Fail! 6 Worst Moving Mistakes

Buying a home means moving. Yuck. If you're a Kardashian or a Trump, with a multitude of minions to remove any unpleasant task from your to-do list, you can stop reading now. The rest of us, for whom moving ranks as one of the more stressful events in our lives, can benefit from these expert tips. Read on -- when it comes to moving, a little information can avert a lot of headaches.

Mistake # 6: If You Fail to Plan....

Everyone knows the rest of that sentence: "plan to fail." Unless you're moving from one dorm room to another, you really can't just toss everything in sight into boxes and chunk them into your car. There are countless free moving checklists available online. Find one and use it -- or risk moving a bunch of stuff you no longer want, while leaving behind something important ("Has anyone seen the cat?").

Mistake #5: Head, Meet Sand

We get it -- moving is so not-fun. But putting off the disagreeable job of packing up your life will drag out the unpleasantness for weeks as you struggle to find your stuff at the other end. Take some time now to pack intelligently and carefully.

How much time should you spend packing? Experts claim it takes anywhere from five hours per room to a week per room. If you're a minimalist (no Hummels, no ginormous shoe collections, and no "guest bedrooms" that really function as storage units), the five hour time frame is probably appropriate. If you're a hoarder, consider arranging an intervention and then aim for the week-per-room strategy. Follow these tips to protect your things.

  • Use the right-sized boxes (light things in large boxes, heavy things in smaller ones).
  • Heavy stuff gets loaded first, light things go on top.
  • Cram socks and dish towels between things -- nothing should be rattling around in your boxes.
  • Each box should only contain items destined for the same room. Label them and tape them carefully.
  • Electronics and artwork need special care (double box and pad them) and remember that plasma TVs can be ruined if you lay them flat.

Mistake # 4: "But the Craigslist Movers Are So Much Cheaper!"

Would you trust a random stranger with your most prized possessions? Then why would you trust a random mover or moving company you know nothing about? Moving scammers kidnap your worldly goods, and once they have them on the truck, they demand more money to deliver or unload them. According to the US Department of Transportation, moving scam artists can be easily spotted:

  • They give a very low estimate over the phone or Internet, without even seeing your things.
  • They want a large payment up-front. Or they demand cash.
  • Federal law requires movers to provide you with a copy of "Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move," The bad guys will "forget" to do this.
  • Their Web site has no local address and no information about licensing or insurance -- but they claim that your goods are "completely insured."
  • The moving van that comes for your goods is not marked and does not look like it's from a company fleet -- it looks more like the generic trucks bad guys in movies use to rob banks.

How do you find a good mover?

  • Ask friends who have moved recently.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau and the American Moving and Storage Association
  • Get at least three estimates.
  • Check with safersys.org to make sure the movers are licensed and insured.
  • Vet movers with the U.S. Department of Transportation at 888-368-7238 or fmcsa.gov.

Mistake #3 "But It's on the Truck!"

Your kids' birth certificates are in the safe, and the safe is on the truck. How are you going to register them in their new school? Or you lost your purse, complete with license, credit cards, and your cell phone. It will be a lot harder to sort everything out if your passport or other ID is not available. Keep your important documents with you -- they may be required at every stage of your move, from making travel arrangements to registering children for school or getting medical care.

Mistake #2: "Uh Oh...Better Call the Cops!"

Many people don't think to change the locks on their new home before they move in. For all you know, though, the previous tenants / owners may have given keys to three dog sitters, ten shiftless cousins and their entire college fraternity. Sixteen neighbors may know there's a key secreted under the mailbox, but no one has bothered to tell YOU. Sleep tight on your first night by getting the locks changed BEFORE you and your possessions arrive.

Mistake #1: "DIY Is Always Cheaper....Right?"

Packing and moving everything yourself does offer you the most control over the process. And if you have a small family, a strong back and some truck-driving skills, you might be able to pull it off and save some money. Don't negate your savings, though, by choosing the wrong size truck, underestimating fuel costs, throwing out your back (lift with your legs, please), backing into your neighbor's Mercedes or dropping your big screen in the driveway.

Are you getting worried? Consider a compromise -- you can choose to do your own packing and hire a company like ABF or U-Pack Moving to do the driving. They professionally transport your boxes, and you unload them. This costs less than a full-service mover and lets you skip the cross-country-amateur-trucking-with-toddlers-and-dog adventure. Share the space on the truck with other customers and pay for only what you use.

Use these tips, exercise reasonable caution, and you too can "enjoy" a smooth move with minimal frustration.

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