New Home 101: Moving Into Your New Home, Part 1

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hen it's finally time to move into your new home, you can't just expect everything to fall into place naturally. It's time to make sure you have a pre-moving day plan.

This article is the first part of a three-part series discussing the moving process. For part two, click here. For part three, click here.

The final weeks before moving into your new home will be filled with anticipation and possibly a moment or two of anxiety as you get ready to leave one home and embark on life in your new residence. The more organized you are and the more you understand about what to expect during your move, on your settlement day, and afterwards, the easier the entire experience will be.

Getting Ready to Move 

If you’ve been in close communication with your builder, you should have a good idea about when your home will be ready. Glitches can still occur, though, even at the end of the building phase, such as an ice storm that stops workers from getting to the construction site or some other delay. While you’re waiting — most likely on pins and needles with excitement — you should be preparing for your move. Unlike the quiet period of the past six months or so while you were waiting for the contractors to do their work, you should have plenty to do once your home is a few weeks away from completion.

A fun yet practical step you can take is to print out the floor plan for your new home and then mark it up so that you’ll know ahead of time where everything will go when you’re ready to move. This can help you make decisions about what furniture to keep and to plan what you may need to buy for your new home. At the same time, if you hire movers, this will make their job easier, too, as you can share the floor plan with them on move-in day. You may even want to print several copies that can be posted in your new home while the movers are unloading your belongings.

Line Up a Mover

Even if you don’t have an exact date for your move, you can start the process of choosing a professional mover, unless you decide to convince friends and family to help instead. Get recommendations from your real estate agent, friends, and the sales consultant in your new community. You should check each mover’s references and make sure the moving company is licensed.

An important part of arranging your move is to understand what kind of protection the moving company provides for lost, damaged, or stolen items. Federal and state regulations impact your coverage if you’re moving from one state to another; if you’re moving within your state, state regulations are in place for your protection. Interstate movers must offer both full valuation protection and released value coverage. Full valuation protection is more costly, but this coverage requires your mover to repair or replace any lost or damaged goods or give you cash for the cost of the repair or the current market replacement value of your item. Your moving company could limit its liability for some items of special value such as silver or jewelry, so be sure you understand those limits before your move. Moving companies typically provide released value coverage for free, but the movers’ liability is no more than sixty cents per pound per article.

You need to carefully look at the protection your mover offers in case something happens to your belongings. Some movers also offer optional liability insurance on top of their released value coverage; you can also purchase insurance from a third-party insurance company. Check with your homeowners insurance on your current home and your new home, as well, to see if your possessions are covered in transit by that policy.

When you have a sense about when your home is likely to be ready, you can go ahead and get estimates from one or two moving companies and set a tentative moving date. Once your builder tells you when the Certificate of Occupancy should be ready, you can lock in a date with the mover.

Movers typically offer to sell you boxes and supplies like bubble wrap and packing tape, but you can usually find these items more cheaply by asking for free boxes at local retailers and picking up packing materials at a discount store. If you prefer, you can pay your moving company to do the packing for you, but usually it’s best to do this on your own if you have the time and energy because you’re more likely to use your packing time to weed through your possessions and decide what to take, what to sell, and what to donate. You can sell items online on sites like eBay or organize a yard sale.

Start Packing

You can start packing as early as you want — in fact, the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be when you get closer to your move. The smartest way to get started is to do a complete inventory of your home. Not only will this help you identify what you want to move and what you may need to buy for your new home, but you’ll also have this information at your fingertips for the movers and for your homeowners insurance.

There are several ways to take inventory, including just making a list with pen and paper. You may want to take photos or videotape your belongings for insurance purposes or you can use one of the many apps available for inventory, such as MyStuff2, Home Inventory, or Delicious Library. Your insurance company may have an app, too.

The first items you should tackle are the things that are already packed away: your storage boxes. Go through any boxes you have in a garage, basement, attic, or paid storage unit and see which items you really still want or need. Hopefully, you can eliminate or consolidate a few items. Seasonal things such as holiday decorations or ice skates or pool toys that you’re not using can be packed away, too. Decorative items can be packed early, as well, because once you know you’re moving, you don’t necessarily need to have your rooms looking perfect. One caveat here: if you’re selling your home, make sure you consult with your real estate agent or a home staging expert about the best way to pack unnecessary items and still showcase your home.

As you pack, make sure you label boxes according to the room or closet where each box should be placed. You may think you’ll remember what items are in different boxes, but by the time you reach your new home and are confronted with dozens of boxes, you’ll never be able to know what’s in them without opening them.

After you’ve packed up your stored and out-of-season items, you can begin to pack your books, games, and toys, if you have kids. Keep a few favorites out for the next few weeks. Next, pack up your closets. Your mover will bring you wardrobes for your clothes and will likely take your dressers as they are, but moving is a great time to sort through everyone’s clothes and donate or sell items that are not being used. Pack up your shoes, scarves, and other accessories that you won’t need and then tackle the linen closet to pack away extra sheets, towels, and blankets.

You should designate one box that will hold the items you’ll need on the first day you arrive at your new home. This box should include towels, toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates and plastic utensils, sheets for each bed that will be used, soap, and any other miscellaneous items that you may need as you make the transition from one home to another. Save room for your smartphone chargers and medicines that you take regularly. Keep a laundry bag available for the clothes you wear the day before and the day of your move.

The closer you get to your move, the more you can pack away. You may want to keep a few basic pots and pans, mugs, silverware, and dishes out for a few weeks along with your coffeemaker, but you can pack up your fondue pot and other specialty items earlier. During the final few days in your home, you may find it easier to switch to paper plates so you can pack your dishes.

In addition, as your move approaches, it is vitally important to keep all the documents related to your home purchase and your financing easily accessible, along with all of the receipts and paperwork related to your move.

Update Your Address – Everywhere

To ensure your mail gets delivered to your new home, you can visit your nearest post office location for a change of address form or go online at USPS.com to update it. You also need to change your address with the local Department of Motor Vehicles, your credit card companies, any other creditors such as a student loan or personal loan, your bank, your voter registration board, and your insurance companies. Your car insurance premiums may change because one factor in the amount charged is the location where you keep your car and another is your commute, which is likely to change when you move. You’ll need to notify any publications you receive at home such as a newspaper or magazine, as well as the utility companies when you’re leaving your current home and moving into another. Your builder has been using utilities in your home during the final phases of construction, so you’ll need to work with the builder to transfer the utilities to your name at the appropriate time.

If you have children, this is a good time to look into child care or to register them for their new school. You may need to get transcripts sent from their current school to a new school, so give yourself time to make these arrangements.

Check on Insurance

Now that your settlement date is approaching, it’s time to reconnect with the insurance company you chose to make sure your coverage is in place on your closing day and that the insurance company will provide you with proof of coverage to bring with you to the settlement.

While you’re thinking about protecting your home with insurance, you should also consider whether you want a security system on your new home. Many new homes come equipped with a security system that you’ll need to activate in order to have protection; if your home doesn’t have a security system, it might be a good idea to look into the option of setting one up so it’s in place when you move.

For more expert advice on buying and building a home, check out the free eBook download of New Home 101: Your Guide to Buying and Building a New Home at 
NewHomeSource.com.

Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades. You can find her on Google+.

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