While the idea of living in a new home can be exciting, the process of moving there is not. Here are a few ways to ease the process and save a little money.
First, decide whether to hire movers. You can hire movers who simply take the boxes, furniture, and appliances to your new location, or you can hire full-service movers who pack your belongings into boxes for you. I highly recommend doing your homework when choosing a moving company—get referrals and be sure you understand the company’s contract regarding what is included and what is extra, as well as their policies on complaints and/or claims. If you decide to hire movers, and you want to save a little money, avoid the high season premium by moving before June or after September, if you can.
The other thing you should do before you move is to wait until your escrow closes. I know this sounds obvious, but as someone who’s been in this business for a while, I have seen “rock solid” transactions fall apart.
If you are packing your own things, you can usually find free boxes by reaching out to friends and family. You can also find free boxes online; the Facebook page called Ukiah for Sale or Trade and Craigslist.com come to mind as places to start. Of course, the fewer belongings you move, the cheaper it will be. Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of stuff. Have a garage sale or donate unwanted goods to local charities like the Ukiah Senior Center, Hospice, or Salvation Army. If you haven’t digitized your music, consider doing so and selling or donating your old CDs.
Before you start packing, create an inventory of your possessions for insurance purposes (it’s best to use photos or video). You should actually have a recent inventory of your possessions whether you’re moving or not, but let’s face it, most of us can’t be bothered.
Once you start packing, take some tips from blogger Suzanne De Vita. Don’t waste time un-hanging (and re-hanging) closet garments. Group a few hanging clothes together with a zip tie, slide a black garbage bag over them, and make a hole in the top of the bag for hanger hooks. To “unpack,” simply remove the bag and tie. She also recommends the following: instead of emptying out the drawers of small-scale furniture, like end tables or corner desks, wrap heavy-duty plastic wrap around the piece of furniture, from top-to-bottom and side-to-side. This will seal the drawers in place and prevent spillage on moving day, and save you hours worth of unpacking time.
When moving, the word “heavy” and the word “expensive” are synonymous. If you have a lot of books, consider mailing them at the media rate. It may be cheaper than having movers deal with them. If you have weight-lifting equipment or heavy tools, it could actually be cheaper to sell the equipment and/or tools before you move and buy new ones when you arrive at your new home. The same goes for a heavy pool table, kitchen appliances, and other heavy items.
Now, the only upside to moving expenses is that they are often tax deductible, as long as you keep records during your move (including transportation, lodging and meals). You should also keep records of home improvements and expenses associated with preparing your house for sale. Your accountant can tell you exactly what is tax deductible and what isn’t.
Finally, don’t forget to contact the utility companies on both ends, to shut off service for the house you’re leaving and to turn on service the day you arrive at your new home. It’s tough to move in when you can’t turn the lights on. Your Realtor can give you a list of names and numbers of utility companies.
If you have questions about real estate or property management, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.realtyworldselzer.com. If I use your suggestion in a column, I’ll send you’re a $5.00 gift card to Schat’s Bakery. If you’d like to read previous articles, visit my blog at www.richardselzer.com. Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 40 years.