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6 Common Moving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By Yuna Miller

Moving into a new home is exciting, especially when you’re deciding where to put everything in the new place. But pulling up stakes and moving takes a lot of planning, and it’s easy to get lost in the details. From the house to the yard, packing and moving lawn supplies, furniture, gadgets, clothes, and all the rest takes two checklists: what to do and what NOT to do. While preparing for the move, don’t let common mistakes set you back — they can cause problems for your relocation team.

1. Get the Insurance

After choosing the right moving service, especially for long-distance transportation, insurance is important for your peace of mind. Federal rules require interstate movers to offer clients several types of protection. “Released value” sets a cents-per-pound rate for belongings. Full value protection is based on your estimation of the worth of your items. Another option is separate liability insurance, which comes from a third party. You’ve spent a lifetime acquiring your valuables. While your need for insurance may be minimal, choosing not to have it not the right option.

2. Decluttering

Your new home is a new beginning for you, but do you really need everything you have now? One mistake people make is not taking the time to go through their personal belongings to get rid of the clutter. It’s “easier” to toss everything into a box and deal with it later. Besides being a waste of time, the more unnecessary stuff you have, the more labor and fuel it takes to move it. Sort your belongings into four separate piles — keep, toss, donate, and recycle.

3. Packing

Packing seems like an easy chore — you get a box and then start cramming stuff into it. But while boxes and newspapers are easy to come by, the cardboard may not be strong enough to handle heavy items. Reinforce every heavy box with strapping tape.

Pack the heaviest items in the small boxes. Your movers and your back will thank you.

Pack a few boxes every day to avoid the stress of having to do everything at once. Make a list of what’s inside each box in case you need to get into it before the move. Color-code every box based on its final destination, so you’ll know where it goes when you reach the new home. Don’t leave any box blank, thinking you’ll remember what’s in it. You won’t!

4. Tools and Lawn Gear

Clothes, books, household items, and all the odds and ends are pretty simple, as far as wrapping goes. But tools and lawn care items are unwieldy and can be dangerous. You may not even need some of those items. If you’re moving to Florida, for example, you can expect to stock up on bug spray, but you can leave the snow shovel behind. You’ll still need most of your garden tools, including your leaf blower, hedge trimmer, and lawn mower. Riding mowers require special consideration.

Make sure to drain fuel from all power equipment. Let the movers pack the sharp objects so you’re sure they’re wrapped well. Place hand tools in boxes and fill up the empty spaces with newspaper.

5. Essentials Bag

The biggest mistake you can make before moving is thinking everything will be in its proper place once you get to the new location. Trying to find clothes, utensils, soap, shampoo … it’s quite a challenge, especially if you’re nowhere near finished unpacking. Pack a travel bag for the transition, filled with the essentials.

  • Eating utensils and plates.
  • Change of clothes.
  • Medications.
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and other toiletries.
  • Phone charger.
  • Bedroll.
  • Snacks.
  • Pet supplies.

Kids should each have their own essentials bag (with a few of their favorite “comfort” toys).

6. Keep Moving Contract With You

Your moving contract is another essential. Keep it with you at all times during the move. Many times, a different crew will be unloading your belongings. They’ll need to see this contract before they can proceed. It also contains all the important contacts from the moving company in case you run into problems.

7. Change of Address

Don’t forget to change your address with the U.S. Postal Service so they can forward all your mail.  The post office does it for free, or you can do it online for a $1 fee.

Moving and uprooting your life won’t come together in one day. Your moving company has services for packing and storing. Chances are they’ll have a checklist and guide to help you through it, step by step.

Yuna Miller is a freelance writer who has lived in eight cities in 16 years. She finds a community that interests her, finds an old house, fixes it, flips it, and gets out her map again.

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