Congratulations! That brand-new house — with the empty closets and the gleaming floors — is all yours. Now all you have to do is move your stuff. Depending on how long you've lived in your last home, that could be a daunting task.
With a little preparation and a lot of organization, moving into your new home won't break the bank — or your back. Here are some tips to make your move as painless as possible:
Start early. If you wait until the last minute, chances are you'll just start throwing stuff in boxes and you'll take items you don't need — and you will be unable to find things you do need once you're there. Start at least three weeks before your move. With all the other details from the sale plus your daily obligations, packing will take longer than you think.
If you don't need it, don't take it. Sell, donate, or toss anything you haven't used for a while and isn't essential to your life. Start with clutter that's lying around, then work your way through the closets. Sort items into piles to keep, sell, donate or throw away. The less stuff you have, the less you need to pack and unpack. It will save you time and money, and keep the new house from immediately looking cluttered.
What to put where. Boxes and bubble wrap are great for delicate items. (To save money, check out U-Haul's "Take a Box, Leave a Box" program in which you can pick up free used boxes and leave used ones for others.) Be sure to place only lighter items in bigger boxes and save heavier items for smaller boxes. You don't want to break the box — or anyone's back. Use trash bags for soft unbreakable items such as linens and clothing, which will save money and space, and leave items in furniture drawers, if they're not too heavy. Don't forget to label all your containers, preferably on more than one side. Also, pack a suitcase with items you'll need immediately.
Go pro or do it yourself. Although a professional mover will cost more than hiring a truck for yourself, keep in mind all the costs of moving on your own and decide whether the price difference is worth the pain. If you plan to do it yourself, remember to budget for gas, hand-truck rentals, and the meals you'll have to pay your helpers. Most moves of less than 100 miles are considered local and are charged by the hour, and some charge less during the week or mid-month. If your belongings are organized and ready to go, the cost will be lower. Get a written, binding estimate from a company that will come and look at the inventory.
Stay organized. Get a calendar, make lists (apps such as Wunderlist or the wunderlist.com website can help) and put down everything you need to do, such as changing the mailing address and disconnecting the utilities (you should call a week ahead of the move).