The SelfStorageFinders.com blog typically posts about moving, storage and SEO related items. None of these blog posts ever really relate to any personal experiences we’ve had in storage or moving…until now. I recently relocated from the Kansas City area to the suburbs of Chicago. Although the journey still isn’t over, I wanted to share some moving ideas, my personal take on the move and provide tips for those who will be moving in the future.
Step 1: Selecting a Realtor
My wife and I put our house on the market last year and though we had nearly 50 showings, were unable to sell the house. We promptly fired our realtor told our agent we no longer needed her services and waited until February to relist our home. Our search for a new realtor came down to a few good people and we ultimately chose a realtor who had a remarkable record of selling homes quickly. He recently sold a neighbors house in 4 days and had a great marketing plan to boot.
Step 2: Preparing the House
Once we found our realtor and signed the paperwork, it was time to prep our house for sale. We knew we would most likely have some updating and small fixes to do around the home and had budget for such. Our realtor recommended a few changes and said he would send in a home stager/decorator if we didn’t mind.
We figured it would be a good idea to make the updates and began with the kitchen. It is well known that kitchens and bathrooms sell homes and is something women look at first. We updated the kitchen with new granite countertops and a backsplash. We also touched up paint in several rooms and basically did a deep spring cleaning. Our home was in good condition and didn’t need much work so the kitchen was the only item we really updated.
Wanting to sell our home as quickly as possible, we made the changes to our home and brought in the home stager. Luckily, we don’t have a lot of extra stuff so our home staging process was more of a move the couch here, put the chair here situation. We had more than enough room in our basement storage area to fit anything the stager didn’t want potential buyers to see, thus we did not require a self storage unit. The entire process of re-arranging furniture and storing extra items took about 2 hours for our entire house. Like I said, we aren’t hoarders so the process was relatively simple.
Step 3: Showing the House
Once the home was properly staged, cleaned and listed it was finally show ready. We sat back and waited for potential buyers to come calling. Picture this: You have the house ready and clean, some items are even packed up and ready to go on a truck because you won’t use them again for a while and your house is almost always spotless. This is all done because potential buyers want to see a fresh slate, a great looking house inside and out and the house should be clean at all times. This, in theory, is a great idea. The problem with this theory is we have 2 small children and a dog. The house is rarely always clean and it is a pain to live out of boxes. The kitchen counters must be clean and cleared prior to a showing meaning coffee pots, toasters, utensils, towels etc. must be packed or hidden. Kids and dog toys must be packed or hidden as well.
This might sound like me complaining but it really is a major hassle. Keeping a spotless house with 2 small children and a dog is a ton of work. Not to mention, when there is a showing it is best for you to not be home so the potential buyers can walk through the home without any interruptions or distractions. Cleaning the house, hiding toys and daily appliances and packing up the kids and dog each time there is a showing got repetitive and annoying. I also wasted a good amount of money on gas and eating out at restaurants simply because we couldn’t be at home during showings.
Step 4: Selling the House
Our home was on the market for about 2.5 weeks before we finally had a committable offer. During that time, I believe we had about 20-25 showings which was good but also a pain. The selling process itself was painless thanks to our realtor and after some minor banter back and forth, we agreed on a selling price. All the paperwork and closing dates were set and signed and we were finished. I’ve heard many horror stories about negotiations during this time but ours went smoothly and quickly.
Step 5: Packing
Our packing process began the day after we agreed to sell the home. We began packing small items which we wouldn’t use until after the move; winter clothes, blankets, dishes, pictures, cooking pans etc. Anything which wasn’t being used on a daily basis was packed into boxes, taped up and put into a corner out of the way. Our home was beginning to get messy, cramped and unorganized but such is moving.
The closer we got to moving day the more things we began to pack into boxes. More clothes, more dishes, extra toiletries, lamps, CD’s, books and TV’s were being packed. We made two piles of other items we wouldn’t be keeping. One pile was for donation and the other pile was trash. Both of those piles filled up quickly and we ended up making several trips to Goodwill to donate stuff we didn’t use anymore.
Once we found the moving/storage company we would use – more on that in the next section – we started packing the POD. Good thing we had an excellent plan on how to properly pack and moved all of the items we wouldn’t need for a long time in first. We stacked boxes from floor to ceiling, laid blankets on the floor for precaution and had the heaviest boxes on the ground so they didn’t crush the lighter boxes. Large furniture items were also placed in the rear of the POD and arranged accordingly in order to maximize space.
We took all of our clothes out of dresser drawers and put them in suitcases or plastic storage bins. Then we used the dresser drawers for other items such as books, utensils, picture frames etc. This way those items were safe, secured in a drawer and wouldn’t break. Entertainment center drawers were used similarly as were garbage bins and side tables. Our packing was done so efficiently, we nearly had our entire house in one 8×16 POD. Remember, we are a family of 4! I’m not bragging….just saying ;). I remembered to pack like it was a game of Tetris and the whole thing went relatively smooth.
One of the big things consumers tend to forget is when renting a self storage unit, you need to have a good lock. I bought one of the best locks on the market. It was affordable, durable and came in a 2 pack which I needed.
The locks worked great on the POD and I have yet to have any issues with them.
Step 6: Finding a Mover and Storage
Luckily I am a master of online searching and can easily find moving and storage facilities online. I called four moving companies to get quotes in order to compare estimates and company reputations. I also called three national mobile storage options for the same reason. Ultimately, we decided mobile storage was the best option for us this time around. The cost to move our belongings from Kansas City to the suburbs of Chicago on a moving truck and then store our stuff in a storage facility didn’t make sense financially. One major reason is we didn’t have a place of our own yet so the moving truck would simply be dropping our items off a storage unit for us. So a moving truck with storage was out of the running.
We decided to go with 1 of 3 mobile storage companies. Go Minis didn’t pick up or deliver to where we would be living so they were checked off the list. It came down to POD’s and Pack Rat. Pack Rat was a bit cheaper but had a smaller container and a storage facility about 30 miles from where we would be staying. Now, I know what you’re thinking: Pack Rat can deliver right to your doorstep. Correct, but if we needed to get into the unit, which we did as we packed some items we shouldn’t have, we would have to drive 30 miles to access the unit. POD’s was a bit more expensive but gave me a discount and had a storage facility which is only a 5 mile drive from where we are staying. POD’s was our choice.
Both POD’s and Pack Rat had knowledgeable, polite and friendly representatives which I dealt with on the phone. Talking with each was a pleasant experience as both relayed the exact information I needed to know and answered all of the questions I had. Moving is stressful enough without having to worry if the guys on the other line understand what you are saying or when the items will be picked up and delivered.
I ordered two POD’s for moving week. One was to be delivered a week prior to us moving out and then picked up 3 days prior to us leaving. Once that POD was picked up from our home, the other was to be delivered that day. This gave us enough time to pack and fill the first POD on our own time without rushing. Giving us 3 additional days to fill the second POD did the same. This was plenty of time to fill both POD’s .
Step 7: Moving
Ah, moving week. It’s a dreaded, stressful affair. Anyone who has moved can tell you – it stinks. Anyone moving kids and pets can tell you – it stinks more. You will undoubtedly get in arguments with your significant other and want to put your kids in the POD before it is all said and done. If you can get through a move with your spouse, you can survive anything.
After loading the POD’s and packing them like a wizard, we are pretty much done.
We packed the cars with items we would need for about a week since the POD’s don’t get delivered to the storage facility for 5 days. Clothes, toiletries, car snacks, computers, phones, books, pillows, sporting equipment, the kids and dog and toys were some of the things we put into cars. We then set off on what would amount to a 9 hour drive to the Chicago ‘burbs.
Prior to leaving, we waited for POD’s to come and get the last POD from our driveway. Anyone who has never witnessed a POD pickup or drop-off is missing out. It is really an impressive experience. This was my first time so I stopped to watch. The driver has a small flatbed truck which the POD conveniently sits on.
He backs the truck up in your driveway – if you want the POD door facing your garage – and leaves it roughly five feet away from the door. The driver then gets out of the truck, straps some chains onto the bottom of the POD, uses an awesome harness type system and lifts the POD about 2 feet off of the truck.
He then drives the truck off of the driveway and quickly comes back to re-situate the POD. From here, he can move the POD left, right or back and forth to where you specify.
The POD is then carefully set on the ground and the harness is placed back on the flatbed and driven away.
The rest of the story is still developing as we finally move into our new home in 1 week. Stay tuned…..
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