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A couple appears to be packing to move to a new place. Both are warily peeking out from within open cardboard boxes.
Nobody looks forward to moving, but there are ways to help lessen the stress.

A moving experience: Tips to make a less stressful, smoother move

Whether it’s 5 miles or 500 miles, the experience of moving all that you own to a new place can be stressful and fraught with potential hazards. Here are some tips on how to make it go as smoothly as possible.

July 18, 2019

Nearly a month after he moved from Miami to Denver for a new job, Roger Cabrera found himself sleeping on an air mattress in an empty apartment — the location of his furniture and other personal belongings uncertain.

Carrying items as part of moving, Roger Cabrera, right, and friend Tim Skerrett, left, wait for an elevator in the lobby of an apartment building. Roger’s dog Bodhi is lying on the floor in front of them.
Roger Cabrera, right, and friend Tim Skerrett get some moving help from Roger’s dog, Bodhi.

“It was a complete nightmare,” said Cabrera, who had hired a moving company that some good friends had used. “They had a great experience, so I thought it would be fine to use those movers, too. Turns out I was wrong.”

He later learned the firm had brokered the work to another company, and things quickly went downhill from there. When the truck finally arrived — 28 days late — the crew chief had the nerve to charge him an “extended carry fee,” which was “clearly” in the fine print of the contract. Cabrera was determined that would never happen again.

“Now I prefer to do as much DIY as I can. After that previous move, I think I’ve developed a moving phobia. But this time, it went much smoother.”

— Roger Cabrera

“Now I prefer to do as much DIY as I can,” said Cabrera, a corporate communications consultant for Wells Fargo who took the do-it-yourself approach during his most recent move to a nicer, bigger place. “After that previous move, I think I’ve developed a moving phobia. But this time, it went much smoother.”

Millions of Americans are facing the same challenges as the busy summer moving season kicks into high gear. Of the more than 35 million people who relocate annually in the U.S., about half of them move between May and September, according to the American Moving & Storage Association.

For many, it is clear why summer is the best time to move: School is out, so parents don’t have to disrupt their children’s routines; the days are longer, giving movers more daylight to work; and it’s the busiest homebuying time of the year, so more homes are typically on the market.

Still, whatever the time of year it happens, the experience of moving — the hassle of packing, uprooting, and relocating one’s possessions to a new, potentially better home — can be downright dreadful.

And if there’s anything worse than moving itself, it would be a move gone bad, like the one Cabrera experienced. Volumes have been written about how to best avoid such a debacle, and nearly all mention one quality that often doesn’t come easily: organization.

An animated image with moving cardboard boxes and text: 4 tips to make your move run smoother. Seek advice & do your research: Ask around. Check out several moving companies. Compare their prices, online reviews, and Better Business Bureau ratings. Read the fine print: Actually read moving company’s agreement — and watch for extra fees and hidden charges. Purge. Purge. Purge. Pare back and get rid of as much as possible — from those old bar stools to that bright lime-colored artwork in the garage. Count those boxes: Label each box with its contents and intended room. Make sure you have the same number when you arrive.

“Moving can be taxing, but it’s a lot easier if you're organized,” AAA reported in 2018. “There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Moving to a new home, although exciting, takes a lot of work and can be stressful. But there are steps you can take to make your relocation go more smoothly.”

It all starts with the basics of planning, preparation, and execution, AAA said. Among other tips, it advises movers to think ahead, measure your future space to ensure your furniture fits, be ready to throw things out, and prepare a budget to get new furnishings that fit.

The motor club federation also said you should start planning the move six weeks ahead of leaving your current home; make an inventory list and label and number your boxes; and make sure you have plenty of miscellaneous supplies such as bubble wrap, packing tape, and unprinted news wrap.

For Cabrera in his latest move, the most helpful action he took was doing his homework to check out the options, costs, and potential pitfalls of moving.

Earlier this year, as he planned to move to his new place, he researched everything, starting with a Google search of “moving Denver cheap.” Using online resources, he vetted moving companies, checked their complaint histories, reviewed their contract terms, and price-shopped estimates. Eventually, he took the do-it-yourself route, working up a sweat but saving about $1,000 — with the help of some close friends.

Cabrera said he also took care of some important personal business while carrying out his move. For example, he used a digital banking tool — Wells Fargo’s Control TowerSM — to see where his Wells Fargo account and card information was shared and where to change his mailing address for a range of merchants, including auto insurance, doggy daycare, and streaming online services.

“Customers increasingly have their financial information stored digitally with a variety of merchants and service providers such as gyms and subscription services,” said Ben Soccorsy, head of the digital payments team for Wells Fargo Virtual Channels. “Control Tower is instrumental in helping customers understand and better manage their digital financial footprint — whether they are moving to a new home or just managing their routine personal business. It demonstrates how technology can empower people to take control of their financial lives.”

In just a few minutes, by looking at Control Tower’s recurring payments feature, Cabrera was able to see changes he needed to make, including changing his address with utility companies and canceling a gym membership and magazine subscription related to his former address.

“It was really convenient and saved me the hassle of sifting through emails or looking through my bank statement to identify what needed to be updated by showing me information on one screen,” he said. “It helped me to not forget those things while I was distracted by everything else I was doing to get my entire life moved to a new place — including the snow that decided to fall on moving day in early-May.”

From using technology to doing his due diligence beforehand, Cabrera said he was able to mitigate much of the stress of moving. Once he finished moving in, he cooked up some dinner for friends in his big, new kitchen as a thank you for all the heavy lifting.

“It was a lot of work,” he said, “but it was all worth it at the end.”

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