The Organized Life

Preparing for a Move: How to Hustle to Avoid Hassle

Not many people can move in less than a week, but Chez Jennings had no choice when her subleased apartment in Downtown Los Angeles was no longer an option. Instead of freaking out, she quickly came up with a game plan and began preparing for a move on the fly!

“Everyone said I couldn’t find a place and move in a week,” she said. “But I started looking at apartments that weekend and moved the following Thursday.”

Thankfully, she didn’t have to go far. She found the perfect spot just three blocks away and now has an in-unit washer and dryer, and an on-site pool, hot tub and basketball court.

Thanks to good planning and organization, her move went smoothly. And so can yours! Whether you’re moving in a week, a month or even a year, read on for advice from experts to ensure you are prepared so your move is stress free.

Sell or Donate as Much as Possible Before a Move

Chances are you’ve collected things over the years that you no longer use. Instead of taking the time to pack, unpack and organize unneeded items in your new place, donate and sell them!

“If you know where you’re moving to, it makes the process a lot easier because you can visualize where you can fit your furniture and what you can’t take,” said Lori Gersh, a professional organizer who specializes in helping clients organize for moves.

She recommends that movers create a plan and sketch a blueprint of their new home, complete with measurements. It’s a great way to know where stuff will go and how much will fit in your new home.

And Jennings did just that! She had to downsize, since she was moving from a two-bedroom apartment to a studio, and she only wanted to pack the things that she could fit into the new, smaller space.

“I ended up giving up a handful of things to friends through posts on (social media),” said Jennings, a self-proclaimed minimalist. “I love getting rid of stuff. The less stuff you have, the easier it’s going to be.”

Pack Non-Essentials in Moving Boxes First

Start packing as early as you can, and be smart about what you box up first.

“Prepack the items you won’t use or need, and get rid of more things along the way,” said Gersh. “Start with closets, the attic and the garage as soon as you know you’re moving, because those areas have a lot of clutter.”

Even though she had little-to-no time to use much of anything before her move, Jennings first packed up her spare bedroom, which was full of things she hadn’t touched since her last move.

“I packed my boxes to where the less-used stuff was at the bottom and the most-used stuff was at the top, so I could find the necessary things first,” she said.

Set aside at least two days’ worth of essentials items, like medications, clothes, and toiletries in a backpack or small suitcase to use after you move in and before you’re done unpacking.

One thing to pack in the “essentials” box that not many people think of is a bed skirt or any other specialty linens or toiletries that make a new house feel like a relaxing home retreat during a stressful move. You want to have it on hand so you can immediately set up your bed and start setting up your home the way you like it, with your favorite items, said Gersh.

Hire Movers or Enlist Friends ASAP

Once you know you’re moving date, book professional movers right away so you get the best price and have plenty of companies to choose from.

“If you’re moving in the summertime, movers get booked really fast,” said Gersh. “Do your research and read reviews. Picking a good moving company is the key to a smooth transition.”

Although Jennings has previously convinced her friends and families to help her move, this time she opted to hire moving pros.

“Shop around and also be flexible with moving dates,” she advised. “If you’re willing to move during the week, it’s going to be a lot cheaper than the weekend.”

If you are moving yourself, make sure to reserve a moving truck or van as soon as possible, so you get the best price and the right size.

Don’t Delay When Forwarding Mail and Arranging Utilities

When you know your new address, sign up to forward your mail online as soon as possible. Also make appointments to set up utilities at your new place as soon as you can, so you avoid dinner by flashlight your first night in a new place.

“You could be on the phone with utility companies for hours trying to make appointments, so do it ahead of time to make your move less stressful,” said Gersh.

Create an address-change checklist of who you’ll need to contact with your forwarding info, from friends to doctors’ offices, credit card companies, magazines, newspapers and more.

“Have a folder or binder where you collect all the documents that have to do with your move, so you can refer to them easily,” Gersh added.

Three weeks after her move, Jennings admits that she’s still changing over accounts.

“I put on mail forwarding as soon as I knew I was moving,” she said. “So as I’m receiving mail, I’m going back and updating those addresses.”