Moving is such a stressful process. There’s so much to do, so much to take care of, and it’s such a process…only to have to reverse it when you reach your new destination. These moving tips stem from my own MULTIPLE moving experiences (St. Louis to NYC to Palo Alto to San Diego). Plus, my family moved quite a bit when I was growing up – India to Missouri to North Carolina to Minnesota to Florida to Illinois. So yea, I have some experience here.
Nothing will fully remove the stress of moving, but I think there are steps you can take so that you reduce the anxiety that comes with it, and don’t forget the important small things that can help make the whole process smoother.
Let’s get started.
Whether you’re moving across country or simply down the road to another home, you first need to figure out what to do with all of your stuff and how to move it.
Whatever decisions you make, moving tip 1-10 is : get started as early as you can.
Dealing with stuff
You’re Going to Have to Sort Through It All
There are three options here: keep, sell it, donate it/trash it. You’re going to have to Marie Kondo the heck out of your place to do this properly. As daunting as it sounds, I highly recommend you do this; it will save you SO much time and money when its time to move. Think about it, you don’t want to have to pay for moving stuff that 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 just 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 get rid of them.
Deciding How To Move It All
You can either take it all with you in a Uhaul truck, or hire movers, or sell the furniture and mail everything else that can fit into boxes.
Driving a Uhaul Yourself
This is an option. It’s not an easy one though. My family rented a truck once. The drive was so bad just going from the Uhaul office to our home that my Dad decided to forgo it altogether. Those big trucks are no joke. Plus, if you do this, you’ll most likely have to hire people 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 really tiring, and you may find that it’s just not worth it for you.
Selling Large Items and Sending Boxes
Depending on the distance you’re moving – say it’s across the country – this is definitely a viable option, and gives you the freedom of starting fresh with new furniture and new stuff. Plus, movers going that distance is expensive.
I’ve done this option so many times, and let me tell you – I personally find it SO ANNOYING. Yes, you save money because you aren’t hiring movers; HOWEVER, it’s a pain in the ass. Selling all your stuff gets you some money, but you’re still at a loss. Then when you get to your new place you immediately need to buy stuff – at the original price. Plus, when you’re packing, there are all the trips to the post office or to UPS to mail your stuff.
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 way you have somewhere to sleep and can take some time to choose the new items you really want for your new place.
There are so many moving companies out there. I suggest you call a few and compare rates. Moving costs can vary greatly between companies and can depend on moving distance and services you would like.
Almost all of them include certain services in their fees – like using plastic wrap to protect large items and disassembly then assembly of your furniture. Almost 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. I say that because I’ve watched them pack in the past. There’s no organization in it and no sense of trying to use fewer boxes (and why would they when they can sell you boxes at a steep mark up). Plus, you’d have to supervise them and make sure they label everything properly anyway, so it’s not as hands-off as you’d imagine.
Moving Tip: Instead, when you hire, I’d recommend you buy your own boxes. I suggest focusing mainly 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 that 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 by doing it on your own, you’re kind of forced to go through all your stuff. I also find it to be a great way to talk myself out of keeping things I don’t use or need.
Moving Tips: How to Pack
Once you’re figured out your game plan of how to move your stuff, you need to get to packing. Below are some packing hacks that I’ve learned during my many years of doing this over and over again.
First Make a List of Necessities
No matter your method of moving, you will need certain things as soon as you arrive. I recommend making a list of these essential items so that you can make sure you make a bag or box for them to be opened right away. Otherwise you’ll have to dig through everything to find them.
What am I talking about? 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. Having them packed separately in one bag/suitcase/box, marked to stay with you, will make it so much easier to reach for them at your new destination.
Next, Start Packing What You Don’t Need
I recommend you start packing things you don’t use all the time, and/or things you know you won’t need between when you start packing up until you move into your new place.
This can be seasonal clothing, seasonal shoes, random kitchen items, random bath items, decorations, handbags, etc. etc.
Try to Pack Based on Item
Make an effort to group things together. For instance, all shoes in a box, or all handbags. This isn’t always possible, but when you can, I recommend you do it. It makes it easier to find your stuff afterwards 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. They’re a bit more expensive, however, I think are totally worth it. The box is long and has a hanging rod; so, you take your clothes from the closet and just hang them in the box! Then hang them in your new closet!
Double Up on Function Where You Can
Recently, my brother moved out of his apartment. He gave me a bag of clothes that he wanted to get rid of. We didn’t have time to figure out donation, so what I did instead: I used his old clothes as packing material. I used this clothes to wrap dishes and breakables and as padding so that those items were packed securely.
You don’t have to do this with just old clothes. Even clothes you want to keep, separate out some that aren’t so nice, or you don’t need right away and put them to work. This saves you on bubble wrap AND you’re 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 of handbags, or put sharp knives inside of oven mitts. If you have a clear plastic bin, then use it in place of a box. Basically, the idea is to find spaces and make as much use of them as possible. Every little bit helps.
Don’t Make Anything Too Heavy
It’s really 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 also are harder to lift and transfer. You also run the risk of the box breaking.
Moving Tip: What I do? I’ll pack the box halfway with books (or something heavy), and then the rest of the space I use to pack something super light like cushions, pillows, throw blankets, etc.
Use Bubble Wrap Generously For Breakables
I can’t stress this enough. Bubble wrap is like the only thing that works to protect fragile items (aside from using your clothes). I have ended up with so many broken dishes over the years, so trust me when I say this.
Moving Tip: In addition to wrapping everything in bubble wrap, make sure it’s packed tightly in the box, meaning it doesn’t move or have room to move. The reasons things break are because of a lack of cushion (bubble wrap), or they get banged around and collide with each other.
I also recommend using smaller boxes for breakables – especially dishes. Those boxes can get really heavy. Using smaller ones automatically helps you control how much you’re cramming into each one and helps control the weight.
Always Keep an Extra Box Open and Available
There are dozens, and I really do mean dozens, of last minute things that we realize we haven’t packed. For me it’s always the bathroom stuff, like shower curtain, soaps, towels etc. They need to be packed too!
So I always have a box that I save so that the day or two before I can open it up and have available for the last minute stuff that I find. You can also use this box for those essential items that you need when you get to your new spot.
Tried and True Moving Tips to Stay Organized
There are several things I’ve tried over the years to keep track of where I put my stuff, including:
- Numbering the boxes, then using a notebook to write down what’s in each numbered box
- Writing on the boxes directly with 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 also helps movers when they bring your boxes into your new home. They can put anything labeled kitchen in the kitchen and bathroom in a bathroom, etc.
No matter what, I definitely recommend you at least count how many boxes you have in each category. So how many kitchen boxes, how many clothes boxes and so on. This way you are aware of what to expect when your stuff gets 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 what’s been delayed or missing as well.
Moving Tips on How To Deal With Food
There’s a potential to end up with a lot of food waste as you move. Here’s what I’ve done.
Two to three 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, or don’t want, or looks like its going to expire soon. This can be old ketchup bottles or sauces, salad dressings, any freezer food that’s been sitting in the back looking funny.
I’d also 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’re able to pack the non-perishables into a box to take with you, do it. No point in wasting. Anything expired just toss out. Anything that’s almost done or empty toss out. 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 is entirely dependent 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.
Just to layout 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 is more expensive overall and you do run the risk of damage to your car with this option. Plus there’s the time lag in your car getting to you. I’d consider maybe going to visit 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 yourself before they come. It’s a little extra work for you, but the minutes saved really add up.
If you’re driving, try to load your car with your important 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, I’d time 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). I also recommend that you pack the trunk of your car with some essentials. When I moved from NYC to California, I had dishes, some pots and pans, and non-perishable food items in the trunk. My reasoning was that I wouldn’t have to worry about them breaking; and in the interim (I got to California before my car) I used paper plates that I’d packed in my suitcase.
Random Things You’ll Need To Do
As if all of the above wasn’t enough to deal with and consider, 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, in which case 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
This can be done online. In the past, I’ve picked a forwarding start date of one day prior to my move. For your new address, you can pick 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 any other online account will all 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 to the city offices to get this done. Oftentimes, the service is active and just needs to be transferred into your name. Other times, you may need to pick a start date.
5 – Cancel recurring deliveries
If you’re one of those people who gets an automatic subscription of 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, of course, depend on many factors, including how far you’re moving and how much you’re able to spend. I hope that these tips can help you make some decisions and stay organized while making the whole process a little bit smoother.
Images courtesy of Unsplash.
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice, a community, and provide resources to help them overcome hurdles and achieve success. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.