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Before You Leave

By Ramona Creel

So you're planning to relocate to another area -- very exciting! Unfortunately, these days you can't just pack up the car and take off. You will need to settle all of your old business before starting fresh in a new community. Here are a few simple steps you can take to make starting a new life a bit easier.

CONTACT YOUR BANK

Of course, you will want to arrange the transfer of your accounts to your new area -- plan to do this at least one month before your planned move date. This kind of transfer is easy if you are simply switching branches. But you might be moving to a different city or state where your bank doesn't exist. Go ahead and open your new account and order checks with your new address -- but don't close out the old account until all of your checks have cleared (or leave enough in the account to cover all outstanding checks, if you trust your bookkeeping!) And be sure to transfer the contents of your safety deposit box to your new bank.

SUBMIT CHANGE-OF-ADDRESS

The easiest way to do this is to pick up a change of address packet at the post office. This will include a form that you turn back in to your postmaster -- allow at least 30 days for the change to go into affect. If each member of your household shares the same last name, you can simply fill out one form for the entire family.

But if your household contains several different last names, fill out a separate form for each person. You should also send out post cards to your friends, family, and creditors -- you can either have cards custom-printed or use the ones in your change of address packet. And if you leave someone off of the list, don't worry. The postal service will generally continue to forward your mail for 12 months after you change your address (6 months for periodicals). So if you receive any items bearing the yellow "forwarding sticker," you know to let the sender know of your new address.

TRANSFER IMPORTANT RECORDS

It's crucial that your family's history follow you to your new home. A delay in transferring vital records can cause innumerable delays as you try to establish yourself in a new community. If you have students in your household, you will want to contact their current schools and arrange for a transfer of student records. Also send a letter to each of your family's doctors -- general practitioners, specialists, dentists, chiropractors, etc. -- and ask for your medical records. If you already have a new physician picked out, have the records sent directly to your new doctor's office. If not, ask your current physician for some referrals in your new community. And don't forget to change your insurance policies -- property, auto, and medical. This means not only changing your mailing address, but also adjusting your coverage and premiums as necessary. Also talk to your agent about any additional coverage you might need for the move itself.

ORGANIZE ALL IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS IN A FIRE-SAFE BOX

What happens if disaster strikes while you are en route to your new home? Moving is a time of great vulnerability -- all your most important papers and prized possessions are packed in boxes and sitting in a truck for days or even weeks at a time. Do yourself a favor as you pack -- take a moment to separate out any documents whose loss would cause you INCONVENIENCE during your move. These include:

- school records / pet documents

- home purchase / sale papers

- wills / marriage / divorce papers

- financial records / stock certificates

- credit card records / banking records / tax returns

- birth certificates / social security cards / passports

- moving contract / household inventory

- insurance policies (life / property / medical / auto)

These items should be stored in a small fire-proof box with a lock -- which stays with you at all times. Whether you ride in the moving truck or a separate car or take a plane to your new home, keep this box in your carry-on luggage.

GIVE NOTICES OF CANCELLATION OR RESIGNATION

In the rush of getting out the door, we often forget the most obvious details. Think about all of the people who provide you a regular service -- cleaning, lawn care, deliveries, child care -- let these folks know that you are moving and won't need their services any longer. Give proper notice of resignation to any clubs, organizations, or volunteer activities with which you are involved. And cancel local newspaper subscriptions. And, of course, arrange for the disconnection or changeover of your utilities (at least 2 weeks ahead of your move).

TIE UP ANY LOOSE ENDS

Moving is the perfect time to take care of all those little "chores" you've been meaning to do but never got around to. Clean out any club, gym, or school lockers. Retrieve and return all borrowed items from friends and neighbors. Pick up your dry cleaning and return those old library books. Then, make a promise to yourself that you won't pack anything on the truck that isn't in working order and doesn't serve a purpose in your life. Take items in for cleaning or repair. Clean Out anything that you haven't used in the last year. Finish up outstanding projects, or just let them go. Don't take a lot of unnecessary baggage to your new home.

LEARN ABOUT YOUR NEW NEIGHBORHOOD

Finally, take a few minutes to research your new community before you hit the road. You can contact the local Chamber Of Commerce, look around on the internet, or have the Welcome Wagon send you a packet of information. You will probably want to find out about:

- recreational activities and community events

- schools and child care

- churches in your neighborhood

- restaurants, theaters, museums, zoos, and other cultural activities

- professional and employment opportunities

Be sure to also ask for maps of your new community. You might even plan an extended trip to your new neighborhood, to help you get your bearings and become familiar with the amenities. With a little pre-planning, you can feel right at home from the moment you move in!


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