Moving is stressful. And stress can cause forgetfulness, which leads to new homeowners finding very strange things left behind in their new home, from dead cats to adult diapers or, if you're very lucky, cash.
Jenn Greenleaf, author of Couponing for the Everyday Consumer and extreme couponer, is used to counting pennies and knows that pennies count. But she never imagined she'd find 30 lbs. of change in her new house. "We found change in the strangest places," she says. "In the woodwork, in the heat registers, in and on top of the fridge! We have wood that goes three-quarters of the way up our kitchen walls; there was change on top of that."
She even found change of every denomination inside the old light fixtures in the kitchen. Greenleaf called it an "ongoing joke" while she was cleaning her new home. "My husband and I kept saying, 'Hey, look! Money!'" When Greenleaf cashed it in, the grand total was $189, which more than covered her first grocery shopping trip for her new home.
Cats: Alive (and Dead)
Sometimes, items left behind end up costing the new homeowners money. Dawn Allcot, a freelance writer in Long Island, N.Y., relates, "When I moved years ago, the former residents left behind their pregnant cat. As soon as we opened the door, this cat strolled in and started meowing at the cabinet where the family must have kept her cat food. Pieces of kibble were still on the floor. We ended up spaying the mother and keeping her." They then gave away all but one of the kittens to other homes.
A resident cat came with Kristin Corsetti's first house, too, but this one didn't demand dinner. "We bought a house from an old lady whose adult children were sad to see their family home sold," Corsetti says. "The son took one last look around, turned to me, and said, 'I'll be back to dig up the cat!' The cat was dead for at least 30 years. I told the son we would take good care of the cat buried in our yard."
Corsetti never looked for the cat's grave, but she did find adult diapers left behind in the home.
Did These People Even Pack?
Sometimes, former homeowners leave behind nearly everything but the family pets. Robyn Tellefsen, a freelance writer and editor from Staten Island, N.Y., found "dishes in the dishwasher, clothes in the dryer, and plenty of miscellaneous objects around the house."
It wasn't actually the sellers' fault they were in such a hurry. "The sellers did us a huge favor by moving out quickly, even though their own house wasn't ready yet, so our son could start kindergarten at the local school," Tellefsen says. "We were so grateful to get the house that we didn't mind the stuff left behind. We packed it all in a big bag and the sellers picked it up a few weeks later. We even kept some of their curtains and step stools, with their permission, of course."
No matter how rushed you are, you can avoid forgetting important items when you move by following these steps:
• Do a "clean sweep," as you would in a hotel room, before you leave your home or apartment for the last time.
• Check the basement, garage and outdoor sheds.
• Check inside your stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, washer and dryer, closets and bathtub, as well as underneath any furniture remaining behind.
• Check for mail if your change-of-address with the Post Office hasn't gone into effect yet.
Items Most Frequently Left Behind After a Move
Make sure to remember these important items when you move:
• Spare keys (gather keys from friends or neighbors and leave them in a safe place for the new homeowner)
• Clean and pressed clothes from the dry cleaner
• The garage door opener from your car (this one goes to the new homeowners too)
• Professional records from places like your doctor, dentist, day care provider, school or vet
• Library books and Redbox DVDs (don't pack them; return them before you move)
• Your address book
• Your new home address (You don't want to get halfway across town before you realize you forgot where you live)
What have you found left behind in your new home?