and blower, if not ask around for a good service.
Most states have a fairly narrow window for changing your address on your driver’s license, so take care of that as quickly as you can. Your cars also need to be registered in your new county or town; taxes vary widely and you may see a noticeable decrease or increase in your property taxes. You can change your voter registration at most license offices, and get the address of your new voting location.
When you add your new home to your homeowner's policy, remember to switch over your cars to the new address; like the property taxes your premiums may have a swing in either direction.
As you can see, simply rearranging your life for a move is a full-time job, so why would you take on the burden of the physical move when you can have a full-service moving company manage that for you? Find the right pros for your move so you can make time for the important things--like finding a dry cleaner and car wash close to the vet!