Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reduce the stress of moving

I'm not going to pretend there is such a thing as a stress-free move. There isn't. However, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce the stress of moving house. The key to a successful move is planning.

The best way to start is get a little spiral notebook and label it MOVING. If you have young children or other budding artists, you may let them to draw a picture or two in the notebook – it will allow them (especially the young ones) to feel a part of the moving process – otherwise, reserve it for only moving-related information.

No matter whether you are moving across the street, across town, or across the country, there are businesses and organizations you are going to have to inform. Starting a couple of months before you move, as you pay your bills, write in the notebook the name of every business to whom you make a payment. I suggest you start this at least two months in advance, because you may (as I do) have services which bill you only every two months, and you don't want to forget anyone. Also include on the list the name of any business or service that delivers anything to you such as the post office and newspaper delivery person.

You will use this list to notify the businesses and utilities of your change of address, and start or end any services like electric, gas, etc.

Here is a list I came up with; you may need to add a few items of your own:

Post Office
Department of Motor Vehicles – auto & RV & boat registrations & titles
Utilities – power company, water and sewer
Other – trash and recycling collection
City or county – school & property taxes
Insurance – homeowners and auto and anything else you might have
Other Financial Institution – stock broker etc.
Credit cards
Cable or dish TV and/or Internet
Social and religious organizations

If you are moving to a different city or state, you will need to request copies of:

Children's school records
Doctor/Dentist/Orthodontist records
Veterinarian's record for your pet(s)

If you are moving to a different state, it's a good idea to contact a veterinarian in that state who can advise you, or tell you what agency to call for information regarding the transporting of an animal into the new state. When I moved, we had to get a certificate of health on my dog before we could fly with her, and that required a visit to the vet a couple of days before we left because the certificate was only good for a week. Always call ahead and find out what you need.

If you are canceling services like electric and water, call ahead and see what their lead-time is on a service call. Many times, a service call for a shut-off needs only a day or two of advance notice, but to start a service you need to call a week or two in advance.

If you are transporting vehicles with a specialized transport company, make very, very sure of all your details well ahead of time. Frankly, I had a very bad experience with a vehicle transport company. First, they picked up the car a week late. Second, they refused to accept my bank's check because it said "Teller's Check" instead of "Cashier's Check." (I'm not kidding. It was a nightmare. I had to stop payment on the bank check and send them a money order from the post office before the company would return our car to us.)

You probably don't need me to tell you too much about packing. Just make sure you take care of yourself and don't overdo the whole packing and moving experience….eat well, get enough rest, and don't try to lift anything that's too heavy. You're not going to do yourself any good if you can't move (both figuratively and literally)!!

I'm sure you know it's easier but more costly to have movers pack for you. However, you may have things you just don't trust anyone else to handle – I had my grandmother's teapot. To me, packing wasn't difficult; it just took a long time. If packing really stresses you out, it will probably be worth the price to your physical and mental health to let someone else do it. If you do it yourself, here are a couple of tips….

Boxes – you can order them from the moving company; they will usually supply boxes for free if you are employing them to move your belongings. If it's a real do-it-yourself move, scrounging for boxes at grocery and department stores sometimes works. My former town had a liquor store that left its boxes outside the front door at night for anyone who wanted them, and I have to admit I scarfed up a few! They're made of nice, sturdy cardboard, and are not so big you can't stack them when they're full of your stuff. While packing, have a permanent marker (like a Sharpie) at hand and write the contents on the outside of the box as you pack. That way, items will be easily found when you arrive at your destination. When you tape them up, put a length of tape across the flaps first, and then tape up the seam; the tape across the flaps will help hold them closed and you'll get a better seal along the seam.

Double up – I used towels to pack my china and glass-framed photographs, pillows to protect the lamps, etc. Be creative…anything soft can be used as a cushion or wrap to protect anything fragile. You have to pack it all anyway, might as well put everything to good use as you do it!

Protect from moisture – I lined a good many boxes with plastic trash bags to protect the contents (especially my precious books!) from moisture. When I unpacked them, I rolled up the bags and used them later for trash.

Plan to leave your house safe. After you move out, if your home will be left empty for any length of time, you may want to unplug major appliances or turn them off at the circuit breaker so there won't be any accidents. Additionally, if it is winter and freezing weather is a possibility, you may want to have the water turned off at the main to your home and run all the taps for a few minutes to empty the pipes so the water doesn't freeze and burst through.

To me, the hardest thing about moving is leaving friends and family. If you feel as I do, make them your priority, not your packing. Make sure you plan enough opportunities for quality time with everyone. Schedule dinners together, go hiking or shopping, or whatever you like to do together, just make sure you do it. Have a big party if you like and take lots of pictures! If you are moving far away, you might want to visit a few of your favorite old haunts to take pictures and say a "Good-bye," too. It often brings closure to that part of your life. When you've put the past to bed and tucked it in, you are better prepared to move on and be excited about the future.


Geraldine said...

Well done Michelle!!!! Ive moved too many times in the past few years, I crave some permanence and peace, hopefully soon. Your post certainly has covered all the bases on making the transition as painless as possible. I should be an expert by now but all I really know is I HATE MOVING!!!! LOL.

Michelle said...

Hi G, I have only moved twice; and the first time was from an apartment to our house two years after we married, so that was pretty easy. When we moved to Oregon, we'd been in the house for 24 years, and we were leaving the geographic area where we both grew from infancy to middle age. It was a very challenging move in many ways.