Tip 9. Everything takes a little longer than you expect
Every programmer knows this tip by heart, but it applies to moving into houses as well. My wife was initially convinced I was over-reacting when I wanted to get the house buying process started eight months before our lease ended. But I'd been a project manager for many years and knew things took longer than you'd expect.
Our roofer came three weeks after he'd promised. Our wiring project took a month longer than it should have. Because of my little wall-where-a-door-was fiasco, getting the kitchen finished took an extra month. We wanted the new windows to be installed in March, but they didn't have an opening until early June.
This is the case with any move, and you need to plan for contingencies. Have backup plans in place, know your order of events, make sure you know what you'll do if a contractor fails to complete, and so on and so on and so on.
Oh, before I forget: a tip within a tip. I'd never encountered the permit process before since I hadn't owned a home. But, at least in our town, everything (and I mean everything) requires a permit from the town. Getting the permits is easy, but waiting until the inspector comes to move the process along can take a while, causing other parts of the project to slip.
And, finally, when it comes to taking longer than you think, nothing is more heinous than movers. When we moved down to Florida in 2005, we had all our stuff picked up in New Jersey, drove down to Florida, and were supposed to meet the moving truck. Nobody was there.
It took a bunch of phone calls, but we eventually found out they weren't planning on driving down to Florida for another few weeks. Of course, they hadn't told us this when we put all our belongings on their truck! It took a lot (a LOT) of yelling on my part, but they eventually loaded the truck up and brought it to us, but in the meantime, we were without everything for almost three weeks.
I'm not alone. My neighbor just moved in and tells us his moving company has had his stuff for almost four months. It took bringing in an attorney to get them to load up and take the trip down to Florida.
And, lest you think we used podunk services, both of us used large, well-known, well-established famous national firms. And yet, these firms were perfectly comfortable knowing we were incredibly uncomfortable, for weeks, without even a bed to sleep on.
Which leads me to my tenth and final tip...
Tip 10. Walmart is your friend
I know. I know. Walmart is controversial. But I have to tell you, especially when we moved down to Florida from New Jersey, Walmart became our first and best friend here in the Sunshine State.
There are four factors that become essential for the newly stranded resident: Walmart is inexpensive, open 24/7, has a huge selection, and has a 90-day return policy.
The night we arrived, having spent a big part of our budget on hotels on the trip down, we realized we'd have to spend thousands more if we waited for the movers. But while I can sleep on the floor for a night, I certainly couldn't work effectively after two or three weeks of floor sleeping.
Two inflatable king-sized beds: fifty bucks each. Oh, here's a tip. Get two inexpensive comforters per bed. Put one under you so the plastic of the bed doesn't stick to your skin.
We didn't have any kitchen chairs (or table). Two inexpensive stools for the kitchen island, less than $40.
We didn't have a desk or chair for working (I work from home). A small rolling desk and two secretarial chairs, about $120.
Now, I mentioned Walmart's return policy. I don't recommend returning things just because you use them for a while. That's just nasty. We still have the beds (in the garage, in case of guests), and the stools and desk (now living in the studio and used all the time).
But when you move into a home or are fixing it up, you're never exactly sure what will fit where or how it will work. We found we'd do a Walmart run (usually at 4am), buy a whole pile of possible supplies, try out each to see what worked the best, and return the rest.
One of the reasons Walmart has such a generous return policy is for this reason: make it easier for customers to make a buying decision.
While you certainly can't find everything at Walmart, I can tell you that having a fully-stocked store, open 24 hours, is one heck of a resource for a newly-minted homeowner -- and this applies just as well to a small business owner. Walmart is definitely your friend, in this case.
Have a great trip and a successful move!
So there you go, Jason. Ten bits of wisdom earned the hard way: from making mistakes and learning from them.
Have a great trip and welcome to Florida.