How to ease your stress, protect your possessions and make relocation an adventure
When new member and retired Navy chief radioman John Hempton received orders to move from Charleston, S.C., to Cape Hatteras, N.C., in the 1970s, he thought the relocation was close enough to skip some of the minutiae of moving, especially since the moving van was to follow a day later.
Imagine his dismay when the van was abandoned by a disreputable driver and not recovered for two months.
"We had to replace everything, even down to underwear and towels, and we didn't even have our important papers like birth certificates," says Hempton. “When we sat down to fill out claim forms for the loss, we had no idea how much we had or what it was worth. It was a nightmare."
Even though most people will never experience what Hempton did, let's face it: Moving is tough — physically, emotionally and financially. Many of us, and more than once, have been stressed out as we stuff all our worldly goods into boxes, discover with dismay how many "miscellaneous" drawers we really have and wonder whether we've adequately cushioned our fragile items.
Thankfully, there are ways you can better prepare for moving day, says Sandee Payne, USAA Home Circle™ spokeswoman. Here are some tips to help you make a smooth move the next time you get your orders or relocate for that new job.
Gather Your Facts and Your Friends
First and foremost, Payne says, is getting your affairs in order and knowing how you're going to physically accomplish your move.
"As soon as you know you're going to be moving, it's important to make sure your paperwork is up-to-date and located together," she says. "As the process goes on, you'll need to know where things are and be able to get them in a timely manner. I tell people to have all personal documents, account numbers, contact info and family records with them."
As you begin packing and planning the move, avoid potential fraud and scams like the one the Hemptons went through by hiring a reputable moving company. Ask how long the company has been in business, check references, and find out the company's standing with the Better Business Bureau.
If you're going to move yourself, don't overdo it. Get plenty of strong, reliable help, and make sure you have the tools to make the job easier, such as furniture dollies, hand trucks and sliders (for moving items across carpet) or carpet pieces (for moving them across flooring).
Do Your Homework on Your New Hometown
For USAA member Connie Summers, the stress of moving from California to Oklahoma involved more than keeping track of documents. It meant uprooting her life and leaving dear friends.
"It's sad leaving everything you know, especially when you're not sure about the place you're going," says Summers.
Reduce such stress by educating yourself about your new town or city, advises Payne.
"Military families tend to get to know other people and establish a sense of belonging pretty quickly," Payne says. "Sometimes that means feeling anxiety about moving again. You can deal with that better by learning what you can about where you're going."
Payne notes that there are resources and individuals who can help you make the transition.
"Having the right attitude is important," she says. "You're not inventing the process of moving to a new place. Others have been where you are now, and you can tap into that experience and expertise."
Among the resources she recommends is USAA's Home Circle, which offers a wealth of information about various locales.
USAA member Diana Braunbeck also found USAA's MoversAdvantage® helpful when she connected with Stuart Nuckolls, a Realtor® who has worked with the program for more than 10 years.
|USAA Makes Moving Easier|
"It's the best program I've seen for helping with the details of moving," says Braunbeck. "So many things were handled through the program, and it really made moving a breeze."
Nuckolls adds that the features members can access through MoversAdvantage are a boon at a time that often is stressful and uncertain.
"A lot of people are surprised at how smooth buying and selling a home can be with the benefits the program offers," he says.
Lighten Your Financial Load
A critical area of concern when preparing to move is your financial state. Start estimating your moving expenses as soon as you know you're going to relocate. Here are some common costs to keep in mind:
- Packing and crating
- Shipping, including vehicles
- Temporary storage
- Utilities (disconnecting and connecting)
- Pet boarding and travel
Although these costs can add up quickly, you can save money by:
- Taking stock: Hold a yard sale to get rid of items you don't need so you won't have to pay to move them.
- Shopping around: Get estimates from at least three moving companies. Try to stay flexible on the move date in case the company offers deals on certain days of the week.
- Finding cheap/free packing materials: Gather moving boxes from grocery stores or do-it-yourself moving companies.
- Doing it yourself: The more you pack, the less you'll pay the movers.
- Protecting your assets: Renters or homeowners insurance policies don't typically cover common damage to goods in transit, and they may have limits on items in storage. If your moving company contract doesn't cover damage from careless handling, breakage or mold, consider purchasing moving insurance to guard against financial fiasco.
- Keeping records: Some moving costs are tax-deductible. Keep all your receipts and track all your expenses.
Remember, moving doesn't have to be a negative experience. By managing tasks and keeping your stress level down, your relocation can be enjoyable and adventurous.