No matter if you’re making the haul across town or across the country, a big move requires plenty of planning—at least if you want things to go smoothly. How far in advance do you really need to start getting plans in place, and how can you make sure you’re covering all the bases?
From tackling those pesky home repairs you’ve been putting off to gathering the proper packing and moving supplies, the to-do list can seem never-ending and ever-growing as moving day inches closer. If you have the time to get your ducks in a row, using that time wisely is key to a logistically stress-free transition. Here’s a step-by-step look at how to plan a big move.
Step 1: Determine Your Moving Budget
Unfortunately, moving costs money—and often more than you expect. That’s why a budget can help you set those financial expectations in the first place. Of course, this will depend on the distance and magnitude of your move. There are online moving cost calculators that can help estimate your total cost for the moving basics, as well as budgeting apps that can do all the math for you.
Still, don’t forget to factor in the additional potential moving expenses throughout the entire process, such as:
- Packing and moving supplies (boxes, tape, bubble wrap, markers, etc.)
- Packing services
- Moving truck or containers
- Movers (and a tip!)
- Rent and utility deposits
- Real estate fees and down payments
- Travel (food, transportation, lodging, etc.)
- Self storage rental
- Additional insurance for home, moving, or storage
- New furniture, groceries, and miscellaneous household items
Additionally, portions of your moving expenses may be tax-deductible. Save all your receipts, including those for any donations you made before the move. If you’re moving or relocating for work, you may also be eligible to receive a tax deduction on these costs. Find out if you can deduct your moving expenses through the IRS website.
Step 2: Downsize and Declutter Your Belongings
Decluttering your home and downsizing your belongings go hand in hand. It’s a daunting task, but combing through everything to determine what can be sold, donated, or stored will only make moving simpler. As a rule of thumb, you probably won’t use anything in the near future you haven’t used within the past year (e.g., old books and duplicate items such as furniture and kitchenware).
It’s best to take the process one room at a time. Categorize all items into different piles or boxes that determine their destinies. For instance:
- Throw away
From sentimental keepsakes to household appliances still in working order, your excess items can always be stored at a conveniently located self storage facility near your new home. This can also help you keep clutter at bay for the long term.
Step 3: Knock Out Repairs and Chores
Before you move out of your place, it’s not going to clean itself—you’re going to have to clean it from floor to ceiling. Thus, start doing some of the deep cleaning incrementally, before it becomes a looming, dreaded task right before moving day. (Speaking of “floor to ceiling,” you should actually clean in the opposite order, starting high and saving low areas for last.) Do what you can starting up to several months before you move out, and be sure to account for spots that will need cleaning after you pack everything up, such as the fridge and cabinets. Conclude with all the floors, whether you need to scrub, mop, or vacuum.
With that in mind, now is the time to fix any repairs that need to be done, from carpet cleaning to any plumbing issues. If you’ll be driving your vehicle a long distance to your new location, get your car serviced and take care of any outstanding or upcoming maintenance.
Step 4: Find Movers or a Moving Truck
Ideally, you will have your moving plans and services solidified about a month in advance. Especially during peak moving season (summer), moving companies’ schedules fill up quickly, and the last thing you want is to be scrambling to find assistance at the last minute.
However, there are a few factors to consider before deciding which route you want to take: How far away are you moving? What is your budget? How big is your home, and how much do you need to transport?
Here are a handful of options for getting your stuff from point A to B:
- Rent a moving truck: This is one of the most affordable options, as long as you or someone else is comfortable packing and driving a big truck.
- Hire hourly movers: Even if you do rent a truck, hourly movers are a good choice when you don’t want to do all the heavy lifting yourself. However, be wary, do your research, and read customer reviews before reaching out to the company. Contact them to request a quote and schedule a moving day and time. Also, it’s polite to tip your movers and provide them bottled water, if possible.
- Hire full-service movers: Although the priciest option, it’s designed to be virtually stress-free. Full-service movers will do it all for you—from the packing to moving everything to wherever you’re going.
- Rent portable containers (or “pods”): Particularly for long-distance moves, containers or pods are a great option; once either you or your movers pack them, the containers will be shipped and delivered to your home.
- Do it yourself (or with help): Know a couple of people with pickup trucks? If you solicit friends or family to help you move, they should be in it for the long haul—whether it’s a day-long or week-long process. Due to limited vehicle space, this will be trickier if you’re moving cross-country or far away, as it may require you to make multiple trips.
Step 5: Gather Moving Supplies
Once your moving day transportation plans are squared away, it’s wise to start gathering moving supplies. You might think you have plenty of empty boxes stowed away in the closet or garage, but securing plenty of sturdy, quality packing material is key to a successful moving experience.
Some supplies you’ll likely need include:
- Boxes (small, medium, and large sizes, plus any electronics or wardrobe boxes)
- Packing tape
- Packing paper or old newspaper
- Bubble wrap
- Moving blankets
- Stretch wrap
- Mattress bags
Step 6: Transfer All Services to Your New Address
As soon as possible, start a list of all utility companies that need to be contacted—before you move out of your current home and into your new one. About a few weeks before, notify your current utilities when you’ll need to shut them off at your address, then set up new utility services at your new address.
Some utilities you may need to cancel, transfer, and/or set up include:
- Trash collection
Update Your Address and Set Up Mail Forwarding
Don’t forget to officially change your address with the USPS to help ensure your mail gets sent to the correct place after you move. In addition to this step, you’ll want to notify other relevant parties of your relocation for their records.
Step 7: Pack with a Purpose and Plan
The sooner you can reasonably start packing the better. Packing up all your earthly belongings is nothing like writing an academic paper that you can pull an all-nighter to complete. Designate an area for boxes at home, and fill them a little bit more every day. As your move approaches, speed things up. To avoid feeling disorganized and frazzled, pack strategically. For instance, it’s best to begin packing the rooms with items you don’t use frequently and won’t need again before the move—think decor, books, or any clothing or equipment that’s out of season.
Some other helpful packing strategies to follow include:
- Pack heavy items in smaller boxes, such as books or small appliances. Conversely, pack lighter items in larger boxes. This will make them easier to carry and lessen their chances of breaking or caving at the bottom.
- Wrap up fragile belongings. From bubble wrap for glassware to stretch wrap for delicate furniture, make sure items that might break are padded well inside their boxes or covered in the proper material to prevent damage in transit.
- Label every box on every side. Use a bold permanent marker to label each box with both its contents (in smaller print) and the room in which it will be placed or unpacked (in larger print). This helps not only you but also your movers as they unload everything.
- Use packing tape to seal boxes. This will prevent any items from falling out, as well as protect them from dust and debris.
- Utilize valuable space in any voids like dressers, appliances, and trash cans.
What to Pack Last or Keep with You
Obviously, you can’t pack everything ahead of time; some of your day-to-day essentials need to remain accessible until you’re moving out for good. Even so, it can save you a good deal of frustration and time to know which items you might need throughout the move and when you arrive at your new home.
There are a handful of things you should consider carrying with you on moving day—or at least loading onto the truck last so you can access them efficiently:
- Cash (for tips and unexpected incidents)
- Important documents related to your move
- Toiletries (toothbrush, toilet paper, shower curtain, soap, etc.)
- Prescription medications
- Glasses or contact lenses
- Pillows and bedsheets
- Cleaning supplies
- Paper towels
- Dishware and utensils
- Pet food and supplies
- Electronics and chargers
- Tool kit
Step 8: Use Self Storage to Streamline Your Big Move
Making a major move to a new city or job can be both exciting and stressful. However, being proactive with your preparation and planning can do wonders for efficiency and eliminating some of the unexpected once the big day rolls around.
The Jenkins Organization is well-versed in the needs of movers when it comes to packing, moving, and storage. Reserved storage space that’s move-in ready can streamline the process and clear the way for a smooth move. Luckily, we offer premium self storage units and solutions to residents all across Texas, with several facilities in Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Oklahoma. No matter if you’re staging your home for a sale, getting settled in a new city, or needing a place for your belongings between moves, there is a range of storage unit sizes to choose from that are fit for whatever you need to store while planning a big move—and in the time afterward.