Planning and Managing Your Move
Planning and Managing Your Move

It’s been a hectic week as you learned of your hard-earned promotion along with the offer of a new position in the San Francisco office. You’re excited about the opportunity but also anxious about your family’s reaction and the tumult that moving can bring. What you’re experiencing is normal and part of the relocation process. While just the thought of relocating can be stressful, with planning and helpful resources, the process can be managed. In this section, you’ll learn about packing, preparing for your move, self-storage, moving with pets, utilities in the area and recycling information. Bay Area–based services designed to help make moving easier include temporary housing and storage.

This section will help you identify and organize all the steps in the moving process so you have a reference guide at every stage of this often-overwhelming process. With the help of this section and the Relocation Timeline, you will be able to anticipate the next step rather than reacting to it and scrambling for solutions. The more you learn, the less you’ll stress as you prepare to make your move to San Francisco.

Moving Companies
If you’re moving from another state, you likely will require the services of a moving company, but if you’re moving to the Bay Area from less than 250 miles away, consider a doing the move yourself. Before making your decision, weigh the positives and negatives of both options, such as the extra cost of using a moving company versus the extra time and effort expended in a self-move.

Moving companies provide a variety of services for a range of fees. It is a good idea to speak with different companies to compare their services. To find out who the best movers are in your area, begin by asking friends about their experiences with the movers they’ve used. You also can check with the Better Business Bureau or other consumer organizations in your local area.

When selecting a mover, the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) encourages consumers to select a company that is an AMSA member. Members all have agreed to abide by the terms of the organization’s published tariffs and to participate in the Arbitration Program sponsored by the organization.

Once you have compiled a list of movers, inform them of the destination and time of your move. Ask them about the types of services they offer. Also ask them to explain their estimates in detail and to give you a copy. Then carefully compare to see which mover best suits your needs and budget.

Read and understand all of the information you receive. In addition to brochures explaining their various services, moving companies should give you a copy of a consumer booklet titled “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move” and information regarding the mover’s participation in a Dispute Settlement Program. Distribution of the consumer booklet and the requirement that movers offer shippers’ neutral arbitration as a means of settling disputes that may arise concerning loss or damage on household goods shipments are requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

AMSA advises that you make arrangements for your move well in advance, at least four to six weeks before the moving date. When you choose your mover, be sure you understand the following:
  • Rates and charges that will apply
  • Mover’s liability for your belongings
  • How pickup and delivery will work
  • What claims protection you have

Getting Estimates
The cost of a move usually is based on the weight of your belongings and the distance they are shipped, plus the amount of packing and other services that you require, according to the AMSA. To help you anticipate the cost, movers will give you an estimate. Be sure to get written estimates from at least three different companies so you can compare their services and prices.

Help the movers calculate the cost by showing them every single item to be moved. Don’t forget to go into the attic, basement, garage, shed, closets and under beds. Reach a clear understanding about the amount of packing and other services needed. Anything omitted from the estimate but later included in the shipment will increase the cost. Most movers offer two types of estimates: nonbinding and binding.

Nonbinding estimates are not bids or contracts. Instead, a nonbinding estimate is an approximation of the cost based on the mover’s survey of the items to be moved, with the final cost determined after the shipment is weighed. Since a nonbinding estimate is based on the estimated weight of your shipment (rather than the actual weight), the price usually will be lower than a binding estimate. However, when you receive a nonbinding estimate there is no guarantee that the final cost will not be more than the estimate.

Under a nonbinding estimate, the mover cannot require you to pay more than the amount of the estimate, plus 10 percent, (or 110 percent of the estimate amount) at the time of delivery. You then are obligated to pay any remaining charges for additional services you requested or were required to accomplish your move that are more than this 110 percent amount 30 days after your shipment is delivered if the services or quantities were not included in your estimate.

Many movers also provide binding estimates. A binding estimate means that you are obligated to pay the price set forth in the binding estimate even if the shipment weighs more than or less than the estimated amount.

All binding estimates cover only the goods and services listed on the estimate. If you add items or request additional services, the mover may revise the original estimate before your shipment is loaded. If you request additional services after your shipment is in transit, your mover will bill you for these added services 30 days after your shipment is delivered. In addition, all movers reserve the right to charge for services necessary to accomplish delivery, even if those services are not requested. For example, additional charges will apply if you are not prepared to accept delivery and the shipment is placed in storage or if a smaller (shuttle) truck must be used to accomplish delivery because your new home is located on a narrow street. Again, your mover will bill you for these services 30 days after your shipment is delivered if they were not included in your estimate.

Another type of estimate used by many movers is the not-to-exceed estimate. This type of estimate is called various things, such as Guaranteed Price or Price Protection, but the end result is the same—an estimate based on a binding estimate or on actual cost, whichever is lower. Like a binding estimate, a not-to-exceed estimate must be provided to you in writing and is binding on the carrier.

Not-to-exceed estimates differ though in that the binding estimate amount becomes the maximum amount that you will be obligated to pay for the services listed on the estimate. This maximum amount alternates with the tariff charges applicable based on the actual weight of the shipment, with the customer paying the lesser of the two amounts. When you accept a not-to-exceed estimate, the move is performed at actual weight based on the tariff-rate levels, with the binding estimate representing the maximum charge that you will have to pay.

It’s a good idea to get more than one estimate and watch out for low-ball movers. If a mover you are considering tells you that he can move you for an unrealistically low price, be careful. It could mean he suddenly will remember some extra charges once your shipment has been loaded on the truck, the doors have been padlocked and he is ready to drive off into the sunset with all of your worldly possessions.

If a mover you are considering refuses to provide you with an in-home estimate and tells you he can provide an accurate estimate over the phone without ever seeing your home and your furniture, choose another mover.

Remember, it’s not just the price; it’s the total value of a professional move.

Planning For Moving Day
According to the AMSA, the summer months are the busiest time of the year for movers. In addition, the beginning and end of each month traditionally are busier than mid-month, regardless of the season. If you are planning to move during one of these times, plan well in advance so your mover’s schedule will fit yours.

Keep in mind that if you plan to move during the busy summer months, moving companies often have to bring in temporary help, which can be negative if these workers are not as experienced. The best option is to avoid moving during the movers’ peak season—you’ll save money and experience a better move.

In addition, if you have a choice, schedule your move in the morning rather than the afternoon even if the move takes less than a full day to complete. The crew will be fresher, and you’ll have more hours of daylight to complete the move, if you need them. Likewise, early to mid-week is usually less busy than Friday for local movers’ schedules. If they can’t move on a Saturday, many people choose a Friday moving date so they can have the benefit of the weekend to get moved in.

Get started by contacting the movers on your list. Inform them of your destination and the timing of your move. Ask movers to provide you with a written estimate and have them explain the services listed in the estimate in detail. Carefully compare each estimate to see which company best suits your needs and budget.

Preparing Your Family for a Move
While your moving company has probably supplied you with a preparation kit of good ideas for packing and moving, perhaps the most important aspect of moving is preparing your family for what’s ahead. Moving can be stressful, so it’s important to involve family members in the process and be there to calm their concerns. Moving experts suggest these winning strategies to help family members.
  • Provide enough adjustment time. Everyone likes adequate warning about major upcoming events. Give your family time to adjust to the idea of moving and understand what to expect before, during and after your move. The more structure you can provide to them, the easier the move will be.
  • Maintain a positive attitude. Setting a positive example and showing enthusiasm about the move will rub off on your family. Remind the family about what they can look forward to and the benefits that lie ahead.
  • Children need special TLC. Anticipate that your children will be nervous and upset about an upcoming move. Spend time with them to learn what causes the most concern and be prepared to respond with answers that provide comfort. It’s not unusual for children to be upset about leaving their friends and the community. Let them know they can still be in touch with friends by phone, e-mail and social-networking sites. If applicable, share your own personal moving stories and what you have experienced.
  • Involve your children. One way to help ease your children’s concerns about what’s ahead is to include them in the move. Providing them with a sense of control can ease the transition. They can help sort their belongings before the move to determine what can be tossed and what stays. If you’re planning a garage sale, let them participate. When it’s time to prepare for the movers, let your children help with the packing.

Proper packing by a trained packer using specially designed cartons and materials is crucial to a good move. Schedule packing with the mover a day or two before the moving van is loaded. If you are packing yourself, it is never too soon to start. While packing yourself can save money, movers usually will not accept liability for damage to items packed by owners.

Be present when your goods are packed. An inventory of your goods will be made, and it is important to resolve any disagreements prior to signing the inventory. Make sure all copies are legible and all items are numbered. Have valuable items listed separately. Some appliances may require servicing prior to the move. Your mover can schedule these services for you.

There are several options for insuring your goods. All household-goods shipments move under limited liability; however, you may purchase additional liability coverage from your mover.

Your mover may ask you to select several consecutive days during which your goods can be loaded and a second series of dates during which your goods can be delivered to your new home. A spread of days gives you and your mover the flexibility needed to keep your move on schedule. Remember that summer months are the busiest, and some movers offer lower prices between the months of October and April.

Moving Day
  • Be on hand when the movers arrive.
  • Discuss the delivery arrangements fully with your mover.
  • Have beds stripped and ready to be packed.
  • Save your energy; let the moving crew disassemble goods.
  • Read the Bill of Lading before you sign it.
  • Tell your mover how to reach you at your destination.
  • Keep in contact with the mover’s agent at your destination while you are in transit.

Traveling With Pets
Travel carriers are useful when your pet is traveling by car; they are mandatory when your pet is traveling by air. Your pet’s carrier should be durable and smooth-edged with opaque sides, a grille door and several ventilation holes on each side. Choose a carrier with a secure door and door latch. If you are traveling by air, your carrier should have food and water dishes. Pet carriers may be purchased from pet-supply stores or bought directly from domestic airlines.

Select a carrier that has enough room to permit your animal to sit and lie down but is not large enough to allow your pet to be tossed about during travel. You can make the carrier more comfortable by lining the interior with shredded newspaper or a towel.

It’s wise to acclimate your pet to the carrier in the months or weeks preceding your trip. Permit your pet to explore the carrier. Place your pet’s food dish inside the carrier and confine him or her to the carrier for brief periods.

To introduce your pet to car travel in the carrier, confine him or her in the carrier and take short drives around the neighborhood. If properly introduced to car travel, most dogs and cats quickly will adjust to and even enjoy car trips.

— Careful Preparation Is Key
When packing, don’t forget your pet’s food, water dishes, bedding, litter box, leash, collar, tags, grooming supplies, first-aid kit and any necessary medications. Always have a container of drinking water with you.

Your pet should wear a sturdy collar with ID tags throughout the trip. The tags should have both your permanent address and telephone number and an address and telephone number where you or a contact can be reached during your travels.

Traveling can be upsetting to your pet’s stomach. Take along ice cubes, which are easier on your pet than large amounts of water. You should keep feeding to a minimum during travel. (Provide a light meal for your pet two to three hours before you leave if traveling by car or four to six hours before departure if traveling by air.) Allow small amounts of water periodically in the hours before the trip.

Carry a current photograph of your pet with you. If your pet is lost during a trip, a photograph will make it easier for others (airline employees, the police, shelter workers) to help you find your pet.
Source: Humane Society of the United States (

Generally, your belongings will be transported in a van along with those of other families in the same general direction. This helps to keep your costs down. Delivery is made on any of the several consecutive days agreed upon before the move began. Make sure the mover knows how to contact you to schedule actual delivery. If you cannot be reached at your destination, the mover may place your shipment in storage to avoid delaying other shipments. This can mean additional charges for storage and handling.

An Unpacking Plan
You’ve made the move to your new location, and now it’s time to unpack. All your boxes were identified and placed in corresponding rooms. So, all you have to do is start unpacking, right? Wrong. Here are some constructive ways from moving experts to approach this chore and achieve the best results. Just keep in mind that unpacking takes a lot of time.

Start with boxes containing any essential items, such as clothes, products and papers you’ll need for your first two weeks. This can include everyday items, such as dish soap, sponges, a jar of peanut butter, medication for family and pets, instant coffee, pet food, radio, knife, extra light bulbs, pair of scissors, garbage can and small emergency kit.

Next, you’ll want to unpack your kitchen items. By doing this, it will make you feel in control of one major aspect of daily living: eating. Even if you don’t have time to unpack all the boxes, go for the pots and pans, coffee machine, toaster and utensils you’ll need for cooking.

Prepare the bedrooms for a good first night’s sleep. Set up each of the beds and unpack the sheets for each bedroom. Try to make each of the bedrooms as cozy as possible.

Unpacking boxes for the bathroom is the next logical step. Here, it’s important to unpack and locate cosmetics, toiletries, Kleenex, toilet paper and small appliances you rely on, such as an electric toothbrush or a lighted mirror.

After the rooms above have been addressed, you can rearrange furniture already placed by the movers in the bedrooms, living room and dining room. If you need to assemble large pieces of furniture, do it only when you know where furniture will be placed. One good tip is to organize your closets before you unpack other boxes. This way, you can hang up your clothes and sort your shoes.

The last place in the home to consider unpacking is the garage. While items in the garage, such as lawn mowers, power tools and gardening equipment, can be bulky and heavy, they aren’t essential. It’s best to have garage shelving available so you can store boxes until they can be unpacked along with other nonessential items.

Best practices from the AMSA suggest that if any of your household goods are damaged or lost, report the facts promptly and in detail on the van driver’s copy (original) of the inventory sheet before you sign it. If you notice damage after unpacking, a claim must be filed within nine months of delivery; however, it is to your advantage to report damage as soon as possible. The mover must acknowledge receipt of your claim within 30 days and must deny or make an offer within 120 days of receipt of your claim.

When making a claim or considering a settlement offer, keep in mind the amount of liability that you declared on your shipment. For example, if the value declared on your shipment was $5,000, the mover’s maximum liability for loss or damage to the articles in your shipment is $5,000. Claims for more than this amount will be declined because they are in excess of the mover’s liability that you declared on your shipment.

Moving Insurance
You may assume that your goods are covered automatically by your transportation provider, whether it’s a moving, mobile storage or a rental truck company. The basic coverage a moving company is responsible for is 30 or 60 cents per pound per item if your goods are shipped within the state or across state lines, respectively. In the case of a mobile storage or rental truck company, this liability is set as low as 10 cents per pound per item.

Following is a summary of the types of insurance coverage provided by most moving companies. When interviewing potential moving companies, ask what coverage each provides.
  • Released Value is the basic insurance provided by most moving companies. The coverage of this insurance is 60 cents per pound for each one of your articles. For example, if you have a table that weighs 100 pounds, the insurance will cover the table up to $60.
  • Declared Value is the coverage of the declared-value insurance based on the total weight of your items times the amount paid per pound. Usually the coverage is $1.25 per pound. If the total weight of your items is 1,000 pounds, the insurance will cover you up to $1,250. In case of damage, the insurance will be based on the depreciated value of the damaged item up to the maximum value of all the items that you shipped.
  • Lump-Sum Value insurance provides you with the option to insure by the actual value of the items and not by the weight. You will need to declare a specific value for your items and write it down on the Bill of Lading.
  • Full-Value Protection covers all damaged or lost articles by replacing, repairing or by sending you cash back for the value of the damaged or lost articles.

Beyond these general coverages that moving companies provide, you may want to consider buying specific coverage from a company that specializes in moving insurance. An agent can review additional coverage options, including those noted below, to ensure that your household goods are protected during a move.

— Full-Service—All Risk
This type of coverage applies to goods transported or stored by a full service moving company, and there are two options to consider.
  • Full-Replacement Value—Valued Inventory is the most comprehensive insurance option available and provides the best coverage. This insurance is offered for interstate (from state to state), intrastate (within the same state) and international shipments. With this option, you must list and declare a replacement value on all of the items that you wish to insure. Items may be categorized as a group, such as “living room set, seven pieces.”
  • Full-Replacement Value—Lump Sum insurance is offered only for interstate shipments and international shipments. The total coverage amount is determined when you place a lump-sum value on all of your goods to be insured, considering the declared value of the shipment equals no less than $6 times the weight of the shipment. Any items individually valued at $500 or more need to be listed separately to be covered at their specific replacement value.

— Full-Service—Named Perils
This type of coverage applies to goods transported or stored by a full-service moving company. Named Perils insurance covers only losses that result from causes explicitly listed in the Terms and Conditions. Coverage is available for both the transit period as well as the storage period. Causes of loss for the transit and storage periods can be reviewed in the Terms and Conditions for this insurance type. There are two options within this choice to consider.
  • Named Perils—Selected Inventory provides coverage based on an itemized and selected inventory prepared by the insured prior to the shipment date. For your benefit and proper coverage, you must list and declare a replacement value on all of the items that you wish to insure. This option is the most comprehensive and is the best coverage available; it does not reduce the settlement amount for depreciation or a coinsurance penalty. This completed inventory also can act as a base for your homeowners or renters insurance policy at the new location.
  • Named Perils—Total Value offers coverage if you are interested in insuring your entire shipment. The total coverage amount is determined when you place a total value on all of your goods to be insured, considering the declared value of the shipment. Any items individually valued at $500 or more need to be listed separately to be covered at their specific replacement value. To avoid being underinsured, it is required you declare the replacement value of your entire shipment.

— Other Coverage Options
Mobile Storage is where you load and a moving company drives. Mobile Storage Named Perils insurance covers only losses that result from causes explicitly listed in the Terms and Conditions. Coverage is available for both the transit period as well as the storage period. Causes of loss for the transit and storage periods can be reviewed in the Terms and Conditions for this insurance type.

Truck Rental is where you load and you drive. Truck Rental Named Perils insurance covers only losses that result from causes explicitly listed in the Terms and Conditions. Coverage is available only for the transit period of the move. Coverage is provided only for transported goods and not for damage or loss to the vehicle or its driver and passengers. Causes of loss can be reviewed in the Terms and Conditions for this insurance type.

Total Loss Only (TLO) is for all move types and is designed to protect your goods only against a catastrophe. This includes fire, flood, truck accident or stolen truck that result in total damage or loss of the shipment. TLO is defined as an insurance type that offers coverage compensating for damages or losses only in case of 100-percent damage or loss to the shipment. This insurance type will not compensate for any individual items damaged or lost

Moving Expenses
Tax deductions might apply to a move, but it is best to understand the law before moving to keep the appropriate records and to comply with any necessary provisions. Keep in mind that a move must be at least 50 miles from a current home and involve changing job locations for expenses to be deductible.

— Deductible Moving Expenses
You can deduct the reasonable expenses of moving your household goods and personal effects and of traveling from your old home to your new home. Records to keep include the following:
  • Travel and lodging expenses incurred during the move
  • Expenses of moving household goods and personal items (sometimes storage expenses)
  • Costs incurred when looking for a new home (e.g., home-scouting trips, lodging)
  • Costs of temporary living arrangements in the new location
  • Costs of disposing of a former home and acquiring a new one

— Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), If you move to a new home because of a new principal workplace, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses whether you are self-employed or an employee. To be eligible, you must meet both the distance test and time test. Call the IRS at (800) 829-1040 or visit to request a free booklet explaining exactly what can and cannot be deducted.

Forwarding Mail
Before you even relocate, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offers you a way to change your mailing address online. Simply visit and click on Change Your Address. From there, follow the prompts to provide your information. Select “Temporary” if you plan to move back to your old address within 12 months, or select “Permanent” if you have no plans to move back to your old address.

If you prefer to fill out a hard copy of the change-of-address form, visit your local post office before you move and look for the yellow change-of-address form. Complete it and leave it with the postal clerk. Be sure to include the start date that you expect to be in your new location so your mail will be forwarded properly. Don’t forget to notify your current vendors to give them with notice that you’re leaving the area and to provide them with a forwarding address. Also be sure to complete a change of address for your magazines, which may not be forwarded otherwise.

When you’ve moved to your new residence, keep track of your incoming mail to ensure that all of your vendors are sending your statements. Some experts suggest that it’s a wise idea to check your credit reports during this time to ensure that no one has been using your credit or personal data during the move transition.

One last idea to consider, if you’re unsure about where you’ll be living in San Francisco is renting a post office box from either your local USPS branch or at any mail center located near you. That way you can pick up mail at a safe place until you have a permanent address.

Temporary Housing
When you move to the San Francisco area, you may find that you need temporary housing. Due to the popularity of the area, there are many specialized companies who service temporary housing and can assist you.

— Corporate Housing
This usually refers to a furnished apartment (occasionally a townhouse or detached home) set up with telephone service, utilities and usually cable TV. Corporate housing is available for extended stays, usually with a 30-day minimum. Often housekeeping service is provided or can be arranged at an additional cost. Apartments in suburban areas often are located in large developments with many resort-style amenities, such as swimming pools, tennis courts, community centers and fitness rooms. Many apartments are equipped with a washer and dryer. Others have a laundromat on site. Garage parking is occasionally available.

— Working With a Real Estate Agent
Many people who relocate prefer to rent instead of immediately buying a home. This is because they want to get a feel for the area, and perhaps they didn’t have much advance preparation time to visit the area and preselect a home and neighborhood. In this case, working with a real estate agent to rent a home is a great option. One benefit is that the agent will be familiar with master-planned communities and other neighborhoods throughout the area and know about the availability and price of rentals.

— Extended-Stay Hotel
Extended-stay hotels vary considerably in their room types and amenities; however, they always have guest laundry facilities on site, guestrooms (also called suites) with full kitchens and kitchen utensils. This option usually offers discounts for extended stays. Some extended-stay hotels have only studio suites while others offer larger one- or two-bedroom, two-bathroom suites. Available amenities can include free breakfast buffets, evening receptions or grocery-shopping service. Housekeeping service can range from once per week to daily.

Temporary Storage
If you need to store household goods temporarily, self- and warehouse-storage space is available in all sections of the San Francisco Bay Area. Check on security arrangements at specific storage units, liability for loss or damage, availability of units and whether the facility is climate-controlled. The California Self Storage Association ( provides a searchable database of all reputable California members.

— Selecting a Self-Storage Space
According to information from the Self Storage Association (, it’s important to carefully read the contract you are asked to sign. If there are provisions that you don’t understand, ask the manager to explain them. If you still don’t understand or don’t feel comfortable with the explanation, don’t sign the rental agreement; it is a legal contract. Make sure there are no blank spaces and that any verbal promises made by the manager or staff are in the written rental agreement.
  • Visit the self-storage facility and ask to see a space of the size you think you may need. If climate-controlled space is available, compare it to the nonclimate-controlled space.
  • Check for cleanliness, convenience and security.
  • Ask about the office’s operating hours.
  • Keep a copy of the written rental agreement.
  • Obtain and read a copy of the rules and regulations of the facility.
  • Insurance is the responsibility of the customer, and storage facilities are generally not responsible for the contents of your unit. It is always a good idea to insure the goods you are intending to store, and it should be offered to you at the time you rent your unit. Sometimes the facility collects the premium from you directly. Before you buy insurance from the manager, check with your own agent because sometimes your homeowners or renters policy will cover you at no extra cost.

— Determining the Right Storage Unit
The right unit size for your needs depends on what you want or need to store. Following are general guidelines to consider, but note that actual contents will vary based on your particular belongings.
  • Unit Size: 5'x5'
    • Equivalent: 25 square feet (hall closet, small bedroom or office)
    • What Will Fit: Boxes, clothing, small furniture, toys, business records or about 50 file boxes
  • Unit Size: 5'x10'
    • Equivalent: 50 square feet (walk-in closet)
    • What Will Fit: Mattress set, sofa, chest of drawers, dining room set or about 100 file boxes
  • Unit Size: 7½'x10'
    • Equivalent: 75 square feet (large walk-in closet)
    • What Will Fit: Furnishings of a one-bedroom apartment: desk, patio furniture, washer and dryer (stacked), boxes and miscellaneous items or about 150 file boxes
  • Unit Size: 10'x10'
    • Equivalent: 100 square feet (average-size bedroom)
    • What Will Fit: Furnishings of a one-bedroom apartment with refrigerator, washer and dryer and patio furniture or about 200 file boxes
  • Unit Size: 10'x15'
    • Equivalent: 150 square feet (large bedroom)
    • What Will Fit: Furnishings of a two-bedroom apartment or small house with refrigerator, washer and dryer, yard furniture, boxes and miscellaneous items or about 300 file boxes
  • Unit Size: 10'x20'
    • Equivalent: 200 square feet (one-car garage)
    • What Will Fit: Furnishings of a three- or four-bedroom house with major appliances, garage extras, boxes and miscellaneous items or business files and inventory
  • Unit Size: 10'x30'
    • Equivalent: 300 square feet (extra-large garage)
    • What Will Fit: Furnishings of a four- or five-bedroom house with major appliances, boxes and miscellaneous items or business files and inventory
Source: Self Storage Association

— Important Guidelines
  • Use the best lock possible to protect your valuables.
  • Purchase insurance on your property, either through the facility or with your own agent. Remember that the storage operator does not insure your goods.
  • Prepare to give at least 10 days written notice before you plan to move out of your unit. This is usually required by the contract you sign.
  • Don’t store prohibited items such as tires, food or flammable goods. Check the storage facility’s rules or your contract for a complete list.
  • Know that your property could be sold at a public auction if you stop paying rent on your unit.

— General Storage Information
  • Do not store hazardous or toxic materials, flammable liquids or gases or food. If you are not sure if you should store something, ask the staff.
  • Do not store any combustibles. Do not store items like propane tanks, old paint, cleaning fluids, gasoline or other things that might create or intensify a fire. Why risk your possessions just to keep a few cents’ worth of leftovers?
  • You alone are responsible for providing insurance on your property. You must buy insurance coverage yourself and you must pay the premium yourself, the operator does not insure your goods.
  • Only the tenant is legally entitled to enter the storage space unless other arrangements have been made with the self-storage facility. For example, if you want friends and members of your family to use your storage space, you must list them under access rights on the rental agreement.
  • Visit your self-storage space on occasion to check the condition of your possessions. Occasionally move or shift your goods so you can see all sides of them. Report any problems immediately.
  • When moving out of the storage facility, give at least 10 days written notice. Take everything, and don’t leave any trash. Leave the unit in broom-clean condition. Remove your lock.
  • If storing bedding, clothing or furniture covered in fabric or property that may be affected by changes in temperature, it may be wiser to rent a climate-controlled space to provide a better storage environment for your personal possessions. Be certain that everything stored is dry; any moisture may cause mildew. If you move during rain, dry off your goods before placing them into storage. Do not store anything that is wet; moisture is bad for virtually all property or goods.

— Self-Storage Packing Tips
  • Boxes: Fill boxes to capacity. Partially full or bulging boxes may collapse or tip over while stored.
  • Labels: Label your cartons and goods. This will make accessing items much easier.
  • Subfloor: Put pallets or a grid of 2x3s on the unit floor to give better air circulation under goods; leave a walkway or aisle to the rear of the unit. Don’t overpack the unit.
  • Books and documents: Pack books flat to protect spines; use small boxes to avoid cartons that are too heavy to move easily. Put heavy items on the bottom.
  • Dishes and glassware: Glass items should be wrapped individually; use blank wrapping paper for best results; “nest” cups and bowls; stand plates and platters; fill air pockets with wrapping paper or foam peanuts. Don’t put breakables under other boxes.
  • Mirrors, windows and screens: Wrap all glass well; store on edge, not flat.
  • Lamps: Pack lampshades separately; use blank paper to wrap lampshades and other property that may be damaged by ink stains from newsprint.
  • Furniture: Stand sofas and mattresses on end; disassemble beds and tables; wrap the legs in wrapping paper; keep upholstery off the floor; place loose, light plastic dust covers or sheets over furniture.
  • Appliances and electronics: Clean appliances thoroughly. Refrigerators and freezers must be defrosted and dry, and washing machines must be drained completely. Remove appliance doors and store them separately; desiccants (drying agents) should be used and containers should be checked and emptied regularly. Take apart lawnmowers and snow blowers, making sure all the fuel is completely drained.
  • Bicycles: Wipe a few drops of oil on bicycles and tools to prevent rusting then store these items away from furniture to avoid oil staining.
  • Clothes: Wardrobe boxes allow you to store your clothing on hangers. Shoes can be stored in the bottom of the wardrobe boxes, and folded clothing can be stored in boxes or dresser drawers.

You’ve Arrived in San Francisco
Now that you’ve settled in to your new home and neighborhood, it’s time to take care of a few immediate tasks, including applying for a California driver’s license, registering your vehicle, licensing your pets and establishing utility services. These are the tasks that could not be done ahead of time because your new California address is required.

California Driver’s Licenses
Any person, except tourists and out-of-state students, who owns and drives a car and is a resident in the state is required to obtain a California driver’s license.

If you become a California resident, you must get a California driver license within 10 days after residency has been established (i.e., you have voted in a California election, accepted permanent employment, paid resident tuition, filed for a homeowners property tax exemption, registered a child in school or applied for any other privilege or benefit not ordinarily extended to nonresidents).

To apply for an original driver license if you are over 18, you will need to do the following:
  • Visit a local DMV office. For locations, visit (For faster service, making an appointment at is recommended.)
  • Complete application form DL 44.
  • Give a thumbprint.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Provide your social security number and your true full name
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence
  • Pay the application fee ($31 in 2013)
  • Pass a vision exam
  • Pass a traffic laws and sign test (the written test) based on the California Drivers Handbook, which can be downloaded for printing at
  • If you have a license from another state, the driving test can be waived, but if you have a license from another country, you will be required to take a driving test.
  • Provide proof of financial responsibility
  • If you have moved to California from another state, you will receive your license in the mail.

The following is required to register a vehicle from out-of-state (nonresident):
  • Complete and sign an Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) (a PDF can be downloaded at
  • Present the last issued out-of-state title.
  • Present the last issued registration certificate or renewal notice for the current year or a letter from the last registration jurisdiction verifying the registration period.
  • Arrange a vehicle inspection by an authorized DMV employee, law enforcement officer or a licensed vehicle verifier. These inspections can be performed at a DMV and are free of charge. Appointments are recommended for faster service
  • Pay the appropriate fees and any use tax that is due.

To register to vote, you must complete a voter registration form (found at Simply fill in the information requested on each screen, print the form, sign it and mail it directly to the county elections office address that is preprinted on the form. Alternatively, you can pick up a form from your county elections office, local library or U.S. post office or calling the Secretary of State’s Voter Hotline to ask for a form.

If you meet all the other requirements to vote in California, but did not become a California resident until less than 15 days before the next election, you still can register to vote and cast a ballot during a presidential election only. To do this, visit your county elections office at least seven days before Election Day and sign an affidavit declaring you are eligible to vote in California and have not voted in the same election in any other state.

Pet Licensing laws are different in every county in California, contact your county’s local office for the specific requirements, but the following is the information that applies to San Francisco.

Owning a dog in San Francisco means obtaining a proper pet license with no exceptions. Dog licenses have many benefits, one of which is the sign that the dog has all its vaccinations and does not carry the threat of rabies. License tags also are the quickest way of returning a dog to its owner. Unlike microchips, license tags are clearly visible and do not require a scanning device.

Dog licenses are required by law and must be renewed every year ($21 for a neutered dog and $52 for a non-neutered dog), or a two- or three-year license can be purchased at a cost savings (e.g., a three-year license for a neutered dog equates to getting one year free). All registration fees are half price for senior citizen dog owners. For a dog to be licensed, owners must provide a recent rabies vaccination certificate. Owners are charged a $25 late fee for not renewing their license after 30 days from the expiration date. New residents have 30 days to obtain a license. It is not required to license cats, but it makes them easier to identify if they are lost and costs only $12 for lifetime registration.

The city of San Francisco also mandates that dogs are leashed or tethered at all times in public areas; however there are more than 15 Dog Play Areas (DPAs) throughout the city where dog leashes are not required. A color-coded brochure about the locations is located at San Francisco’s DPAs are noted for their large space (between 10,000 and 30,000 square feet) and their subtle presence in the larger community.

Commuting and Transportation
Commuters in the San Francisco Bay Area have a variety of transportation options available to them. Similar to other urban centers, residents learn that driving a car poses more challenges than learning to utilize mass transit. In San Francisco, nearly one-third of residents rely on public transit as their primary means of commuting. Following are some of the other options available to residents of the area.
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit System (BART) serves San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and the surrounding municipalities to the east of San Francisco and down the Peninsula to the south of the city. East Bay residents use the regional transportation system more than any other community.
  • San Francisco’s cable cars and vintage streetcars are just one part of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (Muni) fleet. Subway and surface light-rail vehicles as well as electric and diesel buses transport more than 200 million passengers per year. Muni has been hailed by Metro magazine as one of the most improved transit systems in the United States since its 1912 beginning.
  • AC Transit buses and ferries, with direct links to Muni lines, also serve the East Bay
  • Caltrain is also available and used by many Peninsula residents to access the city. Currently there are plans to bring Caltrain directly into downtown San Francisco.
  • City CarShare ( is another mode of transportation for commuters. Established in 2001, the nonprofit City CarShare program operates a fleet of hundreds of fuel-efficient vehicles, including electrics and hybrids, for its members who use cars by the hour. The successful program conserves natural resources and reduces parking demand while providing around-the-clock access at nearly 200 locations for members who can get around the hassles of car payments, maintenance costs or insurance premiums.
  • Zipcar ( is another car-sharing service available in the Bay Area. Members can reserve cars online or by phone and have automated access to any Zipcar across North America by using a "Zipcard" to unlock the door and drive away. With Zipcar, gas, parking and insurance are included.

— Electricity and Gas
In the San Francisco Bay Area, Pacific Gas and Electric Company supplies gas and electricity. Service requests may be completed over the phone by calling (800) 743-5000 or going online at The company provides natural gas and electric service to approximately 15 million people throughout a 70,000-square-mile service area in northern and central California.

In an effort to provide a greener environment and cut energy use and costs, Pacific Gas and Electric has instituted a voluntary SmartMeter™ program that uses technology that is the cornerstone of the Smart Grid that will modernize the electrical system to be stronger, smarter and more efficient. The program allows customers to better understand and reduce their energy use and monthly costs, which is the gateway to increased energy efficiency and integrated renewable energy sources. SmartMeter™ is the first step in a larger Smart Grid effort that is driving a new green technology industry in California to help it keep pace with the needs of tomorrow.

— Water
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) ( manages a complex water-supply system stretching from the Sierras to the city and featuring a series of reservoirs, tunnels, pipelines and treatment systems. Two unique features of the system stand out: the drinking water provided is among the purest in the world, and the system for delivering that water is almost entirely gravity fed so it requires almost no fossil fuel consumption.

The SFPUC, the third largest municipal utility in California, serves 2.5 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Approximately one-third of delivered water goes to retail customers in San Francisco while wholesale deliveries to 28 suburban agencies in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties makes up the other two-thirds.

— Garbage Collection in San Francisco
In the city of San Francisco, garbage collection is provided by Recology, which is a 100-percent employee-owned company based in San Francisco that provides collection, recycling, composting and disposal services. The San Francisco operating companies include the following:
  • Recology Sunset Scavenger provides collection services in the residential districts of San Francisco.
  • Recology Golden Gate provides collection services in the Financial District, North Beach, South of Market (SoMa) and the Marina.
  • Recology San Francisco operates the transfer station and recycling complex at 501 Tunnel Avenue and Recycle Central on Pier 96.

The focus of Recology is to provide superior customer service. Part of that is to provide programs that make recycling easy and convenient for its customers and to help San Francisco make progress toward zero waste, a goal set by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

At, you can find information about the many recycling programs in San Francisco and how to participate in them. Recycling and composting are programs everyone can participate in every day to directly benefit the environment and work together to keep San Francisco clean and highly effective in protecting the environment.

— Telephone and Internet Providers
Telephone providers in San Francisco are many, including the national companies of AT&T (, Sprint ( and Verizon ( Also available in the Bay Area are the following:
— Cable and Satellite Television Providers
The following providers are available in the Bay Area:
There is a lot to think about when moving to a new city, but the San Francisco Bay Area offers an array of top-notch services and support to make your transition easier and more enjoyable.
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