Moving is stressful. There’s so much to do and take care of, and it’s such a process, only to reverse it when you reach your new destination. These moving tips stem from MULTIPLE personal moving experiences (St. Louis to NYC to Palo Alto to San Diego).
Nothing will entirely remove the stress of moving, but there are steps you can take to reduce the anxiety that comes with it and remember the important small things that can help make the whole process smoother.
Let’s get started.
Whether you’re moving across the country for a new job or down the road to another home, you first need to figure out what to do with your stuff and how to move it.
Whatever decisions you make, moving tip 1-10 is: get started as early as possible.
Dealing With Stuff
Sort Through All Of It
There are three options: keep, sell, donate it/trash it. You’ll have to Marie Kondo the heck out of your place to do this properly. As daunting as it sounds, it’s important to do this; it will save you time and money when moving. Think about it; you don’t want to pay for moving stuff you don’t use or want.
Figure Out What You CAN’T Take
There will be some things that don’t qualify for your new place. This could be due to space issues in your new home or because it’s old, and paying to move it isn’t worth it.
Whatever you CAN’T take goes into another pile: donate or sell. The sooner you can identify these items, the sooner you can take steps to eliminate them.
Deciding How To Move It All
You can take it all with you in a Uhaul truck, or hire movers, sell the furniture, and mail everything that can fit into boxes.
Driving a Uhaul Yourself
While this is a valid option, it’s not an easy one. Driving those trucks can be difficult and tricky. Plus, if you do this, you’ll likely have to hire people anyway to help you load and unload – unless there are family/friends/loved ones that you can ask for help.
Moving Tip: Test drive the truck and see how you feel. Long road trips in those things can get tiring, and you may find that it’s not worth it.
Selling Large Items and Sending Boxes
Depending on the distance you’re moving – say it’s across the country – this option gives you the freedom of starting fresh with new furniture and new stuff. Plus, movers going that distance is expensive.
From personal experience, this option is a struggle. Yes, you save money because you aren’t hiring movers; however, it’s a pain to sell all your stuff and immediately have to buy new things at your destination. Plus, when packing, there are all the trips to the post office or UPS to mail your stuff. The whole ordeal can negate any cost savings gained from avoiding movers.
Moving tip: I think the best way to navigate this option is to pre-shop for essentials online like your bed and/or a sofa and time their delivery for the day or day after you arrive. Otherwise, you will end up buying things while rushed.
Alternatively, since you’re saving money and not hiring movers, spring for a hotel/motel room nearby for a couple of days. This gives you a place to sleep and allows you to take some time to choose the new items you really want for your new home.
There are so many moving companies out there. Moving costs can vary significantly between companies and depend on moving distance and the services you would like.
Almost all of them include certain services in their fees – like using plastic wrap to protect large items and disassembling and then assembling your furniture. Nearly all of them also provide full-service moving and packing services, but at an extra cost.
If you’re one of those people who really can’t handle the thought of packing, then utilizing the packing service may be worth the extra money for you. Otherwise, I don’t recommend it. When hired movers are doing the packing, there’s no organization in it and no sense of trying to use fewer boxes (it’s in their interest to sell you more boxes). Plus, you’d have to supervise them and ensure they label everything correctly, so it’s not as hands-off as you’d imagine.
Moving Tip: If you decide to hire, buy your own boxes. Focus on medium-sized boxes (OR go to Walmart/CVS/Walgreens/the local liquor store or any other local store and see if they have boxes they’re trying to get rid of. You’ll get them for free) and pack your own stuff. That way, it’s organized to your liking, and then you can leave the moving to the movers.
Moving Tips: How to Pack
Once you’ve figured out your game plan of how to move your stuff, you need to get to packing. Below are some packing hacks learned after years of practice.
First, Make a List of Necessities
No matter your method of moving, you will need certain things as soon as you arrive. Create a list of these essential items and pack them together in the same box. Set it aside to be opened as soon as you get to your new home.
Items to consider for this box include things like a shower curtain, a towel, bed sheets, a pot, and maybe some coffee or tea bags (depending on your preferred AM drink of choice), a glass or two, and/or mugs (alternatively, you can purchase some disposable stuff).
These are examples of items you’ll need right away. Packing them separately in one bag/suitcase/box, marked to stay with you, will make it easier to reach for them at your new destination.
Next, Start Packing What You Don’t Need
Start your packing by putting away things you don’t use all the time or something you know you won’t need between when you start packing up until you move into your new place.
These items can be seasonal clothing, seasonal shoes, random kitchen items, random bath items, decorations, handbags, etc.
Try to Pack Based on Item
Make an effort to group similar items. For instance, place all shoes in the same box or all handbags. It isn’t always possible, but it makes it easier to find your stuff afterward, and you can wait to unpack those boxes as you know you won’t need that stuff right away.
Moving Tip: Get wardrobe boxes for your hanging clothes. The box is long and has a hanging rod, so you take your clothes from the closet and hang them in the box! Then hang them in your new wardrobe! They are worth the extra cost.
Double Up on Function Where You Can
Recently, my brother moved out of his apartment. He gave me a bag of clothes to donate. Instead, I used his old clothes as packing material. I wrapped dishes and breakables and used old garments as padding to pack the items securely.
This tip also applies to clothes you want to keep. Identify some that aren’t so nice or you don’t need right away and put them to work. You’ll save on bubble wrap, and you’ll be packing up stuff you want to keep!
Moving Tips: Alternative ideas to this: stick small things into shoes to use that space, secure non-valuable jewelry inside handbags, or put sharp knives inside oven mitts. If you have a clear plastic bin, then use it in place of a box. The idea is to find spaces and use them as much as possible. Every little bit helps.
Don’t Make Anything Too Heavy
It’s easy to get carried away throwing all your books into one box, for instance. But, think of the weight you’re creating. Heavier items cost more to ship and are harder to lift and transfer. You also run the risk of the box breaking.
Moving Tip: Pack the box halfway with books (or something heavy), and then use the rest of the space to pack something super light like cushions, pillows, throw blankets, etc.
Use Bubble Wrap Generously For Breakables
Bubble wrap is the only thing that works to protect fragile items (aside from using your clothes). This comes from someone who’s had their fair share of broken dishes.
Moving Tip: After wrapping everything in bubble wrap or clothes, make sure it’s packed tightly in the box, meaning it doesn’t move or have room to move. Things break because of a lack of cushion (bubble wrap), or they get banged around and collide with each other.
Also, consider using smaller boxes for breakables – especially dishes. Those boxes can get heavy, and using smaller ones automatically helps you control how much you’re cramming into each one, which helps control the weight.
Always Keep an Extra Box Open and Available
There are dozens of last-minute items that get forgotten until it’s moving day.
Always keep an extra box or two open and ready to pack. Doing this prevents a scramble and ensures you have space to avoid things getting left behind.
Tried and True Moving Tips to Stay Organized
There are several methods to keep track of where you pack stuff, including:
- Numbering the boxes, then using a notebook to write down what’s in each numbered box
- Writing on the boxes directly with a bold marker
- Using colored tape to help categorize what’s in each box
The only thing that has worked for me is writing on the boxes directly. This method also helps movers when they bring your boxes into your new home. They can put anything labeled kitchen in the kitchen, bathroom in a bathroom, etc.
No matter what, count how many boxes you have in each category. So how many kitchen boxes, how many clothes boxes and so on. This way, you know what to expect when your stuff is delivered, and a quick count can reveal if anything is missing.
If you mail your boxes, then keep the tracking numbers. It’s a solid way to double-check location and delivery times.
Moving Tips on How To Deal With Food
You can end up with a lot of food waste as you move. Here’s how to prevent it.
2- 3 Weeks Before Moving
This is your last grocery shopping trip and should be focused only on essentials and perishables—for instance, milk, bread, eggs, juice, etc. Your focus in these last couple of weeks is to try and eat/drink/use as much of the food you already have.
One Week Before Moving
Start going through your fridge and throwing out stuff you know you aren’t going to eat, don’t want, or looks like it’s going to expire soon. This can be old ketchup bottles or sauces, salad dressings, and freezer food sitting in the back looking funny.
Touch base with some friends to see if anyone would be willing to come and raid your kitchen to help take food off your hands so that you don’t have to waste it.
Two Days Before Moving
Clean out the pantry. If you can pack the non-perishables into a box to take with you, do it—no point in wasting. Throw away anything that is expired, almost done or almost empty. Anything that’s still good but you don’t want to take, set aside for those friends to come by.
One Day Before Moving
Have those friends come over. Anything left, you can either throw away or donate to a food pantry.
Dealing With Your Car
There are two options here. You drive yourself to your destination, or you have your car shipped.
The decision depends on how far you move, how soon you need your car (shipping can take 1-3 weeks), and if you’ll be able to do without one for a while.
Let’s lay out what to consider with each option:
You will need to pay for gas and possible hotel stays, plus food and drink. However, your car will be with you as soon as you arrive. There will be no need to worry about getting around or running errands.
This option is more expensive overall and you run the risk of damage to your car. Plus, there’s the time lag in your car getting to you. Consider visiting friends or staying with family in the interim so that you don’t have to deal with being without a car.
Tips For Moving Day
If you have movers, watch them and make sure you are aware of how they are taking down furniture and wrapping items. Read their contract and make sure all the numbers add up BEFORE you sign. Leave a clear path for them leading out your front door.
One thing you can do to save time and money here is to break down your furniture before they come. It’s extra work for you, but the minutes saved add up.
If driving, try to load your car with your essential items, valuables, etc. before the movers arrive. That way, they don’t accidentally take something with them that they shouldn’t.
If you’re having your car shipped, schedule the pick up for after the movers are done (if you don’t have to leave town that day), OR for the day before (if you are leaving town that day). Pack the trunk of your car with some essentials.
Random Things You’ll Need To Do
If all of the above wasn’t enough to deal with, there’s still more to think about.
1 – Cable/Internet
Give your people a call and see if you can do an account transfer to your new address. Some companies aren’t available in certain areas, so you’ll have to pick a cancellation date for services and return any borrowed equipment. Then, you’ll have to find a new service provider.
2 – Forward Your Mailing Address
You can do this online. In the past, I’ve picked a forwarding start date of one day before my move. For your new address, you can select when you want to start having your mail delivered, or you can opt to go pick up your stuff.
3 – Change Addresses Online
Your credit cards, bank account(s), Amazon, and other online accounts will need updated addresses.
4 – Activate Services at Your New Place
Don’t forget to activate electricity, gas, and water in your new place! You’ll need to either place a phone call to your landlord or the city offices to get this done. Often, the service is active and you just need to transfer it into your name. Other times, you may need to pick a start date.
5 – Cancel Recurring Deliveries
If you’re one of those who gets an automatic subscription to a Hello Fresh or some other subscription-type service, make sure you cancel them or redirect them to your new address.
Whatever decisions you make will depend on many factors, including how far you’re moving and how much you’re able to spend. Hopefully, these tips can help you make some decisions and stay organized while making the whole process smoother.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.