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How to Minimize the Stress of Moving

Jul 18, 2008
Regardless of whether it's across the country or across town, moving is a stressful, expensive and time-consuming event. It requires extensive planning, organization, and a lot of physical activity. While there is no easy way to move house, there are several things you can do to simplify the process and reduce the amount of stress on yourself.

First things first: identify a target moving date. You'll want to take a variety of factors into consideration when determining your moving timeframe, such as work schedules if you're changing employment, school schedules for your kids, housing considerations such as rent or lease terms, and even the weather. A good rule of thumb is to give yourself a two-to-three week window to complete your entire move, from packing and cleaning your current residence, to moving itself, to unpacking and organizing in your new home.

Summer is always a peak moving time particularly for families, as it provides for minimal interruption in kids' school schedules but it's also typically the hottest and least physically comfortable time of year to be doing all that heavy lifting. While unpleasant, blistering heat is not likely to be a deal breaker, but it is worth taking into consideration (scheduling your move for late May as opposed to mid-July, for example, could make a significant difference).

Once you've worked out a timeframe for your move, it's time to take inventory of your home. The most important part of this process is identifying what to keep, and what to get rid of before the move there is no sense in moving items you don't plan on keeping long-term. A good way to determine what to keep and what to lose is to divide your household into three categories: 'Must Keep,' 'May Keep,' and 'Don't Need.' Once you've gotten rid of the 'Don't Need' items, go back through the 'May Keep' piles and eliminate everything you can.

If you're having trouble knowing when to let go of something, apply the six-month test: If it hasn't been used in the past six-months, you don't need it (the exception here, of course, would be season items like winter coats, box fans, etc., that aren't intended for use year-round). Tip: Don't automatically throw things you no longer need away there are plenty of charity organizations that are constantly accepting donations of all kinds to help others in the community, and they would be happy to have your unwanted items. Plus, you can write off the donations for a nice tax break next April.

Now that your household is organized and you've done a thorough inventory of everything that will be making the move with you, it's time to start thinking about the logistics of actually moving it all. The easiest way to do it (but also the most expensive) is to hire a full-service moving company (*Note: Be sure to shop around for the best rate, and check out customer reviews online to make sure you choose a reputable company that won't rip you off). They'll come to your house, pack everything up, ship it off for you, and unpack at your new home. The next option a bit more time consuming and work-intensive on your part, but certainly less expensive is to pack and unpack yourself, but hire movers for the heavy lifting and physical transportation part of the process. All you have to pay for is the time they spend physically moving your possessions.

A third option would be to rent a truck and pack, lift and move everything yourself. There are plenty of truck rental services designed just for these kinds of projects, and their rates are typically very reasonable (although rising gas prices may make this option slightly less appealing). Finally, if you're determined to spend as little as possible, get a group of kind-hearted friends and their cars together and make moving a group activity. You can typically get away with a small payment to each helper, or the cost of dinner for the group. This is certainly the most labor-intensive option, but it won't cost you much at all.

Once you've chosen the right moving method for you, get everything planned out and scheduled at least 4-6 weeks in advance. Also, it's a good idea to begin the organization and overall move-out process as early as possible, so as to avoid having to cram it all packing, cleaning, moving into a few days or a weekend. Hit your local grocery or wholesale store to pick up empty boxes for free and pack up seasonal items and other things you don't use on a daily basis early on fancy china, extra bedding, etc. While prolonging the moving process isn't exactly fun, spacing the massive task out will significantly reduce your stress level and help you feel more relaxed, prepared and in control of the process.

No matter how well you prepare, moving is always at least somewhat stressful, so do what you can to reduce that stress ahead of time, breathe deeply, and remember: it will be over before you know it.
About the Author
Ki provides information on Austin real estate for buyers and sellers investigating the Austin market. His site has a search of the Austin MLS and information on Austin area neighborhoods.
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