What can you do to minimize the stress on the rest of your life? First, whether you’re doing the move yourself or you’ve hired professionals, you might want to think about taking up yoga. Seriously, moving is stressful on both your mind and your back, so why not start getting both into more flexible shape? Once you’re sufficiently centered, you’ll have more mental and physical power for literally moving mountains of your own stuff.
Using professional movers
Consumer complaints against moving companies are on the rise, so the general rule is now caveat lector (or “Let the reader beware”). It’s good to follow the rules of basic common sense: Get references. Try to use a licensed mover. David Cohen, president of Divine Moving & Storage suggests that you start with performing a simple online background check like the Better Business Bureau, AMSA (American Moving and Storage Association), consumer websites like movingscam.com or online reviews. After you complete the research, call the company you chose and make sure to ask your moving coordinator a lot of questions.
Beware of lowball estimates, blah, blah, blah. Whatever your level of paranoia, make sure you get a copy of a handy little consumer booklet entitled Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.
Document an inventory of your belongings before you pack and make sure the moving quote lists every item. This is your life’s stuff we’re talking about here. If it all disappeared tomorrow (don’t laugh; it’s happened), you’d pay a bundle to replace it. Estimates are based on either the cubic footage or weight. Wondering if you are covered for loss or damage? All moving companies are required to assume liability for the value of the goods that they transport, but “liability” is a tricky word. You could go with “full replacement” coverage, so articles that are lost, damaged, or destroyed will be either repaired, replaced, or bought out for cash. This coverage might exclude “articles of extraordinary value” that exceed $100 per pound (jewelry, silverware, Hendrix memorabilia). Read the fine print. “Released value” coverage is usually offered at no extra charge, but it’s pretty lousy. Claims are settled based on weight. So your missing 20-pound plasma screen TV would net you $12; the rate is typically 60 cents a pound. If your stuff is not covered by your renter’s or homeowner’s policy, get separate liability insurance.
If you’re overly organized, you can get in touch with your inner Martha Stew-art by using dot stickers with different colors for each category or box. Just be clear and pack your things as if they were traveling economy with a layover in Newark. Whatever you do, don’t mark every box “fragile.” Friends hate seeing that everywhere and may just drop a few down a flight of stairs for laughs. Try marking a few “radioactive” and see what happens. A few other tips:
Paint the closets
If the closets in the new place are dodgy, paint them before moving day. Trust me. This is the last time you’ll ever see them empty. You can live out of suitcases until the paint dries.
Change the locks
Change the locks at your new place when you move in. Who knows how many keys are floating around out there with neighbors, workmen, or ex-husbands in the witness protection program.
Carry it yourself
Protecting important and ridiculously sentimental stuff is not a job for friends or attractive strangers, even when they say they’ll “be careful.” You should personally transport irreplaceable items (financial papers, insurance policies, that video from your bachelor party) and valuables (jewelry, cash, the beer mug collection).
Even if your partner didn’t go for the yoga idea, involve him or her in the move as early as possible. Assigning ability-appropriate tasks or responsibilities can help your partner have a sense of control over your unraveling situation. (Also, there’ll be someone else to blame later.) Try to maintain daily routines while your partner adjusts to the new habitat. Keep some things the same, like a favorite blanket. Good luck.