You already know about the box you put in last so you can take it out first. The one with all the immediate need things in it. This isn’t about that.
This is different.
If you haven’t moved in a while, you will find yourself in a different country.
One that is a bit stricter from the easy going one you remembered from your last move.
You may well be fingerprinted when you get a new license.
If you work for any government office at all–for any municipality, in any capacity–like teaching at an art center–you have to prove your citizenship. A drivers license is not enough anymore. You’ll need an original Social Security card or a valid passport.
If you expect to receive city services–water, electricity, gas, you have to prove your citizenship.
Put those documents in a folder and carry it with you. Don’t get separated from it.
Save with coupons. If you buy a new house or change your address through the postal service, you will start to receive all sorts of coupons. They generally arrive about a week after you have spent a fortune at big box stores and home improvement stores. So keep all your receipts and discount coupons in one folder. Before you leave for the store, see if you have a coupon for that store.
I saved about $300 by taking receipts and coupons back to the store and asking for the discount. Sure, they were in store-bucks and not cash, but I’ll be going to those stores for a while, and the saving is worth the extra work.
Have a rubber stamp made with your new address on it. Labels take too long to have printed. You’ll remember your new address (and phone number) for about a week, and then you’ll start to get confused. A rubber stamp saves time, and I use mine to update checks, magazine subscriptions and bills. I had it made a few weeks in advance and it’s saved me a lot of time.
Buy two books of stamps and put some envelopes in that folder you are taking with you. It might be a while till you find the post office, but you will have to pay your bills on time. On-line bill pay is even better, but it took me a while to get that opened.
Send yourself a letter. Most libraries ask for a letter sent to your new house to prove you live there. I folded a blank sheet of paper, put it in an envelope, addressed it to myself at the new house and mailed it from the old place. Library cards are big priorities for me, so having that letter means I can get a library card the first week I move in. That means I can watch movies and listen to CDs before I find them in the box pile.
Get new tags for your pets. You buy these at most big box pet stores and have them engraved. The middle line has the most room, so use that line for a phone number. Use your cell phone number if you aren’t going to have a land line or don’t know the new number yet. If your animals are chipped, call the main office and change your address and phone number. Pets often feel uncomfortable and bolt from a new home; make it easy to get them back.
Get your pets used to new food and water gradually. I purchased my cat food from a specialty place. I haven’t found one here, so I loaded up on food before I left and am introducing them to the food from the pet store here by alternating the brand they know with the new brand. Our water here is very hard. I filter my water through a Brita filter and use it for the cats. Male cats develop kidney problems, and very hard water is a contributing factor. The cats were suspicious of the taste at first, so I used bottled water to get them used to the filtered water.
Change your locks. Re-key multiple locks to one key. You have no idea who the previous owner gave keys to. Have a locksmith come out and rekey all your locks. If you have multiple keys, it’s convenient to have all the locks work with one key.
Find the switches. At the house inspection, or when you rent a house, find out where the main water shut off, the breaker switch, and the gas cut off is. Take pictures of the location with your cell phone. When you move in, paint the handles a bright color so you’ll find it when you need it and are panicked.
Google your favorite break place–Starbucks, Baskin Robbins, the local library. Print out the map. During the first week, no matter how busy you are, make it a point to take a break. You’ll thank yourself later.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who is still recuperating from a cross-country move. See her work at QuinnCreative.com