Moving house is one of the biggest decisions and upheavals you are likely to experience in adult life. It is rarely a fun experience, but if you don’t put the preparation in and give a little thought to making moving day run smoothly, things can quickly descend into chaos.
We were recently roped in to help some friends with moving, and having been through the process before I was asked to help my friends come up with a moving strategy. They were pretty unprepared and very stressed, which left me wondering how many other people out there are going into house moves with the same sort of attitude.
The help I was able to offer my friends inspired me to share the expertise I have picked up from numerous moves, and to pass on the many moving day hacks which I have road tested.
Even if you employ the services of a moving company, you will have plenty to do before, during and after the move. From the admin tasks of a move to ensuring all of your belongings get to their destination safely, there is so much to consider in both the weeks before, and the day of your big move.
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1. Get Organized Beforehand
Everything you can do before you move will make your life easier on the day, and after the move has taken place. You are likely to find out your move date a month or two in advance, certain tasks need to be done on the day but many can be done a week, a month or even further in advance. It is a good idea to create a week-by-week rundown of when tasks can be done. Confused.com have even made a moving house checklist showing what needs to be organized and how far in advance of your move.
2. Let Your Smartphone Help You
Nowadays, you can find smartphone apps for any occasion and activity - and moving is definitely not an exception!
If you are in need for reliable moving companies, check My Move. The app also helps you to estimate the cost of moving, to keep notes for moving, provides with helpful tips, and etc.
You can also use a To Do list app to remember the stuff you need to do for your moving. It can be a dedicated one that is designed for organizing a moving or a simple one that handles generic lists. An app that allows to take notes would be helpful as well. Check it out in your smartphone store what apps it has and let your smartphone help you!
3. Purge In Advance
We all have stuff we don’t need.
If you are being ruthless, you will probably quickly discover that you have lots of items accumulated over the years which you are absolutely fine with taking to goodwill or throwing out if they’re past their best. There is no use in moving things that you aren’t going to use in the new home. Moving.com have even made a handy guide to talk you through the purge process, and how to make decisions on which items need to go.
A purge can be a good way to raise some funds too.
Not everything has to be given away for free, and if you are organized enough to get things listed on eBay or sell them on social media beforehand you can even end up with a pot of money to help with the move and new furniture. Or organize a yard sale if taking pictures of your stuff and uploading them to sites seems daunting.
If you decided to organize a yard sale, think of making it as comfortable for your visitors as possible. Set up a pop-up canopy or tent to get a protection against sun, serve complimentary drinks, and so on.
If you have children, getting rid of old items can be a bit more challenging.
Most kids are hoarders who don’t want to see their toys go, but be ruthless. You would be amazed how many of your possessions have no use anymore. We’re not saying throw out treasured photographs and heirlooms, just make sure that nothing comes with you that you will never use again.
4. Confirm the Items Which Are Staying Behind
This is something to sort out with either the new occupants of the house or your landlord. Certain fixtures and items around your house may be staying behind. Curtains, appliances and items specifically customized to the home may be staying, in which case they can be clearly marked to ensure that the moving company know on the day what is staying behind.
Have something you don’t want to take with you such as an oven or fridge? It is worth asking whoever is moving into your house, or even a landlord if they are interested in buying it. There is a good case for leaving big items behind when moving, according to wheatonworldwide.com. Even selling at a reduced rate is better than moving something you don’t need, especially something cumbersome like an oven.
5. Check Your Belongings Fit Your New Space
This is a mistake made over and over again. Just because your couch will fit in your new living room, doesn’t mean it will fit in the door. Take measurements of the hallways and doorways of your new place as well as the rooms. Measure furniture and appliances to check that they will not only be able to fit where you want them to live, but that you will be able to get them there safely through doorways and halls.
If you are able to break down furniture beforehand, this can help too. For instance, a lot of beds can be deconstructed before you move, allowing them to fit through small spaces before being rebuilt in their new home. Even with these kinds of items it is worth checking that the individual parts of the bed will fit through the door and around awkward corners.
If a floor plan has been made available to you, you can get an idea of how furniture will be laid out in advance, there is even software by roomsketcher.com to help you to create floor plans with your furniture. This will make sure you don’t end up running out of space when you get there. Measuring your furniture and planning the layout is a very sensible activity before moving.
6. Take Pictures Of Old Place
If you think you can recreate the way something was organized at your old place, take photos before you start packing, suggests mentalfloss.com.
Later, when you want to arrange a bookshelf in the same way it was at your old room or recreate that neat arrangement of the computer cables or any other special setup, you won't need to rely on your memory. Use these pictures as a reference instead.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Use Storage Units
Rome wasn’t built in a day! It may be that you want a bit of time before you move all of your furniture and belongings into your new place. This can be the perfect opportunity to deep clean, renovate, make alterations or even just add a lick of paint to your new place.Storage units can be pricey, says storage.com, so it is important to work out whether the cost is going to be worth it in the long run. There is also the issue of moving things to and from storage. In spite of these obstacles, some of us have no choice, and the fact that you can put things into safe storage may be a godsend.
8. Your Moving Strategy: Professional or DIY?
A professional moving company will undoubtedly make your life a lot easier when the time comes to move home, but it isn’t the best choice for everyone. A professional company can be costly, and depending on how many possessions you are taking with you, could even be unnecessary.
If you are moving from a college dorm room to your first apartment, you may not have a great deal in the way of furniture and appliances. Perhaps you’ve come from a home share or a smaller apartment. In these situations, it may be that hiring a larger vehicle and calling in the help of some friends and family might be the better option, it is certainly the more affordable option!
If you are moving with your family with a lot of furniture, especially if you have valuable and heavy items, a moving company company will be your best bet. Not only will your life be easier, they are likely to be insured should anything go wrong.
The video below from Ameritex movers will help you to make the decision on whether you can DIY or whether you need to get the movers in!
9. Communicate With Movers
Whether you opt for a professional or DIY approach, communication is key. Movers will want to know if there are any specifically large or unusual items, if there are things to be left behind and if they will need any specific equipment for the job.
A lot of movers will offer a consultation which is the perfect chance to discuss these kinds of things. Not only will it ensure the day goes smoothly but it will keep your movers happy and motivated on the day. Nobody likes turning up to work to find out they have to move an antique clock weighing 300 lbs!
10. Book the Right Transport
Whether doing it all yourself or booking a moving company, it is important that you work out roughly how much you will be taking and exactly what size of truck will do the job.
Moving companies will normally be able to consult on this, but if you are booking a truck for your own use there are a huge amount of different sizes out there. On moving day, you probably won’t be afforded the luxury of making more than one trip, so you need to make sure there is enough space first time around.
On the other side of the spectrum, don’t book the biggest truck if you’ve just got a couple of boxes to take. The Spruce has created a handy guide for estimating how much space you are going to require.
11. Get A Packing Kit and Assign Rooms
If you’re fortunate enough to have multiple people working on packing, you need to get a system in order. This will lead to the most efficient packing possible. The kit should include inventory sheets, pens, duct tape, scissors and labels and means that your packing is standardized and that time isn’t wasted. Many hands make light work.
12. Go Green
The packaging used to move house can be ridiculous. Fortunately, some companies specialize in sustainable and reusable packaging. There are some alternatives out there, and some people even move home completely plastic free, says myplasticfreelife.com.
Some moving companies will allow you to rent specific plastic tubs which they can then use for hundreds of moves, rather than create unnecessary waste with single-use packaging.
13. Reuse Boxes
Boxes are thrown out or recycled every day, so there should be no need for you to buy boxes brand new. It may be the case that you can get your hands on some boxes which have been used by local businesses to reduce the impact of you moving.
Ask around and you may be able to get everything from small boxes to large fruit and vegetable crates made of cardboard and repurpose them for your move. Another way to be environmentally responsible when moving.
14. Take an Inventory
An inventory might not be the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it is essential. It is even more vital if you are using a moving company this can even be a document used in insurance claims, and will certainly be used to check that everything has been accounted for during the move.
Allstate’s moving inventory checklists (printable) can save a lot of time and ensure nothing is forgotten about.
The extent of the detail in your inventory is up to you. The most organized movers may even have an inventory for the contents of every box they pack, sometimes including photographs to prove the condition the items were in when they were packed. If you have a lot of valuable items, this is a great way to give yourself peace of mind as well as staying organized. You are not likely to photograph a few DVDs, but family heirlooms and expensive jewelry are well worth tracking in detail.
MJ Gordon’s moving lessons covers keeping an inventory in more detail.
15. Use clothing to wrap fragiles
To save on bubble wrap, use your clothes for wrapping glasses, plates, and other stuff that can get broken easily. This way, you both pack your clothes and kitchenware - and also make your move greener by using less plastic.
16. Use your clean socks for glasses and drinkware packing
Similar to the previous tip but this time, you can use your clean socks for filling the gaps between your glasses and other drinkware to prevent them from breaking. Usually, I put paper for padding but using socks is much more clever!
17. Go Label Crazy
Another tip which falls into the ‘boring but functional’ category; labeling. Putting labels on every box is nothing short of essential, but you can even take it further for more simplicity when unpacking. Instead of just categorizing by room, label which items are in there too. You can even utilize colors and ‘open first’ labels as explained here by rent.com.
For instance, if I were to move I would have labels which read “Nadya’s Room > Clothes > Shoes” for my shoe collection or “Nadya’s Room > Bedding” for pillows and other bedding. One of the first tasks in the new home would be to label which one is, in fact, my room so that the movers know where to put things. It may seem incredibly geeky, in fact it saves a huge amount of time.
By labeling in this way, your movers will know exactly where the boxes need to go, and you will know exactly what you are unpacking. It is also a great way to separate valuables so you know exactly where they are at all times. A little bit of time spent creating a labeling system can save you (and anyone helping you move) a huge amount of time and effort in the long run. The stress of your big move is enough without people asking “where does this go?” every couple of minutes.
18. Do Not Overload Boxes
When packing, try to remember to not load your boxes over 50 pounds. If the boxes are too heavy, it may increase risk of something going wrong. For example, the box may break and whoever carries it may trip over and injure themselves. Or the stuff from the damaged box may drop and break, too.
For heavier items like books, magazines, use smaller boxes of 2 cubic feet that allow you to not overload them and still pack the items tightly. For light items such as linens, curtains, etc, use boxes of 6 cubic feet and bigger. Everything else goes in between.
19. Check The Bill of Lading
The bill of lading is the actual contract between you and your movers, if you opt to hire a company to do your moving this is absolutely vital. You have a right to see the contract beforehand. Check the terms, especially when it comes to insurance and how well covered you are if something goes wrong. Understanding the bill of lading (by upack.com) is vital. It will also probably detail how the inventory ties into your contract, and whether you need to get your inventory signed off before the move.
20. Investigate the Area You Are Moving In
In the US, there are some states where no state income taxes exist and there are others that charge quite bid sales and other taxes.
If you are moving to a different state, you may want to find out what the rules are there. It may affect your moving budget if you plan to buy a lot of new stuff on the new spot.
21. Find Out The Rules Of The New Place
If you are moving to a condo there may well be rules to abide by.
Think of things like the elevator usage, whether there are specific areas in which you can and can’t park. Also, you may have to pay a security deposit on the day you move in. A couple of simple phone calls before the day of moving can mean you aren’t left panicking and not knowing the rules on the day, and that you’re not blocking someone out of their parking space or ignoring an apartment block’s rules!
22. Pack In Things You Need to Pack
There may be certain items you want to oversee whilst moving. It is a good idea to have your own luggage, much like you would when flying. In this, you can keep delicate items or anything you want to keep an eye on throughout the move. This can be a way to ensure your most precious items are watched throughout the move and don’t go missing.
23. Don’t Mistake Belongings For Trash
Garbage bags are easily available to us, and there are pros and cons to using them for moving as explained here by simonikmoves.com. The environmental impact is a downside we’ve already mentioned, but also the fact that it can be easy to mistake your belongings for trash, especially if you are still throwing out unwanted items.
If you are left in a position where you have to use garbage bags, use a ribbon or different type of bag to distinguish these from something waiting to be thrown out.
24. Make a Moving Day Kit
This is a lifesaver. A moving day kit can usually fit in a backpack, and involves packing everything that might be of immediate use in the same place. Basically, everything you need to survive the day without having to go searching for specific boxes which may not have been unpacked yet.
It is amazing how many items we use day to day. Things to go in your moving day kit include toilet roll, soap, pens and paper, bottles of water, tea and coffee, utensils, medication and phone chargers. It is similar to packing for a couple of days of camping in many ways. A very useful list of items to go in your kit can be found at Really Moving.
Once your moving day kit is ready, pack it away from the rest of your bags and boxes to avoid it getting put into the truck, which would totally miss the point. If you are driving in a separate vehicle, this can be a good place for your kit.
25. Prepare For Your Movers Beforehand
There are certain things you can’t do before the day of the move, but everything you can do to help your movers before the day will help. Have your boxes packed and ready to go, and even unscrewing furniture ready to be compacted and put in the truck will be helpful. Obviously, you should only do what you are capable of and comfortable with.
Having as much done as possible before the movers turn up will make your day go a lot smoother and a lot quicker.
If you live on a multi-storey building, get everything onto the ground floor in advance. Stairs are one of the most frustrating and time consuming aspects of moving furniture around, so packing everything into the truck will be much faster.
26. Protect Your Valuables
We’ve already mentioned some of the steps you can take in terms of insurance, but this is a worst case scenario. Protecting your valuables is normally pretty straightforward. If you have jewelry or other small items, you can get portable safes which can do a good job.
Valuables such as computers can be backed up beforehand to minimize risk, and it may be the case that you want to take items like this separately in your car to keep an eye on them (remember, this may mean they aren’t covered by the insurance of your movers).
If you are the anxious type and are worried about keeping your valuables on you while you move, you could get a family member to keep them for a few days and drop them in once you are settled. Realtor.com’s guide to moving your valuables is full of tips to put your mind at ease and keep your valuable goods safe from harm. You can even ask about your movers’ insurance policy (by statefarm.com) for the move, giving that extra level of security.
27. Delay Deliveries and Visits
It is perfectly normal that once you have moved you will have lots of new items delivered, usually furniture or appliances. It can be tempting to get these in on the same day as you’re moving, but it will add a lot of stress, especially if the items being delivered need to be installed. Clear the day purely to be moving day, you can always use the next couple of days to have your new items installed and delivered.
28. Sort Out Services
Don’t end up moving in the dark! This is an extreme example, but one of the main admin tasks of moving is to transfer all of your services to your new address. Every bill you are paying, even things like a mobile phone, require moving your address. Do the most immediately pressing bills first such as phone, water, internet and electricity. Most can be set up to switch over on your moving day.
You should also check the meter readings on the home you move from, and the home you are moving to, this will be used to verify bills later on and ensure you only pay for what you use.
29. Moving With Kids
If you have kids, moving might get a bit more complex.
If your kids are small, it is better to keep them out of the house on the moving day. Arrange a baby sitter in advance and ideally, it should be at some other place outside of your house. Check out with your neighbors, both old and new ones, if they could look after your kids.
If you kids are already big enough to help you, think about how you can use their help. Kids might not take the moving lightly so involving them into the process may help them to coop with changing the place and leaving their old friends behind.
30. Prepare The Pets
If you have pets, your move will be a little more complicated, but following a few simple steps can keep your pets safe and out of the way on moving day. If you have an enclosed yard then this can be the best place for pets. If not, you will need to shut them in a room out of the way while things are moved out, then again in your new house while things are carried in.
Dogs especially have the capacity to be a nuisance and it is natural that they feel a little threatened if you have movers coming in and out of the house. Shut them in a room with a treat and try to give them regular walks through the day to keep them from feeling claustrophobic. Cesar’s Way have some great tips for moving day with dogs.
Another option for pet owners is to leave the pets with family or friends on moving day, but only you will know whether this is suitable for your pets.
31. Keep In Touch With Movers
It might be a good idea to exchange cell phone numbers with your movers before you take off to the new location.
If one of the parties gets lost or stuck in traffic, being able to call each other and point out to the right direction would definitely reduce the length of the moving trip. It may even speed up the unloading. If your movers arrive earlier than you, they can call you to confirm whether they are at the right address and start unloading before you arrive.
32. Make Good With Neighbors
You certainly won’t want to get off on the wrong foot with neighbors. Be clear with them from the outset, and even let them know the schedule beforehand if you can. Depending on where you are moving to, trucks and workers can be disruptive. Make sure you’re not blocking any other cars and let people know that the move is happening. Most people will be very understanding.
A friendly hello is always a good idea, and apologizing in advance for any disruption will mean you don’t create any neighborhood feuds on day one! Being a good neighbor, as youmoveme.com says, is not just good etiquette but it ensures people are likely to treat you the same in the future.
33. Unload Properly
This ties in closely with getting the labeling correct. It can be tempting once you are in to just get all of your boxes into the house and leave it for later, but if you have a good labeling system in place and quickly make sure all your movers know which room is which and ensure things end up in the right place.
This way you can prioritize rooms easily too when it comes to unpacking. Unpacking your kitchen equipment is probably more important than office decorations or spare room bedding, for instance.
To ensure you are fully prepared for the unload, check out this guide from My Moving Reviews.
34. Look After Your Movers
Whether they’re friends and family or professionals, it is important to keep spirits high and ensure everyone is motivated. You don’t have to put on a huge spread, but ensuring there are drinks on offer and maybe even some snacks can make all the difference.
On a hot day, moving can be intense, get some cold drinks in the fridge straight away. You can follow these cheap and easy recipes for drinks you can make in batches such as lemonade from cheapism.com. Don’t be afraid to insist on taking a break for drinks, your movers will thank you.
35. Look After Yourself
Don’t overdo it, it is important to put yourself first too. Once you are in, you have time to get things sorted and stressing about things isn’t going to help, even though it is a chaotic environment on moving day.
Lifehack even have a guide focused on staying sane on moving day! Stay hydrated and have breaks, ensuring others around you are doing the same. Ideally, take some time off work not just for the day of the move, but a couple of days afterwards, so you aren’t cramming everything into one crazy day.
Putting up all of your paintings and organizing the cutlery can wait for another day, just make sure you don’t drive yourself crazy moving.
Moving isn’t the most fun activity, you probably wouldn’t choose to do it for fun. If you are fortunate enough to be able to use a moving company then things will be much more simple, but there is still so much to prepare.
Tackling it head on and in advance can also eliminate a lot of the anxiety around moving house, which can feel like impending doom if you haven’t got everything in order with services, packing and preparation for the day.
No matter how organized an individual you are, you can easily forget things and find yourself fighting a losing battle. Following the tips we’ve collected can make a huge difference when the day comes to go through the upheaval of a move.
Having checklists and a strategy as well as planning as much as you can beforehand will help keep everyone on the same page and keep you from going crazy.
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