It’s Your Move

October 14, 2013

moving into new chicago homeSometimes, pizza just isn’t enough to entice friends to help you move into your new Chicago home. After all, they’ve seen how much you’ve accumulated over the years.

Trying to recruit buddies to transport your belongings to a multifamily building can be more complicated with narrow pathways and bulky furniture and restrictions on parking and service elevators.

Patti and Bob Esposito needed all the help they could get in making their move go as smoothly as possible. They relocated to Two Itasca Place Apartment Homes in Itasca in April.

“We downsized from a big house on an acre and had only three weeks to pack, so that was hard,” said Patti Esposito.

The couple was quickly on a first-name basis with one of the maintenance technicians, who made sure they had elevator dibs, directed the movers and helped them set up their electronics.

When Deb and Bruce Homan moved into 500 Lake Shore Drive in Chicago in May, the apartment building’s staff helped them make a smooth transition too.

“We were new to Chicago, so the building’s personal assistant connected us with people he had already vetted to hang our TV and connect our Internet,” said Deb Homan. “During the move, the doorman watched our car while we went upstairs. Moving is an eight on a one-to-10 stress scale, but ours was painless.”

Other moving services at 500 Lake Shore Drive include measuring rooms for furniture or window treatments, ordering groceries and booking contractors.

A move requires a lot of careful planning whether you do it yourself or hire a professional mover.

In a multifamily building, heed management rules, warned T.J. Rubin, managing broker with Fulton Grace Realty in Chicago.

“They’ll want proof of your mover’s insurance in case of damage,” he said. “You might have to get their OK before you change locks. They’ll tell you where and when to park and, in Chicago, if the local alderman issues a sticker to reserve a spot in front of the building.”

Don’t fall victim to rogue movers. In recent years, a growing number of complaints have been filed against interstate movers involved in fraudulent practices. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offers tips on choosing a reputable mover on it its website, protectyourmove.gov.

“Don’t just hire someone from Craigslist,” said Patricia McLaughlin, executive director of the Illinois Movers’ & Warehousemen’s Association in Springfield. “If they don’t take something during the move, they’ll come back later. They know where you keep your valuables and if you live alone. They especially like the big city, where it’s easy to hide.”

The state association helps determine if a mover is licensed. Movers who move within Illinois (intrastate) are licensed by the Illinois Commerce Commission. Interstate (state-to-state) movers are licensed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Look up the mover’s name on the Better Business Bureau’s site,bbb.org. Scroll past the letter grade to count complaints. “Look for zero,” said McLaughlin.

Packing Tips

Good packing is crucial for a stress-free move. It’s always better to use small moving boxes for heavier household items.and large moving boxes for lightweight items like linen and pillows.

Pack similar items together so that a delicate crystal vase is not in the same box with a toaster, for example.

Label a box “blue bedroom,” not “Max’s bedroom,” so the movers know where it goes. Use small boxes to be kind to your back. Buy stretch wrap to contain unwieldy furnishings like sofa beds and use unprinted packing paper. Make sure cartons are firmly packed, and provide plenty of cushioning such as bubble wrap to absorb shock.

Keep sentimental items and valuables with you during the move. That includes jewelry, medications, home videos, photo albums, laptop computers and new-home documents.

Prohibited items on professional movers’ lists include hazardous materials like aerosol cans, pesticides, paints, pool chemicals, fire extinguishers, firearms and propane tanks, and perishables such as frozen foods, plants and produce. If you want to move a piano, call a piano mover.

Some busy professionals hire designers like Donna Hall of Savvy Interior Design Inc. in Hinsdale to inventory their belongings, suggest what to toss or donate, direct the movers and arrange furnishings in the new home. The result is a thought-out design instead of a pile of boxes awaiting direction.

Senior Downsizing

If you help a senior citizen move, add time and patience, said Jennifer Prell, president of senior relocation experts Paxem Inc., based in Cary, Ill. “If you’re in your 80s or 90s, moving is right up there on the stress list with a death in the family,” she said. “Even the independent senior may get tried, sick or stuck on something like a box of old photos.”

As you pack household goods for an elderly friend, make three piles — donations, garbage and keepers. Then, move the big stuff first, so the little stuff that triggers memories does not hold up the move, Prell said.

Understand that today’s seniors were raised by Depression-era folks who did not throw out anything, she said. Thus, bags of bags and old Cool Whip containers are the norm.

Check every item before it is tossed because it is common for this generation to stash cash. “I’ve seen people hide it everywhere — in the knobs of four-poster beds or pinned inside clothes,” she said.

Moving with Your Pet

The four-legged family member, who thrives on routine and familiar surroundings, needs special care during a move. Designate a friend or family member to watch your pet. Make sure he is wearing a tag with your name and cell phone number in case he runs off. If he has a microchip (typically done during annual exams), tell the registry your new address and phone.

This post was originally published in the Chicago Tribune on Oct. 11, 2013.

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