It's moving day. Or hopefully, not quite yet. There's plenty of planning and preparations to take care of before the moving van pulls up at the edge of your driveway and your boxes are whisked away to your new address.
This chapter covers the ground work you’ll want to sort out before moving. You’ll learn how to set up mail forwarding, activate and shut off your utilities, and keep track of all those other little things you need to handle before your move.
Don't think of these initial stages before as extra work on your plate. Think of them instead as a roadmap pointing you towards a successful and stress-free move. After all, nobody likes rushing around at the last minute, wondering if there's any boxes left for the dishes or if there will be hot water for a shower at your new place.
Set Up Mail Forwarding
Mail forwarding is a service whereby your mail is redirected from one address to another. Think of it as pre-emptively sending your mail forward to your next address, without you having to lift a finger once its setup.
Most post offices and mail service providers offer this kind of service. Setting it up is often as simple as a phone call or filling out an online form.How to set up your mail forwarding
To get started, make sure you have your new address on hand or a PO Box where you'll want your mail forwarded. Be sure to also include a piece of identification in case they ask for one and a credit card to cover any fees.
Next, call your postal service provider or visit their website and set the date you want the forwarding to begin.
Telephone number: 1-800-275-8777 (1-800-ASK-USPS)
Website: Canada Post
Telephone number: 1-866-607-6301
Outside of Canada: 416-979-3033
All done! They’ll handle it from here.
Note: most post offices and mail services charge a small fee for mail forwarding. Typically, the fee covers any mail or packages delivered during a time period (one or more weeks or months) rather than being charged per envelope or package redirected.
Change Over Utilities and Contact Service Providers
Changing over your utilities is all about making sure that you have electricity, hot water, gas and any other service that you use at your new location, and that the utilities at your current address stopped being charged to you once you move.
Most of the time, when making a change in services, you will need to contact your utilities providers by phone or through their website. The same goes for contacting government agencies for state issued permits and documents such as your driver’s license and banking branch (if applicable).
Note: Most states and Canadian provinces have a single provider handling utilities in your area. If you are not sure about your utilities provider, you can usually find them by Google. Try searching for “moving utilities in” followed by your state or province name. For example, if you are moving in Nevada, you’ll want to try “moving utilities in Nevada”. The first search result is NV Energy’s form to change over your utilities.
Other ServicesPhone plans (Includes both your cell phone and landline phone if you have one.)
Contact your bank by phone or in person to update your address and to change your branch if needed.
For anywhere in the USA, head to https://www.usa.gov/voter-registration to ensure that your voter registration information stays up to date.
For Canadians, voter information is typically updated by other means, but you can verify that your information is correct by heading to: https://ereg.elections.ca/CWelcome.aspx?lang=e
For anywhere in the USA, head to https://www.dmv.org/ and select the address change option on the home page.
For Canadian addresses, lookup and visit the website of the provincial services provider. Usually you can find them on Google by search for “province name + utilities.”
Information on Hand
When calling, have this information at the ready:
Making A List Of Your Belongings
After you’ve sorted out all your phone calls and services forwarding, it’s time to turn your attention inside your home and your belongings. Making lists of your belongings might seem tedious at first, but there’s a few reasons why doing so will help you down the line.
Making your Lists
Your list don’t have to be comprehensive and overy detailed - we’re making these to help you save time and effort, after all.
Note: this is a good time to start some basic sorting, such as making sure things are where they need to be - but don't get carried away with the sorting right now. There will be plenty of time for that in a week or two once you start packing!
If you haven't already done so, now's the time to know the measurements of your largest items. Get out that tape measure and size up your big furniture. Check the measurements on your bed, sofa, armoires, desks, tables and chair space.
At your new address, make sure you have the measurements of not just the rooms but also the door frames. You don't want to discover that your bed won’t fit in the corner you wanted anymore than getting a big sofa stuck in a tiny door or in a narrow staircase on the day of the move.
Acquire Packing Supplies
Aim to acquire your initial packing supplies at least a month before your move. You might want to anticipate heading out at least once more to pick up additional boxes along the way (sometimes we use up our boxes faster than we expected). Consider packing inessential items early on and taking stock on your supplies along the way to see if you risk running out.
Essential Supplies for your Move:
Head to your local grocer, hardware stores or outlet and ask if they have any leftover delivery boxes. Boxes will vary in size and quality, but you can typically walk away with a few from any given location.
Supply stores such as Staples and Home Depot sell packages of moving boxes that are sturdy and easy to assemble.
There are many different types of tape, two of which are very useful when it comes to moving:
If you haven’t already added one to your toolbox, a box cutter with a retractable blade will come in handy for cutting tape and slicing through cardboard - even more so after you’ve moved and need to get your boxes open again.
After you’ve got your boxes packed and sealed, it’s a good idea to add a label identifying it for later. Aim to pick up a pack or two of adhesive labels along with a thick marker for writing.
Useful for keeping your valuables and breakables safe. Wrap your plates and glasses, and stick alongside your items so they don’t move around too much in the boxes. If you can’t get your hands on packing paper, newspaper does the trick too!
Paper towels are great for cleaning up messes, as well as protecting some of your valuables - notably your glassware when it comes time for packing.
Start Using Up Your Leftovers
We all have plenty of things kicking around in our cupboards and pantries we can use up before me move and save precious space when we start packing.
Consider using up that half package of pasta, those last few drops of dish soap and laundry detergent, cat litter and other odds and ends that could easily be picked up after the move. Now’s also a good time to start getting creative in the kitchen, using up canned goods and other items purchased in bulk but which we never got around to using (hello, bean salads).
You’ll also want to start being more and more conservative with your groceries as the moving date approaches. Only buy what you will cook that week, and don’t bother stocking up until after the move. If something is on sale now, there’s a good chance it will be on sale again next month.
Here comes the most important part of our preparations: finding or hiring help for your move. Be sure to call at least a month before your move date - especially if you are moving during the peak seasons or on a holiday.
As a general note, moving season generally begins around March and ramps up into the summer, tapering off again during the fall. Winter move dates are usually the least busy.
Busy Days to consider
Not all moving days are equal. Some are absolute madness. Double check your calendar to make sure your moving day doesn’t conflict with other busy days in your area. A few dates to consider:
Getting Help for your Move
No one should be stuck moving alone - unless they’re living out of a suitcase. Packing up one house and getting all your belongings to the next can be trying unless you’ve got helping hands and a way of transporting all your stuff to its destination.
Hiring a moving company to handle the move is by far the most stress-free approach. Below are the steps you should take to ensure you hire a reputable mover for the job:
Get recommendations. From friends, family, coworkers, and real estate agents. If you don’t have anyone to give you recommendations, you can start by running a Google or Yelp search for “movers near me” or “movers in [city name]”.
After you’ve gathered a few options, you can screen the companies at sites like MovingScam and Rip Off Report to make sure the company is reputable.
Request quotes. If it’s a small move, most experienced moving companies will be able to give you an accurate estimate based on the size of your current home and the address where you’re moving. That being said, to make the quote even more accurate you’ll want to provide a list of items and/or photos.
For larger jobs you’ll want to request an in-home estimate. With an in-home estimate, it is crucial that you show the estimator EVERYTHING you want moved, from stuff in the closets and bedrooms, to the backyard, and anything in between.
If your moving day comes along and you’ve left anything of significance out, the foreman can deem the job bigger than expected and “challenge” the original estimate (before everything is on the truck). While a company cannot technically force you to pay more to finish the job, they do not have to move your stuff for the original price, leaving you with few options.
Also, make sure the estimator is aware of any conditions at your new place that could complicate the move, such as numerous flights of stairs, narrow stairwells, elevator availability, parking distance and so forth.
While the estimator is at your home, you’ll also want to take the time to vet the business. By the time the estimator leaves, not only should you have your quote, but you should also have the following information (if you don’t already):
Once you’ve received all the quotes, review them closely to make sure you understand everything that’s included. Some moving companies offer different types of services (i.e. regular vs. full service), so make sure you’re clear on what you’ll be receiving for each price point. And don’t hesitate to reach back out to your point of contact at each company with any questions you might have.
Once you’ve narrowed it down even further, do one last vet of the business to make sure they have the proper licenses and insurance.
Note: The dirty little secret in the moving industry is that, while required, insurance hardly ever covers 100% of any damage to your belongings during a move, especially if the moving company didn’t pack everything themselves. To help protect you, some moving companies will offer their own packages with guarantees to fully cover any damage to your belongings or home during the move, which you should definitely consider purchasing.
To do this, go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration site and enter the company’s USDOT number (or name or MC number) and click on “Search”. If you have an accurate DOT number, you’ll be shown a screen with lots of information on the company.
Here’s what to look for:
If you’ve gotten this far, you should feel extremely confident in your choice of mover! Contact your winner, confirm the dates and details of the move, and put down a deposit (if they’ve asked for one). After this, you’re all set logistics-wise!
Renting a moving van and handling the move on your own or with friends saves you money, but makes up for it in terms of your workload. In case you’re short on helping hands, you might be able to hire a pair of movers for the day to help you out, while you handle the truck and major logistics.
When browsing for van rentals, don’t reserve the first offer you see! It’s a good idea to compare prices, as different companies might have different rates for the same day, along with other costs to consider.
Don’t just check the initial rental cost. Consider the mileage allowance as well. Some companies charge a flat-rate for the day, while other companies require very little for the initial cost, but charge for the total mileage driven.
If you’re moving locally, consider paying for mileage, while if your move is out of town, see if you can find a company with a flat fee for unlimited miles on offer.
Check to see what accessories come with the rental. Some companies loan you a dolly (for lifting heavy items) and moving blankets (for protecting your valuables) along with the van, while others charge separately for them.
If you have plenty of large items, consider loaning a dolly - especially if you need to go up and down stairs with the items!
Friends never let friends move alone, so start calling in those old IOUs. There's no shame in reminding your friends and how you helped them move the other year. You’re gonna need all the extra help you can get when it comes to lifting and driving your belongings to the new place.
Friends with vans and pickup trucks will save you plenty of trips, compared to sedans or other smaller vehicles. Though don’t say no to someone with a small car - they might not be able to move that sofa, but they will be able to ferry your friends from one destination to the next.
Letting your friends and family know you need help in advance is key to ensuring that some or most of them show up on the day of your move. Also, never turn down an offer of help. It’s always better to have too many people show up than not enough (worse case, your extra helpers can go fetch lunch, manage a moving playlist, or help unpack at the new location.)