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Creating a Moving Inventory List

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Create a Moving Inventory List


Whether you’re moving a studio apartment’s worth of belongings or a multi-bedroom house full, creating an inventory list during the transition is critical. The task is relatively simple regardless of which system you use and takes less time than you might think.

How creating a moving inventory list benefits you

Creating an inventory list during a move is advantageous first from the standpoint of insurance. For example, if your movers somehow lose a box, is the value of the loss $10? $100? More? If you know exactly what the box contained, you’ll have a much easier time filing a claim, as you can be specific. And the sooner you can get your claim going, the sooner you can get the items you need replaced.

A related scenario is if you have to leave some of your items in storage unit for any reason. Storage units can suffer from fire, flood or burglary. Here again, the inventory makes it easier to see what was lost and recover appropriate compensation.

Secondly, an inventory list lets you determine which box contains what you’re looking for quite easily. Subsequently, it’s a snap to unpack in a way that doesn’t slow you down. That’s important during a move because you likely have other things to worry about, such as figuring out a new job, making sure toddlers are safe or simply cooking yourself a healthy meal.

How to create your inventory list

The basic technique for making a moving inventory is as follows:

1) Choose a way to code your boxes according to room. The easiest way for most people is colored stickers or tape, but even something like pictures of different animals would work.
2) Label your first Box #1. Write Box #1 on your list and write down everything that goes into the box as you pack. Snap pictures of items as you go as evidence of the condition those items are in.
3) Place the appropriate coding on the box when you seal it up.
4) Repeat with Box #2, #3, #4 and so on until the entire home is packed up.

Plain old pen and paper works just fine here—there’s no need for fancy equipment. Still, if you prefer, you can always use programs like Word or Excel to help you, or you can use online tools specifically designed for creating a moving inventory. It’s all a matter of preference.

An important consideration is that some items you need to inventory might not fit in a box. For example, you might be moving large appliances. In these cases, simply write down the item along with its serial number at the end of the inventory.

For both boxed and unboxed inventory items, do your best to include a purchase price or approximate value. This not only lets you determine the value of individual boxes, but also the value of the entire inventory. That’s incredibly useful in determining whether the insurance you have through the movers or your renter’s/homeowner’s policy is sufficient. Many times, people don’t realize they need more coverage because they’ve failed to update their policies as they make purchases.

If you use a moving company to pack for you

Creating a moving inventory with movers is a little trickier than if you were packing yourself, simply because the movers are trained to work simultaneously. In this instance, it might be best to use a service like Google Drive so that more than one person can edit your inventory list at the same time. You’ll need to communicate very clearly about which box you’re on and, if necessary, insist that the movers give you time for your notes. Yes, you might take a little longer to pack this way, but you’ll likely make up for it with the efficiency you gain in unpacking.

Note, too, that if you’re making your inventory once moving helpers arrive, it’s too late to consider valuations and adjust your insurance. For this reason, try to estimate what your possessions are worth and work out coverage in advance.

When you get to your new home

Once you arrive at your new location, check off each box as it unloads. This way, if you see a problem, you can address the movers (or the friends and family helping you) before they leave. If you can, place the boxes as close to their final spot in each room as possible so you don’t have to spend time and physical energy reorienting yourself.

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