Aug 072012

Moving is always a difficult task.  You have to plan, pack, move, unpack, then there’s the hard stuff.  In about one month, I’ll be moving from Sacramento to Irvine for school.

There are many things to consider, and hopefully this guide well help not only me, but you as well.

The Big Stuff

You need of course to pack your stuff.  Be sure to protect the delicate stuff adequately, and ensure everything is packed snugly and secure.  Start packing early, you should have nothing to pack at the last minute that you don’t use the last day.

You’ll likely need a truck or trailer for your big move.  Planning your move carefully, you should have a goal in mind.  Our goal for this move is to rent a trailer for three days, pack it on the first day, drive it on the second day, and empty it on the third day.  You’ll need to make a plan and stick to it as well.  Be realistic, and give yourself as much extra time as you can. The same steps will apply no matter what.  You need to pack, drive, and unpack.  By the end of the pack phase your body will be aching.  Having a few extra hours to rest in the middle may be your salvation.

The last big thing is also the most obvious.  You need a destination.  Once upon a time, people would move to a new city with no job, no lease, no destination, and no help.  In this day and age, not only is that a bad idea, it’s unnecessary.  If you’re reading this, you have access to the internet.  Many apartment complexes can do the entire apply and lease program online.  Many employers can do remote interviews over the phone or video conference.  In this day you can have a home and job waiting for you when you arrive.

There are a handful of other considerations though, that can make or break your move and your back!

Schedule your move

There’s no substitute for good planning, so schedule wisely.  Don’t plan anything for the last minute.  Don’t procrastinate.  Even more importantly, don’t Amateur Crastinate.

You need to pack your stuff into boxes, then pack your boxes into a truck or trailer.  Don’t do them on the same day.  Have some time between to rest and recover.  If you can live with boxes for a week, do so!  leave only your essentials until the day of your move.  The last things you pack should also be the first things you unpack, so leave anything you’ll need right away at your new home until the end as well.

You need sufficient travel time.  If you’re moving 400 miles, plan to be on the road 8 hours at a minimum.  That means you’ll likely need more restroom breaks, more food, and more energy drinks.  Most highways have a speed limit for trucks and trailers of about 55 mph, so plan accordingly, and be safe.  If you get your truck loaded and everyone dressed and ready to go early, Leave early!  The extra hours will be a big help.

When you arrive, unload only the essentials.  Once you get in the house, unpack what you need, and have a few minutes to relax, you should develop a plan.  Where are you putting your boxes and furniture?  Large items should obviously go as close to where they’ll end up as possible.  Boxes need to be arranged in a sensible manner.  Rugs and small furniture need to be unpacked before stuff that goes atop them.  Dishes and housewares are more important than toys.  What do you plan to do the first few days?  Computers, televisions, and other items you may want early on should be located where you can find them easily.  Offseason clothing and extra sheets might not be needed for weeks.   unpack them and other such things into a corner until you’re ready to deal with them.

Give yourself time.  You don’t want to drop your trailer off at your new place, then go to work.  You need time to settle in, adjust to your new environment, and recover from the torture you just subjected yourself to.


You need to make plans for Internet, Cable, Water, Gas, Electric, Garbage and Sewer at a bare minimum.  You’ll likely bring a cell phone with you and won’t need a landline unless your lessor requires one.  Be sure to read your lease carefully before your move in date if possible to know what’s required and what’s provided and contact local utilities to ensure you’ll be connected in time.  You’ll have the most flexibility when it comes to Cable Television and Internet.

Call various internet and cable providers to try to find someone with good policies and prices.  Among the questions you will want to ask are “How often can I change my plan”, “Do you include my favorite channels”, “What are your upstream speeds”, “Do you block or filter any ports”, “Do you have IPv6 connectivity”, and “Do you monitor my traffic” and if you’re reading this blog, “How much are your static IP addresses”.  Temper their answers against your needs and your budget.

You should schedule an install date for internet and cable on the second day you’ll be there.  This will give you time to show up, sign your lease, and unbox your truck or trailer and move your stuff away from the walls.  Before the installer arrives you should know where you want your TV and computers to be, and where the various wall outlets are.  Plan ahead to where you may want to later move your TV and computers.  Place them at the farthest locations from the wall jacks or outside facing walls, and have the installer run enough wiring to reach them.  When you move them back to where you want them now, you’ll have enough extra cable to reposition your devices later.  Be sure to watch your installer, and understand what he’s doing.  Ask questions, where applicable.  Chances are at some point he’ll have to “Activate” your service which requires connecting to a proprietary service and changing some database entries.  Don’t worry about this part.  Once your installer is done, be sure and test everything.  use a speed test service to identify your actual top speeds.  You can use the “ping” command to do a rudimentary test on your reliability, and download the entire debian and redhat dvd disk sets.  You may not want them, but the continued stress on your devices will identify any manufacturing issues that may exist.   Make sure all your channels work, and your DVR is functioning properly.  If you encounter any issues at all, contact your ISP or cable provider right away.

Your other utilities will likely be much more straight forward.  you don’t have a choice on them.  Your lessor will know who you need to contact and what you need to do.  Call them and ask as early as possible.  Don’t wait until you’re in your new apartment, call and make any needed appointments as early as you can.


There’s a lot of expenses associated with a move.  Have a plan to cover them.  Save enough cash to cover your truck or trailer rental, your move in costs, any utility connect fees, renter’s insurance, and anything else you can think of.  You might forget that you’ll need resources on the road as well such as gas, food and beverage.  Those costs will be higher than on a normal drive because you’ve got a heavier load and have to drive slower.  Don’t make any purchases before your move if you don’t need them before your move or as soon as you move in.  You should wait to buy any new large furniture.  You should generally spend as little as possible.  Unexpected expenses may arise.  You may have to cover these expenses out-of-pocket, and they may snowball in the worst cases.  A flat tire may delay your move in which may require you to pay fees for the movein and for the utility providers, as well has late fees on the return of your truck or trailer.   On the other hand, if everything goes well, all that saved money will be available after your move.  You can buy the new furniture you want and the food you need.  You can even celebrate a little with pizza and alcohol.


That should be the major considerations.  If you think of anything else, feel free to include it in the comments.  A move is a highly stressful event.  Through careful planning, budgeting, and just generally being prepared, you can make it easier.

Be sure to read my other article, “Migrating a home server through a big move”  when it becomes available.

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