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  • Writer's picturePortland Elder Care Council

PECC April Blog

Updated: May 8, 2023

This month Whitney from Big Rocks Organizing is giving us her tips, tricks, and timelines to make moving easier and less overwhelming!

We're also hosting our first in-person event of 2023! More information is below, or CLICK HERE for details and registration!

Tips for Moving Like a Professional Organizer

Moving to a new home can be a challenge at the best of times. From packing to searching for the coffee pot on the first morning, there are many moving parts (pun intended). There is so much to think about—from keeping new home documents organized to decluttering and rightsizing your current home in preparation for the big day. To help with your next transition, we put together our tips for moving like a professional organizer!

Sample Move Timeline:

Two Months Before Moving

  • Review employer relocation benefits.

  • Set your moving dates.

  • Get estimates from a professional organizer/move manager or moving company.

  • Begin rightsizing.

  • Create a moving binder to track everything: receipts, estimates, and inventory of items you are moving.

  • Transfer school, dental, and medical records. Meanwhile, ask for new referrals.

Six Months Prior

  • Contact the IRS or your accountant for forms and info regarding tax-deductible moving expenses.

  • Order tape, bubble wrap, and markers. In addition, contact your mover (if you are packing things yourself) for specialty boxes and crates.

  • Contact the utility company and transfer your services. However, leave utilities on until the day after moving.

  • Transfer your driver's license(s) to your new state.

  • Establish new bank accounts if your current bank doesn't have a branch in your area.

  • Finalize your living arrangements; get homeowners/renters insurance at your new residence.

One Month Prior

  • Finalize your move dates with your mover. Make storage arrangements.

  • For high-value or specialty items, call your insurance company and mover for an appraisal and see if you will need extra liability coverage.

Three Weeks Prior

  • Notify the Postal Service of your new address. In addition, send change-of-address cards to friends and relatives and update any subscriptions.

  • Arrange for installations, repairs, and utilities in your new home.

  • Make any travel arrangements, including reservations for lodging.

  • Collect important papers—wills, birth certificates, social security cards, car titles, medical records, and financial documents. Store them in a separate, safe place.

  • If you are doing your own packing, start now.

  • Plan for child care or pet sitting for moving day.

  • Set aside flammables to be moved by you or disposed of.

Two Weeks Prior

  • Return library books or anything borrowed from neighbors or friends.

  • Have your car serviced for the trip.

  • Take care of bills and other financial matters.

  • Get pet immunizations and transfer their records to the new vet.

One Week Prior

  • Drain oil and gasoline from power equipment. Likewise, drain garden hoses.

  • Review moving plans. Are you on schedule? Any last-minute changes?

  • Refill and transfer your prescriptions.

  • Remove items from your safety deposit box and put them in the safe box you will be taking with you on move day.

  • Arrange for newspapers or other delivery services to be discontinued.

  • Defrost and dry the refrigerator and freezer.

  • Pack suitcases with clothes, toiletries, and jewelry.

  • Obtain cash for the move.

Plan Backward from Your Moving Date

When planning your move, use a calendar. Start by planning backward from the final move date. Then, decide how much time you need for packing and decluttering, what needs to be fixed in your new home before occupying it, etc. As a result, you can avoid running out of time—the number one stressor in terms of moving. Overall, start early and keep a manageable timeline.

Rightsize Before You Pack

Here’s a familiar scenario: You realize that you don’t have time to declutter before moving day. You pay to have those items that you don’t want to be packed up and moved, or take it on yourself. Later, you unpack them and realize how many items are duplicates or unwanted altogether. Moving items out of state can cost an average of $6-10 per pound. Save time, money, and stress; declutter before you move.

Schedule a pick-up with your favorite charity (Community Warehouse, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, and Union Gospel Mission are just a few). If you are uncertain, get in touch, and we can help you figure out how to pass along your unwanted stuff. Take a picture of sentimental items like kids’ artwork or stuffed animals, then let them go.

Place items you are unsure about letting go in a “maybe” area. Return to them later, once you have begun packing in earnest. The act of touching everything in the home makes people realize how much they own and can help with decisions.

Donating before you move will save you so much time, money, and stress!

Organized Packing

Pack in an organized way, and unpacking in an organized way will be easier! Don't pack by room since items may be relocated in your new home. Instead, visualize your new space and group “like” items together. For instance, gather decorative items, and label them “decorative” (note specific items for extra points).

If you hire movers, they will pack absolutely everything as is—even the trash in the trash can. Pre-pack in advance by staging things that you want to be packed together in one place. Remove trash, recycling, and donations. Again, if you have decluttered already, it will make this process so much easier.

As you pack, focus on one area at a time. Start with less-used areas: storage, the garage, etc. Pack the kitchen last. Label boxes thoroughly: contents, designated room, and priority level for unpacking. Use neon index cards to communicate this clearly. As a result, movers can be quick and efficient, limiting the time spent in your home. Create a color key, using a different color for each room, and share it with your movers.

When we packed up this home, we labeled each box thoroughly. This helps for a more efficient, easeful move.

Move with an “Unpack First” Box

Place any essentials, such as toiletries, cleaning supplies, and garbage bags, that you will need for the first few days in an “unpack first” box. Pack regular or paper plates and cutlery to avoid going to the grocery store or purchasing plastic. Load this box last so that it comes out of the moving truck first.

On Moving Day

On a moving day, taking care of yourself is important by eating well and staying hydrated. Wear shoes you will be comfortable in, also.

Do a final walk-through of the house, garage, and yard to ensure nothing has been missed. Afterward, turn off lights and lock windows and doors.

Make things easier and faster for your movers. Label doors to rooms with name/purpose so they know where things go; this is where your color key comes in handy. Set up your main-level bathroom with soap and paper towels. Similarly, have disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer handy. Consider having refreshments to share with movers. It’s a nice touch and is greatly appreciated.

We’re often asked, “how much should I tip the movers?” Generally, 10-15% of the final bill is standard.

Unpack with Purpose

Remember that your new home is a blank slate for organization! You will never get a better opportunity to start fresh. Add shelf liners and organize products, and place items thoughtfully. After all, if you don’t have time to do it right, when will you get to start over?

Finally, after moving, break down boxes and put them up for free on OfferUp, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or Buy Nothing. The planet, and the next person to use them, will thank you.

If you get stuck or overwhelmed, then give us a call! Big Rocks Organizing provides pre-packing, move management, packing, and unpacking services.

Contributed by Whitney Zeigler with Big Rocks Organizing, LLC.


Community Events

Dying Well Series: Remembrance and Memorialization

Saturday, April 1 at, 11 am-12 pm | West Linn Public Library

Join us in a discussion about how to memorialize, remember and honor our loved ones in a death-denying culture. We will be exploring Legacy Projects, which are unique creations in which individuals can pass on emotional & spiritual inheritance to their loved ones. We’ll also look at rituals and traditions that can help bring meaning to a time of loss and support coping and healing throughout an end-of-life journey. This is part of our Dying Well Series.

Since 2018, Evening Star End-of-Life Doula Services has been providing public education on end-of-life issues, as well as personal support for families dealing with serious illnesses and end-of-life. We are happy to be participating in this series presented by West Linn Library. Our sessions are part information/education and part conversation. Bring your open mind and heart, and sense of humor as we talk about tools/approaches that can ease the end-of-life experience.

Portland Elder Care Council- Fall Prevention Seminar

April 13th at 1:30 pm | Courtyard Village At Raleigh Hills

Falls are a leading cause of disability, depression, loss of independence, and loss of life. In this short workshop, we will unwrap what it means to prevent falls so that you and your loved ones can avoid this preventable, life-changing hardship and continue living the life they love on their terms!

Rose Elder Law Events & Free Seminars

April Events | Online & In-Person

We offer seminars throughout the Portland Metropolitan area and, on special request, throughout Oregon. Topics we discuss include: Planning for Incapacity, Protecting Your Family in 2023, Estate Planning 101, You Can Afford Long-Term Care, and more. Click the link below for the full calendar and events.


Thanks for Reading

Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions on topics you would like to see! We would love to hear from you. Don't forget to check out our events page for our next webinar or in-person event.

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