There's little doubt that Americans will be on the move this summer. You may be one of the many first-time buyers taking advantage of the lowest interest rates in 20 years or, perhaps, a move-up buyer looking for a home with additional living space or amenities. You might also find that you're one of the more than 500,000 employees transferred each year to another part of the country. Whatever the reason, you'll want to plan carefully to minimize the potential headaches of moving. The following tips will help with a successful move this summer.

Begin your planning at least one month in advance. Confirm closing dates with your real estate professional before scheduling your moving date. If you're renting, confirm your move-in date. Make a list of all important documents that must be transferred such as children's school records, financial and medical records.

Whether moving near or far, decide what must go with you. This is always a good time for cleaning closets or the basement where long-forgotten items are stored. You might consider holding a garage or moving sale to offset some of your moving expenses. If you're donating items to charitable organizations, don't forget to ask for a receipt for tax purposes.

Don't forget to send change of address cards to magazine publishers and organizations with which you are affiliated. Most magazines request four to six weeks advance notice. Provide change of address notice on credit card bills and leave forwarding instructions with the post office. Begin the chore of packing early, particularly those seldom-used items. If you've hired a moving company, ask for boxes and packing paper. A local grocery store is a good source for boxes for the do-it-yourself mover. Ask for boxes in advance. Smaller stores may receive shipments only once a week and will only give away boxes if you're there at a specified time to pick them up.

Save old newspapers for packing material. For fragile items, you may want to consider buying special packing boxes to ensure their safety during transit. Wardrobe boxes may be purchased at many trailer rental locations for hanging clothes.

Try creative packing with odd-sized and fragile items. Move mattresses with old sheets on them to provide protection from dirt. Your antique floor lamp may best be moved rolled up in a rug, or a crystal decanter packed in the middle of bath towels to cushion it.

Don't let your creative packing lead to confusion when unpacking. Make certain all boxes are clearly labeled as to content. Of course, all boxes with breakable items should be labeled "fragile." For those things too precious to risk damage, move by hand, if possible.

Make a list of items to pack separately including those you'll need on the road such as maps, prescription medicines and toys for children. List those you'll need to settle in such as cleaning supplies, light bulbs and tools as well as those you'll need within the first few days of arrival such as food and utensils for meals. Pack a suitcase that you could live out of for a few days if necessary.

Keep important papers, such as medical records and insurance policies in one place where they can be retrieved quickly if needed. Also, keep careful records of all your moving expenses as some may be tax deductible.

Two weeks before moving day, contact local utility companies to let them know when to disconnect service. Arrange for utility service in your new home. Plan carefully for the transfer of checking and savings accounts.

On the actual moving day, make sure someone meets the movers and indicates which items are to be loaded on the truck. If you're taking on the task of moving yourself, organize loading to maximize space in the truck and ensure that the heavy box of books doesn't get loaded on top of your china.

Upon arriving at your new home, take a quick survey of each room. Check the fuse box or circuit breakers to make sure the power is turned on. Is the house or apartment in the condition you were advised it would be? Now is the time to raise concerns with any unexpected condition, not three weeks after you've moved in. Call family and friends to let them know you've arrived safely.

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