Shipping Out: An Ultimate Relocation and Moving Guide for Families

There is always so much to do when planning a move that it can become extremely stressful in a very short period of time. The trick is to plan well in advance to account for any unexpected issues and finish the bulk of the work before moving day. When there is so much to be done, the worst thing is to end up packing last minute the night before the big day.

A portrait of young family with a toddler girl moving in new home.

It is usually advised to start planning and packing around three to four months in advance. With this approach, the move can become exciting and stress-free.

Step 1: Moving Checklists and Planning

Before trying to start packing (which can be chaotic on its own), grab a cup of tea and draft a checklist of what needs to be done. Make a copy of the list and place it somewhere prominent. The checklist would usually contain several main sections. The first would comprise of booking rental services and making arrangements with possible old and new landlords. The second section should list people, services and offices that you have to inform about your change of address and complete any paperwork. Lastly, make a comprehensive list of what needs to be packed and roughly in what order. This list will essentially become a plan of action to help get everything done on time.

1.    Printable Two-Month Moving Plan of Action Sheet

2.    Checklist for Change of Address Notification

3.    Moving Checklist Guide

4.    Moving To-Do List (Basic)

5.    Very Detailed Weekly Checklists for Eight Weeks Prior to Moving

6.    Checklist for Moving Day

7.    Printable Moving Planner

8.    Detailed Printable Moving To-Do List

Step 2: Changing Addresses and Important Paperwork

As unbelievable as it sounds, even a couple months after informing them of the new address, many offices will still continue to automatically send mail to the old address. Make sure to do this in advance and give them time to update their files. All of the household utility and services companies should be notified first. These include water, head, television and cable, phone, gardeners, private snow removal services and so on. Let them know of the exact moving date and if the service can be transferred, request that as well. Institutions such as banks, accountants, insurance, lawyers and the government as well as the children’s school, doctors and vets should not be forgotten. The local post office (or even their website) can help to set up a mail forwarding service so that any mail accidentally sent to the old address will be forwarded to the new one for a period of time.

1.    United States Postal Service Change of Address Form

2.    Notify the IRS of Your New Address

3.    Social Security New Address Notification Page

4.    Basic List of Who to Notify

5.    Tips on Transferring Utilities

6.    Printable Checklist of Who to Notify

7.    Update Addresses on a Driver’s License

Step 3: Money Saving Moving Tips

One of the major advantages of planning a move in advance is that it saves a huge amount of money. Making last minute reservations for rental services or cancelling utilities or a lease without sufficient notice usually results in hefty cancellation fees or worse, continuation of the service until the contract allows it to be ended. It is also very easy to make money by selling off old or unwanted clothing and household items. This serves a double purpose because it also reduces the amount of goods that have to be packed and transported. The government also sometimes offers tax deductions for certain cases, so it is good to stay aware of them and find out if any are applicable. If so, make sure to keep any receipts related to the move.

1.    Tips on How to Hold a Garage Sale

2.    An Article on Money-Saving Tips Before Moving

3.    Information on Moving Expenses and Tax Deductions

4.    Learn About Downsizing to Save Money

5.    The DIY Approach During the Off-Season Can Save Enormously

6.    A Brief Guide to the Hidden Costs of Moving

7.    Extra Moving Fees that Can be Avoided

Step 4: Packing the Right Way

The best way to go about packing is by determining which items are not needed on a daily basis. This can include winter clothing, knick knacks, old books and more. Start by packing those items first to get them out of the way. It helps to have some sort of packing and labeling system to make it easy to locate things later. For example, don’t mix clothes with dishes and toys all in one box. Pack items according to the room they belong in and mark the boxes with a unique number and the name of the room. Develop a master list which details the contents of each numbered box. Never actually list the contents directly on the boxes themselves because it serves as an easy way to encourage theft of valuables when dealing with movers or other unknown people. In the weeks leading up to the move, try not to buy too many groceries. Instead, finish fresh meat, produce and dairy to avoid having to throw it out later.

1.    Print a Packing List

2.    A List of Necessary Packing Materials

3.    General Moving Box Packing Tips

4.    Advice on How to Avoid Breakage and Damage

5.    Learn How to Pack Like a Pro

6.    Packing Tips for Books, Dishes and Clothes

7.    How to Safely Pack or Wrap Furniture

8.    Printable Box Labels for Each Room

Step 5: Additional Storage Options

Many items such as extra furniture, large area rugs or bulk garden décor can be kept in storage temporarily until they are needed. Self-storage facilities offer a safe locker that can be rented out for months at a time. Always research the facility and make sure their security standards are up to par. The more secure storage lockers look like a small room with a roll-up garage door that can be padlocked. Less secure versions are cage-type models. With the latter, it is easy to see the items inside. Some moving companies also offer storage solutions as part of their services. Occasionally they may include the first month free with the rental of a truck. When packing items in a storage unit, always keep a detailed list of what has been placed inside. This is key in helping to indicate if anything is missing later and also in case anything needs to be retrieved. Storage units can also be rented for additional vehicles or recreational vehicles and boats.

1.    An Introduction to the Various Types of Self-Storage Units

2.    Find and Compare Different Self Storage Companies and Packages

3.    Tips on How to Rent a Storage Unit

4.    Information on Using a Self Storage Unit

5.    How to Pack a Self Storage Unit

Step 6: Moving Yourself or Hiring Professionals

Recently there have been a number of scams involving moving companies with regards to some of the smaller or unknown names. One common trick they employ is to hold the customer’s belongings until a high service fee is paid. Although the larger companies are pricier, their reputable service is worth it. Always research and book the services a few months in advance of the move. Many moving services offer trucks that correspond to the number of rooms in the house. Keep in mind that if friends or family can help to move some boxes or furniture in their vehicles, it could be a cost-saver. There is also the question of how many movers are needed. The more people there are, the quicker the job will get done. Do be aware that movers charge a high rate by the hour. Leave the larger pieces to them and ask those in your close circle to help with the rest. Always be careful to lift items carefully using the correct techniques and to stay well hydrated in warmer weather.

1.    Learn How to Avoid Moving Frauds

2.    All About Finding a Trustworthy Moving Company

3.    Tips for Saving When Hiring a Moving Company

4.    How to Lift Heavy Items Safely to Avoid Injuries

5.    Useful Advice for Hiring Movers

Step 7: Moving With Others

Moving, especially with young children, can be tricky. They will most likely be hesitant to leave if there are strong attachments to nearby family, neighbors and school friends. By letting them know a few months in advance, they can slowly get used to the idea of moving. Introduce it as an adventure to make them view it in an exciting and positive light. If they can be involved somehow with the preparations, such as the yard sale and some light packing, it can help to solidify the concept of moving in their minds. Additionally they will feel more connected with the move. The same applies for older children and teens, although they should be informed in a way that is appropriate for their age. Moving to a college or dorm is usually quite exciting for teens. In case they do display symptoms of depression or hesitation, try to cheer them up by shopping for decor for their new room or relating experiences of your own dorm room. Do read the college’s guidelines since they often information on items that are not allowed, such as fire hazards and pets.

If you anticipate that very young children, seniors or pets will be more likely to get in the way on moving day, arrange for a trusted neighbor to take care of them during the day. Pack a box or suitcase of some emergency and comfort items to help everyone settle in immediately during their first night. This box should travel in the car so that it does not get lost among the other boxes.

1.   A Good Article for Parents and Teens Relating to Moving Depression

2.   Understanding Children: Moving to a New Home

3.   Preparing Your Child for a Move

4.   Moving Tips: Moving with Kids

5.   Helpful Hints for Helping an Elderly Person During the Move

6.   Moving Tips for Physically Challenged People

7.   Information on Legal Regulations, Paperwork and Medical Requirements for Moving Pets

8.   Movers Directory Guide to Moving With Pets

9.   Information on Moving or Shipping Exotic Pets

10.   A Comprehensive Checklist for Moving to College

11.   A Guide for Parents to Help Teens During their First Time Away from Home (PDF)

Step 8: After a Move and Settling In

Everyone breathes a huge sigh of relief after the last box has been delivered and the last mover has left. On the first night, let everyone take a break and hold off on unpacking. The “open first” box that traveled in the car can be opened to provide clean bed linens, toiletries and food. When unpacking the next day, do it room by room and appoint one designated area in the house for depositing flattened boxes and discarded packing materials. Recycle any reusable materials. Although unpacking and settling in will take some time, head out to meet the new neighbors and become acquainted with the city as well. Find out about the nearest local schools, banks, libraries, grocery stores, churches and entertainment centers. The local parks and recreation guide will also offer heaps of suggestions about public sports and leisure areas, as well as clubs to join.

1.   Settling Into a New Home

2.    Tips for Unpacking

3.    Budget Hints for Furnishing the New Place

4.    Helpful Advice for Getting to Know the New City

5.    How to Settle Cats and Dogs in the New Home

6.    How to Transition to a New Job and New City

7.    Helping Kids to Adjust During and After the Move