Moving: A Checklist for Parents

Last Updated Aug 16, 2011 11:08 AM EDT

We all know moving is a hassle. Just thinking about all the boxes that need to get packed and unpacked is enough to make anyone's head spin. But when you have kids, parents need to be a bit more thoughtful. Forget to place a favorite stuffed animal in a convenient spot and your little one could melt down right as the movers arrive. So I decided to call Cara Ameer, a real estate broker with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra, FL, to help me come up with a "to-do" list for families and for my own impending move.

1. Organize Your Money
Timing: Two week before closing.
Anyone buying a home knows he needs to bring a large cashier's check to the closing to cover the down payment and fees. But what some buyers forget is that if they plan to sell off any investments or transfer funds, they need to allow ample time for the money to clear before it's available for withdrawal.

2. Change Address
Timing: Two to three weeks before closing.
Don't let any of your bills get lost during your move. Contact all of your financial institutions and give them your new address. For everything else, you can go onto the US Postal Services' website and forward your mail.

3. Hire Movers
Timing: Two to three weeks before your move in date.
Moving isn't cheap. That's why it's a good idea to call two or three moving companies for estimates to make sure you're getting the best deal.

Once you've hired a team you like, there are a couple of things you can do to make life easier when you get to your new home, says Ameer. First, she recommends you label all of your boxes so you know what's inside of them (example, "playroom items"). Then, place signs in each room so the movers know where to put your boxes.

4. Hire Painters
Timing: Two to three weeks before you move in.
If you plan to have your home painted or the floors restored, it's always easier to do the work before you move in. Get the names of a few local professionals from friends and your broker a few weeks before you close.

If you have children, consider spending a few extra bucks and buying low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints for their bedrooms to reduce the odor and chemicals.

5. Set Up Utilities
Timing: One week before closing.
Make sure you don't get caught in the dark. Set up accounts for electricity, water, cable and other utilities at least a week in advance.

6. Questions for the Sellers
Timing: At least a week before closing.
Wondering what color paint the sellers used on the outside of the house? Or, who they call to fix the sprinklers? Take the guess work out of moving into a new home by drafting a list of questions for the current owners. While they don't have to provide you with the answers, most will, says Ameer.

7. Trash Schedule
Timing: A few days before the move.
Once you start unpacking, the trash will quickly start to pile up. Do yourself a favor and call the town or the garbage haulers before you move in to find out the pickup schedule. The last thing you want is to start dragging boxes out to your curb only for the neighbors to complain you did so on the wrong day of the week, warns Ameer.

8. Check the Keys
Timing: During the walk through.
This one is just a quick tip from Ameer. She recommends checking and labeling all keys with the sellers during the walk through to avoid confusion later.

9. Make Plans for the Kids
Timing: At least a week in advance of your move.
Kids and movers aren't a great match. Youngsters get in the way and distract grown ups from the job at hand. If you can, try to make arrangements for your mother or a babysitter to watch your little ones. If your children are older, ask them to go to a friend's house.

10. Pack an Overnight Bag
Timing: A few days before the move.
Like it or not, you may be staring at unpacked boxes for days or even weeks. You can make that time a bit easier on yourself if you pack an overnight bag for the family with clothing and toiletries. It's also helpful to bring along a back pack with some toys and books for the kids. And if you have the time, you'll want a box filled with things you'll need on hand right away, including toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning supplies.

Finally, as soon as you move in join a playgroup so your little ones can make some friends. If your kids are older, sign them up for soccer or some other popular activity so they aren't lonely for long.

Did I leave anything out? What else would you add to the list?

Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Moving Truck image courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.o.
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