Moving, psychologists say, is the third most stressful event a person can endure, ranking just behind the death of a loved one and divorce on the angst-o-meter. If that’s true, then our collective tension level should be peaking right about now, because half of all relocation activity in the U.S. occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Even if you’re staying put this summer, you may find yourself knee-deep in cardboard boxes and packing tape sometime soon: Americans, on average, shift households 11 times during their lifetime. No one expects moving to be fun, but these tips can at least help it go more smoothly.
1. Move on a weekday
If possible, avoid moving on a weekend, when banks, utilities and government offices are usually closed.
2. Check your insurance
Make sure your personal property is covered by insurance if it is lost, stolen or damaged. If you are using professional movers, read your contract’s fine print and ask for an explanation of the limits of their liability coverage. Your homeowner’s insurance may provide some coverage as well, but you can also purchase more protection, either from your mover or your insurance carrier, if necessary.
3. Get organized
Label each box with a number, a brief description of its contents and the room it belongs in. Keep a master list with each box number and the corresponding information. If you’re feeling extra-orderly, get a rainbow pack of markers and color-code your box labels by room. Green for the kitchen, blue for the office, etc.
4. Create an “open first” box
Toilet paper, an alarm clock, toiletries, snacks, a flashlight, basic tools, linens and towels are some of the essentials you may need upon arrival at your new home. Pack one box with these types of items and load it last, so that it will be unloaded first.
5. Keep valuables and important papers with you
Jewelry and other small valuables shouldn’t go in the moving van. Nor should medical, insurance and financial records and other important papers such as deeds, birth certificates and passports.
6. Backup your computer files
Make back-up copies of all your software and data files, and store them in a sturdy container. Pack your computer in its original box – if you had the forethought to save it. If not, wrap your computer generously in bubble wrap or paper and pack it snuggly in a padded box. Bonus tip: allow your computer and other electronics several hours to adjust to the room temperature in your new home before plugging them in.
7. Save your receipts
If you are moving because of a job change, your moving costs could be tax deductible. Keep all your payment records and consult with a tax expert about whether you qualify for a tax break.