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If you're reading this, chances are you are about to move, which scientists have proven to be about as enjoyable as a sharp stick to the eye. The tips below should help make your move a little less painful.


General Tips

Add colored stickers to all of your boxes that correspond to the rooms of your new place. When you tape a red sheet of paper to your living room wall, you or your movers will easily know where everything goes. When your refrigerator ends up in your bathroom, you'll know your movers are colorblind.

Buy your moving supplies online. Boxes can be super expensive when you buy them directly from the movers. If you're cheap, have a chat with your friendly grocery store owner to see if any boxes are being thrown away.

Fill your luggage and duffle bags with all of your "need it now" stuff. Think of these as carry-on bags you don't have to stuff in the overhead bin. This way, you'll not only save money on boxes, but you'll also find your important stuff more quickly than you would if you had put it in red box number 214c.

Remember to change your address for your mail (moversguide.com), magazines, and parents (optional).

Remember to pay off all of your utilities and then to have them turned off. You don't want to be the joke of every party at your old apartment.


Self Move

If you make a move on your own (code words for "make my friends do the work"), you'll save a lot of money, but that specific day in your life might not be very fun at all.

Reserve trucks early. The days at the beginning and end of the month are usually busy times (as that's when leases end). If you reserve early, you'll have more options, better pricing, and won't get stuck with a bottom-of-the-barrel truck that can only go in reverse.

You'll initially speak to the national office to get a quote. The national office can guarantee you a rate, but usually cannot guarantee you a truck (bizarre). You need to call your local office to confirm that you have a truck. Otherwise your moped will get very, very crowded.

Shop around for quotes for moving truck rentals. You may be surprised how much companies want your business.

Use strong, see-through garbage bags for packing (if moving yourself). You'll find stuff easily at your new place. (Note: Never put your pets in these bags.)


Moving Company

When using a moving company, the boxes that you pack are usually not insured in the move.

Moving companies often charge by the hour for packing, so save yourself some cash by having things out and organized for easy packing.

Check your homeowner's insurance to see what's covered during a move. If you're covered, find out what you need to show the insurance company (photos, receipts, etc.) if something breaks.

Insurance from a moving company is often calculated on a per-pound basis. So if your 5-pound ceramic egg is damaged with $.60/pound insurance, you'll receive $3. If something is worth a lot to you, move it yourself.

Try to get an in-home estimate from a mover. It will be much more accurate than something quoted over the phone.

Many movers offer free temporary storage as part of your move, if your new place isn't ready for move-in yet (e.g., you haven't cleared out the police tape and body outlines).

Anyone can start a moving company (pick up box, carry box, put down box), so you may find a lot of operations that are "lacking in character." Do your homework before you choose a carrier. Ask for the number of years they've been in business, company insurance, refund policy, typical smell of mover, and so on.

If gas lines need to be disconnected or furniture needs to be disassembled, you'll probably have to pay a few extra bucks.

Movers prefer to load heavy boxes short distances, so if they can't get a truck close to your door or if you're on the fourth floor without an elevator, you'll probably pay more. Do what you can to make it convenient for them; it's best to not upset movers until after they've moved your stuff.

Keep important papers with you. Movers lose stuff.


Moving Lingo

Bill of lading:
The receipt and contract for all the stuff you're moving.

Declared value:
The amount all of your stuff (that you're moving) is worth. You usually quote this.

Estimate (binding):
The guaranteed cost of your move.

Estimate (non-binding):
A best-guess cost of your move.

Full replacement value coverage:
Insurance that will pay you for the cost for buying new stuff that is broken or lost in your move. This type of coverage isn't standard.


Story Time

Bert's free-loader friends were always asking him to help with their move rather than pay for movers. So Bert came up with a simple contract that you can share with your friends.

I _________, being of sound enough body to help __________ ("the Imposer") move his earthly possessions, set forth the following stipulations before agreeing to aid in said move:

1. The Imposer's role shall not be restricted to "supervising" manual labor; she shall move at least one item larger than his/her torso every 10 minutes.

2. The Imposer shall be the "bottom lifter" in all two-man moves involving stairs.

3. The Imposer shall provide pizza for my consumption (purchased from a brand-name restaurant of my choosing; no homemade ketchup-and-bagel "mini pizzas").

4. The Imposer shall not request my moving services again for at least one (human) year.

5. The Imposer must agree to one request on my part without complaint, even if it involves public humiliation.

Sign and date: __________________________