You’ve worked for weeks-planning, packing, and cleaning-to get to this day. It’s the day you leave your empty house to move to a new home. The movers have taken most of your possessions cross-country on the truck. You’ll fly there in a few hours, but your belongings will take a few days.
How do you get by in the meantime? You need a Waiting-for-the-Moving-Van Survival Kit.
How much can you bring on the plane?
The airline allows two pieces of checked luggage apiece, plus one each to carry on.
The maximum weight and size for each piece varies by airline, so check with the your air carrier before you pack. Consider taking one suitcase and one maximum-sized cardboard carton, plus a carry-on bag apiece. Pets have to travel in a kennel.
You pay for a reservation for each pet, and kennels don’t count against your total luggage limit. Call your airline for a reservation and more information.
Make waiting for the moving van a lot easier. Pack these items in your Survival Kit:
Buy after you arrive: for the kitchen
- Complete place setting (fork, spoon, knife, plate, bowl) per person
- One pot and one pan
- Wooden spoon
- Cutting knife
- Can/bottle opener and corkscrew
- Coffee and filter, or tea bags, and one coffee or tea cup per person
- Specialty foods from the region you’re leaving
- Salt, pepper, and a few other seasonings
- Plastic food storage bags (for leftovers)
- Soap, kitchen sponge, and dishcloth
Buy food after you arrive
After a long day of traveling, treat yourself to dinner out. Then buy a few groceries on your way back to your new home:
- A favorite breakfast food (something easy to prepare)
- Easy to cook food, such as ramen, vegetables, and chicken breasts
- Food you don’t need to cook, such as sandwich fixings, crackers, and fruit
- Pet food and cat litter, if you have pets
- Toilet paper and facial tissue
- Paper towels and napkins
- Wine and cheese to toast your new home
Everyday items and Clothes
- A range of clothing, from business to casual to housecleaning.
- If you arrive in cold weather, be sure your jackets, gloves, and hats are hearty enough.
- If you move in summer, check weather forecasts and consider bringing shorts, tank tops, and sandals
- A few good books, including one on your new city
- One or more travel-sized games
- All prescription medication you use (vitamins too)
- Over-the-counter medicines you currently need
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Razor and shaving cream
- Hairbrush, comb, and hair dryer
- Soap, shampoo, and conditioner
- Cotton swabs
- Play- and school-clothes, and toiletries
- A list of phone numbers and/or e-mail addresses of their old friends
- For the baby, a completely filled weekend diaper bag
- For the preschooler, a few favorite toys, games, books, and a nightlight
- For the preteen, a few games (electronic or “unplugged”), a book of puzzlers, and a good book
- For the teenager, a new CD plus a few old favorites, portable CD player, a good book, or a few magazines
Your animals will travel in their own kennels (include towels for padding), either in the cargo hold or, for small animals only, under the seat in front of you. (Call the airline for reservations and details.) Also bring:
- A small stash of pet food
- Plastic dishes for food and water
- For cats, a small amount of cat litter, plus a garbage bag to line a cardboard box top (to create a temporary litter box)
- For dogs, a leash, brush, scooper tools, and favorite chew toy
For sleeping and sitting
Think “camping” for those first few days. Consider buying inexpensive, lightweight lawn or camp chairs after you arrive.
- Air mattress, sleeping bag, sheet, and small pillow per person
- Small travel clock/radio
- Sheets or something to act as temporary window coverings
- A few light bulbs
Moving experts all agree that you should keep key files with you, rather than send them in the moving van.
- Tax records
- Other nonreplicable personal records
- Laptop computer
- Floppy disks, some empty and some with backup files (Use a copy center in your new city to print out resumes and other documents.)
- Mortgage or lease agreement for your new home
- List of contacts in the new city (including your real estate agent, building manager, and new employer)
- Paper clips
To save a lot of time and energy, consider hiring a cleaning service before your household items arrive. You’ll still need:
- Whisk broom and dust pan
- Cleaning sponge
- Clean rags
- Scrub brush
Buy these items when you arrive:
- Mop and broom
- Toilet bowl brush and bowl cleaner
- All-purpose cleaner and window cleaner
- Cleanser and bleach
- Garbage bags
- Hammer and a few nails
- Flathead and Phillips screwdrivers
- Paintbrushes (to touch up paint before the furniture arrives; buy paint after you arrive)
By the time the moving van arrives, you’ll have your new home cleaned, painted, and ready for the furniture to be moved in.
When You First Move In
A house full of moving boxes can be overwhelming. Make a plan before you start unpacking.
Know where you want to put things you’ll be using, and what will go into storage. Unpack first the things your household needs to function: sheets and towels, kitchen gear, clothes.
Here are some other tips for making your arrival as smooth as possible:
Arrange for the telephone and utilities to be switched on the day you move in.
If you are having any contracting work done before you move in, you may want to have them switched on as soon as the previous owners vacate.
Arrange for special services.
Such services may include garbage pick-up, cable television service, or local newspaper delivery.
Change the locks on all entry doors.
This ensures that only you and your household will have access to your house.
Collapse boxes for storage or recycling.
Save any boxes you need to repack items for storage.
Settle your children into school.
If you’re moving to a new school district, you’ll need to enroll your children if you haven’t already done so. Be sure you have their medical records with you; most schools require immunization and physical records before they will accept a student.
Complete any changes of address you may have postponed.
Send notices to family and friends, magazines, professional or alumni associations, or any other group you belong to.
File your closing papers where you can get to them easily at tax time.
Your settlement papers are probably already together in an envelope or file; keep them with your other tax records for the next year.
Organize all the documents you need for tax, insurance, refinancing, and eventually resale purposes, and add them to a comprehensive home file. You may want to invest in an accordion folder, a file box, fire safe or other container to keep files together. Consider renting a safe deposit box to safeguard vital records, such as your deed, your mortgage note, title insurance and homeowners policies, and your will.
Change your driver’s license and automobile registration.
Different rules apply in different states. Check your state’s requirements.
Change your voter’s registration.
Go the voter registrar’s office. In some states, you can register at the local state department of motor vehicles office where you get your driver’s license and car registration.
Organize your paperwork. Lock in your safety.
Once you’ve changed your locks, look for other ways to make your home safe and secure.
Use these guidelines to develop your own checklist:
- Check all points of entry into your house.
Look for crumbling walkways and loose boards or deteriorating steps in the porch or deck. Structural defects in high-traffic areas should be repaired as soon as possible.
- Fix any malfunctioning electrical outlets or natural gas outlets.
These are high-priority repairs because they could potentially cause a fire or explosion.
- Check the temperature setting of your hot water heater.
120 F is usually hot enough. A hotter setting wastes energy and could cause serious burns to an unwary bather.
- Make sure all entryways are properly lit.
Not only is good lighting safer, it’s also more secure.
- Check all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Test to make sure they are operative. If battery-operated, replace batteries with fresh ones.
- Check all windows to make sure they lock properly.
Consider installing covers on window wells to discourage basement intruders.
- Consider a home security system.
What you choose to install is a matter of preference but also could depend on the crime rate in your neighborhood. Some systems are connected to local police; others are connected to the security company itself, which immediately investigates any alarms.
- Look at your landscaping.
Thorny bushes and climbing vines act as natural barbed wire near fences and windows. Trim shrubs to avoid obscuring windows.
- Install lighting that illuminates the edges of your property.
This could take the form of a couple of well-placed spotlights.
Scope out your house from top to bottom.
Start by learning where the main electrical box is, how to turn on the furnace and air conditioner, and how to
turn off the water and gas in an emergency. Then do a thorough walk-through and take notes for future reference.
Get to know your neighborhood.
You might have sized up your neighborhood before you bought your house. If not, do it now. Introduce yourself to your neighbors-they can help you feel secure in your new environment. They also can give you the inside track on the best local services, the names of contractors and babysitters, and more. Start a telephone list of essential local numbers and post it by your phone.
Start making your home your own.
You don’t have to make all your decorating decisions at once, but high on the settling-in list is window coverings
for privacy. You may want to opt for a simple solution (such as blinds) this early on. You can always come back with decorative draperies and other personal touches.