Relocating? Make Plans for These 8 Items

Relocating? Make Plans for These 8 Items

You’re moving to a new city. You scheduled the moving truck months ago, but you waited until the last minute to start boxing up your belongings. As you get to work, you discover a problem: you never contacted any car shipping companies. Not only that, but you also have no idea what you’re going to do with your fish tank. And what about the chemicals in the garage?

When you wait until the last minute to start packing, you’re bound to run into problems. First, packing will inevitably take longer than you expect. And second, you’re likely to discover items that require extra attention.

Some items are problematic because movers can’t or won’t transport them. Others require special preparation. And there are some things you may not be able to move at all.

Here we’ll take a look at 8 categories of belongings that need a little extra planning before you move to another part of the country.

1. Foods


The kitchen seems like an easy room to pack. A couple of boxes of pots, pans and utensils, plus some carefully wrapped dishes and glassware. Right?

Unless you exclusively eat take-out, though, there is a good chance your kitchen is full of food. You probably have snacks and dry goods in your cupboards, condiments and produce in your refrigerator, and who-knows-what in your freezer.

The best way to deal with food is to use up as much as possible before you leave. Plan your meals ahead. Look in the cupboards and the refrigerator before you cook instead of running right to the store. And don’t forget food stored in other areas of your home, such as a basement freezer.

Can you move shelf-stable items, like cans of soup and boxes of pasta? Yes, your movers will probably accept such items. To save space, though, consider donating unopened packages to a local food bank. You can always stock up when you get to your new home.

Perishable food is a different story. Your movers are unlikely to accept it. And even if they do, will you feel comfortable cooking meat that has been stored at a mystery temperature for the long drive?

The more you eat, donate, or throw away, the less you’ll have to pack and unpack.

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2. Cars and Boat(s)

Cars and Boat(s)

The obvious way to get your car to your new home is by driving it. But if you have more cars than drivers, or if you simply don’t want to drive across the country, you have options.

Car shipping companies specialize in moving vehicles across long distances. Many offer door-to-door delivery, picking up from your old home and bringing the vehicle right to your new home.

Make sure to compare different shipping companies’ prices, insurance policies and reliability ratings to find one you can trust.

Depending on the start and end points, you can expect shipping within the continental United States to cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $2,500 or more.

If you own a boat or a motorcycle, you can tow it behind your vehicle or have it shipped to the new location. Check out reviews and get quotes from several transportation companies to make sure you find the best value for your money.

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3. Hazardous and Flammable Substances

Hazardous and Flammable Substances

Your movers should provide you with a list of items considered too dangerous to transport. These might include anything from gasoline to charcoal to diving tanks.

If your movers won’t take it, you have two choices: take it yourself or leave it behind.

With liquids such as gasoline and cleaning products, your best bet is probably to leave them. First, see if a friend or neighbor wants to take them. If that doesn’t work out, look up your city’s drop-off sites for hazardous materials.

Movers will require you to empty the tanks of lawnmowers, snowblowers and other gas-powered devices or small vehicles (like motorcycles). When in doubt, ask the moving company.

If you decide to move items that can be hazardous, make sure you pack them securely. They should be cushioned and unable to slide around. Place anything that could leak in a sealed plastic bag.

Some items that wouldn’t often be considered hazardous can become dangerous at certain pressures or temperatures. If you plan to move these items, find a reputable source that will tell you how to avoid any unnecessary risk.

4. Potentially Illegal Item(s)

Potentially Illegal Item(s)

If you’re moving to a new state, you’ll have to consider whether anything you currently own will be illegal in your new state (or any state you travel through).

Some states have tighter restrictions on firearms than others, so make sure you’re allowed to own any weapons you may have in your new state. If you own a restricted item, you may need to sell it or surrender it.

As laws change surrounding the possession of pot and other drugs, beware those substances you currently possess legally may be illegal in your new home or in a state you’re traveling through. If you choose to transport controlled substances, you may risk consequences from crossing state lines.

Fireworks, exotic animals and even certain plants can be acceptable in one place and illegal in another. Make a plan ahead of time so you can rehome or dispose of anything that could have legal consequences.

5. Pet(s)


Don’t forget to make a plan for every pet in your home. Dogs and cats may need crates for the car ride, with access to food, water and bathroom accommodations. If you’re flying, you may need to call the airline to figure out how to bring your pet along.

If you have small pets in enclosures, decide how you’ll get them from point A to point B. Will you clean out and pack their enclosures for the movers to take, while you bring the animals in a travel-size cage?

Fish tanks can be particularly challenging to move. You will need to transfer the fish to a container you can bring with you, with a plan to avoid spills in the car. Most fish tanks will have to be emptied before you can move them.

If you need to stop at a hotel during your trip, make sure you can bring your pets into the room with you. Many hotels will accept dogs and other pets if you pay a damage deposit.

6. Lawnmower and Snowblower

Lawnmower and Snowblower

Bigger than a standard appliance and smaller than a vehicle, a lawnmower or snowblower is easy to overlook when you’re making your packing plans.

7. Breakable Items

Breakable Items

Fragile items require extra time and attention, unless you want to arrive with more pieces of fine china than you started with.

Your packing materials for breakables should do two things: keep your items from moving around and absorb shock when the box moves or stops abruptly (as when dropped).

Foam and bubble wrap work well for this job because they can compress under pressure, then rebound to their previous form. Newspaper, on the other hand, provides little cushioning unless it is crumpled to add compressible structure.

Even foam-packed items can break, though, if they bounce around in a roughly handled box. Ensure that the box is packed tight so the items inside can’t move. (Do a shake test to make sure.)

Speaking of the box, make sure you’re using one that is sturdy and rigid, and secure it with plenty of tape.

When you’re planning for breakable items, don’t neglect your electronics. While they’re less likely to shatter, they have sensitive parts and can easily be damaged in a move. Pack them as securely as you would glass.

The bottom line on breakables is that you shouldn’t merely write “fragile” on the box and hope for the best; instead, expect the container to be tossed around and wrap the contents accordingly.

8. Irreplaceable Items

Irreplaceable Items

Your movers should offer standard and supplemental insurance policies to cover the replacement value of items that could be damaged or destroyed in the move. But what about items with great sentimental value (such as family heirlooms), or those that are one of a kind (like artworks)?

For items you cannot replace, consider whether you’re better off assuming the responsibility yourself and transporting them with the care they deserve. Moving companies are not immune to accidents and careless employees, so no matter how clearly an item is marked, it’s always possible that it will be damaged.

If, on the other hand, you plan to make multiple stops on your trip and don’t want to leave valuables in the trunk or carry them in and out of hotels, you might decide to take your chances on the moving truck.

Similarly, if your vehicle is small or you’re already transporting kids or pets, the moving truck might be safer.

The best way to prevent problematic last-minute surprises, of course, is to plan ahead. Walk through your home, inside and outside, as well as any offsite storage spaces, and make a list of anything that will require more preparation or special steps. When in doubt, look up local laws and regulations or ask the moving company. When you plan ahead, you will have less to worry about when moving day arrives.

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