Whether you're moving across the country (or even across the state) to attend school, take a new job or just experience someplace new, a long-distance move is different from an across-town move. To take some of the stress out of the move, and to avoid some costly mistakes, follow all, or at least some, of these guidelines.
Sort, Filter, Discard
When you're moving across town, it's not too difficult to rent a truck, grab all your stuff and load it up with the help of a few friends, than unload it into your new place in the space of a morning or afternoon. You can even pile your things into a friend's pickup, use some tie-downs and even make several trips. When moving across the country, however, the logistics differ in several important ways.
Making several trips or using a friend's pickup isn't realistic, so you'll need to consider either (a) driving a rental truck across the country; (b) hiring a moving van; or (c) utilizing a pod-type unit. Each has obvious advantages and pitfalls, but all of them base cost on size and distance. The larger the vehicle/pod and the more miles traveled, the more expensive the cost.
To keep your costs down, you need to reduce the size (since you can't really reduce the distance). To do that, take a critical look at what you own.
- Furniture: By far the largest space in the moving vehicle is for your furniture. Moving subjects furniture to extra stresses and strains. Low quality furniture—that made from particleboard, for example—often does not hold up well during moves and is susceptible to chipping, ripping or joints loosening. Consider if the cost (the space required in the vehicle) is worth the cost of the piece, especially if there is a chance it won't survive the move. If you can sell the piece, or donate it and take a tax credit, you may be farther ahead. Use the money made or saved to purchase just the right piece for your new home in your new city. If the pieces you're taking come apart, you'll be much farther ahead in the "space" department. Taking legs off tables, dismantling bookcases and other options can reduce the size of vehicle needed to transport it. On the other end you'll need less space to store it if you're arriving without a new home picked out.
- Clothing: If your new hometown will be in a different climate, be ruthless in your sorting. In addition, get rid of anything torn, stained or that doesn't fit. The cost to move it often is more than the cost to replace it. The same holds true for children's clothing.
- Toys: If you're moving with children, have them help you choose their favorite toys that they currently use, and perhaps one or two smaller keepsakes. Then pass on the rest to friends and family or donate to a shelter or charity.
- Craft and hobby supplies: It's easy to hoard up hobby and craft supplies, bits and pieces of leftovers from projects and stashes of extra fasteners, buttons, bolts, or old patterns. Pare down your supply to the important things like tools and sell or give away the rest. Truly, the space they take up in the moving van far outweighs the cost to replace them most of the time.
- Garage and outdoor items: Hoses, planters, garden tool, trash cans and other outdoor items take up space, and may be a hazard to move. The prevalence of invasive species of weeds or insects moved from one locale to another makes moving these items dangerous to your new home.
- Linens: Part of the enjoyment of a new home is having fresh, new sheets and towels as part of the experience. But, rather than discarding the old ones, use towels and sheets as packing material for breakable items. Blankets and comforters can protect furniture in the moving truck. Just have them cleaned or discard them once you arrive in your new home. Moving is dusty, dirty work and linens full of dust and kick up allergies.
- Food, candles and other stuff: Use up or donate all of your food. Don't move it to your new home. That includes items in your deep freeze. Get rid of those bottles of condiments. Even during a well-planned move, delays or weather changes can damage foodstuffs, so why take the risk. Candles often melt or become misshapen in temperature changes, so get rid of them too.
Once you've pared all of your belongings down, go through them one more time to see if you've kept anything that you don't really like or have a use for. If it's a family heirloom, offer it to another family member for their "turn" to use it before passing it on.
Now you're ready to reassess the size of moving container or truck you will need.
To make the arrival smoother, contact a real estate professional that specializes in relocation to help you find temporary housing and to begin your search for the perfect new home in your new city.
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