Tuesday, February 26, 2013

How to Move!

I won’t say I’m an expert, but I have had a lot of practice.  I’m in the middle of my 15th move in 17 years.  I say the middle because while we are living in the house (and I hope not to move for a very, very long time), the basement isn’t finished so we are still “camping” and have not even nearly unpacked.  Since we have been married, my husband and I have lived in seven different states.  Most of our moves have been cross-country moves.  We have moved just the two of us, with one child, two children, three children and now four.  My in-laws have helped us pull the trailers and we have done it ourselves in multiple trips.  I definitely feel a little experienced when it comes to moving.

Throughout all of the moves I have developed a “system” with little tips and tricks that definitely make moving a lot less stressful for me.  I hope they work for you, too.

NOTE:  I have never had a moving company and I have never had to sell a house so I don’t have any tips for those two moving issues.  I’d love to hear your tips and tricks for those to situations.  Please post a comment.

1.  Get a notebook.  I have a favorite, pictured below.  It is small enough to carry around but big enough to write lots of notes on one page.  I prefer a Five Star notebook by Mead that I can get at Walmart.  It is 9 ½” x 6 ¾” and I usually buy the most obnoxious color they have at the store.  I don’t want it to blend in with other notebooks or stacks of stuff.  I want to know where it is at all times – obnoxious color helps.  There are two sections that are divided by a manila-colored pocket page.  I write all the stuff for “here” in the front (lists of things I need to do, doctor information, school information, lists of things I need to turn off, address changes that need to be made, etc.).  In the back half I write all the stuff for “there” (new school addresses, location of the church, new utility information, etc.).  The notebook is also a good place to write reservation information if you will be staying in hotels along the way.  I keep any papers I need to save in the pocket.  I also keep my favorite pen in the spiral part so I am never with a pen when I need to write something down.  It has gotten to the point that my husband, who often laughs at my crazy OCD-ness, asks me to write something down in my notebook so he won’t forget it during the move.  Seriously, it has saved my brain more than once.

The front of my notebook.  Yes, my two year old colored on it and no, it didn't change the usefulness of the notebook - haha!

Just a picture of the page where I listed all the phone numbers of the places I needed to change addresses - banks, cell phones, utility companies, etc.

All the old school information so the new school can request records.
A picture of my notes from my conversation with Dish Network.  I included the name and operator number of the lady who helped me.

2.  Get a colored tote/bin/box/storage container.  Most of our stuff is packed in totes (had too many mice in the trailers and too many flooded basements to trust cardboard boxes anymore).  We always buy the most inexpensive, silver totes that are made by Rubbermaid.  I have one tote that is colored (mine is green) and it is one that I keep by my bed while we are in “getting-ready” mode.  As I pack and come across things that I know we will need as soon as we arrive, I put them in the green tote.  This is where I keep the medical information, birth certificates, social security cards, etc.  I also put things that we will need during the trip in the tote, like books/magazines to read or movies and games I’ve purchased just for the trip.  I also put in all the extra pacifiers that I found when we moved when our children were babies.  It really helps when I can say, “Just put it in the green tote” or “It’s in the green tote”.  Because it is a different color I can also say, “Don’t pack the green tote until the end!  It needs to go in my van or at the back end of the trailer.”  I usually also have another tote that has house stuff we’ll need when we arrive, like sheets, paper plates, cups and disposable silverware, a pot and pan, towels, etc.  It makes it easier if I can just unload that the first night and know that we can live a day or two until we get everything else unloaded.

A picture of my green tote, surrounded by silver totes.

3.  Get two plastic folders.  I get the kind that have the string to wind around two circles to close it.  I use one for school papers that I will need to get from the school here and take to the school there (transcripts, etc).  The other folder has important papers – bills that will need to be paid, birth certificates, immunization records, social security cards, etc.  Sometimes I put the birth certificates/immunization records/ss cards for the kids into the school folder because the school will need them for registration.  I prefer for them to be a little see-through and different colors so I can tell them apart without opening them.  Put these in the green box and fill them as needed.

4.  Get your medical records from your current doctor and tell them that you are moving and they will be receiving a records request from your new doctor in your new town.  This is very important for my family since there are several of us who have health issues that require establishing with a doctor soon after we arrive in our new town.  It often takes weeks or months for medical records to be requested and sent to the new doctor.  By carrying the medical records with us I can establish care and get the medication needed without having to wait for the requested records to be sent.  Because we’ve had testing done to get the correct diagnosis and don’t want to repeat the testing, I always take the records with me to our first appointments so the doctors can see the diagnosis and what we’ve done to get to that diagnosis.  This is especially important when I take my oldest son in because we went through many years of mis-diagnosis before we found out the real problem.  In this case most of our doctors have been amazed at the correct diagnosis because it is unusual.  I have all of the records organized in a binder with dividers for each member of the family.  Most recent records on top.

5.  Get a receipts envelope.  If you are going to be able to claim your move on your taxes or if you are going to be reimbursed for the move by an employer, get an envelope for each car traveling to the new location.  I like a 9x6 manila envelope.  It’s simple and I can write all over it.  I usually keep a pen inside the envelope so I can write on the receipts if I need to.  Remember that some types of receipts fade after time.  You can always write down the amount next to the printed amount if you think it’s going to fade.  When the move is over, close the envelope with the clasp, label it “Move 2012”  and put it with your tax stuff for future filing.

6.  Label all boxes on top and on the side.  Some people do different colored labels/papers/pens for each room in the house.  I usually use a different color pen each time I move and just cross out the previous move information on the box.  It works better for me.  I also write directly on my plastic totes so I don’t have to fuss with tape and 3x5 cards.  Just find what works for you but make sure you label both the top and side of the box and avoid vague labels like “miscellaneous”.  (Funny note:  One move when my inlaws were helping us pack, my mother-in-law labeled the boxes.  She wrote little vignettes that were so fun to read later.  She wrote things like, “The cute stuff that you kept in the kitchen hutch but were such a pain to dust.”

7.  Get some Ziploc bags.  They are my favorite things in the entire world!  I buy them in all sizes from snack size to 2-gallon size.  I love the large ones to keep things together like all the cell phone cords, camera cord, etc.  Then they don’t get lost when I put them in my green tote.

I think that’s about it, but if I come up with some more I’m sure I’ll add it all later.  Please comment with any tips and tricks you find helpful.  I’ve said that we aren’t moving again for a long, long time but I’ve said that before... several times …

A picture of my friend, Jen's, cute daughter and Jen's interpretation of the moving tips.  She's using the accordion file for her important papers and a small receipt envelope for her receipts.  Good luck on your move, Jen!