Web sites provide expert tips, strategies to ensure a smooth move

I've passed a milestone — more than one year of living in the same place, much to the amazement of friends and relatives who claim their address books automatically flip to the "R" page because of all the heavy layers of Wite-Out under my name.

I stayed put because this year the rent didn't go up. Just for insurance, I sweep, put out the trash and tidy the laundry room so my landlords will look kindly on me should they ever remotely consider raising it.

The truth is I hate chasing after low rent. Cleaning, packing, stacking boxes, finding a mover, hoping everything arrives whole: Thinking about it curls my hair. (And that's before considering how much food to fix for the post-move apartment-warming party that has become an annual tradition among my friends.)

Because I've moved so much, though, friends know they can call on me for used cartons, bubble wrap and advice about smoothing out the process. And call they do — so often that, when I'm too pressed for time, I'd like to point them toward a higher authority.

Luckily, the Web harbors exactly the authorities they need. My chore is to unpack them from the 11,800 sites that show up when I use "moving day," "household" and "how to" as the search parameters.

The challenge: Preparing to change homes in an organized way, with nothing forgotten and nothing overdone.

URL/Name of site: www.moving.org; American Moving and Storage Association, a 3,200-member nonprofit trade organization based in Alexandria, Va.

Purpose: The site offers so much information about packing and dealing with movers that it's easy to overlook the fact it's aimed at getting us to hire certified movers instead of doing it ourselves.

The setup: The home page presents a four-column menu — "Before you move," with how to choose movers, get an estimate and plan the move; "Resources," covering how to value a shipment, file a complaint and request arbitration; "Move your ... ," about various delicate items — plus children and pets; and "Additional info," with a planner, glossary and Web links.

Ease of navigation: It's as easy as clicking and going to an inside page.

What you'll find: With dark ink on white background, the pages are easily readable, and none takes up more than two screens. The brevity means they stick to the point. If you like chatty sites, this isn't one of them.

The best part: Pages load quickly because they contain only one graphic — the association's logo.

Thumbs-down: The thing making this site good also works to a disadvantage — no illustrations. It would be great to see how to wrap items and the best way to place dissimilar-shaped items in boxes, for example.

Surprise: The section "Moving and Children" offers tips that are emotion-oriented, rather than action-oriented. Among them, have the kids play "moving day" with their dolls, and encourage them to exchange phone numbers and addresses with their friends. Oh, yes — we may move our stuff, but we don't need to leave behind the people dear to us, no matter how young we are.

Related sites:

www.printablechecklists.com; My ParenTime's PrintableChecklists.com, based in Florida. Click "Home & Household" in the list on the home page; scroll down the next page to "Selling, Packing & Moving Checklists." Choose checklists with fill-in blanks or with chores listed. The prepared moving checklist starts two months ahead of the big day, with reminders to hold on to moving receipts that may be tax deductible and not to pack important paperwork. www.usaaedfoundation.org; USAA Educational Foundation, based in Texas. This branch of USAA, a Fortune 500 company providing financial services to military personnel, offers a three-month checklist for international relocation. Reminders get down to brass tacks, such as draining garden hoses a week before the move. To find the list, click "Forms & Lists" at the top of the home page, then click "House" and scroll down to "Planning a Move." www.hsus.org/ace/11810; Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington, D.C. Pets about to change homes need planning, too. This page, "Moving: How to Move Your Pet Safely," says it all, including the safest ways to transport cats and dogs by car. Look at the left-hand menu for the follow-up, "Moving: Settling Into Your New Home."

Home on the Web appears the first Sunday of the month in Home/Real Estate. E-mail: homeontheweb@seattletimes.com