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So it has finally happened. After weeks to months of searching for a great home that you can afford, you have completed the homebuying process. It may seem that the hard part is over, but there is one more step: moving in.

To save yourself from one day of confusion and total frustration, it’s important to plan ahead to make the process as smooth as possible. Check out this move-in timeline and methods of keeping moving costs down so you are an educated and happy new homeowner.

Weeks 1 & 2

Though it may seem excessive, it’s a good idea to start focusing on the move two months ahead of time. That gives you eight weeks to prepare. The earlier you start contacting movers, the more time you have to price-compare. It’s important to get multiple quotes and research your options so you can go with the company that provides the best price without sacrificing quality. Sometimes movers can provide widely varying numbers but you want to be sure you are comparing the exact same services. For example, both quotes might include packing for you, but one has a much lower limit on the number of boxes they will fill. This is also a good time to create a moving file that contains all documentation of the process.

It’s a good idea to sort through your belongings before you begin packing; that way you won’t move items that you should have instead gotten rid of. You can decide what you would like to keep, what you would like to sell and what you can give away. Selling items on Craigslist or Facebook or holding a yard sale can help you raise some money to pay for the move. Donating to charity, friends or family can be a nice thing or even a tax deduction. For the things you decide to keep, make note of the items of value that may require special packing or extra insurance. If you are changing school districts, this is also a good time to go to your children’s current school and arrange for their records to be transferred.

Weeks 3 & 4

Once you’ve gotten several quotes from moving companies, finalize a contract with whichever one you have chosen to hire. Finalize all real estate and rental needs on the other end – be sure you have the room dimensions of your new home and check that your furniture will fit through the door. You may want to begin collecting or ordering boxes (ask companies you shop at regularly or friends who recently moved for free ones) and supplies such as tape, bubble wrap and specialty containers.

Let your bank know that you are moving so it has your new address. Obtain copies of medical records for each family member and make sure your healthcare professionals are also aware of your move. You can even ask your current doctor, dentist or veterinarian for referrals in your new location.

Weeks 5 & 6

If possible, you may want to ask the movers to come by your home to ensure that they have arranged for the correct number of trucks and movers. Contact all utilities and services like gas, electricity, telephone, cable and water to disconnect services the day after your move and arrange for new service activation several days before you arrive to your new house. Go to your local post office or online and fill out a change-of-address form so your mail will be forwarded. Forgetting to have your mail forwarded can have big credit consequences if you miss a bill that then goes into collections.

Weeks 7 & 8

Get started on your packing with the things you use most infrequently. It’s a good idea to clearly label each box with its contents and the room it is destined for (even if you think you’ll remember, you probably won’t in the chaos of moving). Put together a box of all items you will need immediately to ensure a comfortable transition to the new house – be sure this is the last thing to go onto the moving truck so it comes off first. This will likely include things like bedding, cleaning supplies, and maybe some basic kitchen utensils so you can eat and sleep when you get to the new home.

Clean your current home, defrost your refrigerator and pack any suitcases you plan to move yourself with clothes, toiletries and important records and documents. As the big day is getting near, it can be a good idea to reconfirm the moving company arrangements, arrange payment and get cash to have on hand to tip movers.

Moving Day

Whether you did all the packing yourself or you have movers doing it for you, on moving day it’s important to take careful inventory of all boxes and furniture as they are loaded onto the truck. Especially if you’ve gone with a big company, you may want to exchange contact information with the driver in case one of you gets lost or you need to get in touch.

Walk through every part of the house you are moving out of to find anything you may have left behind, lock windows, turn off the lights and take pictures to document the condition you left it in. Before you head off, make sure you have keys to your new home. Once you have arrived, take careful note that all boxes and items are unloaded from the truck and start unpacking.

With a little focus and a lot of planning, the moving process can be seriously simplified. Before you know it, you will be relaxing in your new home with all your belongings safe and sound.

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