Move It, Soldier!

(Common sense from Uncle Sam.)

Few organizations move as fast – or as often – as the U.S. military. Last year, for example, the army closed a base in St. Louis and reassigned 2,000 soldiers and civilian employees. Dan Buchner, a senior analyst for CAS Inc., a support-services contractor, moved to Huntsville, Alabama.


Though he paid close attention to the army’s official advice on moving, the best direction he received came from an unofficial source – an email memo that circulated around the St. Louis base. No one knows who wrote it or when. But the memo captures lots of commonsense wisdom, based on “20 years of moving in the army.”

Here are edited excerpts.

Before the Move

1. Start going through your belongings to determine what you can live without, and get rid of it. Consider donating items like clothing and toys to homeless shelters.

2. Start a household-goods inventory. You should also videotape your possessions. This could prove useful if you have to file a claim for damages after the move. If you have a lot of antiques, you should have them appraised.

3. Make an inventory of the items in each room. A couple days before the movers are scheduled to pack your goods, you may want to organize the items in each room in such a manner that the movers can simply come in the room and begin packing.

4. Designate a “safe room,” where you can put items you don’t want moved.


5. Don’t plan on getting much sleep the night before the move.

During the Move

6. When the movers arrive, do a walk-through of your house to show them where everything is, especially the “safe room.”

7. Try to get the first and last names of everyone in the crew. If they do a good job, write the moving company a letter.

8. After everything is packed and loaded on the truck, do at least two walks through the house to make sure nothing was forgotten.

After the Move

9. When the movers arrive at the new location, do a walk-through and explain where you want things to go. Make sure they know what you mean when you say “master bedroom,” or “linen closet.” You might even want to post a sign on each room.

10. It’s best not to have the movers unpack, since it’s a hassle to file claims on things they might break. Unpack what you need for the night, and finish the job yourself the next day.