If you are reading this, we don't have much time. You are leaving soon, most likely in the next couple weeks, and you need a brief, comprehensive list of things that need to be done. This list will help you reduce the stress of this quick move. Remember there are two basic components to moving: the act of moving your possessions (packing boxes, giving away plants) and the act of moving your life (closing bank accounts, getting medical records). This list of items should make this process as painless as possible.
Moving Your Stuff
We typically encourage a timeline of moving items. But you are in a hurry, so here is a quick and dirty list of what needs to be done.
As Soon as Possible
Moving Company/Rental Truck: Hire a moving company or reserve a rental truck first thing. These services can easily get booked up and leave you stranded. The sooner the better.
Trip to the Thrift Store: Do you really have time for a garage sale?
Locating Boxes: Bars and liquor stores always have the best boxes. Their boxes are designed to be able to hold large amounts of weight. However, if you have a friend or neighbor who has moved recently, ask them if you can take some boxes off their hands.
No More Groceries: Don't go to the grocery store for anything other than essentials. The idea is to begin paring down your home food supply so that you have less to move and less to throw away.
Make Moving Painless: Pack a little bit every night. One box can make a big difference. Sit all boxes of books and heavy stuff on the floor so that lighter boxes can go on top.
Breakables: Find a place on the floor for breakables so that they can't fall off of anything.
Packing Bikes: Visit a bike shop for a box to pack bikes in.
Heavy Boxes: Sit all boxes of books and heavy stuff on the floor so that lighter boxes can go on top.
Stacking Breakables: Find a place on the floor for breakables so that they can't fall off of anything.
Reserve the Elevator: If you are moving into a high-rise apartment, reserve use of an elevator (where possible) so that you are not constantly waiting on each load.
A Few Days Before You Move
Double Check on Your Rentals: If you are renting a truck, call again to make sure that your truck will indeed be ready just to be on the safe side.
Rental Truck Emergency Kit: Buy some windshield wiper fluid, anti-freeze or coolant, and motor oil. This truck will be pulling a heavy load and it might need more than just gas to get there.
Buy a Lock: Buy a lock so that you can secure the back door to your truck.
Road Supplies: Make a list of things that you want to have in the car with you, either to eat, drink, or occupy your mind.
Lodging Reservations: If you will be stopping in an area with many lodging choices, it is best to grab a room when you arrive to get the best price. But if you don't want to drive around looking for places, then reserve a room in advance. If you are camping in a state park, it is best to reserve a space before you leave.
Always Double-Check: Double-check reservations at campgrounds, hotels, motels, Aunt Jane's just to be on the safe side.
Travel Entertainment: Bring games in the car for the kids to entertain themselves.
Road Trip Essentials: Many moving trucks are only equipped with the barest essentials, often without a tape deck or CD player, sometimes even without FM radio. Check your particular truck and decide if you can travel that far without some good tunes or talk radio. Buying a small radio might be a good investment.
Renting the Truck: There will be a walkaround by you and one of the rental company employees. You will be held accountable for any damage that is not written on this sheet. So be sure to note every little flaw.
Think about Overpasses: Before you pull out of the driveway, get your mind ready to be thinking about overpasses. This is a common problem with rental trucks as people are not used to looking for low clearance. If you go under a low clearance bridge that you will not clear, it will destroy the truck. And you will be left holding the bill.
Loading a Rental Truck: Pack the heavy stuff toward the front of the truck, i.e. the part of the truck closest to the cab. Washers and Dryers should go on first, followed by pianos, furniture, and anything big and heavy.
Truck Ramps: Often rental trucks have a pullout ramp for loading and unloading. This ramp is narrow and typically made of aluminum. Be careful that you don't fall off either side when carrying heavy objects. Also, these ramps can become very slick if they even get a little bit wet. Carpet scraps and rags are great to minimize slipping.
Consider Unloading: If you can, pack such that what you want to come off first is put on last. Mainly items that will be going upstairs or toward the back of the house should be loaded last, so they can come off first.
Towing a Vehicle: If you are towing a vehicle behind your rental truck, make sure the trailer has a working tow package. This means that the brake lights, tail lights, blinkers, and trailer brakes are all in working order.
Crowns in the Road: All roads are crowned in the middle so that water won't stand. This crown will feel severe in a big truck. Try to stack the driver's side of the truck with more of the heavy stuff so that the truck rides even.
Parking Your Rental Truck: If you are traveling on multiple nights, make sure to park your truck smartly. Find a wall or a tree or some otherwise immovable place where you can back the truck right up close. This way, if someone happens to break into your truck, they won't be able to get many items out.
Moving In: If you have items that will just go into storage in your new home, such as in the basement or in a closet, be sure to take these boxes straight there. Don't just drop off boxes right inside the door because it's easy. Take them where they need to go because you will end up stepping over them throughout moving day.
One Extra Day: It is a smart idea to compare the pricing difference if you kept the truck one extra day. People often underestimate how draining the whole moving process can be, and if you are hurrying all day so that you can return the truck by five, you will most likely make extra work on yourself by not moving the right things to the right room. Find out what it would be worth to you to be able to take breaks, work at a nice pace, and take the truck back the next day. It could be such a small amount that it will be worth it to pay for the extra time and have the option to be tired and work smartly.
Gas up the Truck: Be sure to take the rental truck back with a full tank of gas, as they will charge you an extraordinary amount per gallon if they have to fill it.
Moving Your Life
There is more to moving than just loading everything you own onto a truck and housing it somewhere else. You have rooted yourself into this place and it will take more than a flick of the wrist to undo everything. Actually, most of the stress of moving comes from closing down your inhabitance and opening it back up again in a new location. This list is here to help identify the obvious and not so obvious things that bind you to your city. Each individual will have different responsibilities, but hopefully this will do the trick.
Medical Records: Grab medical records not only for your whole family but also for your pets. Make copies while you have them and a file where they can be stored until you find another physician and veterinarian.
Return Borrowed Items: You will have new neighbors now, and while some people keep in touch with their old neighbors, it is a good practice to return anything you have borrowed and ask for what they borrowed from you.
Update Memberships: Update your auto club membership or if you don?t have one, get one. This is also a good time to update other memberships like with your video rental provider so that you can get movies those first few days in your new home.
Open Bank Accounts: Some banks have a painless transfer of accounts, although with others it can be a complete mess. Be prepared for the mess, and be pleasantly surprised if one doesn't happen.
All the Things You Will Miss: Visit all the restaurants, parks, theaters, shops, and anything else that you will not have access to once you move. End your time in this area on the best note possible. Do the things you enjoy.
Prepare Your Car for the Road: Have your vehicle serviced (oil change, rotate tires, etc.). Do this as early as you can in case the mechanics find something that will require you to come back for a second visit.
Change of Address: File a change of address form with the post office. Also change your address with credit cards, memberships, magazines, netflix, etc. Cancel your newspaper subscription if you are moving out of the area.
Friends & Neighbors: Notify your friends and neighbors of your new address and phone number, even email if that is going to change. A good way to do this is with "We've Moved" cards.
Shut Off Utilities: Set up a time to shut off your utilities, phone, cable, and internet.
Clean Before You Arrive: Have the carpets cleaned before you get there. It's also smart to have the ducts cleaned. The idea is to move into a completely clean, safe home.
Pay Your Bills: Settle accounts at local merchants, and make certain that credit cards are paid down in case you need some extra cash on the road.
Return Library Books/Rented Videos: If you happen to leave town without taking care of this, you most likely will forget once you are in a new place. This is an annoying task, but not as annoying as the fine that will accrue if you don't take care of this before you go.
Gym Membership: Transfer your gym membership. If you are with a gym that cannot be transferred to your new city, figure out if you can get out of the membership early or transfer the difference to a friend or family member.
Find Home for Plants: Most plants cannot handle the extreme environments they are placed in during a move. If you really care about your plants, find them a good home.
Last Minute Things
Car Stuff: Make a list of things that you want to have in the car with you.
Safety Deposit Box: This is the best time to withdraw your safety deposit box so that your valuables are only unprotected for a limited amount of time.
Cell Phone: Have your cell phone number changed to the appropriate city.
Close Bank Accounts: If you bank with a national bank, it might be the case that you won't need to close down your current one. You can just change the account to your new city.
Set Up Utilities: Call to have your utilities turned on the day before you arrive at your new place. Don't forget cable and internet.
Dry Cleaning: Don't forget to pick up your dry cleaning.
Tip for Efficient Travel: If you are moving yourself, pack foods that have high-water content like grapes, oranges, apples, etc. These foods will keep you hydrated so that you don't have to drink so many liquids. This will reduce the number of times you will have to stop for restroom breaks and will keep you on the road.
Double-Check: Call again and again to make sure that your movers are still going to show when they say they will. If you are renting a truck, call again to make sure that there will indeed be a truck reserved just to be on the safe side.
Odds & Ends
There are many things that you could and should accomplish before you pull out of town, but due to your time constraints, they might not all be possible. These items can wait if you can't find the time, but it is best do get them done before hand.
Carpets: Have the carpets cleaned in your new place.
Lawn Care: Have the lawn mowed the day before you arrive.
Cell Phone: Have your cell phone number changed to the appropriate city.
Credit Report: If you have purchased a new home, chances are that a credit report has already been completed. However, checking your credit a couple times a year is a great idea just to make sure than no errors appear.
Appraise Valuables: Standard insurance plans cover general possessions up to a certain dollar amount, but if you have some more expensive items like a big screen TV that you need to insure, now is the best time to have your possessions appraised before you take them on the road.
Tax-Deductible Moving Expenses: Do some research with your accountant or an accountant who specializes in tax-deductible moving expenses, to see what is tax-deductible for your particular move.