By Sarah Pike
Before you book those movers or buy out Home Depot’s stock of boxes, review this comprehensive moving checklist to help ease some of the burdens that come with moving as a single woman. Whether you plan to move across town or are taking it cross country, you can have a stress-free move with a little extra planning and preparation.
For All Moves
Pick the Right Neighborhood: Before you pack your first box, you need to find the right place to move. In addition to easy access to stores and restaurants, check out how safe your potential new neighborhood is. Look for an active Neighborhood Watch program, friendly neighbors, and low relocation rates. You need to know that your neighborhood is safe for early morning runs and nights at home alone.
Apps like Safe Neighborhood give you access to crime information, including the National Sex Offender Registry. These can be useful tools when trying to nail down the safest new place to call home.
Take Care of Utilities, Internet, and Television Service: If you’re moving in the same town, find out if the same providers are available in your new area and try to simply transfer your service. If you’re heading out of state, you may need to cancel current accounts and set up new providers.
Think Outside the Box: You’re not limited to boxes from the liquor store or shelling out cash for boxes from your local hardware store. You can pack your stuff in egg crates, paper plates, and even socks. Large bowls are great to pack up miscellaneous kitchen items. And a bonus of not stuffing every last thing you own into a giant box is that smaller containers like totes and pillow cases are lighter and easier to carry.
Change Your Address: This might seem like a no-brainer, but in the midst of everything else that comes with moving, changing your address is an easy thing to overlook. Thankfully, the U.S. Postal Service makes it easy.
You can do just about everything online so you can avoid waiting in a long line at the post office. Pay special attention to catalogs and other subscriptions– they sometimes get missed by a forwarding order.
And if you have auto-payments set up with a credit or debit card, make sure you update your address with your bank and the company you’re paying. You don’t want to move and find out your bills are going unpaid due to an address conflict.
Keep It Clean: Moving is about more than packing and unpacking. You also need to clean the place you’re leaving and give your new home a scrub-down. Plan time for cleaning in both locations, and put together a travel caddy with cleaning products you can easily move from room to room and from one house to the next.
Stay Organized: Whether you choose to color-code boxes or go crazy with a Sharpie, organizing your move by room is a must. In addition to proper labels, organize a timeline for the move that includes everything you need to do before, during, and after your move. Since you will be the only one orchestrating everything, this will keep you from forgetting to pick up a new garbage can or cancel the lawn services at your old place.
Put Safety First: Living alone comes with a lot of perks– you don’t have to consult on decorating and nobody’s there to judge you when you dig into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s after a hard day. But it’s not smart to let people know that you live alone.
Once you get settled in your place, change the locks and don’t slip the new key under the welcome mat. Pay attention to security issues like sufficient lighting, secure access points, and clear away any shrubbery or other obstructions that make your home hidden from easy view.
For Cross-Town Moves
Skip the Movers: Most cross-town moves don’t require an expensive moving team that can cost thousands. Call up your pals (and their brawny significant others), bribe them with a bottle of wine, and roll up your sleeves. If no one has a truck or trailer, check out U-Haul; most trucks can be rented for a day for around $100.
Stay on Schedule: Timing can be everything when it comes to moving. Plan your moving date well in advance so the generous souls who volunteer to help you can clear their schedules. Make sure you have a clear plan for the day. No one wants to volunteer for two hours only to find themselves sweating and achy after bad planning extended the move to an all-day event.
For Cross Country Moves
Do Your Research: Believe it or not, driving cross country isn’t always cheaper. Depending on weather, road conditions, and how much stuff you’re taking, it might make more sense to ship your possessions rather than hiring movers or renting a U-Haul. But keep in mind that both often charge by weight, so it might be time to ditch that old vanity you’ve had since college and other outdated items you’ve been holding on to.
If you do choose to hire a mover, get multiple bids and make sure they don’t try to push you into accepting an over-the-phone quote. Reputable companies will give you an on-site bid and guarantee their quote.
Map It Out: Make a detailed itinerary for your trip, and be sure to let others know your schedule. A clear plan can help you entice road-trip buddies to come along. But if you do end up going it alone, plan when you’re going to check in with friends or family and alert them immediately of anything that throws a wrench in your plans.
Make the Most of It: Just because your trip is one of purpose doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. Look for fun places to visit along the way, and download the Google Field Trip app, which alerts you of historic sites and even amazing restaurants along the way. Moving cross country is a memorable event, so why shouldn’t some of those memories be of the cool places you got to see?
Take Care of Yourself: Don’t convince yourself to sacrifice sleep or food in pursuit of gaining extra miles. Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving, so make sure you plan in plenty of rest stops and snack breaks. It’s better to extend your trip by a day or two than end up in an accident.
Make sure to choose rest stops that are well-lit and have a lot of traffic. Avoid stopping at highway rest stops alone at night. Your best bet is to plan so that the bulk of your driving is done before the sun sets, leaving you time to recharge with a good book, glass of wine, and a hot bath.
Whether your move takes you across the neighborhood or to a different coast, planning is the best way to make sure it goes smoothly. Take the time to use this moving checklist, enlist help, and, most of all, breathe. Keeping a calm head is the best thing you can do to avoid mistakes that could cost you time and money. Remember why you’re moving, daydream about decorating your new space, and celebrate that you’re creating exactly the life you want to live.
Sarah Pike is a freelancer, college writing instructor, and small apartment dweller. When she’s not writing, teaching, or obsessively organizing her home, she’s probably binge-watching RomComs on Netflix or reading home décor magazines. She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @sarahzpike.