Whether it’s due to changing circumstances or a voluntary decision, moving can be taxing for anybody, especially for small business owners. Relocation forces people to break routines and rebuild in new, unfamiliar territory. The work and expenses that it entails can also drain them without adequate research and planning.

If you’ve been thinking of moving your home and business for a while now, you need not worry. You can minimize your stress by studying all your options and preparing well in advance. This guide, which comes with a moving out checklist in every section, was designed to help you there.

Moving Guide and Checklist

But first, you need to ask yourself a few questions…

What Areas of Your Business and Family Life Will Be Affected by Moving?

About 30 million Americans relocate yearly. A huge majority—five out of six—move only locally. The rest transfer to a different state or, rarely, another country. Mixed among these moving Americans are the small business owners who have more reasons to stay in the same state than relocate distantly. Most of them will not have a very complex move, one that involves uprooting employees and rebuilding in a place with different rules.

Still, small business owners need to ask themselves a few questions in order to proceed systematically and thoroughly. You can read the longest moving checklists on the internet, but vital details may slip through the cracks if you can’t tailor them to your needs. So take some time figuring out the following:

For your business:

 What is the nature of your business?

  Do you have plenty of business equipment to move?

  If you manufacture or distribute products, how do you receive your supplies? What kind of fulfillment arrangements do you have?

 Do you have employees? Do they need to move to the same city as you?

  What can you do to minimize the move’s disruption of your business?

 What circumstances are unique to your business?

For your family:

 How many family members are moving?

 How many family members go to school or have other jobs?

 Which family members will need special care on moving day?

  How much total space is enough for your business and family’s needs?

  What other unique family circumstances need to be addressed before you relocate?

Answer each one candidly, writing down all your responses. This list may remind you of other necessary preparations that you may add to our guide below.

How Should You Prepare to Move?

Experts recommend that 2-3 months are enough to get ready to move. However, not all people may have the luxury of time. The best alternative is to make a task schedule based on the time you have left and stick to it. Try to accomplish as much as you can in the weeks before the last, when you do most of the leg work. 

Our list of things to do to prepare for a simple home business relocation includes the following:

How-Should-You-Prepare-to-Move-1

1.

If you’re a homeowner, list your house in spring or as early as possible.

Spring is the best time to sell a home, as we pointed out in our blog Tips for Home Business Owners: The Advantages of Moving in Spring. More people are selling and buying houses in the spring months, driving the prices up. So you have a better chance of selling yours at a good price, and fast, during this time. If you’re selling in other months, you have to list your house as early as possible due to potentially lower demands.

For the transfer documents, allow the buyer ample time to do due diligence, which may take 2-4 weeks, depending on your location. For properties with more complicated histories, like those involved in court disputes, the process can take two months.

2.

Find a new house.

This is probably one of the most exciting parts of a move, as it can make you feel like you’re on HGTV. However, keep in mind that small business owners have different house-hunting goals from other types of buyers because of the place’s dual purpose.

Bustling cities are ideal for business as they allow you to market to a large population. However, not all families thrive in a city atmosphere, so some may choose to live outside of busy hubs. If yours is that kind of family, put the following on your list of priorities when searching for a new home:

  • Access to good roads
  • Plenty of public transport options
  • Excellent access to carrier services
  • Low crime rate, for the security of your family and business
  • Good schools
  • Quick access to markets, hospitals and recreation areas
  • Proximity to equipment repair shops and potential suppliers
  • Fits the budget

Once you’ve started the paperwork, you’ll be in a better position to decide when to move.

3.

Pick a month for your move.

If you still have plenty of time, you can pick your relocation month without finalizing the date or other arrangements yet. Doing so lets you create a personalized move organizer, determine timelines and work your research into your schedule.

In our blog, Money-Saving Tips: 20 Easy Ways to Cut Moving Costs, we mentioned that movers reduced their rates significantly in late winter and springtime due to lower demands. Most experts agree that the best time to move is during spring because of its many other advantages. However, the majority of relocations across America are done in the summer months.

Whatever season you decide to move, know that you’ve already taken a big step just by setting a time frame for your preparation. It determines everything else that you do.

Moving Costs

4.

Start a fund.

Local relocations ordinarily cost around $2000, while interstate ones can cost double or more. Small business owners should expect bigger expenses because of the potential operational disruption that the move may cause, which, of course, can affect their income flow. So when you create a budget for your move, it is best to factor in both the potential moving costs and at least a few months’ expenses.

If you’re thinking of getting tax deductions related to your move, you should know that the government changed the eligibility criteria in 2018. According to the revised IRS Publication 521, the benefit is now only available to some military members and their families. So before factoring potential tax deductions into your budget, check first if you or your family members are qualified for this privilege.

5.

Research about schools, government units and professional services in your new neighborhood. 

The tasks here are some of the most time-consuming aspects of your preparation. Doing them early can keep them from aggravating your stress on your most hectic packing days. It also increases your chances of knocking off some costs and getting the best services for you and your loved ones.

We include the following searches in this list:

  • Schools

Examine the educational institutions in the area where you plan to move, especially if any student in the family has special needs. Once you decide on which schools to send your loved ones to, you’ll need time to ease them into the thought of leaving familiar faces behind. Transferring records and clearances may also take some time.

  • Healthcare providers

Get to know the primary care doctors, dentists, vets, etc. in your new neighborhood. You will need a few weeks to evaluate online reviews, friends’ referrals, and professional fees. Transferring medical records may also take a while for patients with chronic conditions.

  • Business lawyer and financial adviser

These trusted business associates are likely not moving with you to a distant state if they have lucrative local practices. You will need to find new ones as they are the same people who will help you with business registration processes in your new city. Ask your current advisers for referrals, and do your due diligence, too. 

  • Local government departments

Each US territory has its own rules for licensing, taxation, voter registration, etc. Updating government credentials is time-limited, restricted only to within a month or so after you move. Additionally, you can only do it once you’re settled in your new address because many territories do not accept temporary mailing addresses.

Take the time to locate government offices and study the local registration and licensing rules in advance.

  • Insurance providers

First, you need to secure continuous coverage for health, disability, home, auto, business, etc. Rates and benefits vary depending on the company and location. For health insurance, you also need to know which ones are accepted by your future primary care providers.

As for moving insurance, you may get one from your current city. If you’re doing a DIY move, your moving insurance will serve as your safety net for damaged or lost items. If you choose to contract professional movers—who guarantee your belongings for only $0.60 per pound—separate moving insurance completes your coverage.

Get a few referrals in each category and compare rates and terms.

6.

Decide on what kind of help you want during your move.

Moving companies can help you pack your stuff, move it to your new place and reassemble dismantled furniture. All these tasks will cost you, though. If you want to reduce prices, you may pack your belongings yourself and restrict the professional movers’ services. Alternatively, you can do a completely DIY move.

Whatever you decide to do, we advise that you consider the services below.

  • A full-service local or interstate moving company
  • Rental truck, if you’re doing a DIY move
  • Truck driver, if you’re not comfortable driving a huge truck on major roads
  • Portable storage services, which are also great for a DIY move
  • People to help you pack for less. They can be a few hired helpers who can assist you in packing and loading a rental truck or portable storage container. You can also ask family and friends, who may do it for a free meal or souvenir.
  • People to help you clean and fix things at your old house
  • People who can install a new security system at your new home
  • People to help you clean, paint and get settled in your new house

If you’re hiring professional movers, below is a list of things to do:

    • Compare rates versus types of services offered. Low prices do not necessarily translate to money being well spent.
    • Compare liability terms because some are friendlier than others.
    • Check the moving companies’ business licenses. Some may promise very low rates but may not even be legally allowed to operate in certain territories. It will be hard to file loss or damage claims against these fly-by-night establishments later on.
    • Ask trusted friends for referrals. Factor in online reviews, too.
    • Ensure that the moving company offers the standard moving insurance of $0.60 per pound.
    • Compare other perks offered.
    • Read the movers’ terms and conditions carefully before signing anything. You can even ask your lawyer for advice.
    • Compare their schedules. You can choose a definite moving date at this point. During off-peak seasons, availabilities are flexible, so some professional movers may accept late bookings. Summers, however, are a different matter, so you have to pick a date well in advance if you decide to relocate during these months.
    • To get the best rates, pick an off-peak season date, preferably mid-month and mid-week. Fewer people move on such dates. 
Professional Movers Moving a Chair

If you’re renting a moving truck, below is a list of things to do:

  • Ask for rates, which may include daily or hourly rental, gas, mileage, etc.
  • Ask for schedules and pick a date. Again, higher demands in the peak months swing the prices upward.
  • Look for a professional driver if you prefer not to drive a big truck for long distances. Professional moving truck drivers can charge $0.65-0.99 per hour.

If you’re renting a portable storage container, below is a list of things to do:

  • Decide on the container size. A 7-foot unit can move studio apartments and college dorms. A 12-foot unit can move 2-3 bedroom houses and small offices. A 16-foot container can move four-bedroom houses and bigger offices. You can rent multiple containers at once if one will not suffice.
  • Ask for rates. Packing and moving a storage container can reduce your moving expenses significantly as compared to hiring professional movers. However, rates still vary from one service provider to another.
  • Ask for the rental duration. Some require monthly rentals, while others allow weekly deals.
  • Ask for service availability in your new city. Some are better for local moves, while others are more cost-effective for long-distance transfers.

Color Coded Moving Labels

: 80 Sheets
: 10 Labels / Sheet
: 2″ x 3″

7.

Decide what to do with your stuff and when.

When you shop for moving rates, you will notice that each pound or yard costs money. This may convince you to get rid of things that may no longer be useful or may be cheaper to replace than move. You can decide at this point about what to do with your stuff and when to put each task on your calendar.

Here is a list of things to do to your belongings:

  • Decluttering — cleaning up your place will help you survey your belongings and decide what to do with them.
  • Holding a garage sale — you can do this at your own yard or online through popular slightly-used-goods selling sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Garage sales can add to your moving funds.
  • Mail to yourself through USPS media mail and flat-rate boxes.
  • Donating
  • Recycling
  • Giving to friends
  • Keeping as is and packing

Ideally, you should start doing these things 1-2 months before your moving date. The more stuff you have, the sooner you should begin.

8.

Make a packing strategy.

Once you’ve decided which belongings to keep, it’s time to strategize their packing.

Here is a list of things to do to help you plan your packing:

  • Make an inventory of all the items you’re taking with you.
  • Strategize according to rooms.
  • Strategize according to necessity. Pack less important items earlier and save the daily necessities for later.

9.

Source your own moving supplies.

Moving companies offer packing supplies at hefty prices. If you’re packing your things on your own, it’s best to buy moving supplies elsewhere.

Below is a checklist of items that you will need for packing your stuff:

  • Moving boxes — for fragile items and equipment.
  • Packing tape — for sealing moving boxes and bags.
  • Newsprint paper — you will use this as an all-around box cushion or filler. It is the more economical choice for this purpose than bubble wrap.
  • Bubble wrap — despite its price, you will need anti-static bubble wrap to protect electronics and easily ignitable items.
  • Packing foam — for personal or business items that need both cushioning and insulation.
  • Stretch wrap — for securing rugs and drawers. You can also use it to keep dust and dirt off of furniture and equipment.
  • Moving labels — pre-printed labels for various rooms. They are durable but can be peeled easily, making them perfect for labeling delicate furniture and equipment.
  • Customizable labels — you can make your own moving labels by downloading sticker templates and printing them on sheet labels.
  • Fragile stickers and this-side-up tags — they let the movers know which boxes will need extra-careful handling.
  • Vacuum bags — they help you shrink fluffy items, which can take up space in the moving truck or storage container.
  • Garbage bags — you can use them if you’ve run out of storage space for some odds and ends. You can also turn them into vacuum bags.
  • Extra luggage or travel bags — for valuables, emergency items and extra stuff that cannot fit in the other containers.
  • Ziploc bags — for containing food and organizing hand tools, office supplies, toiletries, toy parts, etc.
  • Old clothes and periodicals — can also serve as package cushions, but they may leave scratches or other marks on fragile items.
  • Markers — for labeling or writing short descriptions on boxes.
  • Printers — for creating customizable labels.

You can start packing little by little when you have enough packing materials. The earlier you begin, the less stressful the last prep week will be. Make sure to label and count your moving boxes. A neat inventory can alert you if you’ve left behind or lost anything during the move.

Moving Boxes and Supplies

10.

Tell people about your move.

Notifying people of your relocation plans not only makes the decision official but also commits you to the rest of your moving schedule and goals. You can do this a few weeks or so before you move.

For small business owners, here is a list of people to notify of moving dates and forwarding addresses:

  • Schools where your loved ones go, for a smooth transfer of academic credentials.
  • Medical facilities and health providers, if some members of the family need continuing medical care.
  • Banks where you have savings accounts, mortgages, insurance plans, etc.
  • Clubs, for membership termination.
  • Customers, so they will know how to reach you in case you have ongoing transactions.
  • Suppliers, so they will know when to stop their services and where to send you their invoices.
  • Other billers, including utilities, credit card companies, subscriptions, etc.
  • Government agencies, to update your address. They include the IRS, licensing bodies, etc.
  • For home renters, the landlord. Some might require earlier notification to have ample time to look for another renter.
  • For homeowners, the party who bought the house. This allows the latter to set their own moving date.

11.

Ensure a smooth transfer of utilities and other services.

Rented apartments typically have utilities ready before the move. Home renters can simply ask about them from the landlord. On the other hand, homeowners will need to do the work themselves to have these services transferred to their names as soon as they move. They may get in touch with providers before and after the move to ensure a smooth transition.

Here is a list of utility and other service providers that you need to contact before moving day:

  • Cable company
  • Credit card companies
  • Cleaners
  • Dry cleaners
  • Electric service
  • Gas service
  • Insurance providers
  • Internet providers
  • Loan or mortgage providers
  • Phone companies
  • Trash collection service
  • Water service

Leave a forwarding address to your old service providers and know when you can settle your last bills before the relocation.

12.

List of things to do 2-3 weeks before you move

If you have been packing little by little for weeks, you may have already packed most non-immediate necessities by this time. For this period, your goal is to take care of things that will ensure a smooth move and transition.

Here is a list of things to do during these weeks:

  • Follow up on transfer documents from school, healthcare providers, etc. if they are not with you yet.
  • Make early arrangements if you think you will need temporary housing. If you have relatives or friends in your new city, ask them if they can help you out. Alternatively, you may check out hotel booking sites or Airbnb’s transient homes.
  • If you’re driving your car on moving day, get it tuned up.
  • Plan your route if you’re driving on moving day. Know which roads are less busy at which hours. If you’re driving overnight, you may consider booking a hotel along your path.
  • If you’re not driving on moving day, make arrangements to ship your car. Leave nothing in it, even automotive equipment, to prevent theft.
  • Consider painting your new home or getting it some new furniture.
  • If you’re doing a DIY move, secure the services of people who can help you transfer your belongings into and out of the rental truck or storage container.

Fragile Stickers

: 500
: 2″ x 3″
: Paper

13.

List of things to do the week before you move

This is when most people do their packing and cleaning, so it’s best to have a much shorter task list at this time.

Here is a list of things to do in the last week before you move:

  • Stop replenishing your groceries, especially frozen goods. Consume the food in your cupboards and fridge so they won’t add to your moving weight. However, you may choose to save some snacks for your journey. Order takeout if you run out of food before moving day.
  • Secure government unit appointment dates for updating residential and business information. Know which ones you can do online.
  • Take photos of your furniture and equipment, which may come in handy in case of damage claims against the moving company.
  • Take pictures of electrical or computer connections, which can help you put them back together after relocating.
  • Secure all important documents for you, your family and your business.
    • ID cards
    • Certificates
    • Licenses and other forms of registration
    • Business files
    • Financial documents
    • Health documents
    • Legal documents
  • Fill prescriptions for you or your family members.
  • Return items you borrowed from other people.
  • Back up computer files and important printed materials.
  • Clean up old lockers, e. g. gyms or clubs you go to, your children’s schools, etc.
  • Stretch-wrap furniture and electrical equipment that you want protected from dust and dirt during transport.
  • Have cash ready for contingencies and tipping your movers.
  • Secure the keys to your new place. Have duplicates ready for emergencies.
  • Clean up, do some repairs and consider painting your old house. For home renters, these will help retrieve as much of their security deposit as they can. For homeowners, doing these tasks assures buyers that they’re getting their money’s worth.
  • If you’re renting portable storage, ask for the container to be delivered days in advance and start loading it as soon as it arrives. Put in the heaviest equipment and furniture first and the lighter ones last.
  • Optional: Plan a moving party.
Interstate Route for Moving

Additionally, put together an emergency kit because it might take a while before you finish unpacking everything.

Here is a list of things to include in this kit:

  • Food and beverages
  • Medications and medicine kit
  • Pillows and blankets
  • Toiletries
  • Extra clothes
  • Extra shoes
  • Your kids’ favorite toys
  • Important work files
  • Writing supplies
  • Rechargeable emergency lamps
  • Light bulbs
  • Extra cords
  • Electronic gadgets
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Raincoats and umbrellas, if you expect rain on moving day

Make sure that your emergency supplies are easy to access and that all electronic gadgets are fully charged on moving day.

14.

List of things to do before moving day

Most of your packing and document-transfer tasks should be done by now, so you will have little to worry about on this day.

Here is a list of things to do the day before you move:

  • Finish the rest of your packing.
  • Stretch-wrap all drawers. It’s much more efficient to do it this way than taking out, packing and putting back their contents.
  • Complete your emergency kit.
  • Drain your fridge, clean it up and dry it completely. Doing these eliminates water, which adds significantly to its weight. Additionally, a clean fridge is good storage space for extra stuff you haven’t packed yet.
  • If you’re renting a portable storage container, most of your belongings should be in there by now.
  • If you’re hiring professional movers, consider sending a trusted family member to your new place and let them stay there or at a nearby hotel before moving day.
  • Ask for the names of the movers and drivers who will service you. Inquire about vehicle plate numbers and other identifiers that will ensure your belongings’ security during the move.

15.

List of things to do on moving day

Finally, the big day! If you have prepared as best as you can, the move should go with few to no hitches.

Here is a list of things for you to do on this day:

  • If you’re going with professional movers:
    • Let them in early. The sooner they can pack your stuff and hit the road, the better their chances of avoiding traffic.
    • Countercheck their inventory list against yours before you sign it. It will come useful if you need to file a loss or damage claim later on.
    • Have someone—either you or a family member—meet the movers at your new place promptly. Moving companies charge by the hour, too, and any delays can inflate your costs.
  • If you’re renting a moving truck, your moving crew must help you load the vehicle early to avoid traffic.
  • If you’re renting a portable storage container, make sure to load the remainder of your belongings and lock it before the designated driver picks it up.
  • Do not forget to double-check the identities of the movers and drivers sent to you, as well as the plate numbers of the vehicles they’re using to service you.
  • If you still have extra stuff that you haven’t gotten rid of at this point, just give it to a neighbor or leave it at the trash dump.
  • Do a quick sweep of every room to make sure that you leave nothing valuable behind.
  • Lock up the old place. For home renters, expect your landlord to do a final inspection days after you leave. For homeowners, you need to keep the place secure until you can turn the keys over to the new owner.
  • For home renters, surrender the keys to your landlord.
  • Don’t forget to tip your movers and drivers when you get to your new destination.

Now, you’re ready to go! 

If you have employees relocating with you, the steps are similar but will involve more complex paperwork. Your staff may have to assist you with the repeat registration procedures, document filing and coordinating everyone’s relocation. If you’re hiring new workers, you also have to include the pre-employment process in your schedule. Make sure to get legal advice every step of the way, especially where permits, licensing, social security and taxation are concerned.

professional moving truck driver

Conclusion

Small business owners can ensure minimal disruption of their families’ routines by preparing well ahead of a relocation. Early planning can also help them explore more options, minimizing moving costs and securing the best services possible for their families.

We have just presented an exhaustive moving guide and checklist to help small business owners with this major life change. Awareness of their unique circumstances will help tailor this guide according to their needs.

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