Congratulations! You’ve signed a contract to purchase your next apartment, and you’re pretty confident the co-op board will approve your purchase. It’s not too soon to begin planning your actual move-out/move-in. Ranking high on life’s stress meter because it’s all about displacement and disruption, moving requires preparation, organization and perspective.


If you’re buying and selling at the same time, you’ll need to orchestrate the steps surrounding each closing. You’ll need to deliver a “broom clean” space empty of your furnishings for a pre-closing “walk-thru.” Since traditional lenders no longer offer bridge loans, you’ll need to consider several other options. If you require your sale proceeds to fund your next transaction, then a simultaneous closing will work best with the sale occurring in the morning and the purchase following shortly thereafter. In some instances, high net worth individuals may borrow from their personal investment portfolios for a short period. Alternatively, a holdover for a brief rental of the property you are selling may be arranged. Or you might avail yourself of the moving company’s “storage in transit” product which keeps your belongings on trucks for several days for an additional charge.


It’s best to call the movers as far in advance as possible. Get recommendations from friends and your real estate agent to 3 companies, and ask each for a written quote. Since move dates are moving targets (forgive the pun) and can change more than once for a host of reasons, choose a company that acknowledges it can be flexible, since timing is more likely to be uncertain than fixed. At the end of the day, the lowest estimate may not be the best if the company proves inflexible or worse, disreputable. Check with management at both your current and new apartments to choose a date that works equally well for each location. Understand procedures regarding use of the service elevator and requirements for insurance coverage.


Consider the opportunities your move presents. It’s the perfect time to have your rugs sent out for cleaning. It’s also the best time to sort and eliminate all that you no longer use or need—a task you no doubt began when you put your home on the market in the first place. Nonprofits like Housing Works and Salvation Army will gladly pick up your gently used furniture, clothing and household goods, and also provide receipts for tax deductions.


If the movers are packing for you, it’s best to leave items in place, since it’s safer to pack glassware and china from a cabinet than a cluttered counter. If you’re packing yourself, the rule of thumb is to cushion the box with crinkled paper, set heavy items at the bottom with lighter pieces on top, keeping each box’s weight under 50 pounds. For heavier items, use smaller boxes. Use newspapers for cushioning filler, but not for wrapping since newsprint stains. Hire experts to move your piano. Take your plants yourself or find them new homes, since these don’t do well in a move. Arrange favorite babysitters for your children and pets and consider moving some cherished toys yourself so you’ll know where to find them at a critical moment.


Color Coded Chaos


Give your children age appropriate roles in the move, and supply them with color coded stickers so they can identify their own boxes. Number and label each box on its side not on the tops, and use different colors to identify boxes by room and also categorize contents as best you can on the label. Paste the same colored labels on the door of the room being packed and on the door of the room in the new property so that movers know where to place the boxes to be unpacked. Give the movers your floor plan indicating color coded rooms and furniture placement. Don’t overlook packing items from your basement storage area.


Notify the mover about high value items such as antiques, art and other collectibles that may need special care. Moving companies are limited by law as to how much they can protect against lost or damaged goods. They are not liable for what they did not pack unless the exterior of the box is damaged. They are not responsible for jewelry or important documents. Best to remove these to a safety deposit box. Check your homeowners’ policy to see whether you’ll need to purchase additional transit coverage.


Create an “unpack first” box and take this yourself. Include items you’ll need immediately like bed linens, towels, toilet paper, soap, trash bags, scissors, hammer, screwdriver, cleaning supplies, bottled water, notepad, pen and phone chargers. If time allows, have the new place cleaned before you get there so you’re not unpacking on top of someone else’s dirt. Moving expenses are deductible from federal income taxes, so save your receipts.


Expect moving day to be organized chaos. Yes, it’s unsettling, but living with brown boxes and not knowing where you’ve put the dog’s water bowl is a temporary situation. With good planning and a sense of perspective, you’ll manage the challenges of moving, and the stresses will be behind you soon enough.