I think most of us would agree that moving is very stressful event, from both a mental and physical standpoint.
Apart from being an exhausting undertaking in every way, it can be quite costly and time-consuming. It’s also emotionally draining – you have to accept leaving your residential memories behind and watch all of your personal items get shoved in a box and potentially lost. At a minimum, a majority of your accumulated life’s possessions will be inaccessible for a while.
Moving is also stressful for those who are helping you, there are people I no longer speak to because of their inconsiderate moving etiquette.
There is never such a thing as a “fun” move, but there are various degrees of success or failure – I think I’ve seen some of the worst moves in the history of bad moves. Because of this, I would love to help YOU with making your moving process as efficient as possible, to avoid wasting time and hopefully prevent turning friends into former friends who now avoid you.
There are 4 components of moving: Planning, Evaluating, Staging, and Execution. I’ve learned that when it comes to moving, good preparation is critical; even just the mental preparation and realistic understanding of how much you actually have. Do yourself a favor and start as EARLY as possible with the planning process which may save you from many headaches on moving day.
Here are the best tips for making your move successful:
1. Plan your move strategy
Determine what you have the money to pay for. Are you hiring someone to do your a) packing b) furniture lifting c) truck driving d) all of it? If you can afford it, I highly recommend spending the money on movers for at LEAST lifting your heavy furniture. Unless your best friends are gym-rats training for the Strongest Man competition, your friends will most likely not be strong enough or careful enough to move heavy things without breaking your valuable furniture or their backs, neither of which will help your friendship.
ALWAYS have your boxes packed before moving day unless you are paying for movers to pack, which should still happen prior to moving day. You can pay for professional movers to help you pack your items but they will not be able to discriminate what you want to keep or discard so everything will end up getting packed. Don’t be that person that asks your friends help you pack the day of the move – it’s something that shouldn’t be done last minute and especially not by people who are already doing you a huge favor.
2. Research your mover options
Movers can be found in your area at a great price at HireaHelper.com, a site which allows you to compare local movers and their services. The other advantage with using professional movers is they are typically insured and will come with supplies like shrink wrap, ladders, hand trucks, and possibly a truck (check with each mover for what they include). Most of these companies will allow you to extend the time-frame by a few hours if needed.
I’ve found the effort in moving is ALWAYS underestimated. Make sure you make your moving arrangements far enough in advance to guarantee they will have staff and trucks that day.
If you have a lot of items, you should get at least 3 people as one person can be wrapping furniture while the other 2 are lifting. The cost for 4 movers with a truck for around 6 hours will run approximately $1000.00 or so.
On the day of the move make sure you have cold drinks and snacks to offer everyone, they will need and appreciate it. Plan on giving hired movers a tip if you feel they deserve one, these people have worked hard for you.
3. Research your truck and storage options
Ask your truck rental/storage company what size they recommend for the amount of rooms you plan on moving. A 20′ moving truck typically costs around $150.00 for the day but you will also want to make sure you or a friend will be comfortable driving such a large vehicle.
If you already have a hand truck ask for the one that comes in the truck to be taken out, as it is locked and inaccessible unless you pay for it and only gets in the way and takes up useful space.
Many storage companies will offer great move in discounts, but be careful on understanding the terms and conditions as some of these come with a minimum time commitment in order to receive the discount. If you will only be storing items for a limited time it may be worth it to invest in a storage/truck system like Pods or PackRat since these function as your transport AND your storage. Be aware that these are typically fairly high priced but do offer the additional convenience of only moving things in/out once. These are also only recommended if you have a limited amount of items which can be stored in only one container.
4. Start collecting boxes and supplies
As early as you know you are moving, collect as many boxes as you can. You will always need more than you think. We have typically needed several hundred for every move I’ve been a part of. You will need smaller/medium sizes the most; invest in small heavy duty ones with handles for books or other heavy items.
Large boxes should only be used for light items like pillows or lamp shades – you only need a few of these, if any. Don’t pack anything heavier than you’re able to lift even if a mover can lift it, since they won’t be there when you are going through them later.
Avoid buying new boxes from big stores like Home Depot as these will have a hefty price tag. Your best bet if you are willing to pay for boxes is to look on Craigslist for someone who has recently moved and selling theirs for a low price, sometimes they are even listed free to the first person who shows up. If you are resourceful you can typically find free ones from grocery stores, liquor stores, and thrift stores but make sure they are in good enough condition to use. They should have all of their flaps and have no tears or spills inside of them. Don’t take ones which smell bad. One strategic option is to call a local realtor who may be able to help connect you with people who are moving and may be happy to part with their boxes for free or for a low price.
5. Call your utility companies ahead of time
A few weeks before the move contact all of your utility companies including internet, cable, electric, gas, water, trash, insurance, and any other ones you use to notify them of the move out and move in dates. We made the mistake of waiting until the last minute to contact our internet provider and it took about 2 weeks to get this turned on, which was difficult on us since we do a lot of our work online.
6. Evaluate your inventory early on
What will you be moving vs. getting rid of? It’s easier to sell, donate, or throw things away before you move or pay someone to move them so this is the preferred option provided you have the time to do so. Sell unwanted items on eBay or Craigslist prior to your move – this can take up to 6 weeks. Decide what you will do if these items don’t sell – will you donate them or throw them away?
Schedule a donation truck to come prior to moving day.
Schedule a trash truck to pick up large items prior to moving day and be aware that this will often have an associated fee.
7. Plan your move-in strategy
As you go through your items to figure out what you are keeping, think about where these will go in your new residence. Try to only move furniture once by mapping out where larger items should go before you move in. This way, you won’t be driving someone crazy by constantly re-positioning and redesigning your furniture layout.
8. Fragile & important items
Identify your fragile items which need special handling. Also determine valuables that you won’t want others to transport such as cash, jewelry, coins, bank account information, passports, guns, etc. Your best bet is to move these yourself or have a trusted friend store them for you during the move.
Don’t pack any blankets or towels until the end as most of these can be used to wrap your fragile items and will save you the cost of bubble wrap or packing peanuts. Pack dishes vertically like records for the best chance of reducing breakage. If you are having movers transport valuables DO NOT write the contents on the boxes but DO write numbers on the sides of the boxes. Have a sheet of paper with each box’s number and contents and check that all of these boxes arrive at your new location.
9. Pack by room – unload by room
Don’t pack items from different rooms in one box. Color-coding your boxes will prove to be extremely helpful and will make it easier on those who are assisting with the move. You can opt to buy color packing tape or simply place a sticker on the outside of the boxes to indicate which room the items belong to. Make sure the indicator is visible from all sides of the boxes and is not on top since you won’t easily be able to see this if the box is stacked.
Prioritize your most used items and try to mark them as “important”, then make sure they are easily accessible when they arrive at your new destination. For example, nail polish is not going to be as necessary as your toothbrush, so you want to make sure you haven’t buried the dental hygiene box under other boxes you won’t need right away.
10. Inventory your box content
Either plan on using a numbering/corresponding notepad system like mentioned above for all of your boxes, or make sure you have identified all of your box contents on a sheet of paper and taped it to the outside. Some people prefer to use a spreadsheet, but to me this seems inconvenient as I wouldn’t want to look everything up on a computer when I’m in a room away from the computer. At a minimum, do mark at least one side of the box with ALL items within the box. Inevitably, that one item you need most might be in an unmarked box, so try to be as thorough as possible.
11. Keep unassembled items together
Place any unscrewed screws in a plastic baggie and tape that to the item the screws came out of. If you are undoing cables, mark these with your color coded tape so that they are easy to put back together – or take a picture if that clearly shows how to reassemble the connections. If drawers are removed from cabinets use Saran Wrap around the drawer to keep the contents from spilling out, although it’s better to keep your drawers in the dresser and emptied out as it takes up less space.
12. Moving Clothes
One of my favorite investments were the garment boxes like these Garment Boxes from Amazon that we used which made it very easy to pack, keep clothes in wrinkle free shape, and hang again. We actually used these for a bit as a closet, just removing clothes as needed while we were still living out of boxes during the initial days of our move. Though expensive, if you only need a few of these they are a great resource to keep your clothes in.
If you don’t use garment boxes, place trash bags over small groupings of hangered clothes to keep them clean, then zip tie the hangers together so that they don’t fall apart and pull on each other as you’re taking these out of the closet, packing them, then putting them in the new one.
13. Complete your rooms
Do several assessments of a room before considering it “done”. After you have finished one room, including removing all packed boxes, taking down any mirrors/picture frames, removing extension cords, nightlights, hangers, window treatments, etc., close the door and notify everyone assisting with the move that a closed door indicates the room is done. Place a sticky note on the door if it helps.
14. Move-Out and Move-In Cleaning Supplies
Moving is dirty business. After lifting furniture that has been in place for a while there will inevitably be dust bunnies and crud left from living. As a courtesy to the next tenants (and sometimes a contractual obligation), you should plan to leave your residence cleaned. Make sure you leave yourself some supplies for post-move cleaning including a sponge, all-purpose cleaner, broom/dustpan, mop, and vacuum, so that you can do an end cleanup.
You might also use this in your new place if the previous residents didn’t do this for you. Set these aside in one of the closed door rooms so that it doesn’t accidentally get moved before you can use it.
15. Defrost your fridge/freezers 2 days before moving
Your freezer will take 1-2 days to defrost. Defrost models work quicker, while non-defrost models will take longer. Follow the directions for your specific model type, which typically includes turning on the defrost mode or unplugging the fridge/freezer. Have towels ready to collect the water on the floor. 24 hours before moving thoroughly clean out the fridge/freezer and leave the doors open for it to dry, otherwise mold can collect. Empty, clean, and dry the evaporator pan.
16. Pack a bug out/vacation bag
If moving to a new place you will all of a sudden find yourself in an empty house filled with boxes and little else. Unless you plan to start un-boxing on day 1, after being exhausted from the move itself, fill a suitcase with items that will get you through a few days or so where you won’t need to unpack anything to live. This includes clothes appropriate for your current weather forecast, pajamas, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, shampoo/conditioner, a brush, a towel, a few plastic silverware bags, plastic cups, and anything else you need on a daily basis. OR just make sure these are all in a box you can get to right away.
17. Moving day(s)
Don’t have anything else going on the day of your move – it will be chaotic enough and you need to be there to help and direct people. Make arrangements for pets and young children to stay with family, neighbors or friends so that they are out of the way and you’re not worried about them running off during your move.
Appoint ONE person and only ONE person to be the go-to person for the movers to ask questions of. If you have more than one boss during this event there will surely be some cross communication on where things need to go. Understanding who is in charge will help your movers make sure they are getting clear and accurate instructions.
18. Nourish & Hydrate yourself
On top of all of this – make sure you are staying hydrated and nourished throughout the day. You don’t want to get dizzy and fall down stairs because you were too busy to eat. When moving, safety is KEY!
Follow these steps and you’re off to an easier, well-organized move!