It seems like everybody’s moving lately with the housing market thriving. I just emerged from a year-long process of moving my husband’s parents from a fourth-generation farm (with two complete kitchens) into a 1,000-square-foot apartment. Here are a few things we learned along the way:
1. Book moving companies early
Do everything as far in advance as possible. Reserve a moving company or moving van as soon as you have your move date. These services are in high demand and you might have to wait a while. The more you pack yourself, the less it costs. Remember to bend at the knees when lifting. Definitely use movers if you can, unless you know a local high school football team you can pay in pizza.
2. Plot out where furniture goes
Make a rough floor plan for your new home and plot out where you’ll keep each piece of furniture, etc., so you know what you’ll have to store or get rid of. If you plan to store items, be thoughtful. It’s really easy to pay for more storage than you’ll need, and once things are in storage, they tend to stay there, bleeding money every month. Make difficult and realistic decisions about what you’ll really use or need in the near future.
One additional piece of advice from real estate writer and moving veteran Pam Parker: Your adult kids probably don’t want your stuff. No matter how long you’ve held onto it for their benefit, don’t plan on leaving it all with them. So before you assume they’ll want their old cribs (safety hazards) or bicycles (out of style), ask what they really want and don’t be surprised (or hurt) if they shake their heads no.
3. Consider estate sales
Estate sales aren’t for the faint of heart, but they’re a labor-saving way of liquidating stuff you don’t need. The companies that do them know how to price things, arrange them and advertise them more effectively than you can on your own. You might think you’ll save and make more money with a yard sale, but you might not make enough money for it to be worth your while.
4. Find out where to take items you don’t want
Have a plan for what’s left. Make calls to places that might take donations of usable items in good shape. If you don’t have a vehicle or a friend with a truck, consider renting a van for a day and schedule all your drop-offs on that day. Find out where you can get rid of beat-up stuff. Don’t forget scrap yards for that old toaster oven and keep an eye out for community collection days for old electronics or tires.
5. Take advantage of options beyond weekly garbage pickup
No mere weekly garbage pickup is going to take everything you will want to get rid of. A few options:
- Home improvement stores sell “The Bagster,” which runs about $30 and can carry up to 3,300 pounds of waste. You unfold it and fill it with waste and then schedule a pickup. You call Waste Management and for another $220, they’ll send a big truck with a crane, pick up the big bag and take it away. They pick up additional bags for $156. To buy a bag or schedule a collection or for more information, visit thebagster.com/products/find_price.aspx. Waste Management also offers roll-away dumpsters. Demand is high so schedule early at wm.com/us/en/dumpster-rental.
Take home messageErie home sellers, get ready. Best time to list is before April 17
- If any furniture you want to get rid of is useable, sell or donate as early as possible, especially if you’re selling your home. The more empty space there is, the more potential buyers will like it. Beyond the thrift stores, look for places such as Restore, which collects items to sell, raising money for Habitat for Humanity. They take working appliances, some furniture and building materials including doors, windows, sinks, flooring, vanities, countertops, lights, paint and more. Greater Erie Area Habitat for Humanity has a Restore at 4922 Pittsburgh Ave. For information, visit habitaterie.org/restore or call 814-454-7025.
6. Label your boxes
While packing, label boxes by the rooms in which they’ll need to be unpacked, such as “kitchen,” “bathroom,” etc. Speaking of packing, box up your family photographs first if you are selling. Potential buyers need to see themselves in your house. Photographs of people they don’t know are just clutter to them.
7. Mark boxes for immediate use at your new home
Pack a couple of boxes including everything you need for the first couple of days at the new place and clearly label them or put brightly colored tape on them so you can find them after the movers leave: Pack paper plates, napkins, utensils, garbage bags, a few changes of clothes, toiletries, coffee pot and coffee, nonperishable food (such as crackers, peanut butter and granola bars), medications and pet stuff (such as food, dishes and leashes). Don’t lose track of the bedding. You’ll want nothing more than to sleep in a bed after moving day.
8. Know where essential stores are in your new neighborhood
Research the immediate community before the move for stuff you’ll need that first week. Find essentials such as a bank, an inexpensive restaurant, a grocery store, a gas station and laundromat if your laundry room isn’t set up yet. Locate a place to get ice, a drug store — don’t forget to transfer any prescriptions — and a hardware store.
9. Change your address and keep track of subscriptions, bills
Give your current post office a forwarding address. Visit bit.ly/changeofaddressUSPS or stop by a local post office to do so. Stop or transfer newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Keep track of bills during the move. Make sure you’re paying them all on time and cancel your services at your old address. Don’t assume that if you don’t get a bill, you don’t have to pay it. If utilities are turned off suddenly and left off for too long, homes can be seriously damaged by, for example, frozen and burst pipes.
10. Schedule turn-off, turn-on dates for utilities
At the same time as you’re canceling utilities at the old place, schedule turn-on dates for the new home. Sometimes it takes time for the companies to flip the switch and you don’t want an ice-cold shower after a day of moving. Our family once went without cable for three very long weeks.
Bonus tip: Be patient
It takes time to turn a new place into a home. Expect some things to go wrong. Roll with the punches. If you have kids, give them space to work on their rooms on their own. Be flexible with your partner’s ideas. If you’re on your own, don’t panic. Give yourself time to decompress. The boxes aren’t going anywhere.
When you’re feeling stressed, take a break. Options: Check out thrift stores for your new needs. Decor and a few flowers in a new vase might put a smile on your face. Or pick up dessert and a bottle of wine. Focus on the positive reasons for your move and it’ll feel like home in no time.