"Smooth Move"--Tips and Techniques to Make Your Move as Painless as Possible

Whether you are moving around the block, across the country or just packing Junior off to college, the entire moving experience is one of the most difficult events of modern living. According to Joe Harrison, president of the American Moving and Storage Association, "Research tells us that moving is usually one of the most stressful events in a person's life, ranked as high as the death of a loved one or a divorce." Moving is tiring, complex, and costly. Despite the excessive stress and the high costs, Americans are on the move! In the year 2000, about 120 million Americans over the age of five--46 percent of us--lived in a different home than they did in 1995, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. The reasons for moving are about as numerous as the number of people who move. It could be for lack of space in the old apartment, a job transfer, college graduation, starting a different career, a new marriage (or divorce), or a desire to be closer to relatives. Surprisingly, a recent study found that number three on the list of reasons to move was to "get away from family and relatives." Whatever the reason, an estimated 1.4 to 1.6 million American household moves take place each year, and although most go smoothly, a significant number of others do not. The U.S. Department of Transportation receives about 4,000 complaints each year from people who charge that moving companies mistreated them. The single most important thing you can do to make the transition go as smoothly as possible is to PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Make a schedule--you can get a free "moving calendar" from many sites on the Web--and stick with it. Preparation, organization and forethought will help you minimize the headaches and allow you to complete your move with your sanity intact. If you decide to hire a professional moving company, it can be nerve-racking trying to find the one you can trust to move your household valuables. Tip--make sure you give yourself enough time to choose and retain a reliable mover. The major professional moving companies are busy, especially during the summer months when a majority of the moves are made. Consumer Reports recommends allowing six to eight weeks to get the van in your yard on time. The American Moving and Storage Association reports that some companies offer discounts for moves made between October and April--the slow months. Ask your moving company for details. Once the moving company is under contract, it's time to pare down your belongings. There's no sense moving things you don't really want or need. Question the value of your belongings. As you pack your house to move, ask which items are personally valuable to you--sentimentally, aesthetically, or monetarily. Give your possessions the two year test. Attics, closets and basements are widely-known "black holes" that collect stuff you don't use but just can't seem to throw out. Do you really need to haul that never-used, three-year-old salad shooter to your new home? Discard things that are broken or beyond repair. Hold a garage sale to get rid of the rest (and make some money to help pay for the move), and haul the unsold "goodies" to the charity of your choice (get a receipt for a tax deductible donation). Order your packing supplies online or from your local mover. These include: strong packing boxes, bubble wrap, ink-free packing paper (not newspaper for your delicate items), wardrobe boxes (not garbage sacks), strapping tape, broad-tip markers to label your boxes, and a knife or scissors to open boxes on the other end. Pack one room at a time, thus keeping similar things together. Label the room on the outside of the box. Pack boxes firmly, protect fragile objects and try to keep each box less than 50 pounds. Keep an inventory of your boxes and the contents. Let the kids help pack up their room and give them special attention as they deal with their fears of leaving friends and familiar surroundings. Let them write their name on their boxes. Pack their rooms last so their break in routine is as minimal as possible, and let them pick out a favorite toy to carry with them. Important tip--Use Form 8822 to inform the IRS of your new mailing address. If the IRS sends a notice to you at your old address, any delays caused by mail being forwarded may mean that you will miss important IRS deadlines and may have penalities to pay!