Moving can be one of life’s most stressful events, so you want to do it right. Careful planning can help you avoid mistakes, and good advice helps you plan. We asked a number of people with experience of moving from one home to another what they wished they’d known beforehand. Their advice might help you avoid some pitfalls when it’s your turn to move.
Moving home is a major life event, so you should get as well informed as possible beforehand. Important factors to consider include understanding how long every step of the process might take, anticipating unseen events, and having the materials and tools you need right from the start. And as moving not only involves the excitement of a new home but also the complications of leaving an old one, there are other tasks you need to consider. Timely planning and good organization are key. In addition, renting a self storage unit gives you more flexibility. Professional movers can help you a lot, and so can the advice of people who have moved before and maybe wish they had done things a bit differently.
1. Organize Your Move Like a Military Campaign
Good organization always helps prevent headaches later, and particularly if you have a busy life you may appreciate any technique that lets you schedule your tasks. Patricia Johnson at cycling experts Pedal Lovers knows about the importance of organization to make a move go well and to avoid underestimating the time needed for everything:
“One thing I wish I had known before I moved is how much easier taking the time to come up with a real plan and schedule would’ve made things. We knew we had to go through everything, pack, prepare for the movers – but we dramatically underestimated the time we had to do all that! I thought about the whole ordeal for maybe 10 minutes and decided we’d need about two weeks. I didn’t realize I’d cut the garage out of my calculations (which took forever) and the time we’d need to dedicate, realistically, to throwing stuff we no longer used or needed away. Plus, my daughter and I were constantly stepping over each other either trying to do the same things or both forgetting to do essential chores (again, like the garage!) My tip is to plan. Seriously, get crafty and come up with a little board with pinup notes and color-coded tasks and organize it military-style.”
2. Declutter and Donate Before You Move
Some of your possessions just won’t look right in your new home, and you may find others are simply surplus to requirements. The advice is to sort through all your belongings a long time before you move, so you avoid wasting time and money later moving things you don’t need. Items can be thrown away, sold or donated to charities — this is a great way of helping your local community, and many organizations will be happy to collect usable furniture and so on from your home.
3. Categorize Your Boxes for Easier Unpacking
You’ve sorted your items for the move and now you need boxes — these are obtainable from moving companies or for free. Blogger Lauren Levy, who has moved many times, classifies them, which makes the unpacking process easier:
“It finally occurred to me to clearly label certain boxes ‘open later’ and ‘open never’. The ‘open later’ boxes are for things like out of season clothing, home decor, books—anything you could easily go at least a month without using. The ‘open never’ boxes are for memorabilia, records, sentimental antiques you don’t plan on displaying, and anything else that’s going right back into storage.”
Lauren’s local San Francisco self storage facilities have space for ‘open never’ boxes if there’s no room at home.
4. Packing Can Take Longer Than You Think
Tasks which take longer than you planned result in frustration. In particular, packing can be more time-consuming than people imagine, and they often get shocked at how many possessions they have — and gazing lovingly at almost-forgotten sentimental objects instead of putting them straight in the boxes won’t help! To account for possible delays, it’s recommended you add extra time — perhaps as much as a week or two — on top of what you calculated for the whole moving process.
5. Breakable Items Need Special Care
While you don’t need a lot of equipment when moving, some items can be really useful, especially for the breakable things that will be making the journey. Lifestyle and travel writer Jennifer Sizeland told us her tips:
“I’ve just moved house and one thing I can recommend is getting sticky labels for your moving boxes as we wrote on them the first time we moved and they ended up in the wrong rooms as we didn’t realize when packing! I would also get a big laundry bag and save up all your bubble wrap inside it as it will be invaluable once you move and you can find it all in one place. Invest in brown tape and tape that says ‘fragile’ on it to distinguish between the boxes that need to be handled carefully and those that don’t. If you want to reduce your plastic, invest in paper tape which is actually better as it doesn’t stick together like plastic tape does!”
6. Stop Receiving Things at Your Old Address
Some aspects of moving from one home to another are not always so obvious. Nicole Caba is the founder and CEO of Avvinue, which has developed an all-in-one moving app that helps people prepare for a move:
“I’ve moved more than 12 times in the past 10 years all over the US, and each time has been proven to be stressful or something on the checklist slips through the cracks. My most adventurous move was from New York to Atlanta, where I had to clear our 2-bedroom apartment, sold a car and then booked a uHaul truck down to our new apartment in Buckhead area of Atlanta. There were many moving pieces – but the drive gave an adrenaline rush! Something that would’ve made things easier during those moves was setting up mail forwarding in advance and scheduling the cancellation of certain utility services.”
7. Cover Your Back When Leaving Your Old Place
In the excitement of moving to a new residence, you might forget you still have to tie up loose ends at the old one — and you’d probably like to see the deposit you paid back in your wallet! “When you’re moving out make sure to take pictures of every empty room with a time stamp to show that you left everywhere immaculate if any queries are made later,” Jennifer Sizeland tells us. Send these photos to your old landlord and then hope you never need to see them again.
8. Hire a Moving Company for Maximum Peace of Mind
Moving house might be fun if you’re young and doing it for the first time, but otherwise it can be better to get professional help you can trust. You could try moving between small apartments in the same town with assistance from friends, but larger moves require a truck, somebody who knows how to drive it, and people to load it. Many who go for the money-saving DIY approach find it quite tiring and time-consuming and say that, in retrospect, they would have hired a professional moving service.
9. Get to Know Your New Home as Soon as Possible
Luish Mahida at app developers Global Vincitore highlights the importance of what you need to do when you arrive at your new home:
“There is a lot to consider when you’re moving into a new home. And while we often consider moving steps like packing and unpacking to be the only major things standing in the way of fully settling in, it’s actually the things that you do after moving into a new home that make the biggest difference. Getting associated with your house, learning how it functions, and prioritizing what projects you want to tackle is part and parcel of taking on your role as a homeowner—and it’s better to do it all right when you move in, instead of waiting and just assuming you’ll figure it all out later on. There’s no better time to do a complete walkthrough of your new house than when it is completely empty. So before setting up your furniture and getting unpacked (and even better, before unloading the moving truck — if possible), take a look around.”
10. Load Up Your Possessions to Your Own Timetable
A variation on the regular moving service involves a ‘pod’ — a portable storage unit — that is delivered to your home. You load it up yourself, the company then collects it and delivers it to your new home, and you decide the timetable. Warren Cohn of HeraldPR, a public relations agency based in New York City, highly recommends the service:
“I have spent the past 3 years learning a lot about moving from city to city (with a wife and 2 kids no less). The best advice I would give folks is to use PODS…. I grew up in NY and was based in Midtown, but had to move to New Orleans in late 2019 to scale a new business there…. So, when we moved back to the NY Metro area (and now were moving again, to Florida) we used PODS. They dropped off the POD when they said they would. Picked it up when they said they would and delivered it with our stuff when they said they would. Not to mention, our belongings were locked in the POD and only we had the key. Our stuff was secure and safe….”
If you are about to move, to avoid making mistakes that could cause you stress and unnecessary expense, you might like to follow the cautionary tales of others who have been down that road before you. The processes of sorting, packing, unpacking and arranging things in your new property — not to mention how you extricate yourself from your old one — can all be done efficiently. Being aware of the things that might go wrong along the way helps with that. While a DIY move can seem like a good idea, there is no substitute for experience, and you might like to add the help of professionals to the advice you have received here. Happy moving!