Having a Yard Sale To Help Moving

Get organized

Start by making sure there are no local regulations against garage or yard sales. Then start organizing what you want to sell as if you were stocking a department store: Put china in one box, tools in another, books in yet another. Put clothes on hangers and sort and label them by size. When the time comes, display each in its own area. Department stores categorize because it makes it easy on their customers, and a customer who can find what he or she wants is more likely to spend money. Your customers are no different.

Look at things closely as you divide them into categories. If something is broken, throw it out or fix it. First impressions are lasting, and a customer who comes across a broken lamp is likely to decide that everything else is junk too. Clean everything. Run dishes and glasses through the dishwasher

and hose down garden tools to get off the dirt. Polish the bowling ball. Vacuum the sofa. A customer who comes across a yard sale where everything is clean and well organized will linger and more importantly, buy things.


As you’re organizing and paring down, put a price tag on each item before it goes in its box. As a rule stickers from an office supply store make good price tags, but larger items, like sofas or lawnmowers, should have larger string tags that are easy to see. Set the asking price of an item in good condition at one-fifth to one-third of the original price, but temper your pricing with some common sense. A $15 hammer might sell for $3 to $5. On the other hand, you’ll be lucky to get $1 for a rusted hammer with a cracked handle. Don’t expect to get $600 for a 5-year-old computer or $25 for a $75 piece of outdated software. Visit a few yard sales before you have yours to get a feel for local asking prices. Set prices in dollar amounts-$1, $2, $3—or in 25-cent increments. Setting odd prices results in a change-making nightmare. Price items such as glasses, plates, and silverware together-five for $1, instead of 25 cents each.

Books, books, books

Books are extremely heavy, but they are often also old friends. Get rid of old thrillers, diet books, outdated fix- it books, old travel guides, textbooks, and others you’re unlikely to ever open again. Check the hardcovers to see whether any are first editions or otherwise desirable and try selling them on eBay (see pages 20-21) or to an antiquarian book dealer. When you’re down to the core of your library, go through it carefully. Ask yourself which of those books you’re likely to read or refer to again. Get rid of anything you can bear to part with.

Precious collectibles

These can be a tough call. Are they heavy? Do you display them, read them, or play with them? Is your collection of vintage sporting goods really collectible or is it just a hodgepodge of old stuff you don’t use? Could you sell your items and make enough money to rebuild the collection at your new home?

All that food

Stop buying food a month before you move and start cooking with what’s in the cupboards. There is probably nothing there that you can’t get at your new home. If you buy it fresh at the new home, you won’t have to pay to move it. And now is the time to quit loading up at sales and start using frozen food from the freezer compartment and deep freeze. Unless you make a very short move, you can’t take frozen food with you.

Tackling the garage

Dedicate a day to cleaning it. Back out the cars and work section by section. Pick up everything piece by piece and sort it into one of three categories:

This is something I use.

This works but I don’t need it.

This is broken, useless, will cost more to move than it’s worth, or is obvious rubbish.

Pack category 1 as you work your way across the garage. Set category 2 aside for a yard sale. Put everything in category 3 in the trash.



Several charitable organizations can use the items you no longer need. If you have usable items that you’d like to donate, look into giving them to organizations such as the ones below. Most are nationwide, though not all may operate near you.

Vietnam Veterans of America and Military Order of the Purple Heart accept donations to resell to help veterans.

Goodwill Industries accepts donations of household goods that they resell to pay for training people who face barriers to the job market. Some stores recycle and resell computers.

HopeLine, operated by Verizon Wireless, accepts donations of any carrier’s used cell phones to benefit the victims of domestic violence.

Dress for Success accepts donations of interview- and work-appropriate clothing to give to low-income women who are entering the workforce.

Salvation Army accepts clothes that they sell through Salvation Army Thrift Shops. Proceeds from sales benefit the needy and homeless, disaster relief, and job-training programs.

City missions and rescue missions provide housing for the homeless. They usually accept clothing and small household items, which go directly to their clients. Some operate thrift shops that raise money by selling donated items.

Food banks operate in many towns and cities. You can donate canned goods to local food banks, which distribute the food to people with low incomes.

Local church and local charity resale shops accept donated items. Many churches operate thrift shops and use the money to support their programs, as do many local charities. Some collect usable household goods to distribute to families in need. Check in the phone book under thrift shops for the ones in your area.

Looking At Self-Service Movers

Self-service movers, like portable containers, are a middle ground between moving it yourself and hiring a pro. A self-service mover delivers a trailer to your home instead of a container. You save money by loading it yourself, but still have the security of a professional driver to haul your goods.

A trailer is at least 28 feet long, enough to handle a four-bedroom residence. However self- service movers charge you by the percentage of the truck’s floor space that you actually use. If your four-bedroom home only fills up three-quarters of the truck, you’ll only pay three-quarters of what you would if the trailer were full.

Estimating the load space you need some self-service movers set a minimum load below which they won’t take the job. Others will accept loads of any size, but charge you for a minimum amount of space even if you use less. Usually an efficiency apartment is below the threshold; condominium units and apartments are usually above the minimum. An average room will fill about 3 linear feet of truck space, or (since the truck is 8 feet wide) 24 square feet. You’re better off letting the mover do the estimate however. Some base estimates on the square footage of your house. Others have an online list on which you check off the items you’re moving. Once the truck arrives at your house, you typically have 48 hours to load it. Some companies count only business days, so you could get an extra two days without paying an extra charge if you have the trailer over the weekend. Once the truck is on the road, it can travel about 500 miles in a day, and you can often track where it is, either online or by calling the company. Once the truck arrives at your new home, you’ll have 48 hours to unload it.

For a fee, some movers will provide workers who will help you load and unload the truck. One firm charges $300 for two men for three hours and about $60 an hour for the pair thereafter. Given the problems you may have lining up helpers at the new location that might be money well spent. Details of the move vary from company to company. All require a temporary wall, called a bulkhead, to keep your load from shifting. All trucks have metal fasteners for bulkheads on the sides of the truck, and the bulkhead comes in pieces that are already on the truck. Some companies, however, have you supply plywood to put between the bulkhead and your cargo. Some have you install the bulkhead; others have their driver install it. Once the bulkhead is in place, most companies load cargo in the rest of the truck and deliver it before they deliver your things. This saves you money, but ask whether any additional cargo is tightly sealed. Some companies provide a loading ramp. Others charge you for using one. In any event, you will need to rent a hand truck and a dolly. You will also have to provide your own packing materials

Insurance varies too. One company offers $5,000 of free insurance. Another offers $1,000. Additional insurance costs about $10 per $1,000, with the cost declining as you buy more. Yet a third mover offers coverage at $2 a pound, up to a maximum of $20,000. Often a company that offers lower insurance also charges less for move.


Self-service moves differ from full-service moves in two respects. The obvious one is that with a self- service move, you load and unload the truck yourself. The other difference could wipe out your expected savings on the move. Full-service movers charge you by the actual weight of the cargo. The cost of the move is the same regardless of floor space used. Self-service movers charge you by the square foot, so the price may vary: Depending on how carefully you pack, two different people loading exactly the same cargo could use significantly different amounts of floor space.

Scaling Down When Moving

Scale down. Pare back. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

You don’t need all that stuff.

You do need to draw up some ground rules. What goes and what stays? High school yearbook? High school textbook? Fifteen pairs of dress shoes? Snowshoes? Everybody has to make up their own mind, but there are a few guidelines you can follow.

Work room by room, tackling one room at a time. Divide everything into three piles, at least mentally. Things you use go into the first pile. Things you don’t use go into the second pile. Things you sometimes use go into the third pile. Pack up the first pile to move and get rid of the other two.

Almost every attic or basement in America holds at least a couple of boxes that were never unpacked after the last move. If you haven’t needed them in this house, you probably won’t need them in the next house. Check them for beloved, if forgotten, heirlooms and toss the rest of the stuff.

Emptying the closets

Studies show that people wear 20 percent of their clothes 80 percent of the time. This means that up to 80 percent of your wardrobe is expendable. To separate trash from treasure, first try on all your clothes. Put those that fit well and look good back in the closet. Put those that don’t fit or are outdated or shabby in a pile. If you’re saving a favorite suit until you lose 10 pounds, maybe you can get rid of it.

Every morning choose that day’s wardrobe from the closet. At the end of the day, put everything you wore either into the left-hand side of your closet or the wash. After a few weeks, the best of your wardrobe will end up on the left- hand side of your closet. The candidates for sale or donation are on the right.

Any clothes that have spent more than a year stored in the attic or basement are clothes you can get rid of.

Measure the closets in your new home and take along only as many clothes as they will comfortably hold. Allow 1 inches for men’s or women’s suits, 2 inches for dresses.


Portable Containers Moving Option

Hiring a pro are portable storage containers, often known as pods, which stands for “portable on-demand storage.”

Here’s how they work. The mover delivers the container to your home. You then have several days before the move to fill it with your household goods. The filled container is then delivered to your new home by a professional trucker. You are allowed several days to unload it. In short, you do the lifting and save some money, but still have the security of a professional driver. For an additional fee you can usually store your container in the company’s facilities for as long as necessary.

How it works

The container is delivered to your house on a moving truck and lowered to the ground. Since it sits roughly 4 inches off the ground, there’s no need for a ramp. But perhaps the biggest advantage is the several days you have to load the container. The panic of trying to get everything packed—and packed safely-is eased. You can schedule your helpers over a few days and evenings and finish up on a Saturday or Sunday.

Unlike a rental truck, which has to be back to the yard within a certain number of days, a container gives you the option of storing what you move for an unlimited amount of time for a fee.

You have access to the containers and their contents, which are usually stored in a large warehouse. Because they are in a warehouse, however, you won’t have the same access you would at a self storage warehouse. You’ll have to call a day or more in advance so that your container can be pulled out of storage.

Once the container is delivered to your new house, you usually have another five days (depending on the company) to unload it.

If necessary you can get more time, but there is an extra charge.

Figuring the cost

The cost will depend on the distance you’re moving and the size of the container you’re using. You can usually get an estimate at a container mover’s website; but remember, it’s only an estimate. Where you are moving, how many bedrooms you have, and whether you need storage are all variables that affect the cost. Some companies simply tell you how much a standard container can hold and let you figure out what size you need. One company projects that their 12-foot-long, 8-foot-high, 8-foot- wide container can hold the contents of a 1,200-square-foot house. Their 16-foot version can hold the contents of a 1,500-square-foot house.

Containers are made of before you strike any deals with container movers. Containers may be aluminum, aluminum and plastic, or plywood. Choose a company with durable, weather-resistant containers.

Get three estimates. Compare the cost with that of moving it yourself, not forgetting gas, tolls, meals, and motels. You’ll have to add in the cost of packing materials for both pods and moving it yourself. Also check against the cost of a full-service mover and a self-service mover.

Try to get prices for all three kinds of service so that you can compare prices directly for the same levels of service. If one company’s price is dramatically lower than the others, be wary.

A company quoting an unusually low price may charge for other services at the time of delivery.

Making an international move

If you’re moving abroad, what you need to do and how you need to do it depend on where you’re going. While one country may allow you to import certain items, another may not. The best place to start your international move is to find a company with experience in moving to your destination. Most van lines have an international division. Find out where the company is most experienced. You should also contact your future home’s nearest consulate or their embassy in Washington, D. C. to review regulations with them. (See page 35 for more about finding an international mover.)

You’ll need a visa to move wherever you’re going: Work on it in advance. Arriving as a tourist and then changing your status to that of a resident can be difficult, if not impossible, in many countries.

Your host country will generally let you import your household goods, including clothing, duty-free. Rules are likely to require that you haven’t been a resident of the country for the last year and that you will be a full-time resident rather than a seasonal resident.

You generally can import your car duty-free too, as long as you will be living in the country a given period of time (often 12 months). The vehicle usually has to be private, rather than commercial, and generally has to be at least a few months old. You may have to convert it to meet safety, antipollution, or other standards in the country you’re moving to.

You can often import food duty-free, but only as much as you could normally have on the shelves at home. Alcohol and tobacco are not duty-free.

Firearms regulations are complicated and vary widely. Check with the consulate well in advance. Transportation of ammunition by private parties is generally not allowed because of the danger of explosion.

Find out in advance what you’ll need to open bank accounts; have all the necessary papers ready when you arrive.


At some point in getting ready for the move, you’re going to look at a crystal vase, an heirloom teapot, or an antique muzzle loader and wonder: What’s the best way to move this?

The first part of the question is really “How do I move this without breaking it?” The other part of the question is sometimes more difficult to voice: “How do I move this without it getting stolen?”

Small valuables such as jewelry, coins, or stamps are easy to pack and take with you. Pack with tissue paper, rather than newspaper, so the ink won’t smudge whatever it comes in contact with. Repair anything that’s broken or loose before the move.

Beyond whatever you can pack and carry yourself, your valuables are in the hands of the movers. Most movers won’t insure items they haven’t packed, so it’s best to let them do the packing. Small pictures and paintings should be wrapped, placed on edge, and put in heavy cardboard containers. Large paintings may require a custom-built wooden case. Large valuable antiques should be shipped in a custom-built wooden crate.

When the moving company representative comes to the house to give you an estimate, point out the pieces you think need special care. Ask the mover to separately quote the price of having the items carefully crated. If you decide in favor of crating, let the movers know well in advance. Ask what kind of insurance the company can provide and ask the company that insures your home about additional insurance you can buy to cover art and valuables in transit. If your items are rare or extremely valuable, contact a company that specializes in moving art and antiques to move them.

The Internet is a great way to compare prices, but provides no guarantee of good service. You will get what you pay for, and if somebody is going to charge you considerably less than the going rate, expect them to provide considerably less service too. Many Internet movers are really brokers who turn your shipment over to any available carrier. If you’re pricing over the web, ask to know exactly who is handling your move.

A legitimate mover will come to your home, examine what you’re moving, and give you an estimate. Scam movers may try to give you an estimate over the phone or over the Internet without seeing your household furnishings.

If legitimate movers ask for a deposit, it will be a small one. If someone asks for a large deposit, it’s probably a scam.

Legitimate movers charge by weight, as verified on a state- inspected scale. Scam movers will charge by the square foot or cubic foot, which you cannot easily verify.


Full-Service Movers Option Explained

Choosing a mover

If you’re considering hiring a pro, start by contacting three movers. Recommendations from friends and neighbors are helpful; so is the website www.moving.org. It’s run by the professional trade organization American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA). Working from your zip code and the answers to a few simple questions, AMSA contacts movers in your area, and the movers contact you.

Once you have the names of three movers, double-check the Better Business Bureau or go to the BBB website to see whether there have been complaints. Do a separate search of the Internet for the name of each company, looking for complaints or praise. For information on safety records, go to www.safersys.org, a site run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Once you’ve chosen three carrier candidates, discuss packing options with each. Generally you have three choices. The easiest but most expensive option is to let the mover pack everything. Your second option is to do part of the packing yourself—all the nonbreakable items, for example- and let the mover pack the rest. The third option is to do all the packing yourself. While it’s the cheapest option, it’s not risk-free: Movers will generally not be responsible for damage to things you packed yourself.

Discuss insurance too. The options are typically a minimal policy offered by the moving company, a slightly upgraded policy, and a full replacement value policy.

Getting an accurate estimate

Don’t accept an estimate based only on a phone conversation-in fact, rule out any mover who tries to give you one. Walk the movers through the house, showing them everything you want to move, and get a written estimate of the cost of the move. If a mover won’t give you a written estimate, hire a different one.

Unfortunately comparing estimates can be tricky. All estimates are based on the expected weight that the truck will carry. A binding estimate says that the mover will do the job for a certain fee, regardless of the weight of the load.

A nonbinding estimate says the mover will move you for a stated amount, plus no more than 10 percent. A not-to- exceed estimate provides you with a binding bid, but you sizes that various rental companies recommend. Ask the companies you have in mind and if in doubt, err on the side of a bigger truck.

Once you know the size truck you need, make sure that you’re getting a moving truck. A truck built for moving will have a ramp so you can walk in and out of the truck. It may have a side door as well as a back door, in case you have to unload from the street. The floor should be hardwood and be clean of stones and debris. There should be fixtures on the walls for straps that will secure the load.

Equally important, make sure you can drive the truck. Does it have an automatic or a manual transmission?

Do you need a special license to drive it? Are you comfortable backing it up? And don’t forget the amenities:

Is it air-conditioned? Does it have a radio? A CD player?

Compare both prices and service. Some companies charge for mileage (or mileage beyond a certain threshold), others don’t. If you’re planning on stopping to visit friends and relatives during a one-way move, be aware that most companies will allow you a certain number of days for the move and charge extra if it takes longer.

Make sure the rental agreement is for a truck that’s guaranteed to be there when you go to pick it up. Some companies and some of their independent dealers have policies that encourage them to rent the truck for the most money possible. If so, someone making an expensive crosscountry move can end up with the truck that you thought was reserved for your less expensive local move.

Take care of other essentials while you’re at the rental lot. Rent a hand truck (see page 65) and lots of packing blankets. The hand truck will help you move dressers and stacks of boxes; if you’re moving a refrigerator, ask for an appliance hand truck. Dollies, which are small frames on wheels, slip under bookcases and the like, allowing you to roll them out the door with very little lifting. As you load wrap furniture that’s easily damaged in blankets to protect it. You’ll also need straps to tie furniture and boxes to the wall and to prevent loads from shifting.

Make sure you have reliable helpers lined up for the day of the move. Check to make sure that your helpers have a clear path to the truck and that nothing is likely to trip them as they work. Make sure they know what they are doing: Lift with the knees. Stop if it hurts. Lift, don’t drag things across the floor and be careful with the furniture.

Load heavy things first and put them on the floor of the truck. Put lighter items on top of the heavier things. Remember that it will take longer to stop a truck when braking than it does in your car, and that once the truck is full, it will take even longer.

Rental companies claim that you can save up to 50 percent of the cost of a full-service move by doing it yourself, and in many cases you can. But doing it yourself isn’t for everybody. If you answer no to any of the following questions, consider hiring a pro instead of doing it yourself.


BUY USED BOXES You can get free boxes from grocery and liquor stores, but they’ll all be different sizes and hard to pack. Call a local moving company instead and ask whether they have any used boxes. Their boxes will be two or three uniform sizes, and since the moving company isn’t allowed to reuse them, they’re usually half- price. Don’t underestimate the power of uniform boxes to make loading easier.



When you figure out the cost of a do-it-yourself move, make sure you figure in the cost of taking time off work. Figure out the cost of fuel and tolls. (A 15-foot truck gets only 6 to 10 miles to the gallon.) Add in the cost of packing blankets, a hand truck and dolly, and food for the helpers. Figure in the cost of motels, if any, and meals on the road.

Am I in shape? Can I lift without hurting my back?

Am I strong enough to lift heavy boxes?

Do I have friends willing to help me load?

Do I have anybody to help me unload?

When I add in the cost of everything involved, am I really saving money?

Can I drive a truck?

Can I back up without hitting everything in the vicinity?

Do I have the time to do this? Can I spend the week on the road that may be required for a long move? Do I need to start a job immediately after I arrive?

Can my friends and I move a piano (or other large furniture) by ourselves?

WEIGH FLAT RATES CAREFULLY Moving companies charge a flat rate for a load up to 3,000 pounds. But you may have less furniture and miscellany than the flat-rate allowance. If you pay to have pros move a ton of your possessions— 2,000 pounds-they’re going to charge you for an extra 1,000 pounds, or 50 percent more than you are actually moving.

Should You Do the Move Yourself?


Cost, cost, cost

Complete control over schedule flexibility on the details


Driving a large truck, especially over a long distance lifting

Finding helpers packing and unpacking

The shorter the move, the smaller the load, and the healthier the workers, the more sense do-it-yourself moving makes. Smaller loads are easier to pack, easier to manage, and will fit into smaller trucks that you’re likely to be more comfortable driving. Short distances mean that you won’t need to take a lot of time off work and that you won’t have to drive cross-country in a truck that is unfamiliar and perhaps rough-riding.

But there are other costs beside the truck and what it does to your bones. As you’re figuring out the costs, make sure you add in boxes and packing material. Add in the time and stress involved. And don’t forget that once you’re on the road, you’ll need to pay for gas, tolls, and food. If it’s a long move, you’ll need to pay for motel rooms.

Talk to two or three companies about the truck you plan to rent. A truck too small, one designed for something else, or one that isn’t there when you go to pick it up can turn a move into a disaster.

Begin by knowing how big a truck it will take. You’ll need roughly 150 cubic feet of truck space per furnished room. To translate from cubic feet to truck length takes some math (length in feet = volume in cubic feet divided by height x width of the truck box in feet). A 10-foot truck usually has about 400 cubic feet of space, enough to move an efficiency or studio apartment. If you have six rooms to move, you’ll need about 900 cubic feet, about the capacity of a 24-foot truck. The chart on page 58 gives you an idea of the truck

There is more than one way to get your household from here to there. Some ways involve more work than others; some involve more money than others. All of them do the trick, however, and settling on a method is a question of how much money you’re willing to trade off for a given amount of work. The options are listed briefly below. You’ll find more thorough explanations in the pages that follow.

You can rent a truck and do it yourself. This is the most labor-intensive choice, but the least costly one. You do all the packing, all the lifting, and all the driving. Depending on distance involved and the size of the truck, driving could well be the hardest part.

You can hire the pros and let them do all the packing. Packers arrive at your house a couple of days before the move and pack everything for you. On the day of the move, the movers load the van. When they arrive at your new home, they’ll unpack it and you can even have them put everything where you want it. Needless to say, this is the most expensive option.