I have moved 37 times in my life but I only had movers for three of them. Even then, I packed my own belongings. I have some helpful hints, whether or not you hire movers.
1. If you have room where you are currently living, sort boxes according to whether they are going on the moving van or in your vehicle(s). If some boxes will be going directly into a storage facility or a storage area in your new home, put those into a third area.
2. Take valuables with you – jewelry, portable safes, antique silver, or anything else you worry about getting lost or stolen. Even if you are having the movers pack the rest of your belongings, pack these yourself and put them in your vehicle before the movers arrive.
3. Breakage is covered if you purchase moving insurance, but take anything in your vehicle that would you cannot abide losing if it was broken. I had the movers put my flat-screen TV in my vehicle, because I trusted myself to drive carefully over bumps and potholes more than I did them.
4. Movers cannot take chemicals into the van, so plan accordingly – use up what you can before the move and have cleaning supplies handy for when you arrive. Unfortunately, not everyone cleans thoroughly when they move out, so you may need to do some scrubbing before unpacking.
5. Movers are paid by the mile, so plan out the shortest route beforehand. Consider ferry and/or toll costs as they will be added to the total. Make sure the shortest route is also the least expensive. Give each vehicle a print-out of the route in case you get separated.
With or without movers
6. If you know the dimensions of your new place, plan where your furniture will be placed, and post each room’s layout on the door or doorway for you or the movers to reference.
7. Girl Scout cookie boxes are excellent for packing books – it keeps the number down and makes moving the boxes less cumbersome. They also stack nicely.
8. Wine and liquor boxes are usually available for free and are also good for books for the same reasons as #4.
9. Both types of boxes are good for the aforementioned cleaning supplies.
10. I developed a coding system for myself that made the moves easier and think might be useful to others who are moving. I used duct tape, because it comes in a variety of colors and sticks well to boxes. The movers said it really helped them with loading and unloading.
a. Use one color for each vehicle being used.
b. Use another color for items that will be going into storage.
c. Have a color for each room, too. Place a piece of tape on your layout plan to match.
For example: Green for my car, yellow for storage, and silver for the residence. Blue was the kitchen, purple was the master bedroom, pink was the office, etc. Boxes will, therefore, have two colors of tape on them. Put the tapes side-by-side. I put them on the top and on one side.
11. If you have boxes and furniture that are going into temporary storage, have those put onto the moving van last so they can be unloaded into storage first.
a. With one move, a small van was used, too. The items going into storage were placed on that van and both trucks were unpacked simultaneously – one into the storage room, and the other into the apartment.
b. With another, everything was going into temporary storage, so I rented two store rooms – one for items that would be moved into the new residence soon and another for those that would stay in storage for a while longer. Rent only the size needed for each category.
12. This one is hard: try not to stress too much. I know that is easier said than done, but you will get through it.