Moving can be exciting. You’re looking forward to living in a new home and in some cases, a new city, state, or even country. But moving is stressful too. Moving is one of life’s most stressful events. Luckily, we have plenty of moving hacks to get you through it.
You have to find a new place, perhaps sell the old one, find packing supplies, pack, actually move, clean the old place, and unpack at the new one. The whole process can stretch for weeks, even months if you’re selling and or buying a home.
Moving isn’t only stressful; it’s expensive.
The American Moving and Storage Association states that the average cost of an interstate household move is about $4,300 (a distance of 1,225 miles) and the average cost of an intrastate move is about $2,300 (4 movers at $200 per hour).
You’re not a college kid anymore who can fit all of their belongings into the back of a friend’s pick up truck and whose friends can be enticed to help you move for nothing more than some pizza and beer. No, you’re an adult now with all of the requisite adult belongings most of which you don’t want your slightly drunken friends tossing into the back of a dirty pickup truck.
Moving Hacks Before the Move
Planning ahead can save you a lot of time, trouble and money. Doing these things will set you up for a smooth move.
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1. Get Rid of Stuff (aka Go Marie Kondo)
I know some people hate to get rid of things. Maybe it’s sentimentality, or it’s perhaps a hoarding problem. Whatever it is, everything you manage to part with is one less thing you have to pack, pay to have moved, and unpack. Of all the moving tips we have for you, this is the biggest one; get rid of lots and lots of stuff.
Very few of us are true minimalists in the sense that we only own things that we really need and use often. Most of us have houses full of stuff we don’t need or use. Start going through it several weeks before moving day.
Make three piles; toss, donate, sell. The stuff you toss is of no use to anyone nor can it be recycled. What you donate is either useful to someone else or can be responsibly recycled. Selling stuff can help fund your move.
2. Do Some Cleaning
As soon as you can get into your new home, gather up your cleaning supplies, and head over. It’s a million times easier to clean an empty house than one filled with unpacked boxes or all of your stuff.
This is something I weirdly enjoy. There are no distractions in your new place because there is nothing in your new place! Just you, a good podcast or playlist, and a house to clean without having to move anything around.
3. Get a Few Estimates
If you plan to DIY your move, you’ll just need to rent a moving truck, but rental prices can vary, so do some research and find the best deal. If you are going to use a moving company, do some research not only on who has the best price but the best reputation too because you don’t want this to happen to you.
A woman hired a moving company that gave her a phone estimate of $348. After all of her goods were loaded onto the truck, the movers demanded $1,279 before they would unload her goods. When she couldn’t pay, the movers hijacked her belongings and held them hostage, later demanding even more money in storage and redelivery fees.
Get a few in-person estimates from moving companies with good reviews and a good reputation. Don’t automatically hire the cheapest mover you can find.
When I moved from NYC to New Orleans, I had three different moving companies come and give me estimates. I chose the company that had the second-highest price but the best reviews. My stuff got all the way to New Orleans on time and without a single thing sustaining damage in any way.
4. Get Packing Supplies
You can get all kinds of free moving supplies if you know where to look. Nextdoor is an especially useful site. People who have just moved will often post that they have bubble wrap, cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and other moving supplies free to anyone who needs them.
Liquor stores are an excellent place to find sturdy cardboard boxes suitable for packing heavy items like books and dishes. Ask friends, family, and colleagues to save their egg cartons which are great for packing small items like Christmas ornaments and jewelry.
Something else to consider is renting reusable, plastic totes rather than using cardboard boxes for packing. It’s more eco-friendly, and you aren’t stuck with dozens of cardboard boxes you have to figure out what to do with once the move is over.
A lot of these companies are popping up around the country. Most of them will deliver the totes to you and collect them after your move, which makes them a really convenient option. The totes are a lot sturdier than cardboard boxes so it may be worth it for heavier items you don’t want to risk damaging due to the bottom falling out of a cardboard box.
One of the great luxuries in life is undoubtedly hiring someone to pack and unpack for you. But alas, that costs money, lots of it, so most of us are going to have to do it ourselves. But these packing hacks can make the job as stress-free as possible.
5. Time Your Packing Right
This is probably the best of all of the moving hacks on this list; do not start packing weeks in advance. Why? Because living for a long time surrounded by packed boxes is stressful and even more so because you will invariably pack stuff you still need.
Unless you did not listen to the Marie Kondo moving hacks and still have all of your stuff, it honestly does not take that long to pack. I’ve packed up a two-person apartment, one of whom was a hoarder (not me), in three days with time to spare.
If you have space to store packed boxes, so you’re not stuck looking at them or tripping over them for weeks, sure. Go ahead and pack stuff you’re 100% sure you won’t need before the move like off-season clothing or your “good” China. But there is no reason to start packing so far ahead if you don’t have a ton of stuff and live in a small space.
6. Don’t Box Up Essentials
There are some things you’ll be needing almost immediately after getting to your new home. Everyone’s list will vary but might include the coffee, coffee maker, and filters, a box cutter, toilet paper rolls, hand soap, medications, drinking cups, etc.
Put that stuff in one cardboard box and make sure it goes with you to the new place and not in the moving truck.
Pack a suitcase too with stuff you’ll need the first night and the first morning.
7. Think Outside the Cardboard Box: Packing Alternatives
You can pack your belongings inside things other than a cardboard box too. Pack stuff inside suitcases, laundry baskets, gym bags, trash bags, (reuse them as trash bags) backpacks, and purses. No, you can’t fit your TV into a purse, but you can stuff a lot of underwear in one. This is also an excellent packing tip for vacation if, like me, you must have the exact purse to go with the exact outfit and can’t make do with just one.
Don’t empty dresser drawers. Unless you have something other than clothes in them, they shouldn’t be so heavy that they have to be emptied to move the dresser. You or the movers can use packing tape to tape the drawers shut, so they don’t open up and spill their contents during transit.
8. Use Everyday Items for Padding
That’s not a fat joke. Your house is full of stuff you can use to cushion and protect your belongings inside a cardboard box (or suitcase or purse). Wrap your breakables in towels, dishcloths, inside oven mitts, bed sheets, pillowcases, comforters, and t-shirts.
Use your clothes as cushioning between breakable, packed items. No, you don’t want to use your wedding dress or cashmere sweaters, but you can use jeans and work out clothes.
9. Prevent Spills
It’s a mess if a liquid spills in a packed box, especially if it’s something caustic like cleaning supplies. To prevent his, take off the caps, put a piece of plastic wrap over the opening, and close it back up. This is another good vacation life hack too.
10. Hanging Clothes
It’s crazy to take all of the clothes hanging in your closet off the hangers, fold it all up, and pack it. Instead, cut holes in garbage bags big enough for the hooks of several hangers to fit through. Put the hooks through the hole, stretch the bag over the clothes, and pack them up.
The garbage bags will keep the clothes together and help prevent them from falling off the hangers. When you get to your new home, you can hang them in the closet and just pull off the garbage bags.
11. Label Everything
I don’t like surprises, especially not on moving day. The last thing anyone wants to do after a long day of carrying boxes to and fro is to open 17 boxes before finding the shower curtain because if you don’t shower soon, you might come out of this move single.
Color code the labels on each box according to the room its contents correspond to. Kitchen stuff gets a blue label, bathroom stuff a red label, etc. And each box should list its contents. You don’t have to list every single fork but “Silverware, dishtowels, oven mitts” will save time when you need a specific item.
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Moving Hacks: Day of and After the Move
The big day is here, so you’re about halfway there. These final moving hacks will take you the rest of the way.
12. Don’t Get Locked Out of Your Apartment
Use a rubber band to keep the door from locking while you carry boxes in and out. Stretch a rubber band around one doorknob, cross it over and wrap it around the other doorknob. This way, you don’t have to keep digging out your keys to get in or worse, lock yourself out.
13. Avoid Overwhelm One Box at a Time
When you look around, and you see nothing but boxes, it can feel overwhelming. How will you ever get all of these boxes unpacked? Well, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. You can only unpack one box at a time so just concentrate on unpacking the box you’re working on at the moment and ignore the rest.
14. Don’t Unpack All at Once
It can be tempting to get everything unpacked, get rid of all the damn boxes, and then worry about putting things away. I don’t recommend this strategy. Instead, unpack a single box and then put everything in it away.
At least while stuff is boxed up, it’s contained. Pulling it all out just makes a colossal jumble that’s even worse to navigate than lots of boxes. And it’s harder to find stuff too. All of your boxes are clearly labeled, so you know where everything is.
15. Grit Your Teeth and Do It
I know you’re tired and over it but just get your stuff unpacked. I know some people have so much stuff that getting it all unpacked within a day or two isn’t possible and that’s fine. But it shouldn’t take anyone more than one week to unpack. You’re just dragging out a stressful process even more. The ultimate in moving hacks is to unpack right away.
If you take forever to unpack, it may cost you money too. If you can’t find some vital thing you need, you may have to go and buy another one. You know you have that thing somewhere, but you don’t know which box it’s in (because you didn’t do what I said and label your boxes).
Your new house deserves all the love so get unpacked and turn that house into a home.
You’re Moved In
Moving sucks. Even if you’re crazy excited for your new house or your new city, moving is a massive pain. But if you apply these moving hacks, you can save money and make your move as stress-free as possible. Welcome home!