1. MOVING COMPANIES: Get quotes from at least 6 moving companies, and make sure to read the fine print. Some companies charge by weight, and some charge by cubic feet, so you want to go with the one that will be most economical for you. Once you have narrowed your search, ask the company for at least 3 references, and follow up with the reference calls. Make sure the company is licensed, and check their web site to make sure they are legitimate. Ask for a sample contract, and make sure there are no hidden costs, such as extra charges if you have a super long hallway or a great distance between their truck and the apartment entrance. Make sure the company provides at least the standard insurance, which provides for damage, theft, or loss, and check with your own apartment insurance company about added insurance for an additional premium. Be clear about the time frame between pick up and delivery, and let the movers know if you will require storage before or after the move, depending on when you will be arriving at your destination. You should not have to pay for storage--many moving companies include this with their fees. Read over your contract carefully before signing, and clarify any payment procedures required, including the initial deposit and when the balance will be required. Many movers do not take credit cards or personal checks, but require cash or money orders only, so be sure to allow time to organize your payment method. Money orders can be taken care of at the post office, but you can be limited on the amount you can take out per order, so allow plenty of time. Make sure you keep receipts for everything, anytime money changes hands, and that you and the mover are clear on the balance remaining. You don't want any last minute surprises! Also, have cash on hand for tipping on move-out and move-in days. Make sure you establish a communications timetable with the movers, so you know what the status of your items is and when to expect them. A reputable mover should keep in touch with you and let you know your things are arriving at least a day ahead of time. The movers will keep an inventory of all you items, but you should keep your own as well, and make it as detailed as possible about what is in each box.
2. PACKING: Allow twice as much time to pack as you think you will need. Even if you got rid of tons of items on your last move, things have a way of multiplying in your drawers, and you will be truly shocked at all the books, clothes,cd's, furniture, knick knacks, and other items you have accumulated. Sort through all your belongings and get rid of anything you have not used in 2 years. You should also leave behind items that are easily replaceable at your destination. Oversize items and furniture can be large cost factors in a move, so if you can leave without your ten year old coffee table or your college book cases, leave them behind. Your local thrift shop or church or synagogue can make ideal spots to donate items. Make sure to get a receipt for tax purposes, and be mindful of the new tax laws if you are planning on deducting over $500 worth of items. You will need to be extremely detailed in your item descriptions, and you'll need to know the original price of the item. The entrepreneurs among you may want to try E-bay if you have the time, but keep in mind that even though that pair of socks your great aunt Gertrude bought you years ago may mean a lot to you, they may only buy you a mocha grande or two in the end. When packing your possessions, it's helpful to think in terms of rooms, rather then specific items, since this is how movers deal with things when they deliver everything, and while you are unpacking you can at least be more organized that way. Be prepared to mark boxes: KITCHEN, BEDROOM, BATHROOM, etc., and don't throw in a package of q-tips along with your spatula, or you will never find it again. A note about boxes: movers can often give you a deal on an assortment of boxes, and while it may look good, these tend to be flimsy. You're better off getting strong boxes from the stationery store, UPS, or FedEx. Be sure and bubble wrap all delicate items, and use as much as humanly possible. Even though you mark things fragile, your boxes are going to be thrown around like frisbees no matter what. Don't ask. Try to pack one box marked "IMMEDIATE" which will contain items you'll need right away, such as silverware, towels, toiletries you couldn't take on your flight, etc. Note: Do not ship valuables! Cameras, computers, and any jewerly you are worried about, should be taken with you. Number all your boxes - this way when they are delivered you'll know you have everything.
3. CHANGE OF ADDRESS: Most changes of address can be easily handled by filling out a mail forwarding card with the post office, but this can take several weeks to process, so allow plenty of time. Also, this mainly works for regular mail and letters, and not magazines, which you have to contact separately. For most magazines, you can easily change the address online, but they typically require your subscriber number, so keep your issues handy. Many credits cards require a phone call or sometimes a request in writing, so be sure and allow time for this as well. There are certain changes you may not be able to make until you arrive, so keep a list of to do's once you are at your new home. Make sure your friends and family have your new address, and phone number if it's available.
4. YOUR NEW LOCATION: If you are moving to a new location, be sure and research your neighborhood ahead of time as much as you can, including: mass transit, highways and local roads, post office, supermarkets, banks, and parks. Don't forget about recreation outlets such as movie theatres and parks. It's also helpful to set up your utilties such as gas, electric, and phone, ahead of time. Once you arrive, visit your local chamber of commerce and city hall. They typically have helpful publications about your new hometown, including maps, transportation schedules, parks, concert and exhibit information, recreation and dining, and more.