The night after Liz Kocourek moved into her new Manhattan apartment, she got a call from her bank about erratic charges on one of her credit cards. It was a spare card that she had thrown into a bag with a bunch of other random belongings before her move. When she went looking for her charge card, it was nowhere to be found.
From missing belongings to lost boxes to a lack of organization, moving day can cause all sorts of inconveniences and mishaps. And unfortunately, there's no exact science to complete the laborious task of moving. But there are some things you can do, especially in the planning phase, to make the moving process go easier for you and your movers. (They'll appreciate it, too).
Here are some tips on how to streamline the process and reduce the risk of moving day catastrophes:
Pre-Moving Day Tasks
1) Plan ahead and update records. Los Angeles-based organizational expert Jill Pollack says you should plan your move "like a military operation" and start doing some of the dirty work, such as notifying the Post Office of your relocation and changing your address on utility bills, bank records, magazine subscriptions, etc., about a month in advance.
2) Get rid of your clutter. You don't want to pack up belongings that you are going to throw away or not use at your next apartment, so sift through everything from clothes to kitchen utensils to decide what passes the test.
3) Document your belongings. Before you even start to pack up your things, home improvement author Don Vandervort, suggests taking an inventory of your things by either using a video or still camera to protect yourself against any damage or loss that may occur during the move.
Moving Day Packing
1) Pack out-of-season things first. To solve the perpetual dilemma of where to start, United Van Lines advises beginning with out-of-season items followed by the things you use infrequently. The last belongings you should box up are the things you use day to day.
2) Label boxes and take inventory. If devising an organization system is your downfall, Pollack recommends color coordinating labels for every room and adhering them to each box, as well as writing a quick list of items that are in the box on its outside. Create a more detailed inventory list to place inside the box. And also, make sure you have a master list of all the boxes and their contents for your records.
3) Pack according to weight. Put heavier items in smaller boxes, and lighter things in bigger boxes or wardrobe boxes, to reduce the chance that boxes will split or get crushed, suggests the Chicago-based moving company, The Moving Experts. It will also make the mover's job easier.
4) Assemble a stash of personal boxes. Important and valuable items, such as jewelry, birth certificates, credit cards, pictures, financial records, computer hard drives and backups, should be packed in boxes or suitcases that you can watch and move personally.
5) Put together a "first-day kit." Depending on the time of day and your energy level, a lot of the unpacking may have to wait until the next day. To take the pressure off and avoid rummaging through packed boxes, Vandervort says to pack a suitcase or box with all the things that you may need in the first couple of days, such as clothes, toiletries, towels, bedding and a few dishes.
1) Do a final look-over of the apartment. After the boxes have been moved out of your place, do a last check of closets, cabinets or where furniture was removed, to make sure nothing has been left behind.
2) Get a signed bill of lading. Vandervort advises getting a signed bill of lading, a document that confirms that items have been moved on board the mover's carrier, that lists all the contents of your boxes. This should match up with the master list you scribed for your own records.
3) Share your contact information. Make sure your movers have your cell phone in case they get lost or have trouble getting to your new apartment. Leave your new address and contact information with your previous landlord so that they can get in touch if needed, for example, if a package comes a for you a couple days later, or to complete the refunding of your security deposit.
For most, the bulk of the work comes in the form of preparing for moving day. But being aptly equipped and organized will only make the dreaded moving day go better, help simplify the unpacking stage, and avert any potential disasters.
For Liz Kocourek, having all of her valuables in her possession on moving day would have preempted the situation of having a lost or stolen. And instead of getting settled in her place on moving day or checking out her new view of the city, she was trying to straighten out fraudulent charges.
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