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Timely Tips For A Smooth Family Move


Every family’s schedule for a move will be different, of course.  But much of the hassle can be taken out of Moving Day by adapting a proven timetable to fit available time.  Feel free to shift tasks to suit your special circumstances.


M-Day (Moving Day) Minus Six Weeks

  • Change address at post office (effective on moving day).  Keep a list of needed address changes; check off as notified.  Change magazines and other computer-addressed mail now.
  • Start a file of vital papers and reminders (an accordion file or three-ring binder with pocket dividers keeps them in their proper categories).
  • Get estimates from moving companies.  Plan ahead if moving in peak season of June through September.


M-Day Minus Five Weeks

  • Select moving company, confirm moving date and decide who will pack:  professionals or family.  Paid packers typically come the day before M-day.
  • Start sorting.  decide what to move, what to sell, give away, discard.  Take cuttings or give away extra house plants.  Trim down as much as possible before take-off.  Be ruthless.
  • Sketch floor plan of new home, decide furniture placement.
  • Inventory possessions, with value and year of purchase if possible.  Photo or video records are ideal.
  • Start do-it-yourself packing:  seldom used dishes, glassware, books, off-season clothes, workshop, garage, garden tools, hobby equipment.  Establish staging area for packed cartons in extra room or garage.


TIP:  Do you have a lot of books?  You can sometimes save money mailing these rather than shipping them by van.  Remember to take your old phone books for reference, and get new town directories ASAP.


M-Day Minus Four Weeks

  • Take care of legal contracts (by self or with the help of an attorney, insurance agent, accountant and/or a relocation advisor).  Included:
  • credit cards, bank accounts, charge accounts
  • utilities and telephone services
  • memberships in social, athletic and religious organizations; make arrangements to move membership
  • insurance:  homeowners, automobile, medical, life and disability
  • employment agreements
  • wills, trusts and other legal or financial matters; safe deposit box
  • leased products and services
  • Make sure employer has new address.  Get letters of reference to establish credit in new location.
  • Talk with veterinarian about moving pets; get records.  Allow extra time if needed shots require a waiting period inbetween.  Check airplane restrictions.


M-Day Minus Three Weeks

  • Arrange for children’s medical/dental records, birth certificates and school transcripts.  Ask doctors, dentists to recommend colleagues in the new area.
  • Fill prescriptions and get copy from doctor for new pharmacist or optometrist.
  • Drop off dry cleaning (make a note: remember to pick it up!).
  • Pick up anything being repaired, serviced or on layaway.


M-Day Minus Two Weeks

  • Check address-change list.  Everyone notified?
  • Make reservations, have car serviced for the trip.  Earlier ticketing can save money, but risks partial loss if changes are needed.  Best to provide breathing room.
  • Collect children’s games, activities for the trip.
  • Arrange to have major appliances serviced for move, if needed.  Check owners’ manuals.
  • Start packing often-used belongings (do-it-yourselfers).
  • Plan farewell parties and visits for this week.


M-Day Minus One Week

  • Return borrowed items, library books; collect anything borrowed by friends and neighbors.
  • Cancel newspaper delivery, effective on M-Day.
  • Plan meals and snacks, to minimize shopping and use up on-hand food.  Have “quick-fix” foods ready for M-Day, or plan to eat out/carry in.
  • Consider having kids go to friends/babysitter for M-Day.
  • Arrange to have utilities turned on in the new location on estimated move-in date.
  • Empty oil and gas from lawnmower and other equipment.
  • Pack everything in kitchen that you can do without until unpacked at new home.


M-Day Minus One Day

  • Empty, defrost and clean refrigerator.  Leave door open to dry well.
  • Get travelers checks.  Empty safe deposit box.  Consider cashier’s check for opening checking account in new town and certified check for house closing.  Make arrangements to pay movers (personal checks may not be accepted).
  • Finish packing suitcase with personal belongings to use until van arrives at new home.
  • Finish packing kitchen things.
  • Pack “CARE” carton of essentials (coffee pot, toiletries, canned and dry food, can opener, light bulbs, trash bags, sauce pan, etc.) to be loaded last and unloaded first.
  • Load the car, if driving to new home.  Pack favorite picnic food to save money.


  • Strip beds.
  • Load last-minute items in car.
  • Be available to movers for questions/suggestions, but don’t try to supervise the van packing.  Mark boxes (colored stickers are ideal) for room placement in new house.  Check inventory carefully.  Be sure movers know how to contact client en route and in the new town before their arrival.  Give them map to new house.
  • Check rooms, cupboards, closets, drawers, dishwasher, washer/dryer.  Empty garbage.
  • Sweep or vacuum (borrow neighbor’s equipment).
  • Leave appliance manuals, warranties, neighbors’ names, service companies, drawing of things in yard that don’t show now (like bulbs).  Give new owner the address so stray mail can be forwarded.
  • Say goodbye to the house with a final check.  Lock up.  Leave keys and garage-door opener in designated place.  Take off.


Moving In

  • Be at new home a day ahead of van, if possible, to be sure utilities are connected and to plan for placement of furnishings.
  • When movers arrive, open the “CARE” package and start feeling “at home”.
  • As movers unload, direct the placement of furnishings.  Give them a floor plan sketch.  Check each item off inventory sheet.
  • Check exterior of cartons for damage before signing the receipt.
  • Celebrate!  Go out or carry in for dinner.

Reprinted from Excalibur Reports

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