Archive for the ‘Moves’ Category

5 Great Reasons to Downsize Your Home

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Moving is expensive (and stressful)

The American Moving and Storage Association states that the average cost of an interstate household move is about $4,300 (distance of 1,225 miles) and the average cost of an intrastate move is about $2,300 (4 movers at $200 per hour). Both average moving costs are for 7,400 pounds. If you live in places like the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, New York or Washington DC, the costs are even higher. Since movers typically charge based on volume or weight, it follows that the less you have the less it will cost.  This is just one great reason to downsize your home.  Here are four more great reasons to downsize your home, moving or not:

  1. You can create new memories. If you are holding onto stuff because you are afraid you won’t remember it, it may be time to curate what you own so you can make room for new experiences. Try photographing the things you want to remember but can’t or don’t want to take with you. Have them made into something special such as a memory quilt or photo album. If it’s your work you want to remember, perhaps others want to remember it too. Look into making a legacy donation or creating a special archive in your name.
  2. You won’t burden your kids. The saddest and most difficult task most children face is the death of their parents. Imagine how much more painful it would be if, on top of their grief, they also have to face the daunting task of emptying your home. Make it easier for them and start downsizing now. Let them remember and know you from what was important to you, not from the stuff that wasn’t.
  3. You’ll realize what’s really important.  When you make room for what really matters in your life, you discover what’s important and what isn’t. Do you really need 50 plastic food storage containers? Do you really wear 500 pairs of shoes? Do you really use that collection of rusted auto parts? Someone can use them but you don’t have to.
  4. You get to start fresh. If relocating to a smaller home means downsizing the stuff in your existing home, try to imagine your life in your new home. Perhaps you’ll finally have the lifestyle you’ve been dreaming about. Gain the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve made great choices about your health and wellbeing. Instead of being burdened by your stuff, you’re having fun enjoying your life!

 

3 hogs taking up space in your home (and they’re not your family)

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Are you moving, getting ready for a remodel or simply want more room in your home with less clutter? Here are three common space hogs and what you can do about them.

  1. Other people’s stuff. Did you agree to store things for your kids, relatives or friends for a few months but now those months have become years? Tell your kids or your Aunt Sadie you are moving or remodeling (even if you aren’t) and kindly ask them to arrange to get their items since you will need the space yourself. Set a firm deadline – a month is reasonable in most cases – and ask for their permission to sell or donate them — at your discretion — by a certain date if they don’t respond by that date.  That way you’ve done your due-diligence.

  2. Boxes from your last move (and likely the one before) that never got unpacked. Remember those boxes? I’m guessing you don’t but apparently they were so important that you bothered to move them at all. Chances are they contain one of the following:  Old papers, memorabilia, holiday supplies, stuff belonging to your parents (or kids)  that you just couldn’t face, or all those items that you don’t use but couldn’t throw away at the time.

    If you are moving, are you really going to pay to have those boxes moved again?!

    Here’s what to do about them starting with old papers: Unless you ran a small business, and they contain your tax records for the past seven years, get rid of them. Arrange to have a local shredding company pick them up  or take them there yourself but don’t waste your time shredding them. Memorabilia: We keep memories for just this moment. No one else cares about these memories except you. If you want to leave a legacy for your children, don’t make it those boxes that have gathered dust in your garage or attic. Holiday supplies: Unless you used them last year, donate them to a charity that accepts art supplies. Stuff that belonged to your parents (or kids) that you coudn’t face: Refer to #1 above.

  3. Magazines and old mail.  There are certain magazines I love to read but once I’ve read them, they get recycled. Except in rare cases such as vintage out-of-print magazines, most collectors and charities don’t take old magazines.  If you want to get rid of them, gather them up in small book boxes (so you can lift them) and carry them to your home’s recycling area. Most municipal recyclers won’t charge for paper recycling.  As for old mail, you have three options: 1) pay to have it all shred. Depending upon how much you have, this could be costly but it will be the most timesaving approach and insure your identity will be safe.  2) Have a sorting party. Invite two or more people to help you sort your piles into keep, shred or toss. Keep includes “vital records” such as original birth and death certificates or personal memories that can’t easily be replaced. Shred includes any document, opened or not, from a banking or financial institution if it’s not obvious junk mail. Don’t waste time opening them if you’re not sure. Toss is everything else. 3) Hire a professional organizer or productivity specialist that specializes in residential or home office organizing. They can advise you about what to keep and help you sort and dispose of your unwanted paper safely.

What to do with your stuff when later becomes now

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When it comes to the stuff in our homes, I believe a  continuum exists between two points  –  keep everything and save nothing. Most people fall somewhere in between.  Yes, there are extremes at both ends – those with a tendency to acquire an excessive amount and those with an equally extreme tendency to rid themselves of anything of value, sentimental or otherwise. But for most people, myself included, we all have sentimental attachments.

The other day I was wandering through my home and thinking about what I absolutely had to keep if I ever had to make the choice. As a professional organizer, it’s an exercise I practice regularly as a way to empathize with my clients.

It turned out the things I really felt strongly about were the items I have the most sentimental attachment to.  None of it was furniture, thankfully.  Mostly letters from my parents and close friends that could never be replaced. Photographs (the paper kind) from my childhood and “keepsakes” that I don’t need but that don’t take up much space either. I also have some written work that would be difficult to replace unless I took the time to scan it and for me, that’s not worth my time.

My husband has a box of important stuff related to his daughter, my step-daughter. And of course, I have a small  “treasure box” of memorabilia from our life together.

The only time I know I would go through this stuff is if I were moving or downsizing. Otherwise it stays hidden, for the most part.   But what does it mean not to have these things? Would it feel like my life had ended? What happens when you keep things with the intention of looking at them later and then find later is now?

Even if it comes unexpectedly, now should be when you get to re-read the letters, sort through the photos, recall the memories and maybe even tell the stories.  But now is often competing with time itself. The house has to be sold. The move has to happen. The remodel is about to start.  Sometimes, sadly, the owner of these things is no longer around for the task.

As an organizer, this is the most poignant part of my work; When I realize the meaning of that photo, award or stuffed animal toy only exists because of the person who imparted that meaning.  When it belongs to someone else, you can impart your own meaning, but then you are left with the same dilemma: Keep it or let it go?

I find it’s useful to consider the truth of these questions when later suddenly becomes now.

  • Would my life really be over if I let these things go or would I just feel that way?
  • Is everything meaningful or could I pick out just the things that are most important to me?
  • By keeping everything, am I placing a significant burden on my family to deal with later?
  • Am I keeping everything as an excuse to avoid creating new memories?
  • If this or that item should disappear would I miss it or attempt to replace it if I could?
  • Would taking a picture of it allow me to let it go if I had to?
  • Is there anyone who I know for certain who would want it (be careful with this one since you don’t want to obligate someone to take something they really don’t want).
  • Do I really love it or am I keeping it to satisfy someone else’s (perceived) need – such as when you keep it not because you like it but because it was a gift from someone you care about.

Life is like walking through a wonderful art museum. You get to admire and spend a little time with the art work that resonates the most with you. You may even be able to take pictures or buy postcards. But at the end of the day, you don’t get to keep what you saw. You do however get to remember how you felt.

The little red moving truck that could (and did)

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My client, Olivia, and I were standing in the family room of her mother’s home knee deep in moving boxes and overstuffed yard bags, packing items she had decided to get rid of when I came across a small plastic grocery bag.

Olivia (not her real name) and I had been working together for several sessions and by now we’d become well acquainted with one another. I have been exceedingly lucky and grateful to have worked with many wonderful people since launching LET’S MAKE ROOM,  Olivia is one of them.

She found me through a local consignment store where she had gone to sell some items belonging to her mother who had recently died after a long illness. Olivia had spent the last seven years seeing to her mother’s care at the home she shared with her with a single-minded devotion that spoke to the kind of person I was just beginning to know.

A woman of enormous grace and compassion, Olivia had given every ounce of her being to the care of her mother so that by the time she was ultimately relieved of this responsibility, she had little left, mentally or physically, to tackle the next phase she had set out to accomplish – making a home for herself in the home that had once been her mother’s.

She told the owner of the local consignment shop about her plight, about the overwhelming work ahead of her and that was how she first learned of me.

At our first meeting, Olivia stated her objectives: Empty the house of items she felt others would enjoy more than she wanted to keep them as quickly as possible to make room for the life she needed to continue on her own.

We agreed on a plan. I would work with her to help choose what items would go, pack everything up and arrange to have it all picked up by a local estate liquidation service.  The job involved the sorting, packing and organizing of well over 100 boxes and bags of items once belonging to her mother as well as other household items. I arranged for the service, a company called Remoovit, to pick up everything including furniture Olivia no longer wanted. We were just a few days away from having the estate liquidator’s 25′ truck arrive and we were nearing the end of the process when I found a small white grocery bag tucked into a box of toys in her family room closet.

I opened the bag and poured the contents on to the large folding table we were using as a workstation. We both stopped and looked at the still unrecognizable items, about a dozen brightly colored pieces of wood.  Then I realized there was something else inside the bag. I pulled it out.  “It’s a puzzle!”

Our attention immediately shifted to these colorful shapes on the table and together, just like two children, we excitedly began arranging the pieces. It took a minute or two and then there it was: An adorable red truck with big black wheels slightly overloaded with an array of items in different colors. We burst into loud shrieks of laughter as the irony hit us simultaneously.  It was the future. At least the immediate future. What had once been a child’s toy, most likely hers or her mother’s, saved and long hidden from view, had now become real. “I’m going to have it framed,” she said.

As an organizer who has seen far too many unrealized projects become clutter, I felt obligated to press her on this decision – “It it worth your time and money?”

“Absolutely,” she replied.

A few days passed. The estate liquidator’s truck came and went, filled with the boxes we had packed on their way to new and as yet unknown owners.  I moved on to other projects and other clients until one day about a week later I got a call from Olivia.

“Can you come over? I have something for you.”

I arrived at her house curious about what she had for me. Perhaps she had neglected to include an item she wanted sold or donated? I walked into her living room and she handed me a package wrapped in brown paper. I unwrapped it and there, behind glass, beautifully framed and mounted, with the words “LET’S MAKE ROOM’ engraved on a little metal plaque below, was the little red pickup truck.

“I made it for you,” Olivia said with a wide grin. I looked up at her. My eyes widened and then of course, began to tear up. “Thank you,” was all I could say. It was the best endorsement of my work I’ve ever received.

It hangs in my home office. When I look at it, I think of Olivia and the gift she gave me just by working with her: the realization of and how much I love what I do.

How to let go of books with less tears

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You would think that with the range of digital devices available from tablets to e-readers to smart phones, most of us would have less books. On the contrary a significant majority of Americans, about 65%, still opt for a print book over other platforms, according to a 2016 Pew Research Study.

So why is it so hard to part with them?  Like photographs, books hold memories of important events or people in our lives or ideas we once had. To let go of a book is akin to letting go of a piece of ourselves.

Add to this, people generally don’t let go of their books unless forced to by circumstance, such as when they need to sell their home to move to a smaller home.  The anxiety that comes along with moving can further exacerbate the stress of having to decide what to keep and what to let go of and this is especially true of books.

So what do you do if faced with the hard reality of having to part with your beloved book collection? Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make the loss a little less painful. Consider these questions:

  1. Is it a classic or commonly available elsewhere either in a bookstore or online? One of the great advantages of the digital age is that many libraries now offer you a way to borrow digital copies of books through an app called Overdrive.  All you need is a library card and some type of digital device such as a computer, e-reader, tablet or smart phone. Once signed up, it takes just a matter of seconds to download your favorite book. If you are not especially tech savvy, you still will probably be able to find the book again at a used book store or at the library.
  2. Are you really going to read it?  You’ve had that novel on your shelf for ten years with every intention of reading it but have never gotten around to it. Consider letting it go.
  3. Is there someone you know who would like it? Gift specific books to specific people. As soon as you decide to let go of a book, assign it to someone you know or donate it to an organization, group or charity such as Books for SoldiersBooks Through Bars or your local library. You can also donate books to hospitals, the Salvation Army, Goodwill or a local thrift store. Always check with the charity before you donate and if the books are damaged, consider recycling them as an alternative.
  4. Do you have duplicates? Perhaps you have both the hard copy and paperback editions. Choose which one you prefer and donate the other.
  5. Is it a collectible? Some books such as first editions, antique books or signed books may have secondary value to another collector.  If you are not sure whether or not your collectible book has value, you can do a little research online but avoid doing online appraisals. Take your book to an experienced bookseller you trust. Note that you will have to pay for face to face appraisals for high value books.  You can also check out the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America for a list of member stores near you.

Letting go of meaningful possessions is difficult, especially when combined with the stress of having to move or downsize. Doing good for someone else is one antidote for the loss of control many, especially seniors feel, when moving. Knowing that something in your home now has a new home, can help ease the pain of downsizing.

If you or a member of your family needs reassurance or help packing, distributing, donating or selling your books, contact a professional organizer or senior move manager in your area. You still may shed some tears, but you’ll know you also did good.

 

20 Tips For a Smooth Home Move From an Expert Move Organizer

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movingMoving day can be a disaster day if you’re not prepared.  Here are 20 tips I’m sharing as an experienced move manager, which if you follow, will make you wonder why moving is on the list of top 20 life stressors, when for you it was a smooth move.

  1. Decide when you want or need to move before you schedule movers. If possible, be flexible as summer, the end of the month and weekends tend to be the busiest for movers.
  2. Get mover recommendations from friends, neighbors, and other professionals you know.
  3. Prepare a list of questions to ask your preferred move estimator when he/she arrives to do an estimate.
  4. Decide what you are moving before the estimator comes to your home and if possible label items that are not part of the move ahead of time.
  5. Clear out all the clutter from your home, especially from basements, garages, attics, sheds and patios prior to move day.
  6. Be prepared to provide all your contact information, including all phone numbers and an email address, if you have one.
  7. Be available on pack and move day or hire a Professional Move Manager to make sure everything gets done, according to your wishes, and nothing gets left behind.
  8. Take the crew through every part of your home when they arrive including outside patio and storage areas so they know what to expect and can properly safeguard your home ahead of time.
  9. Learn the names of your moving crew or at least the name of the lead so you can communicate with them as needed on move day.
  10. Be prepared for your move! If your home is not 75% packed within a week of your move, consider getting packing help from your movers to help you get ready.
  11. Have items clearly labeled in large letters on items that require special handling.
  12. Know your area’s parking regulations ahead of your move. If parking is difficult on your street, contact your local transportation office to secure temporary parking permits. Otherwise, you may be liable for parking tickets.
  13. Stay out of your mover’s way for your safety and theirs. They are moving quickly and sometimes carrying large loads at one time.
  14. Don’t remove framed items from your walls. Let your movers do this for you and there will be less chance of damage.
  15. Don’t pack your hanging clothing. Your movers will provide wardrobe boxes and pack them for you.
  16. Have a floor plan ready for your new home so you can direct your movers to place your furniture, as you want it. Rearranging of furniture after it’s been moved may cost you extra.
  17. Do not water your plants for three days prior to your move.
  18. Don’t expect your movers to transport liquids, firearms, and hazardous or flammable items such as propane tanks or household chemicals.
  19. Do a final walk through of your old home and your new home before the movers leave to ensure everything is done. Check hard to reach places like high shelves and attics. Don’t sign off on any paperwork until you’re satisfied.
  20. If you are completely satisfied with your movers, tipping them is a great way to show your appreciation. In general, tip at a rate of $3-$4 per hour worked. The lead should get a bit more.

 

Ten Reasons to Declutter Before You Sell Your Home

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Most Real Estate professionals will tell you to declutter your home before selling it. But why? Here are 10 reasons why removing clutter will make your home more attractive and thus more valuable to prospective buyers.

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Woman Tossing Clothes from Closet

  1. An uncluttered home looks more spacious and space is what most home buyers are looking for.
  2. A prospective buyer wants to imagine themselves in your home, not feel like an intruder. That’s why removing all personal items such as family photos, knickknacks, religious items, art work with a political theme, and excess furniture is so important.
  3. A cluttered home gives an impression that the house has not been well maintained, raising a prospective buyers suspicions of “unseen” damage.
  4. Clutter is a potential liability. If someone trips on your clutter, falls and injures themselves, you could be liable.
  5. Storage space, such as cabinets and closets that are partially empty convey the impression that the house has good storage available – a big selling point for most people.
  6. Older or worn furniture items, even if they may be important to you, can make a house seem dated and old.
  7. Clutter conveys a dirty home, even if you’re a tidy person.  If you’re not, by all means get it professionally cleaned!
  8. Too much stuff, makes it difficult to focus on a home’s best features.

  9. Don’t assume buyers will want to use your home the same way you do.  If you have a room set up as an office, take the advice of your Real Estate agent if they suggest staging it differently.
  10. Less clutter means less stuff for you to pack up and move, which will lower your cost of moving, and less stuff to unpack or clutter up your new home.

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The most important 12 questions to ask a mover before you hire them

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1. Are you available on the day I need to move?

Don’t assume that all movers will be available the day you need to move. If you’re flexible try to pick a move date in the beginning or middle of the week, as weekends tend to get booked first.

2. Will you do a visual, written estimate?

A written estimate, based on an onsite visit to your home, is the best way to know ahead of time what you will be charged.

3. Do you provide full packing services?

This is especially important if you are moving fragile, high value items. If you cannot afford full packing, then opt for partial packing for these items.

4. How do you charge for moving and packing?

Local moves (under 50 miles) are typically charged by the hour. Long distance moves are charged by weight, with each line item costing a percentage of the overall weight. Weights are estimated during a visual estimate — which is why it’s so important to do a visual estimate.

5. How long has your company been in business?

Operating a trustworthy moving and storage company is much more than a couple of strong guys with a truck. Knowing a company’s history and track record are important factors in deciding whether or not you can trust them to move your home safely and for the price you expected.

6. Can you provide references from two recent moves comparable to mine?

Great moving companies will be busy and will more than likely have customers who can speak about their experience. When you call the reference, be sure to ask, “Was there anything they could have done better?”

7. What licensing and insurance do you have and can you provide documentation?

While the federal government regulates all interstate (long distance) movers, not all states require local movers to be regulated by the state in which they operate. You can verify what states require this, through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

8. What other charges should I expect?

With long distance moves, expect extra charges such as origin and destination fees, which are typically administrative charges for obtaining and paying the local moving crews as well as fees for extra stops or shuttle trucks. You will also be charged for moving supplies such as boxes and moving paper but moving blankets and wardrobe boxes are typically provided free of charge as long as they are returned.

9. How will you protect my home during the move

Before a single item is moved, your movers will ask to do a walkthrough with you. When they do this they will notice what areas, such as wood floors, carpeting, bannisters or door jams may need protection before items are moved. Be sure to ask for their “Certificate of Liability Insurance.”

10. Do you offer insurance in case something gets lost or damaged?

Federal regulations only require movers to offer basic protection coverage at a rate of .60 per pound. This means your $5,000 crystal vase will be insured at the same rate as your frying pan. Consider additional Full Value Replacement or FVR coverage. You can get this either through your mover or through your home insurance agent.

11. Are your movers employees of the company?

If they are not, you could be liable if they hurt themselves on your property. The best moving companies also have a great support staff to address any of your move related questions or concerns before, during and after your move.

12. If I have a problem or question after hours or after my movers leave, whom do I call and how will it be resolved?

No matter how good your moving company, it’s always good to be prepared for the unexpected. Know ahead of time who you can call and when, should something go wrong. Have this information handy before moving day and be sure to document any damages in writing or in photographs.

The One Resolution You Can Keep

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If you were born between 1947 and 1964, when it comes to organizing your home, my guess is you are less Do-It-Yourselfer and more Do-It-For-ME.

new_years_resolution_listGetting more organized is a common New Year’s resolution but I believe when people say they want to “get” organized, what they really mean, is they want to “be” organized.

When you live in your home for 20, 30 or more years, raising a family or even taking care of aging parents, you’re going to have a lot of stuff. This is just reality for most people in their 50s and 60s. This doesn’t mean you are a “hoarder” – you’re just like everyone else. It’s just the idea of finally dealing with all that accumulated stuff is overwhelming and chances are you would rather spend time doing something you enjoy and that’s worth a lot!

If you’re a homeowner in your 50s or 60s  at some point you’re going to  grapple with the problem of downsizing while you can still be involved. Otherwise you’ll end up passing off the problem to your children or even to friends if you don’t have family or family nearby.

Downsizing your home is like saving for retirement. The earlier you start thinking about it, the better.

I had a client tell me recently she didn’t know what she would do if she had to downsize her home by herself.  She recently decided to move to save money for her retirement. The problem was that in order to move to a new home she had to sell her current home but her realtor wouldn’t even consider listing it until she dealt with all her stuff.

It took a crew of four professional organizers and less than two weeks to get everything sorted, donated, hauled and ready for her movers, including long forgotten items belonging to her parents in her attic and garage. When we were almost done, she told her realtor she wanted to “test the waters” to see if there was any interest in her home. Much to her delight, it sold the first day it was listed.

If your roof needed replacing would you do it yourself?

Home improvement projects, especially large organizing projects that involve whole homes or highly cluttered spaces like garages, are no different in many ways from a home remodel. It takes a plan, skill and muscle. And whatever you do, don’t just move or store what you no longer want. This will only cost you more in moving or storage charges in the long run.

Get it done, done well and done fast and you can actually check this one off your list of New Year’s resolutions.

 

 

 

30 Dos and Don’ts for a Do-It-Yourself Move

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Moving BlanketsMaking plans to move doesn’t start the day you start packing.

Whether you are moving, across the street, across the country, or just temporarily while your house is being remodeled, the secret to a stress-free move is all in the preparation.

Here are 15 “Dos” and 15 “Don’ts” to help you, or those you know, plan and prepare to move without breaking the bank or your back.

Do’s

  1. Do get at least two written, onsite estimates and read them carefully. Fees for supplies, materials, 2nd stops or even labor can vary widely from mover to mover.
  2. Do label and if possible, separate items you are Moving (by destination), Selling, Donating or Hauling.
  3. Do consider getting your high value items insured against loss or damage, especially if you are moving more than 50 miles.
  4. Do give yourself plenty of time to purge if you have clutter or are downsizing your home.
  5. Do hire a licensed mover with a long list of references and check their references.
  6. Do plan on being there on move day to direct movers at your old home or new home if you can’t be there.
  7. Do pack heavy items such as books in small boxes, light items such as pillows and lamp shades in large boxes, bulky or odd-sized items such as lamp shades, toys or tools in medium boxes. Fragile items such as crystal and china should go  in extra strong dish-packs.
  8. Do have a plan for unpacking and getting organized at your new home. The average home will take 1-4 weeks to unpack depending upon the amount of items you move. Consider hiring professional organizers if you need it done more quickly.
  9. Do arrange with your movers to disconnect large appliances such as washes and dryers.
  10. Do make a plan for your school aged children on move day  and secure your pets in a safe place.
  11. Do inspect the moving truck after your items are unloaded to be sure it’s fully emptied before movers depart.
  12. Do leave folded clothes in dressers. Most movers will provide wardrobe boxes, free of charge, for your hanging clothes.
  13. Do book your move first thing in the morning.
  14. Do label boxes clearly so movers can get them to the right room in your new home.
  15. Do consider donating or giving away your gently used boxes or see if your movers will take them back.

Don’ts

  1. Don’t assume movers will be available on the day you need to move. Book 4-6 weeks ahead if possible.
  2. Don’t hire movers you haven’t met with or have not been recommended by people you trust.
  3. Don’t forget to pack/purge contents from storage areas, attics, sheds and offsite storage.
  4. Don’t waste time scrounging for boxes and packing supplies. Gently used ones can be found online and less expensive ones at stores like Home Depot. Professional Movers can also deliver boxes/supplies
  5. Don’t leave packing to the last minute. It will add to the cost of your move if your movers were not hired to pack.
  6. Don’t hire a mover solely on price. Experience, knowledge of your community and skill (like moving a grand piano) counts for much more.20150214_101556
  7. Don’t move boxes you haven’t opened since your last move.
  8. Don’t call movers at the last minute with significant changes to your move. It will cost you.
  9. Don’t book a move at the end of a month or in the summer, if possible. These are their busiest times.
  10. Don’t water your plants for two days before you move.
  11. Don’t forget to go back and check all areas of your home before your moving truck leaves.
  12. Don’t forget to complete a change of address form for all your service providers and the US Mail.
  13. Don’t talk to movers when they are moving heavy objects
  14. Don’t forget to tip your movers if they did a good job.
  15. Don’t forget to notify friends, relatives and the post office about your new address.