How to plan a move

Planning the move; packing

Before moving, measure the rooms in your new home to be sure that your appliances and furniture will fit into allotted spaces; and measure all doors to be sure that everything will go through them. Arrange with your plumber, utility company, or your appliance service company to disconnect major appliances such as washing machines and kitchen ranges. Movers will not do this, nor will they take down a television antenna.

Whether you rent a truck or hire a mover, get comparative prices beforehand. Always get written confirmation for every step of the move.

Moving yourself may save hundreds of dollars, but beware of such hidden costs as mileage rates, drop-off charges, overtime charges, and rental of dollies, pads, and packing cases. A truck rental agency should provide guidelines to help you take an inventory of your possessions and estimate the size vehicle you need. Find out the trucks capacity in cubic feet, not just length. The rental agency’s literature should also tell you how to pack-do it carefully; when you move yourself, you pay for any damage.

Hiring a professional

If you are moving within your state, seek out a local mover with a good reputation. Their charges are generally lower than interstate movers. If your move crosses state lines, check the moving companys performance records through the Interstate Commerce Commission (it maintains offices in most major cities). Written estimates are not binding; ask the ICC how often the company’s estimates are within 10 percent of their final charges. Send out change-of-address notices as soon as you have contracted with a mover. Arrange to disconnect utilities and to connect them in your new home. To avoid false billing, confirm these in writing. Change your bank and charge accounts.


Make a floorplan of your new home and label each room with a name and number. As you pack, label each box accordingly. Keep track of the number of boxes for each room. Mark items that you will need as soon as you arrive. Move these and important documents yourself. Take an inventory of each box. Clothing and linens can be packed in dresser drawers, but not too densely. Rent wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes; pack books and records in small boxes so that they are light enough to lift. To protect breakables, line the bottom of the box with wads of crumpled newspaper and wrap each piece in newspaper. Pack the heaviest items in the bottom and add crumpled paper between the layers. Don’t stack plates; stand them on edge. Wrap lampshades in clean paper and pack them in cartons separate from the lamps. Stand mirrors and pictures in cartons; protect them with layers of paper and separate them with corrugated cardboard.

Several days before moving, disconnect the electric power from major appliances and drain off any water. Clean each appliance inside and out and leave it open to air for a day or two. Then tape its doors and lids shut with a strong tape such as filament tape, and tape the power cord to the back of the appliance. Protect the appliance with blankets. Some appliances, such as washing machines, may require special buttressing to withstand the move; check with the mover or consult your owner’s manual for each appliance.

When everything has been unloaded, make sure that all your possessions are in good condition before signing the mover’s inventory. Do not allow yourself to be rushed. Make any claims for missing or damaged property in writing to the agent or moving company as soon as possible. Your local Interstate Commerce Commission office may be helpful in the event of an unsettled claim.