Planning and Managing Your Move
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.

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