Posts Tagged ‘moving’

Clearing A House to Sell

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There is a voyeur in all of us when it comes to other people’s homes and the amount of “clutter” they keep. Think of shows like “Hoarder’s” and “Buried Alive.”  We look at other’s lives and ask, “are we as bad or better than that?”

Last week I started a house clear-out. It took six crew working five solid days to go through each individual item in every room, closet, cabinet, drawer, cupboard and shelf, to decide whether or not it could be sold, donated, recycled, trashed or hauled.

The items were then physically grouped into these categories with the marketable items going to an estate seller; The good quality, used items that wouldn’t sell, going to various charities; The paper, recyclable plastics and glass bottles going to the recycling facility, and; the trash getting hauled both privately and through a city sponsored bulk pick-up program. The project required many hours of planning, coordination and execution.

If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t clear the clutter from your home? This could be the reason. It takes a village!

You won’t see the “after” pictures. Not yet. But despite what it may seem, this is not a house belonging to a “hoarder.” This is not someone who secretly acquires items and has a compulsive need to save them, regardless of their value.

This is not the result of an individual who has a problem letting things go any more than the rest of us.

Instead this house, was once owned and inhabited by a family – a mother, father and child. Where friends and relatives came to visit, to celebrate, eat and grieve together. Where the parents grew up in an era where everything was saved since since there was a scarcity of practically everything when they were children. (Old habits die hard and often get passed down).

When that child grew up she got married and moved down the street and her parents got older and eventually needed care, and little by little things started to pile up. Little by little things couldn’t get done because there were much bigger things that needed doing and she was the only one doing them. Little by little the child, now an adult, had to take care of the family business, first with her mother, and finally alone. Then she lost her husband and she was completely alone.

She is older now, strong in mind but less so physically. Sometimes she sought solace in things, things to help her feel better, happier, pretty, less alone.  who amongst us hasn’t? And little by little it got worse.

This could happen to anyone, you, me, your neighbors down the street who’s house from the outside looks so tidy and neat.

So the next time you think, oh I’m not like that! Or how could she/he/they let that happen? You may want to count your blessings that life has been kinder to you.

 

 

Downsize your way to a stress-free move.

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Planning to move this Summer? Don’t pack a box until you read this.

Moving is the perfect opportunity to assess whether or not you need to downsize your home’s contents so that you don’t end up spending the time and money to move, insure and unpack items you don’t really want. There are so many great reasons to downsize. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. You’ll sell your old home faster. An uncluttered home is massively appealing to home buyers. Nowadays, real estate agents won’t even consider listing your home until it’s cleared of all your personal belongings.
  2. It’s safer. The less clutter on surfaces, stairs, floors or near electric or gas appliances, the better. So even if you’re not moving this alone is one great reason to downsize.
  3. You’re the one in charge! You get to decide what stays and what goes and if you give yourself enough time, you won’t be making those decisions under pressure.
  4. You can preserve memories. It’s easier to find the irreplaceable things in your life when you can easily find them.
  5. Less stress. You will feel the peace of mind that comes from living an uncluttered life, surrounded by the people and things you enjoy the most
  6. Save money. The less you move, the less it costs.

What to take, what to sell, what to donate

Not sure what you’ll take with you?  That’s okay, you probably have a lot you don’t want now. Start to downsize well before you move and you get to decide what goes — nobody pressuring you!  Best of all, you won’t make hasty decisions in the days leading up to your move that you may regret later.

If you have items you plan to sell such as good quality furniture, jewelry, luxury brand clothing or valuable artwork, you will first need to determine whether these items are in demand. Check out both local estate sellers and consignment services as well as online estate services that can consign or buy your items outright. One easy way to do this is to send them a few photos. It’s free and you’ll know pretty quickly what they may be worth.  One word of caution, don’t expect the value to equal what you paid for an item or what you “think” it’s worth.  If the item has value, they too will want to make a profit so they will never buy it for what it’s worth from an insurance standpoint.

Want to keep it simple and easy? In the San Francisco Bay Area there are services such as Remoovit.com that will literally take everything you don’t want and haul it away for one flat fee. Anything they can sell, they will and you will get fifty percent of the final sale price. Whatever can not be sold, will be donated or recycled. Remoovit once sold a rusty old “banana seat” bicycle belonging to one of my clients for $1,200. She got half of that which paid for the hauling of everything else!  You pay by the truck load (or fraction thereof). It’s a one-stop service for those who need their homes to be emptied quickly but don’t want to simply give away items that may have market value.

Where do I start?

Not sure where to start? Begin with whatever area of your home you’ve been wanting to tackle but just haven’t had a good enough reason. Now you do. You’re moving and you want to surround yourself with the things that you love and use most. This doesn’t mean everything else goes in the trash. On the contrary, it’s likely you have usable items that somebody else wants (any may even pay for!) including family, friends, neighbors and members of your community.

Set aside one area of your home where you will sort and label as you go. A dining room is a good place for this as it’s less likely you will be entertaining at home in the weeks leading up to your move. Otherwise, pick an area that you occupy less frequently such as a guest room.  Here are some other helpful tools you will need:

  • A folding table or work surface for sorting (if not in your dining room).
  • Supply of large, plastic yard bags for donating soft goods such as clothing, purses, accessories, good quality linens, outerwear. Keep in mind most charities will not accept bed pillows, bedding, or old linens. Old towels may be donated to local animal shelters.
  • Small moving or packing boxes, preferably ones with handles. Use these to donate home decor, small household items, kitchen tools and other hard-edged items.
  • Blue or green painter’s tape to label furniture, framed art work, lamps and other large items you no longer want.
  • A couple of black “sharpie” markers to use with the painter’s tape to label boxes, bags and unwanted items.
  • A glass or bottle of water (you’ll want to stay hydrated as you work!)

If you are lucky to have family nearby, especially strong children or grandchildren, ask them to load items in your car you wish to transport yourself or ask them to take them for you. Otherwise, you can count on the help of the charities that will pick up your items by truck.

Make a list of your preferred charities that accept household goods. Be sure they are available before you move. Many charities book 2-3 weeks in advance.

Don’t forget your local church bazaar, senior center and friends of the library. There may also be a veteran’s group in your area that will pick up your donated goods. Animal shelters and your local veterinarian are always in need of clean, old towels.  Women’s shelters can use your unused, unopened toiletries. (Think of all those unopened hotel shampoos and body lotions you’ve collected over the years.) Local hospice stores, or other charities that operate re-sell or “thrift” stores are a great way to donate.  Not sure where to donate clothing? Ask your local consignment store. They are usually a wealth of information. Lastly you will be grateful for the help of charities that do truck pick up. Not sure which ones serve your area? Do a Google search, “charities that do truck pick up near me.

Helpful Tips for Downsizing

  1. Start early. Don’t wait until a week before you move. Give yourself at least a month or more so you don’t have to make decisions under pressure.
  2. Focus on one room at a time. This way you will see progress and stay motivated.
  3. Don’t buy more!  Now is not the time time to go clothes shopping or re-stock your pantry. Use up what you have.
  4. Segregate your paper. Don’t attempt to “go through” your files until you’ve downsized your other household goods. Instead, contain all your paper files in banker boxes and use the days leading up to the move to determine what you need to keep.
  5. Use painters tape (not sticky notes – they fall off) to label items for donation
  6. Save your back. Use charities that offer truck pick up to take your boxed and bagged items as well as your donated furniture

When to ask for help

  • If you are feeling overwhelmed by the whole process and know you can’t do this alone or are worried you would be overwhelmed by the memories and emotions often associated with large-scale downsizing
  • If you are working full time or traveling a lot and know you could use some help to make the process go faster
  • If you are far away from family or friends and need help with the physical work of sorting and transporting items for you
  • If you have physical limitations or just don’t have the endurance to deal with it yourself.  This is especially true if you are clearing out large storage areas such as basements, garages and storage sheds.

How to find a new home for your old sofa

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Imagine you are moving (or remodeling) and you’ve decided not to keep your sofa or couch.

By the way a sofa is typically larger than a couch, seating four or more people whereas a couch is generally smaller, seating three or less. Now you know!

What do you do with your sofa (or couch) if you no longer want it?

As a relocation specialist and professional organizer, I see this come up with practically every home I downsize and every move I manage.

The answer will always depend on its condition and where you live. There are many potential solutions but you will first need to ask yourself these four questions about your used sofa:

  1. Is it practically new – less than four years old or an antique –  and in great condition? You may be able to sell or consign it.
  2. Is it four or more years old and in very good condition and definitely still usable without stains, tears or fading? You still may be able to sell it or donate it or offer it for free to someone in your community.
  3. Is it torn, ripped, stained or faded or in need of cleaning?  You may be able to arrange to have it picked up by your local waste management company’s bulk pick up service and depending upon how its manufactured it may (or may not) be recycled by them.
  4. Are you very concerned about it ending up in landfill? You may be able to recycle it but be prepared to pay for that. Recyclers generally won’t pick it up unless you are disposing of a large quantity – think dumpster – of items. On top of that you will probably have to pay recycling fees.

The biggest challenge in finding new homes or disposing of sofas and other large furniture typically comes down to time and transportation.

Time comes into play because scheduling a truck pick up of your gently used, usable or discarded item(s) must be done in advance, since many charities book as much as six weeks in advance.

If you are planning to move to relocate or remodel, be sure to add “sell/donate furniture” to your to-do list at least two months ahead of your move.

Why a so long? Let’s say you scheduled a charity to pick up your sofa. All charities will leave it up to the discretion of the driver as to whether or not to take your sofa. If they reject it when they arrive, you may then only have two weeks or so to find another solution before your move date. Chances are that means you will either have to schedule a hauler, which can be costly, a bulk pick up (if your city/county offers such a service) which also requires advance notice or find a way to move and transport it yourself; Rarely an option for most people in the midst of a move, especially if you are a senior or live alone.

 TIP: Plan ahead and read on to know your options.  By the way, these options apply to other large items of furniture as well.

Sell/Consign – For items that are practically new and in pristine or “gently used” condition, constructed from real materials (not particle board or composite wood) and of course, in demand, such as mid-century, some antiques, high-end contemporary and designer brands. you can try both local and on-line estate sellers.

TIP: Do a web-search for “Estate sellers near me” or “Furniture consignment stores near me” These searches will bring up both local as well as online options (The RealReal.com sells high quality pre-owned sofas to buyers throughout the U.S. Be sure to inquire about their policies and procedures for viewing and selling your items.)

Private Sale – For sofas that are in good condition but may be older or in less demand, or not acceptable to estate sellers or consignment services, try online selling sites like Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, OfferUp or Trove. Plan well in advance to post your item on these sites as you are competing with many others who are selling similar items.

If your item doesn’t sell within three weeks of your move, consider other options. Keep in mind, you will also have to deal directly with the buyer and he/she will likely need to enter your home to collect and pay for the items. Some online sites will process payments for you and take a commission. For neighborhood sites, I recommend requiring cash only.

If you live alone, make sure to have someone there with you. If you are disabled or not particularly strong, you will need to let the buyer know to come with help. Carefully consider your personal safety before selling anything to a private buyer.

Donation – As Baby Boomers age and downsize, there is a glut of items being donated. So much so that charities can be much pickier about what they take. Most charities train their drivers to carefully inspect items. Pick up is always at the driver’s discretion. This can be a huge issue if you have a hard deadline to meet to be out of your home.

TIP: If you are remodeling, ask your contractors if they would move your sofa for you to the street for hauling.

Most charities will want to see photos of your sofa. Be sure to send them good quality photos, at least three, including front, side and back views and be absolutely candid about your item’s condition. Also, inform the charity about access to the item including outside and inside stairs, long hallways or whether or not there is an elevator.

I recently had a charity reject my client’s sofa because the driver and his assistant did not want to transport the item down a long flight of stairs.

TIP: Do a web search for “charities that offer truck pickup near me” to locate charities that offer free truck pick up of your donated furniture and household items.

Charities are looking for items that are sellable so don’t expect them to take anything that is damaged, in need of cleaning or repair.  To locate a charity that offers free truck pickup, check out http://donationtown.org/ but be prepared to enter your contact information on their website. You can also contact charities directly such as Salvation Army (SATruck.org), Habitat for Humanity Restores (San Francisco Bay Area only) or Out of The Closet.

One other option for donating your older but good quality sofa is to make it available for free to people in your community through sites such as Freecycle, Nextdoor or through the “free stuff” tab on Craigslist. If you can spare the time, having someone come and get your old sofa is in fact money in your pocket. Why? Because unless you have strong kids who are available exactly when you need them to help, you may end up paying for the labor it would cost you to have your sofa moved curbside for the bulk pickup: An unexpected expense and logistics issue often overlooked in crunch time.

Recycling/Disposal – You know that old sofa you’ve had for 20 years, the one that is covered in an old blanket because underneath your pets destroyed it? This is the sofa that no one wants but you will still need to dispose. In Oakland, California where I live, both the City and the County offer, free curbside bulk pick up. This is the last available free option for large old sofas and other large household debris that can’t be simply tossed in the trash.

TIP: Call your local waste management company to see if they offer bulk pick up service. You will still need to get your old sofa to your curb. If you live alone, or are a senior, you may have to hire a helper.

I recently used an online app called Lugg to help a client who needed to get her sofa and other items on the curb for bulk pick up. They are a platform for movers, haulers and helpers, for when you need a little or a lot of muscle.

In Oakland, the local waste management company will sort items and if they can be all or partially recycled they will be, I am told. But if you are very concerned about the footprint you leave on the environment, there may still be other options for keeping your sofa (or at least most of it) out of the landfill but it will most likely cost you.

Check out a website called, Earth911.com to find a recycling facility near you.  It may not be free and you will either have to arrange to transport your sofa yourself to a local recycler or pay to have it hauled.

The bottom line is no matter which option you choose, plan ahead. You want to have a Plan B (donate) and possibly even a Plan C (haul) if your original Plan A, to sell or give away your sofa falls through. Trust me, the last thing you (or your real estate agent) want to see the day you move is the ugly, torn, pet-stained sofa, you couldn’t get rid of still in your empty home.

How to downsize your home without losing your mind

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You’ve lived in your home for 25 years or more. Perhaps you raised your kids there. Maybe it was your parents’ home before it was yours. It contains the memories of your life, your children’s lives, your families lives, the life you had with a spouse.

Every item in your home reflects something about you and the people you love most. Now the time has come, by choice or circumstance, to empty your home of all the memories so you can continue to live, more simply, perhaps more frugally, without the burdens home-ownership brings in later life. Now the real work begins.

As a professional organizer specializing in helping people just like you make this transition, I’m here to tell you it can be done. It seems overwhelming, impossible sometimes, but I have never, ever had a client not move on with their lives, as they planned. Is it easy? No. Is it stressful? Yes. There are few things harder in life than moving, except losing a loved one, and in some respects moving can feel just as painful, especially because it’s our memories we are leaving behind, not just our stuff.

This is why it is so, so important to know and constantly remind yourself why you are making this move in the first place.

Are you protecting your financial future?
Are you needing a simpler life?
Do you want to release yourself of the burden of taking care of a home that may be too big for you now?
When all is said and done, how will you know that you got there?

Take a moment and picture yourself done. You’ve moved.

You’re in your new home or your new community. What are you doing? Who are you with? How are you feeling? Are you enjoying the view outside your new home? Are you with family or friends you wanted to be closer to? Are you taking a walk in the neighborhood you knew would make you happy? Are you enjoying a new activity your move has made possible? Whatever the image is, picture it and keep that picture close to your heart.

Get as crystal clear as you can about this picture. You will need it to spur you on to keep moving when the chaos, albeit temporary, of moving is at its height and you find yourself wondering if you’ve done the right thing. I’m here to tell you, to reassure you. You have.

Memories are what make life rich and meaningful but so is living in the present moment. It is often the things or stuff of our lives that trigger those memories. We ask ourselves,”If I get rid of this or that will I lose the memory?” Yes, you may but not necessarily. Life is about creating new memories. If we had to remember everything that happened to us at every moment of our lives, a condition called hyperthymesia,  you would be exhausted from the constant burden of non-stop, uncontrollable, stream of memories.  Essentially you would be unable to live in the present.

When you are downsizing, it’s important to remember your future just as much as your past.

 

 

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.

 

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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10 Hidden Costs of Moving

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Benjamin Franklin hiding in grassDo you know what it will cost you to move your home? If you call a mover for a quote, don’t be surprised when the final cost far exceeds what you were quoted over the phone.

The cost of moving, especially if you are moving out-of-state and even just across town, can easily add up. Moving is stressful enough. Don’t be sticker-shocked.  Here’s what you need to know when hiring a professional mover:

  1. Get an onsite estimate – not just a quote over the phone.  Most established movers will provide a one-hour window of time during which you can expect to meet with their estimator.  Even if you are just moving across town it is worth your time to schedule an onsite estimate.  Quotes over the phone are typically under-estimated because they don’t include other hidden costs such as “long carries” – an extra charge for when a mover has to walk a long way between their truck and your front door. They also don’t include extra charges for stairs or fuel surcharges.
  2. Review and compare the estimates carefully. Long Distance moves are estimated based on weight. Local moves are estimated based on time.  Tariff’s for long distance moves are set by law but estimates can still vary if a company over-estimates the weight of your items. Get at least two estimates but three are ideal. I recently had a client who received two estimates that were roughly the same but a third was significantly higher. Compare extra fees such as the cost of boxes, labor time, fuel surcharges and even sales tax. Other fees for disconnection of appliances and crating are generally extra.   Since some of these extra fees are often based as a percentage of the weight – having an accurate weight is important.StarStickyNote
  3. Decide what you are moving ahead of time. Take the time before you meet with movers to decide  what furniture you are moving.  Don’t schedule the estimate until you’ve done this because the estimate will depend on either the quantity of items you are moving (for local moves) or the weight (for long distance moves).  Go through your house room-by-room and don’t forget your storage areas – garage, basement, attic, shed – as well as your patio or terrace. Place a bright colored label or sticky-note on every piece of furniture and large item you are moving. Don’t worry about deciding what you want to do with the things you are not taking. Just focus on the things you want. Don’t forget large lamps, speakers, artwork, fixtures, shelving units or exercise equipment.  Here’s another reason to do an onsite estimate:  A couple I know relied on a phone estimate but because they had so much stuff, as a result the movers had to return for another run since they estimated the move (by phone) for a smaller truck size. It ended up costing them almost double what they were quoted.
  4. Opt for added insurance. This is the most frequently overlooked cost of moving and yet for a relatively small amount it can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars, particularly if you are moving a long distance.  By law all professional movers must offer “Basic Coverage” which currently only insures your possessions at a rate of .60 per pound. This means that from an insurance standpoint, your valuable crystal china bowl will be valued at the same rate as your frying pan if they weigh roughly the same amount.  Insurance is especially important if you are moving high value items such as original artwork, expensive electronics, fragile fixtures, antiques or valuable china.  Make sure your movers provide “actual value” or “full replacement value” insurance options to you before hiring them. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars extra for insurance and compare quotes across movers. Even if your furniture is not high value, consider the cost of replacing it. You’ll still need furniture in your new home even if it’s furniture you’ve owned for years.  Moving trucks have been known to break down. If your household goods need to be moved from one truck to another, mid-stream, during a rain storm, you’ll want to know your possessions are insured. (This is what happened to me on one of my three, cross country moves. Fortunately I had full replacement value insurance that covered my losses completely).
  5. Decide whether you will pack or whether you want the movers to pack for you. The cost of having professional movers pack is roughly the same as what they charge for labor time which can add to the cost but it may make sense if you are pressed for time, need to work or be at your new home or are physically unable (or unwilling) to pack your whole house.  It also makes sense from a liability standpoint. If you pack a box and one of the movers accidentally drops it, they are not liable for the damage to the contents if it’s determined by the insurance adjustor that it was packed inadequately.  If you can afford it, take advantage of your mover’s professional packing services , especially for your high value or fragile items.  You can always save money on labor time if you pack your non-fragile items such as books, office supplies, kitchen items, linens, nicknacks yourself.
  6. Don’t pack your clothes. Most professional movers will move your dresser or wardrobes, clothes and all, if you just leave them there. Be sure to remove any fragile items however as these could be damaged during transport. Also, you don’t need to pack your hanging clothing as most professional movers will pack these for you, typically at no extra charge.
  7. Ask for discounts. Several professional movers will offer a variety of discounts. One company I worked with recently offered a senior discount which covered the cost of the “fuel surcharge.”  Others have discount arrangements with real estate companies or other businesses.  Ask your employer or real estate agent for a recommendation.
  8. Be ready to move! In general, local movers charge by the hour. Don’t wait till moving day to finish your packing or to defrost your refrigerator if you were planning on taking it with you. This will cost you!  If you are moving long distance,  this will add to the stress of your move day if you are not ready when the movers arrive or if you schedule something else to occur on moving day.  Don’t water your plants on move day or pack wet laundry – movers wont take them.
  9. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you get two estimates and one is higher from your preferred mover, let them know you want to work with them. If they want your business, they will try to work with you. Know who the local agent/represen
    Moving Crew from Shamrock Movers

    My favorite moving crew

    tative is for your moving company and keep their number handy in case of any problems.  The estimator is the sales person but it’s the local agent/owner that has the authority to correct any problems.

  10. Tips are permitted. While it’s not expected, the move experience you have often comes down to the driver and the moving crew.  Generally these people operate on a thin margin. They are not getting the money you pay the moving company but they work the hardest. Set aside some extra cash to tip your movers and drivers for good service. I recommend tipping movers $3-$4 for each hour they worked and tip the driver/lead a little bit more.

If you would like other tips on how to have a stress-free move, call us! We’re not movers but we can manage every step of your move, including unpacking and home-setup,  so you can step back into your new home like you’ve been there forever.

 

 

 

 

 

13 lucky tips to know before you move

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How many times have you moved in your adult life? Five times? Ten times? More? Moving

Since moving into my first apartment at age 20,  I’ve moved eight times including three times across the country, and each of those three with a cat. I’ve also helped many clients move; across town, across country and even across the ocean.
Each time I moved, I learned the hard way about how to better plan for the next move.  I whittled this knowledge down to a list of 12 things you should know before you move and hopefully these tips will save you from learning the hard way too.

  1. Create a move timetable or check list:  Brainstorm a list of everything you need to do. Work backwards from your move date to the present breaking down tasks from week to week. If you are moving with others ask them what you may have forgotten in your moving schedule and add it to the list.
  2. Pay to move what you want; not what you don’t: Sort and purge what you no longer want. Remember most long distance moving companies charge by the pound. Do you really want to pay to move your college text books… again?!
  3. Get a minimum of two in-home estimates: Not all movers are created equal. Although fees for long distance moves are based on weight, other fees for things like supplies, packing, extra stops and insurance vary from company to company. Look carefully at the estimate and always request a “not to exceed price.”  For local moves, ask the company to do an onsite estimate based on whether you are packing yourself or paying them to pack. Don’t just go with the quoted hourly rate.
  4. Have professionals pack high value, fragile items: If you pack them yourself – you take the risk. If your movers pack it – they do.  To save money, have them pack just your most fragile items such as heirloom China, vases, antiques and chandeliers.
  5. Insure your items at the highest rate you can afford: Long distance moving companies are required to charge a minimum insurance rate of .60 per pound. This means your heavy files are valued at the same rate as your fine crystal. Don’t take a chance! Insure for the full replacement value of your most valuable items (or check with your homeowner’s insurance provider to see what they cover).
  6. Move in the morning: Summertime is peak moving season. For this reason most moving companies book two, three and even four moves in a day. Don’t be sitting waiting for the movers at midnight. Request a first appointment or if possible delay your move until after the Summer ends.
  7. Invest in gently used boxes: Scrounging around for moving boxes at the supermarket is fine if you are moving a few items but inconvenient and time-consuming if you are moving an entire home. Search the web for used moving boxes and save a bundle on your supplies.
  8. Ask your real estate agent’s advice: If you are working with a real estate agent who is helping you sell your home or buy a new one, ask them for tips about moving. They are very often a wealth of knowledge and resources.
  9. Make a plan for your pets: Are you driving? Flying? Transporting your pets to another country?  Consult with your vet first. Call the airline to inquire about restrictions for carrying pets on-board and find out about quarantine requirements for your pets traveling overseas.
  10. Get a floor plan of your new home if possible: Think ahead about where you want to place your furniture. Take pictures of the furniture in your old house so you can plan for where you want it in your new house. This will help save you time and money when you move into your new home. It may also keep you from over-stuffing your garage with all those pieces of furniture that won’t fit.
  11. Do a walk-through before you leave your old home: This is one of those tips I learned the hard way. Before moving, I forgot to remove a box of favorite books from my old home and was never able to get them back. Walk through your empty house and check all your storage areas before you leave to make sure you don’t leave anything you want behind.
  12. Take a little time every day to prepare, sort and pack: Moving is on the list of life’s top 10 stresses. Don’t add to your stress by leaving the planning, sorting and packing to the last minute. As a general rule and depending upon how much stuff you have, for each room in your home – excluding bathrooms – allow a week’s preparation time. Add another week for each year you’ve lived there over 10 years if you live in a house (half that if you live in an apartment). For example if your home has 8 rooms and you’ve lived there for 12 years, allow for 10 weeks or about two months to get ready for your move, more time if you have a lot of stuff.
  13. Get help from a professional move manager if it all feels too overwhelming, need help planning or unpacking or if you simply don’t have the time or the availability to do it yourself.

Till next time!

Lis

 

Confronting our monsters

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At 8:00 this morning, I had my own private celebration. It took place in my head.

An hour earlier I was driving and thinking about how terrifying it must be for some of my clients to do the one thing that scares them the most; To finally confront what’s kept them from moving forward in their lives because they feel overwhelmed and stuck and it’s showing up as piles of papers, boxes and who knows what else, on their desks, on the floor, in their drawers, everywhere.

I was thinking about what it means to do the one thing that scares you the most and to have the courage to do it anyway because you know you have to. Because you know not doing so will have far greater consequences.

For people who are chronically disorganized, the consequence of not facing their fears can be enormous.  For some it’s a loss of control over their lives. For others, it’s isolation. I know people who have lost their children, their spouses and their very security because of their inability to face their fears head on.  I also know people who have shown great courage and have discovered the meaning of making room in their lives.

My fears are about public speaking. And yet, as a small business person I know the value it brings to others in the form of information and sometimes even inspiration. But I do it quite frankly because I have to. Working with people in their homes and in their offices or helping them move is tactical but it’s also very personal. I know that if people see me and feel I am someone they can trust, and recognize I  have the expertise to help them, then they often will remember me when it comes time to organize their offices, or their bedrooms or help them plan and oversee their move to a new home.

The Paper MonsterThis is what I was thinking at seven o’clock this morning, on my way to speak to a group of fifty small business owners and entrepreneurs about how to face their fears, specifically about how to confront their own Paper Monsters.  I did this presentation a few weeks earlier and it had not lived up to my expectations  – perfectionism, my monster, rearing it’s ugly head, yet again –  and now I was getting ready to face him again.  Was I scared? Petrified, which is why at that moment I started thinking about my clients.

“If  they can have the courage to hire me, then I can damn well find the courage to face my fears as well, ” I thought.  And so I did. And it went fine. It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough. And that’s good enough. But to be honest, I’m glad it’s over. At least for today I can celebrate.

Tomorrow, I do it again.

7 Strategies for Downsizing Your Home

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DownsizingIf you’ve lived in the same home for 10, 20, 30 or more years, and decided to move into a smaller space, there is a term professional organizers and others such as realtors have adopted from the business world. It’s called downsizing.

In business, downsizing has a negative connotation as it generally means that people will lose their jobs. In the world of organizing, however, downsizing refers to a conscious and deliberate process of reducing the contents of one’s home prior to a move to a smaller space. Although the use of the term in this context is thought of as neutral, people who undergo the process of downsizing may feel otherwise. This is particularly true if you are older, retired or living alone as you will probably need to make decisions about whether or not to keep literally hundreds of items before your actual move day.

Complicating this fact, is that as we get older the part of our brain that helps us with mental tasks such as organizing and prioritizing, otherwise known as the “executive function,” does not work as well as it used to. This isn’t our fault. It’s just a normal process of aging.

When preparing to downsize in preparation for a move, here are a few strategies I recommend to help minimize the stress and uncertainty you may experience.

1. Plan ahead. Start thinking about and planning for your move at least 6 months before you put your house on the market. This could include talking to family members about your plans, determining your needs and goals for your next home and perhaps even researching or visiting other communities you are potentially interested in moving to.

2. Take the time to survey your belongings. Make a point of sharing memories and stories they evoke with those who have offered to help you get ready to move. You may even wish to record those stories in writing or with the use of a tape recorder well before you start packing.

3. Don’t try to do it all yourself. Delegate physical tasks such as sorting, categorizing, packing, transporting and moving to professionals or trusted friends. Elicit ideas and suggestions so you can benefit from the expertise and experience of others who do this professionally or who are knowledgeable about the process.

4. Keep only what you need, love or can’t replace. Don’t become a hoarder. Hoarding is distinguished from collecting in that collecting generally involves objects considered by others to be both interesting and valuable. Hoarding, on the other hand, involves keeping large quantities of things that appear to be useless or of limited value so much so that it compromises your ability to use your home as it was intended. The decision about what to keep and what to sell, donate, or dispose of is yours but only keep what you truly love, will use again or can’t easily replace.

5. Make your wishes clear from the start. If you prefer to be consulted with on certain decisions let others know that in the beginning. Talk openly about how you appreciate help and be willing to accept it when offered. However if you are feeling anxious, say so and take a break. The less anxious you feel, the easier it will be to make decisions you can live with.

6. Conserve your energy. While you think you may be able to work for four or five hours at a time, in reality you may only be effective for two. Commit to doing a specific number of tasks such as packing three boxes, instead of a whole room. If you enjoy it, do so while watching your favorite TV show or listening to music.

7. Don’t hold back (or apologize for) your emotions. Moving is stressful for everyone at any age. As you prepare for your move, you may experience everything from the joy of remembering a happy event to the sadness of grieving the loss of a loved one. Give yourself permission to feel these emotions and recognize that they are a normal response to the circumstances. Your emotions won’t hurt you but suppressing them may. If possible, talk to someone you know and trust who can listen and empathize.

Lis Golden McKinley, M.A., is CEO of LET’S MAKE ROOM, a professional organizing company serving clients in all five counties of the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. For more information, visit their website at https://www.letsmakeroom.com or call them at 510-846-1976 to schedule a complimentary phone consultation.

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