Steps to make moving less of a burden

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Congratulations! That brand-new house ó with the empty closets and the gleaming floors ó is all yours. Now all you have to do is move your stuff. Depending on how long youíve lived in your last home, that could be a daunting task.

With a little preparation and a lot of organization, moving into your new home wonít break the bank ó or your back. Here are some tips to make your move as painless as possible:

ó Start early

If you wait until the last minute, chances are youíll just start throwing stuff in boxes and youíll take items you donít need ó and you will be unable to find things you do need once youíre there. Start at least three weeks before your move. With all the other details from the sale plus your daily obligations, packing will take longer than you think.

ó If you donít need it, donít take it

Sell, donate, or toss anything you havenít used for a while and isnít essential to your life. Start with clutter thatís laying around, then work your way through the closets. Sort items into piles to keep, sell, donate or throw away. The less stuff you have, the less you need to pack and unpack. It will save you time and money, and keep the new house from immediately looking cluttered.

ó What to put where

Boxes and bubble wrap are great for delicate items. (To save money, check out U-Haulís "Take a Box, Leave a Box" program where you can pick up free used boxes and leave used ones for others.) Be sure to place only lighter items in bigger boxes and save heavier items for smaller boxes. You donít want to break the box ó or anyoneís back. Use trash bags for soft unbreakable items such as linens and clothing, which will save money and space, and leave items in furniture drawers, if theyíre not too heavy. Donít forget to label all your containers, preferably on more than one side. Also, pack a suitcase with items youíll need immediately.

ó Go pro or do it yourself

Although a professional mover will cost more than hiring a truck for yourself, keep in mind all the costs of moving on your own and decide whether the price difference is worth the pain. If you plan to do it yourself, remember to budget for gas, hand-truck rentals and the meals youíll have to pay your helpers. Most moves of less than 100 miles are considered local and are charged by the hour, and some charge less during the week or mid-month. If your belongings are organized and ready to go, the cost will be lower. Get a written, binding estimate from a company that will come and look at the inventory. Check with the California Public Utilities Commission (cpuc.ca.gov/transportation) for reputable in-state movers.

ó Stay organized

Get a calendar, make lists (apps such as Wunderlist or the wunderlist.com website can help) and put down everything you need to do, such as changing the mailing address and disconnecting the utilities (you should call a week ahead of the move).

ó Settle in

Be sure to have a set of clean sheets handy. Even if you have to leave your mattress on the floor the first night, itíll feel great crawling into a fresh bed and getting a good nightís sleep in your new home.