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Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}

by | Oct 17, 2015 | Decorating Inspiration, Moving

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}This post was sponsored by PODS®

Moving is considered one of the most stressful events in life.  Raise your hand if you agree! Even if you are actually excited about the move, the process can be pretty intense. Every step of the way brings new decisions and stress, whether it is looking for a new home, negotiating an offer, getting financing, packing up an old house, orchestrating the transportation, help (or lack of) and setting up a home in the new place is unnerving at best.

No matter how many times you’ve moved, each move might bring a different and unexpected experience. The season of your life might be different, your health or availability to plan and facilitate a move might have changed, the ages of your children and whether they are in school or will be changing schools, and the logistics and circumstances surrounding your move are usually not identical to past moves. Buying and selling houses in the process of a move definitely add a complicated and tiring dimension to the experience, as does the location you are moving to and whether or not you have friends and family there to help you out.

It’s hard to become an expert at moving since the game tends to change each time, but you do learn a few things with experience. I’m definitely not a pro at this, but since I just lived through it and the experience is still fresh in my mind, I thought it would be a good time to write some tips down. Our experience might not match yours, but I hope you’ll share tips in the comments so we can all learn from each other!

Here is a round up of tips that were very helpful to us in preparing for our move, on a few key aspects such as finding a house and packing up to move (and things we learned to not do again by making mistakes along the way, ha!). Because this post got so full of information (it might be the longest post I’ve ever written, ha!), I’ve broken it up into two parts for today and tomorrow. Bear with me with the length of these posts…but hopefully these tips will be helpful as I know many of you are in the process of planning a move right now or expect to move in the near future :)

Note: PIN this post so you’ll be able to find it later and share this post with your friends on Facebook, and check out part two!

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}

Moving is a big topic that I could write a whole series on, but here are some of the main things that stuck out to me!

1. Start your house hunt online.

Buying a new home is both the most fun and potentially most stressful parts of a move (next to the packing and unpacking, ha!). If you are in the market to buy a home, there are several online sites where you can check out homes to find out what’s for sale, how long it’s been on the market, what has sold like it, and even find out information on neighborhoods that you are unfamiliar with. One site I really liked is Redfin. I installed the Redfin app on my phone and had it set to alert me to homes in our price range within the parameters I selected.

Since our actual time visiting the area was limited, we took advantage of online “drive bys” by using the “map” and “street view” options on Redfin. As new homes came on the market, I could preview a lot about them online. I “hearted” the ones I liked and was able to track them through their days on the market and sold prices, which really helped me to get a better idea for the market.

When I found a promising listing, after searching through the photos, I clicked on the map feature, making note of proximity to busy roads or community amenities, and tested out drive times to things we knew we wanted to be close to.

After the map, I used the street view option to virtually “walk” up and down the streets where the house is located. I loved seeing what the neighbors homes were like. Sometimes I discovered that the home was actually next to a commercial zone, the view from the backyard wasn’t what I was hoping for, or I discovered something I wouldn’t have seen in the real estate photos.

The street view can save you a lot of time and disappointment. Keep in mind that the Google street view may be outdated, so don’t be alarmed if the grass is long and there are appliances in the front yard, often (and thankfully) the curb appeal might have been improved by the time of the sale.

Online house hunting can’t take the place of actually going into the home, though. Even when you see something great online, the photos can be deceiving. If you can’t visit each home in person as they come up for sale, see if a trusted friend or realtor can preview them for you. Your realtor may be able to find out information on a home before you even see it, so let him or her know that you found one you are interested in!

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}

2. Drive through neighborhoods.

If you are able to visit the area you are moving to, spend a few days driving around neighborhoods to get a feel for each one. What’s nearby? It can also be helpful to walk up and down streets in various neighborhoods and even talk to neighbors! Actually being in a neighborhood versus seeing it on a map will give you a much better sense of what it would be like to live there.

Take note of whether the neighborhood has sidewalks, trees, enough parking, and maybe whether or not there are nearby parks or convenient shopping areas. What is the speed limit on the surrounding streets? Will there be traffic to get to and from work or schools? I learned a lot by just being in the neighborhoods and ended up eliminating areas that just didn’t feel like home to us once we were out walking around.

3. Find a great realtor.

Find a realtor you will like working with, because that relationship will be important as you go through the potentially stressful experience of house hunting and purchasing. You’ll have a lot of communication back and forth so make sure you are comfortable with your realtor!

You’ll want a realtor who understands the areas you are looking in, the kinds of homes you are interested in, and is familiar with construction (and old houses if you are looking for an older home) and property values in the area so they can help advise you on the pros and cons of each home. You also want one who cares about more than just selling a house, you want one that genuinely wants you to find a home you will love.

The realtor who helped us purchase our house in Seattle is Dan Tapia. He was AMAZING and went above and beyond for us in so many ways. We could not have been as successful in our house hunt without his expertise with homes and real estate. Plus, he was just a really nice guy. Let him know we sent you if you need a realtor in the Seattle area!

4. Find a great lender.

If you will be buying a home, as soon as you know you’ll be moving, research lenders. Don’t wait until you find a house! You’ll want to get your financing options set up and paperwork started before you make offers if possible. We contacted our regular major bank to get pre-approved for our home purchase because it was a bank I was familiar with. While we finally closed on our house so it ended alright (phew!), it wasn’t without communication delays and general hassles that come with a big corporation. I would suggest calling a smaller lender as well just to compare their service, especially for people like myself who are self-employed and might prefer to have a more personal connection. Call and ask questions and then select one that seems to best fit your needs.

Your realtor might have good recommendations for you, so don’t hesitate to ask!

If you need a lender in the local Seattle area, I have two recommendations for loan advisors. I can’t advise on financial matters or loans, of course, so who you contact is up to you and chose lenders and advisors at your own risk. But I can at least point you to a couple of people to add to your list: Rosa Briggs of American Pacific Mortgage was recommended to me by my realtor, just in case anything went amiss with my own lender. I talked to her on the phone and she was really attentive and quick to return my calls! I also enjoyed working with Tracy White at 1st Security Bank during a previous purchase. I wished I had called these ladies to begin with. I definitely recommend shopping around before you make your first offer so you’ll feel comfortable through the whole process.

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}

5. Prepare ahead to move out.

All the tasks surrounding a move will be time consuming and quite tiring once you get in the thick of it, so it pays to plan ahead so important things don’t fall through the cracks. Here are some things we did, thought about (or wished we had!).

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}We rented plastic moving bins from EZ Binz in King County/Seattle area
(see MOVING TIPS PART TWO for more details!)

Certainly packing and moving will take longer than you might think, especially if you are doing all of your own packing and you are considered “book and decor people” like us :). Start packing as soon as you are able, ideally even before you list your house or while your house is for sale.  Use the moving season as an opportunity to declutter drawers and closets. The more you do in advance, the smoother the process will go. Be ruthless about getting rid of things! You’ll thank yourself when you have to unpack everything again (especially if you are downsizing, you’ll probably wish you had gotten rid of more!).

Also think ahead about items that might be more challenging to move and maybe not worth bringing with you. Will you be selling your appliances (and washer and dryer) with the house or will you need to bring them with you? Do you have any particularly awkward or heavy furniture you might prefer to sell than to pay to move? Is there anything you really don’t even want that you could sell before you move or offer to sell to your new buyer?

Where will your pets be during the move? Moving can be traumatic for pets, so make sure you plan for their safety and comfort both as your home is being packed up and moved out and for the transition to the new place. Arrange for pets to be away the day of the actual move so they don’t get scared by all the activity and run away or hide. It would be so sad to lose a pet right as you were moving!

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}

What about your indoor and outdoor plants and pots? Can you fit them in a car? They likely won’t survive a long journey in a moving truck or storage, so you may want to give them to friends or neighbors or even offer to sell your established potted plants or offer them to the new owners if you can’t keep them.

Each moving situation will be different, so take advantage of professional advice to ensure your move will go as smoothly as possible. As soon as you know your moving date, be sure make phone calls to arrange the move out. PODS was really helpful to us in planning out our move, since we had a couple of weeks in between the actual move out and move in dates.

We loved that we were able to load our belongings and they stayed in the PODS container at their secure storage center until we were ready for it to be delivered, rather than loading and unloading a truck into a storage room and reloading for the next move.

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}

You should also schedule movers in advance to help you if you aren’t going to be loading yourself! We hired Washington Labor Services to help with the loading. You can find local help via Hire-A-Helper.

Top 10 Tips for Planning a Move {Part One}
While movers might be able to accommodate your moving schedule even on short notice, don’t wait until the last minute to schedule it…just in case. In a busy season for moving like spring and summer, it is a little trickier to secure help on your preferred dates.

Stop buying groceries at least a week in advance and use up what you have. If you won’t be moving straight into another home for awhile, you might want to invite friends or neighbors over that week and let them take things home rather than having to toss salad dressings and freezer items you didn’t use.

You’ll also want to arrange to have your mail forwarded (contact the post office a week in advance, you can do this online here and save a trip to the Post Office) and call your utility companies to let them know the last day you’ll be in your home. If you are moving to a new area, you can find a new medical office, nearby gas station, pet grooming and vet services, and nearby shopping areas in advance, too, so you’ll have less to figure out in the first stressful weeks after you move.

Phew, I think that’s enough information for one day, wouldn’t you say? What are your best moving or packing tips? Please, feel free to SHARE ADVICE OR MORE TIPS IN THE COMMENTS!

Thanks again to PODS for their partnership in our move! 

** Click HERE to see PART TWO of my best tips for planning a move!**


  1. Bettye

    My husband and I moved 15 times when he was on active duty in the Marine Corps. While the government provides packers and movers, I found it very helpful to label boxes myself. Packers just write “kitchen” or “living room” on the box. But if you are looking for your coffee pot you don’t want to go through every kitchen box.
    Also having a “first night” box with all of the items you need immediately is a good idea. This box would have sheets, shower curtain, coffee pot, etc.
    Good luck on your unpacking and setting up your home!

  2. Janis Richardson

    Melissa, This was such a great article! I think you covered all the bases (at least part 1!) so thoroughly. These ideas are sure to help so many. I moved last summer, and at the same time that I was buying and selling, I was settling my late Mother’s estate, which involved selling her house also. Phew! I found the thing that helped me so much was a very large dry erase board. I divided it into addresses (I had three!) and from there, I made subcategories, such as utilities, realtor questions, lender questions and info, movers, things I need (like curtain rods, towel bars, new garbage cans, etc) things to do to house b4 move, etc. I could mark things off as I did it, and that gave me a sense of accomplishment, and at just a glance I could see what I needed to do. I kept it until just recently, when I finally erased it. Lots of memories… but still, moving is and will always be the PITS!

  3. Jo

    We sold our home in July and moved into an apartment for 6 months while our new home is being built in another state. Stressful,doesn’t begin to discribe what it’s like but you’ve pisted great suggestions and tips and ones that I personally just did in July. I csnnot stress how important ( and key!) it is to decluttering, sell, donate or toss what you don’t want, love or need anymore! Makes a huge difference in the other side of the move! I am excited about getting into our newly built home in a few more months, but am NOT looking forward to another move so soon, but we planned and are organized so it should be fairly smooth. Your tips are excellent! Will make all the difference.

  4. Kathy

    My tip… as soon as you arrive, set up your bed and make it. At the end of the stressful day of moving, your bed will be ready for you to fall into.

  5. Cindy Johnson

    The best investment I made in moving was to schedule the internet to be connected the day we moved in. I paid for all the computers and printers to be connected. Even though we could have done it, it was something we could delegate. Making the bed and basics in the kitchen a priority is a must. If you can rest and eat, you can get to rest as you are able.

  6. Veronica Marks

    So much of real estate shopping is done online these days. However, I feel like there’s something to be said for the good old driving around neighborhoods. I’m so glad you included that on your list! I’ve learned that even using tools like Google Street View won’t give you the same feel for a neighborhood that actually being there will.


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