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How to Prepare for Your Move: Expert Tips from JR Maricich of Mentors Moving & Storage

Moving is an incredibly stressful process. In fact, one survey found that 64% of respondents indicated their most recent move was one of the most stressful things they’ve ever experienced.

Moving is always going to be tolling, but there are ways to make it simpler, smoother, and altogether less stressful.

And to learn more about what it takes, we talked to JR Maricich, founder of Mentors Moving & Storage. With over 20 years of experience and thousands of moves to his name, he’s got it down to an art.

SOMO Village: How did you get into your line of work? 

JR: I’ve been doing this for a little over 20 years, and I started Mentors Moving & Storage in 2006. 

Ultimately, we’re here to take the stress out of people’s lives when they move—our main goal is to make sure people don’t get divorced in this process! 

It’s just stressful to move, whether you’re moving down the street or across the country—you’ve got your whole life going on, you might have kids, and you’ve got to put your whole life in a box and transport it and then set it back up. 

So, we want to make it as easy as possible.

We have three different locations—Santa Rosa, Bakersfield, and Phoenix. We are also a United Van Lines agent, which is the largest moving company in the world.  

How do you recommend people get organized before a move? 

Mentors Moving & Storage truckThe great thing is that you know you’re going to be moving. It’s not a sudden, next-day kind of thing, so there is time to get a plan in place. 

Here’s what I recommend you do to prepare: 

  • Purge your stuff: Two or three months before your move, start getting rid of stuff. This is especially important if you’re moving further away or to another state. A lot of moving companies charge by weight, so you can get rid of things you don’t need or are in storage. Have a garage sale or sell things online—you can earn some cash that will offset the costs of the move. 
  • Get quotes: Call at least three different moving companies to get a quote for their services. Each moving company has different tips and tricks to make your life easier, so you can see what will work best for you. 
  • Start packing: Once you’re a month or two out from the move, start packing every single day. If you put away two labeled boxes every day over a couple of months, all of a sudden you’ll be done. It’s less stressful because everything is ready to go, and it’s cheaper as most movers charge by the hour and they can just show up and grab things. It makes the whole process smoother and keeps your belongings safe, too, since there’s no chaos and hassle. 

When should you start talking to movers? 

You can start looking around 12 weeks in advance—the earlier, the better. This way, the movers can plan their schedule and lock you in. 

It’s typically a lot slower during the winter months, but things start picking up for a busy spring and summer as early as March 1. The moving industry gets crazy, so you want to be locked in with the movers. If the dates change, we understand that and are there to help out and be flexible with you as needed. 

When you hire movers, it’s easy to feel like you should lend a hand. Is it a good thing when people help out or would your team prefer to tackle it on their own? 

Two people standing carrying moving boxes

There’s a lot of different aspects that go into it. But to start, your movers are going to do a walkthrough of your house to get an idea of what’s going to happen.

You can show them what needs to be moved and let them know if there are any special requirements or instructions. And if you have some snacks or water bottles ready for them in the morning, they’re going to be pretty stoked about that, too! 

In terms of getting involved, the goal is for things to be as smooth as possible. 

So, if you have a crib or bunk bed in your house—something that’s time-consuming to take apart—it’s going to be helpful to get a jump start on that ahead of time. The movers will do it all for you if you want, but since moves are generally charged per hour, you can save some time and money by starting it yourself.

Then, as the movers are getting to work, you can tidy up or do something else out of the way while they’re doing their job. 

One of the hardest things for movers is when the client tries to dictate how to load the truck or how to do this and that. You hired us to move, so let us do the work! We’ve already made a game plan during the walkthrough and know how we want to load things so they’re transported properly. 

We’ve been doing this a long time and we train our movers a lot—it’s a nonstop process of making them better and providing the best customer service possible. 

What are some considerations to make when you’re moving a short distance vs. a long distance? 

If you’re moving a long distance, say from Texas out here to SOMO Village in Sonoma County (one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to, by the way!) there are more considerations than with a move in the same area. 

The biggest thing you can do to help the process is to get rid of stuff you don’t need. For example, there’s no reason to ship a 30-pound bag of rice from Texas to California when you can just go and buy that on the other end. We charge by the pound, so you don’t want to bring things that are easily replaceable. 

Here are some other considerations: 

  • Upgrades: Have you been thinking of buying a new TV? Might be worth getting rid of the old one and upgrading when you move—save on the move and get something better. 
  • IKEA furniture: This is readily available around the country, so you can replace it after your move. 
  • Potted plants: Some states don’t allow us to transport our plants, so you may need to get rid of those first. 
  • Specialty items: Glass pieces, specialty marble, artwork, etc. need to be crated and transported in a specific way. The best thing to do is have a mover come out and see everything you need to move so there can be a game plan and quote in place. 
  • Long-distance moves can be a little bit trickier because of these things, but you just need to do your due diligence and plan accordingly. 

Do you have advice for people on how to efficiently handle the unpacking process? 

Truck filled with moving boxes and appliances

My best advice is to stay organized. Every box you put something in needs to have a label on it so you know what’s inside—i.e., “kitchen,” “kitchen dishes.” Some of my clients will literally write a number on the box and then create a spreadsheet of everything inside—that’s a little detail-oriented, but it helps keep track of everything. 

Unpacking is a whole other ballgame—your move takes a few days or a week and then you’re back at work and school… but you’ve got 400 boxes around your house! Slowly but surely, you start to unpack. And if it’s labeled, you can find the most important things that you need to put away first. 

Another big piece of advice is to transport all of your valuables and necessities yourself. This includes items like: 

  • Medications
  • Birth certificates and important documents
  • Priceless pieces
  • Sentimental items
  • TV remotes or other small electronics

You don’t want to pack these important things away in a box and then have a hard time finding them when you need them. Or, even worse, the truck gets in an accident and all items are gone. So, transport your valuable items yourself so you have peace of mind knowing exactly where it all is. 

Once you’re done unpacking, flatten your boxes and put all the packing paper in a bag. The cost of materials has skyrocketed over the last few years thanks to COVID-19, so my recommendation is to either give the boxes away or sell them on Facebook Marketplace or other online places. Since they’re so high in demand and expensive now, you can recoup some of your costs this way. 

We also help clients procure used boxes, too. I’d rather give them free used boxes ahead of time so they can pack up and be ready to go on move day—it’s less stressful all around. 

Looking for even more detail? Check out this ultimate moving checklist from Mentors Moving & Storage.

Mentors Moving & Storage is a full-service company that helps make your move as streamlined and stress-free as possible. With 40-50,000 square feet of storage space in at three locations, they can store items before a move and ensure everything is delivered on time and in good condition. 

Mentors Moving & Storage are licensed with the CA Public Utilities Commission and are honest and upfront in all aspects of the move—no hidden fees or surcharges. Learn more at their website,, or reach out to JR at


JR Maricich Bio

Mentors Moving & Storage logo

As a mover in California, I have been privileged to help thousands of people when they needed help. Moving all of their belongings is something that I was born to do. My family collected antique coke machines and gas pumps from the 50s. My father taught me how to move heavy, fragile, and unique items all over the country when I was still in high school. In addition to those heavy items there were one-of-a-kind furniture pieces that had marble and rounded glass that was troublesome to pack and move. All while my dad was standing there critiquing my every move. Talk about stress.

During the heyday of his collecting, he had over 700 coke machines and 500 gas pumps. It was really a fascinating site. And the fact that I moved it all there without any damage was fulfilling. 

That is why I started moving furniture for a local company in college. Moving has allowed me to visit every state in the union. I learned a lot from them and started my own in Bakersfield in 2007 and it slowly grew into the largest moving company in Kern County. In 2010, I sold the business and moved to Sonoma county where I went back to school and got my EMT and Firefighting degree. 

I worked on an Ambulance for three years and had a lot fun helping people in their time of need. However, it just was not for me. So during my off hours, I started moving furniture again. 

In 2018, the company I sold, merged with me and we became partners. And we have not looked back since. 

To this day I am amazed at how far we as a team have come. 

Learn More About SOMO Village

If you’re interested in living in a sustainable community that fuses the best of city living with the country lifestyle and all the amazing things that Sonoma County has to offer, we invite you to visit SOMO Village. To learn more, download our residential project brief or get in touch with us today.

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