There is so much to do in preparation for the move to your new apartment: set up mail forwarding, change over your utilities, acquire packing supplies and so on. The move itself is really the easy part as you’ll spend most of your time packing and unpacking. If you want everything else to go as smoothly as possible you’ll need to prepare well. It’s a time-consuming and detailed process but it will ultimately make your move simpler and less stressful.
Transferring Utilities and Other Services
Before you move, be certain you know all the utilities you’re responsible for and make the transfers. The further in advance you can make the call the better, as sometimes certain utility companies will not be able to come out the next day to make the switch. Another switch you can make in advance is filling out a Change of Address form, which you can do online. When you file for a change of address at the United States Postal Service (USPS), they’ll provide you with a ton of coupons from retailers like Lowe’s and even Best Buy. If you change your address online, be sure you have a credit card that uses your current address as the billing address since that’s how the postal service verifies the request. Or all you have to do is request a Change of Address form at the post office for a package full of coupons (and the forms, of course).
- USPS Change of Address Form: visit MyAddressChanger.com.
- Electric: Florida Power & Light https://www.fpl.com/
- Water: Billed to your resident account monthly and payable to Icon Harbour Island Apartments
- Cable: Hotwire Communications https://gethotwired.com/ (Basic cable billed to your resident account monthly; upgrades available through Hotwire Communications)
- Internet: Hotwire Communications https://gethotwired.com/
- Telephone Options (landline): Hotwire Communications https://gethotwired.com/
Finding Affordable Packing Supplies
There are a lot of places to buy packing supplies, but boxes and tape can add up to quite a bit of money. You can avoid this additional cost by hitting up one of quite a few places handing out free boxes. Most retailers receive a lot of shipments, but your best bet is to contact furniture stores. While your average retailer may be able to provide you with some used boxes, you’ll be able to find a greater range of sizes from furniture stores. Be sure to call them up at least a week in advance of when you want to start packing as box disposal isn’t necessarily a daily task. If any of your friends are moving before you, another way to get used boxes is to ask them to give them to you when they’re finished. You may also be able to find boxes in the office you work in or ask a friend to bring home any boxes they can find at their office.
Brand new cardboard boxes can command a hefty premium. Cardboard boxes are one moving expense that can be had for free. Here are our favorite spots to check out!
Craigslist Has Free Moving Boxes!
Craigslist is an excellent resource for finding free moving boxes. Use the Free section of Craigslist to see if anyone is giving away moving boxes for free. You’ll have better luck finding free moving boxes on Craigslist near the end of the weekend or the beginning of the week.
Try using the Wanted section to post that you’re looking for free moving boxes. Many people who are giving away their moving boxes will look here before posting in another section.
You can also use the Craigslist search box to search for free moving boxes. Even if someone is wanting money for their moving boxes you may be able to negotiate with them so you can swap something you already have and no longer want for the free moving boxes.
- A quick search in the free section (found underneath the “for sale” heading) offered up at least 20 sources for free boxes.
- Liquor stores. Try and ask for boxes with lids (otherwise, contents are bound to fall out in the moving truck). Boxes from a liquor store tend to be small and sturdy—great for books, CDs and DVDs.
- Bookstores. A perfect place to pick up boxes specifically for moving books.
- Grocery Stores. Ask them to save their apple boxes for you to pick up—these freebies are perfect for moving fragile items.
- Starbucks. A store will receive anywhere from 1-2 shipments per week (so it’s a good chance that they’ll have boxes on a weekly basis). Because Starbucks boxes range in size, you should ask them for their larger sized containers for storing your lighter, bulkier items.
- U-Haul Box Exchange. U-Haul has created a message board allowing you to search by location for free boxes in your area.
- Look for boxes on Freecycle. The Freecycle Network (www.freecycle.org) puts people who have things to give away in touch with people who need those things. Cardboard boxes are almost always featured. Type your location into the search box and you will get to your local page, where you can search ads for cardboard boxes or place your own.
- Go to the Free Cardboard Boxes site. Visit http://www.freecardboardboxes.com for empty and available boxes in your area.
- Take advantage of free boxes if you or your spouse is in the military. Veterans are also eligible to participate in this program that provides free moving boxes to service members. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Remember to look for boxes in several different sizes since you will be moving a variety of objects.
The downside to reusing boxes is that they’re not always in the best condition. If you want brand new boxes (and other packing supplies), you can get a pretty good deal through ULine. They offer moving kits and will deliver to your door.
One recommendation, however, is to avoid cheap tape. Heavy-duty packing tape is well worth the expense. Cheap tape is difficult to use and you will spend more time fixing the tape then taping a box.
In addition to packing supplies you’re going to need tools for the actual move. It’s fairly inexpensive to rent a hand truck and furniture dolly—both of which you’ll want to have—from a truck rental company. You can generally find these items for around twice the cost of rental at online retailers, hardware stores and discount clubs like Costco. When purchasing, just be certain to get a hand truck that can handle at least 150 lbs. and has a pretty solid build construction. Thick, solid wheels are also a plus as you won’t have to worry about deflation during the move. When the move is complete a good box cutter is also helpful. It’s an inexpensive tool and makes things a bit easier than a pair of scissors or a regular knife.
If you want to go all out, AutoDesk HomeStyler is a great, free web app that helps with the layout of your new apartment. If you want a complete plan this is the way to go and will certainly make move-in day much easier. Simply place the furniture plan in each room so friends or movers will know where you would like things placed.
Renting a Truck
Maybe you prefer to have a moving company help you out, but if you’re taking the DIY approach you’re obviously going to need a truck. U-Haul tends to be the commonly recognized brand for local moves, but you should be sure to look at your options. There are a few things you’re going to want to consider when renting a truck:
- Your mileage may vary from move to move, so figure out approximately how far you’ll be driving and how much you pay per mile. All truck rental companies will charge you around $1 per mile but some include a certain number of miles in the rental price. If you’re not going too far you may save some money by going with a cheaper rental rate that charges for every mile you drive. If you’re going a longer distance you may find that included miles and a pricier rental rate will actually save you money. Additionally, if you’re moving between cities and there are rental locations in both, you may be able to pick up the truck in one city and drop it off in the other. This will prevent accruing additional miles and the nuisance of driving back just to drop off the truck.
- The cost of the rental is one thing, but you also have to consider the cost of the truck should you find yourself in an accident. Rental companies offer insurance at different levels that often exceed the cost of the rental itself. Be sure to check how much insurance is going to cost you and what it actually covers. In most cases the insurance you’ll receive from the rental company will come along with a high deductible and only cover certain kinds of damage. For example, roof damage is frequently left out and is unfortunately common. A low-hanging tree can open the truck’s roof like a sardine can so be aware of what you are and aren’t liable for and choose the insurance that’s best for you before you go in to pick up the truck.
- Shop online and browse deal sites. Oftentimes there are online specials available that you won’t get via a phone reservation. Keep your eyes peeled and you can sometimes save as much as 50%.
- If you’re a student, several truck rental companies offer student discounts. If they don’t specifically, you can sometimes negotiate a deal anyway. If you can come up with a good reason—say you’re a film student who will need a truck for numerous student film projects—you can often get a better price. Just be sure to refer your friends if you can’t repay the rental company with frequent business of your own.
- Reserve your truck as far in advance as you can or you may not get one. The day you move is also relevant to truck availability. Most people move in the summer and on the weekends, so if you’re one of those people you’ll want to book as far in advance as you can.
Check retailmenot.com and Coupons.com for moving discount coupons.
Moving is not something you should do alone. It’s not impossible, but it can be a miserable experience. Moving with friends is a lot more fun and it makes everything go much faster. This isn’t news, but if you’ve tried to coerce your friends to help you move, you may have found it’s not the easiest thing to do. While you can win over some with the promise of free food and help with a future move, many people do not want to commit to a full day of physical labor. Instead of asking for the full day, make it easy on them and schedule your friends in shifts. For a one- or two-bedroom apartment, you won’t really benefit from more than four or five people helping you. If you have enough friends, ask some to come in the morning and some to come in the afternoon. With less of a commitment you’re more likely to find the help you need.
More than anything, packing boxes is not fun because of how long it takes to do it well and how many factors there are to consider. On top of that, you have to think about what you can’t pack and actually need on a day-to-day basis. When you’re surrounded by everything you can’t yet pack, it gets a little stressful, so let’s take a look at how to break up this enormous undertaking.
Pack Like You’re Going on Vacation
We’ll get into the big stuff next, but first things first: set aside the essentials. You’re going to need mainly clothing and toiletries which should fit pretty easily into any standard carry-on suitcase. While you may want to wait until the week before you move to do this, put everything you need in that suitcase and live out of it. This isn’t as comforting as having everything in its usual place, but you’ll know where your necessities are and you won’t accidentally pack any of them. When all your other packing is complete, you can just zip up your suitcase and drive it over to your new apartment.
Packing by room is an ideal worth pursuing, but it’s not necessarily realistic. Some of the time you’ll have electronics from the living room fraternizing with the soft pillows and sheets from the bedroom in order to save on packing materials. At times you may want to wedge a book from another room into a box that has just a little extra space left. There are all sorts of situations in which you may want to mix contents from room to room, but it makes keeping track of what’s where a lot harder. If sorting by room does work for you, stick to it. If you want more flexibility, there are other options.
If you have a lot of extra sheets, pillows, blankets and soft items, you should put them all in one place. Assume you’ll be using one for each box, so as you unpack you’ll know the first thing you’ll need to do is take that soft item to its appropriate place. Be sure to set aside bed sheets and the minimal number of pillows for their own box so you have them ready to go as soon as you move in. If you have room, include these items in your essentials suitcase.
You’ll also find that you have a lot of miscellaneous items that don’t belong to any particular room but just happen to be wherever they are. Find all of these items first, set them aside and use them as filler for any box. Packing these items in a particular way (such as placing them in a plastic bag with a specific marking on it, such as a star) will help you keep track of what’s miscellaneous filler and what isn’t.
Overall, however, you’ll want to keep boxes as room-specific as possible. Even if you’re moving to a small apartment and not a multi-floor home, having everything in its correct place when it’s time to unpack will prevent unnecessary stress. You’ll be in a new environment and won’t know where you put every single thing you’ve moved. Staying very organized while packing will save you a lot more time and effort in the long run. Know your system and stick to it.
Don’t treat belongings like trash!
Try to avoid packing things in garbage bags. Well-meaning friends or family could accidentally throw them out on moving day.
Our Favorite Packing Hacks
- Pack your closet using trash bags for easy unpacking (Be sure to label the bags as Not Trash).
- Cover the openings of your spillable items with Saran wrap, then put the tops back on. This will keep your spillables from breaking and leaking all over your stuff during the move.
- Keep drawers intact by covering them with Press’n Seal.
- Dresser drawers are like their own moving boxes. This will keep you from having to unpack and re-fold their contents. It’ll also make moving the actual dresser much more manageable.
- Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go.
Labeling and Managing Your Inventory
Labeling and inventory may sound like an added step but it actually will save you hours when unpacking. The other added benefit is that you then have an inventory list and photos for your insurance company should you ever have to place a claim. Unmarked boxes are no fun when unpacking, but there are so many ways to keep track of your stuff—and label it informatively—that it may be hard to find the best system for you. The most common method involves a black marker and room names on your boxes. This method can be really annoying because you generally have to bend yourself in an awkward position to write on the box. Space to write is also a concern, especially when it comes to smaller boxes. Searching the list for what you’re looking for can also be more difficult since, 1) you have a lot of items on the box and, 2) you can’t search hand-written text. I think inventory and labeling is one of those things best handled on a computer—or at least electronically in some way.
On the furniture assembly point, Ziploc bags are your best friend in a move. Put all the assembly hardware in a Ziploc bag and use masking tape to affix the bag to the disassembled furniture in an unobtrusive place. There’s nothing more stressful than not being able to find the parts when you go to reassemble.
Try Mobile Inventory Software
Moving Van costs $1.99 and attempts to take you through the entire packing, moving and unpacking process. You can photograph your stuff, add that stuff to specific boxes, assign those boxes to specific rooms and ultimately email your inventory to your computer. While the app feels rough at times, it gets the job done pretty well. If you’re concerned about entering a large amount of data on a smartphone, it isn’t as time consuming as you’d expect. You’re really only typing a couple of words for each item, and if you consider the time it would take to walk over to your laptop and type in the item you’ll find it really isn’t any slower. Adding photos is considerably faster, of course, because you can use your phone’s built-in camera. When you’ve looked all over the apartment and you still don’t know where to find something, being able to look it up on your phone is an enormous help.
Labeling by Weight (and Other Information)
Labeling by room (i.e. Living Room, Kitchen, Bedroom, etc.) is a given (even some cool tape can help), and labeling boxes with their contents can also be helpful. What most people don’t consider when moving a box is actually moving it. A box is a very basic-looking object that doesn’t tell you too much about itself just by its form. Relevant to moving, you don’t know which side ought to be upright and how much it weighs. When physically moving the boxes from one place to another, weight and orientation are important. For example, you don’t want to place a heavy box on top of a light one. Labeling your boxes with relative weight (light, medium and heavy) will make each trip to and from the truck a lot easier.
Encoded Labeling with QR Codes
A few years ago I tracked my box inventory in a text file. In some ways it was great: I could print it, view it on mobile devices, search it and easily move an item from one box to another if I entered it in prematurely. On the other hand, when it came to labeling, I found it difficult to fit the entire inventory on a label. Additionally, there are certain circumstances where you might not want the contents of your box exposed to the world—for example, if there’s something expensive in the box and you can’t watch the moving truck every single second of the move or if you just have a few things you don’t want your friends to know about.
While they introduce their own inconveniences, I found QR codes to be a decent solution. What you can do is manage your inventory in a text file and then copy the contents of the boxes to a QR code generator like this one. A single QR code can handle 250 characters and that’s often enough for the contents of a single box. If not, fitting 2-3 on a standard size shipping label is no problem either. Using the QR codes keeps the contents of your box relatively hidden and provides a way to fit the contents of the box into a much smaller space. You can then read the codes easily with one of many mobile phone apps, such as QR App (iPhone, free) and Barcode Scanner (Android, free — browse to Google Shopping on your phone, choose “More” and then “Scan Barcode” to install). While this solution is pretty geeky and certainly not for everyone, it’s a fun way to label your boxes that actually solves some issues as well.
MOVING WITH PETS
Plan Your Pet’s Move
Moving can be one of the most stressful things a person can do. This event can be just as traumatic for your pets. Making plans for a pet-friendly move will keep you sane and your pets as comfortable as possible.
Arrange to Board Your Pet on Moving Day
Having boxes scattered, furniture in disarray and the family stressed also stresses your pets. With people going in and out your pets may escape. Even the most well-behaved pet may flee because of the stress. It is easy for a pet to get out unnoticed with all of the confusion. If the pet is very stressed they may resist coming to your call. Consider taking your pet to the kennel 2 days before and schedule the pick up on departure day after the trucks are loaded and right before you leave. Since most people move on weekends and that’s when most people board their pets, you should schedule your boarding as soon as you know your moving day. Don’t wait until the last minute because you may be out of luck!
If you don’t board your pet, you should arrange for a closed off room that will not have in-and-out foot traffic. Warn movers, family and children to stay out of the room and not to open the door. Secure your pet at all times when doors, attics and windows are open for moving.
Here’s a list of neighborhood Pet Supply Stores, Veterinary Offices, and Groomers:
- PetSmart Grooming and Banfield Veterinary Hospital
- Doggies Gone Wild
- The Pet Care Clinic of Harbour Island, South Tampa
Update Your Pet’s Identification
Order or create new ID tags for your pet with your new contact information.
If your pet is microchipped, make sure that information gets changed as well. Since you are in a new place it will be easier for your pet to get lost due to the new environment.
Pack a Special Pet Box
This box should include: toys, medication supplies, feeding bowls, food and treats. Think about all of the things you’ll need to care for your pet while traveling and during the first couple of days in your new home.
ON MOVING DAY
If you’ve taken the time to prepare, unpacking shouldn’t be too difficult. Nonetheless, you’ll still have a number of tasks ahead of you. Here are some things to consider when moving in to help everything go smoothly.
Hopefully your couch made it over in one piece, but some furniture—like your bed—is probably best when transferred in disassembled form. If you find that you don’t remember how to put things back together again and the manual isn’t available online, you can often have instructions sent to you from the manufacturer by just making a quick call. If email isn’t an option for them and snail mail will take too long for you, oftentimes you can convince the company to fax the instructions. A quick Google search will turn up several 30-day free trials for fax services that you can use to get your instructions and then cancel as soon as you have what you need.
Clean and Dust As You Go
If your furniture wasn’t dusty or dirty when you loaded it into the truck, it probably is now. Before you bring it into your home it’s best to wipe it down just a little bit. You can dust more thoroughly once inside, but definitely be sure to do it before you put the furniture to use.
Use Your Closets
It’s easy to clutter up your home when unpacking because you’ll have stuff everywhere. It can become a little intimidating when you have to move it all around. If you can manage it, fill your closets first—even if it’s only temporary. This will help keep clutter out of the way and leave you more room to unpack the important stuff.
Disposing of Trash and Recycling
When you’re all done, you’ll have papers, boxes and other items left over. Getting rid of boxes can be as easy a quick post on Craigslist.
Plan for Lunch and Dinner
Here are our recommendations for the best neighborhood restaurants that deliver:
- Harvest Delights http://www.harvestdelights.com/
- Sergio’s Cuban Kitchen & Bar http://www.sergios.com/
- Green Bistro Asian Bistro http://greenplatebistro.com/
Enjoying Your New Apartments
Unpack Your Stuff
Now that you’ve unloaded all your stuff at your new apartment, it’s likely that you’re feeling overwhelmed. Have patience and don’t force yourself to start unpacking everything right away. Just focus on getting it done little by little and you’ll have your new place ready in no time.
Here’s what you can do:
- Unpack your essential items first. Unpack the stuff from your “essential stuff” box(s). Put up your shower curtain in case you need a relaxing shower and make your bed if you just want to collapse.
- Try to unpack your kitchen items early on. Though you should relax and eat take-out when you first arrive at your new apartment, you can’t do that forever. The sooner your kitchen is set up, the sooner you can start living a normal life.
- Assemble all of your big furniture. Make sure you assemble it in the room where it belongs.
- Do only as much as you can each day. Though you shouldn’t wait months to unpack, you are probably overwhelmed after your move, so unpack as many boxes as you can until you need a break. Remember to take the time to enjoy your new surroundings.
Once you’ve started the unpacking process, it’ll be time to go shopping for any items you may need. Your shopping can include going to the grocery store to stock your fridge, buying any furniture you may need or replacing items you can’t find.
Here’s a short list of neighborhood grocery stores and major retailers:
Get to Know Your Neighborhood
Once you’ve made some progress in the unpacking process or if you just feel like taking a break, this is a good time to get to know your neighborhood. It’s a great way to feel more comfortable in your new surroundings and to feel like your stressful move will pay off in the end.
Here’s what to do:
- Go for a walk. Not only will this relieve stress and give you great exercise, but you will have a better sense of the feel of your neighborhood, what your neighbors are like and what stores or parks are near you.
- Get to know your neighbors. Be friendly to the people in your neighborhood. You’ll end up making more local friends and getting insider tips on your community in the process.
If there is anything we can do to assist you in your move, please call our office at (813) 800-5893.
Welcome to the neighborhood!