Moving is a lot of hard work. There are some ways to make it worse, unfortunately. Some mistakes can be mildly irritating, others can invite a full-scale moving disaster. Here are some of the worst mistakes people make when moving.
Waiting too long to book a moving crew. This can cause major headachers, especially during the peak moving season (May-August). Wait too long and you may not be able to get the dates you want with your preferred mover. If you need to move on that date, you may have to pay more to do so. Waiting too long can also cause a shortened timeline for moving prep and packing, because most people begin packing after their move is booked. It’s best to make your reservations six to eight weeks ahead of your move date.
Using unlicensed movers. A lot of unlicensed movers perpetuate scams and rip-offs, ranging from requiring hefty deposits, to unexplained fees, to flat out collecting a deposit and not showing up on moving day. Before booking, check that movers are licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the Department of Transportation.
Underestimating the amount of work a move involves. If it’s been a decade or two since you moved, don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s no big deal. There are a lot of interconnected parts of a move: Finding a new home, gathering estimates, planning the move, packing. It’s a lot of work, and most families are already busy. Make a plan and set deadlines. Get additional help if you need it, whether that’s hiring someone to clean, taking advantage of a packing service, or making sure your whole family pulls their weight.
Losing or not completing paperwork. Keep your papers organized, and hang on to the estimate, move order and inventory/bill of lading during the move. Sign all documents as required. Be sure to double check your inventory and bill of lading against what’s delivered, noting any visible damage to furniture and boxes before you sign off at the end of your move. Should you need to file a claim, the inventory and bill of lading will be used to establish the item’s original condition.
Falling behind on packing. Procrastination seems harmless, but suddenly it’s the night before you move and pretty much your whole house still needs to be boxed up. When you rush you’ll get sloppy, and you’re more likely to have damaged items when you pack in a hurry. And if you’re not packed and ready when the movers arrive, you may incur extra costs as they stand idle while you finish packing. Make a packing schedule and start three to four weeks before your move date.
Packing too heavy or too full. It’s tempting to cram boxes full, but that invites accidents, injury, or both. Boxes that are too heavy get dropped, or break apart from all the weight. The end result may be damaged items. Boxes that are packed too full, causing the sides or top to bow, can also break, causing damage. Here are two tests: If the box lid won’t lie flat, it’s too full and you should remove some items. If you can’t move the box out of the middle of the room, it’s too heavy and the contents should be packed into two smaller boxes.
Not changing your address. Some people think all they need to do is file a post office cahgne of address form, but this is not the case. You should change your address with banks, credit cards, insurers, employers, healthcare providers, utilities, and more. In addition to receiving all your mail, you’ll also help protect yourself from identity theft. Do this the week before your move, so that the new residents don’t get your credit card offers and other sensitive information when the forwarding order expires.
Throwing away receipts. If you can deduct some moving expenses you can recoup a portion of the expenses involved when moving across country, or even from one end of a large metro area to another. The IRS will want receipts, and so will your employer if you’re being reimbursed for your move. Keep a file folder or large envelope for receipts, so they stay together, and consider writing notes on ones that won’t be obvious when you’re filing taxes a year or more later.
Forgetting to turn utilities on or off. Not disconnecting a utility can be expensive, but forgetting to request service causes major problems. No one wants to move into a dark, cold house, or live without running water for a couple of days. Make a list of all the utilities to be turned off, and another of the ones that need to be turned on, then write the date the request was made next to it. If your current utility provides both gas and electric, don’t assume that will hold true for your new home. It’s also a good idea to request a meter read out before moving in, so you don’t get stuck with someone else’s unpaid bill.
Forgetting to take a break. Moving is a long and exhausting process that can quickly consume your life. Be sure to plan nights where you do nothing for the move, either by going out with friends or relaxing with a movie and take-out.