The Definitive Guide for Finding & Moving into a New Home

home-housesIf you want to move into a new home, it's a good idea to prepare as much in advance as possible. Being prepared involves knowing what type of home you want, where you want it to be and how much you can afford to spend. Additionally, you'll want to make the move as smooth as possible by ensuring that the process is organized, that costly items are transported appropriately and that your new home is ready when you arrive.

Determine What You Want and What You Can Afford
One of the first things you should do is figure out what exactly you want from a home, what you need and how much you have to spend in order to obtain it. What you need may involve a certain number of bedrooms, in the case that you have children, or a backyard if you have pets. If you work from home or telecommute, you may need a home in an area with an internet service provider that offers a minimum speed for internet. Figuring out what you want versus what you absolutely must have will help you narrow down the list of prospective homes.

You'll also want to spend some time looking at your budget and how much you can afford to spend on a home. It's important to remember that your rent or monthly mortgage payment is just one part of what you'll be paying for a home. In addition to rent or a mortgage, you'll need to factor in the cost of utilities, homeowner's insurance, property tax and, in some cases, homeowner association fees. Whether you're buying a home or renting, you are probably going to have to pay either closing costs or deposits and application fees.

There is a variety of online calculators that will help you figure out how much you can expect to pay for electricity and other utilities. Additionally, you can often call ahead to utility companies and get a general price quote before you move. Should you purchase a home that needs some repairs, be sure to factor in the cost of these repairs, upgrades and refurbishments. Keep in mind that estimates from contractors are just approximations, so it's important to keep some padding in your budget for added costs for things like replacing a furnace, repairing a roof or repaving a driveway.

Look at Prospective Homes
Once you know what you must have and what you can spend, you can start narrowing down which homes you want to look at. Along with making sure that a home is in your price range and is in an acceptable condition, you'll also want to make sure that the location of the home or apartment is a good fit for your life.

If you have children, you may want to make sure you live in an area with a good school system and in a safe neighborhood with a lot of sidewalks. You might also want to consider traffic and commute times if you're choosing to live in a rural area and driving to the city to work. A few short miles can turn into a very long drive time if roads aren't in great repair or there aren't enough lanes to deal with the amount of rush-hour traffic.

Finalize the Deal
Once you've made your choice, you'll need to finalize everything and make sure your new home is ready for you. Be sure that you pick up keys or have them sent to you, and be aware of any access codes for your new home. If you live in a gated community, make sure that you know the gate code to get in or have yourself added to the resident list.

It's also a good idea to have basic utilities turned on, like water and power, before you move. If possible, have these turned on a few days before you are supposed to arrive. This will ensure that you still have water and power if there are unexpected circumstances.

Getting Ready to Move
Many people find it far easier to hire movers to handle their move rather than tackling the task alone. Depending on the service, movers will not only transport your household goods to your new residence, but they'll also pack up and load items onto a truck and unload them as well. Professional movers also offer coverage that provides for repair or replacement if something is damaged during a move.

home-boxesIrrespective of whether you handle a move yourself or get professionals to do the job, you'll need to figure out what you're keeping and prepare anything that is being moved for the trip. One of the first things to do is to figure out what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. Most people either sell items they don't want through a website like Craigslist or hold a garage sale. If you don't want to deal with selling items you no longer need, consider donating them to a charity. Some charities have services that will actually come to you to pick up donated goods. Many charities also have drop boxes in shopping centers.

Once you know what is going with you, you should strongly consider labeling furniture, appliances and boxes. Labels should include what room an item or box is going into in your new home. If the item is fragile or needs to be prepared for moving, such as in the case of a piano or antique furniture, make sure you label it as such.

Labeling boxes with their contents and whether they are fragile will also help to ensure that care is taken when they are being loaded and unloaded. Once you get to your new home, it will also make it easier to verify that nothing has been broken since you won't spend time going through boxes of bedding to verify that nothing was damaged.

Working With a Moving Company
If you decide to work with a moving company, you'll want to get estimates and figure out what type of moving coverage you want. It's recommended that you get multiple estimates. This will help ensure that you are getting a good price for the quality of help you need.

home-garageThe way that most movers charge is based on weight and the distance items are being transported. Therefore, someone will usually need to go through the contents of your home to get an idea of how much it will cost to move your household. It's important to note that the final moving cost may be different from your estimate if your household goods weigh more than expected, which is why it's important to get an accurate assessment.

You'll also select the type of moving protection you want. There are two options: released value protection and full-value protection. Released value protection offers $0.60 of coverage for every pound of items damaged. If a 100-pound couch is damaged, you can get up to $60 for it. However, if a smaller but expensive item, such as a TV, is damaged, you're likely to get far less than the item is worth. Full-value protection provides much more robust coverage as a moving company must replace or repair a damaged item, but it also costs more than released value protection. You also need to make sure that any item that is worth more than $100 per pound is listed as a high-value item or the mover may not be obligated to reimburse you if it is damaged. Released value protection is automatically included in the cost of your move; how much extra you'll pay if you opt for full-value protection will depend on the mover and the value of what is being transported.

Once your mover arrives to pick up your belongings, they'll give you a bill of lading, which should include a complete list of your household goods. Be sure that it is complete and that they're aware of any fragile items being moved.

Arriving at Your New Home
Once you've arrived at your new home, you'll want to make sure that everything made it through the move without getting lost or damaged. Your bill of lading can act as a checklist to verify that everything that was put on the truck made it off the truck. You should also make sure that anything that is costly or easily damaged is in the same shape as it was in your last home.

It's important that you verify the state of your expensive goods as quickly as possible because there is usually a time limit for filing claims. If you delay inspecting your household goods, you may end up missing out on a full repair or replacement that you would have otherwise had rights to.

Once you have everything unpacked and you begin to settle in to your new home, make a point of exploring your neighborhood. You likely chose your home for its local amenities, so head out and get to know the area that plays host to your new home.