15+ Moving Day Tips For a Stress-Free Move
Moving day can go quickly and painlessly if you know how to structure it. Check out our ultimate list of moving day tips for a stress-free move.
Molly has been writing about the moving industry for more than 10 years and knows exactly what makes a mover great.
It’s time to move to a new place and you need some moving tips. Whether you’ve moved once or twenty times in your life, there are always new resources to take advantage of.
The American moving exodus has slowed down significantly these past few years. A recent study by Pew Research found a mere 8% of Americans moving to another home between 2020 and 2021, the lowest in history. You don’t want to be caught without some modern moving tips despite these slow figures.
Much of the same common sense applies today as it did a few decades ago. We’re going to take a look at old and new moving tips to help you move smarter, cheaper, and faster.
When to Start Packing For a Move
Getting started is the most difficult part of the moving process for most people. It requires you do some number-crunching, searching for resources, and putting everything together.
When should you start packing for a move? As soon as possible.
Since moving involves a highly complex series of steps, it stands to reason anything can go wrong at any time. Preparing in advance gives you wiggle room to anticipate issues such as:
- Shipping delays
- Little to no hotel/motel accommodation
- Donating unwanted supplies
- Cleaning out your house/apartment
Best Time of Year to Move
Need a timeframe more specific than ‘as soon as possible’? Certain times of year are easier (and cheaper) to move in.
The best time of year to move if you’re on a budget is during the fall and winter. Moving companies experience less demand during these periods due to the long nights, cold weather, and slippery roads. You can save several hundred dollars on discounts alone.
If you want less traffic and reduced costs, move during weekday mornings. Most people work and study during this time, which means you have less competition from customers and moving companies. This is an ideal timeframe for busy parents, tired students, and long-distance moves.
Last but not least, consider moving during the middle of the month. These are well-known ‘slow periods’ in the moving industry.
How to Pack For a Move
There’s always a smarter and less stressful way to move your belongings. Even the most experienced movers can learn new tips and tricks!
Create a Timeline
You only have so much time in the day. With school, projects, and work waiting for you, a strict moving timeline will keep you focused.
Your moving timeline will be heavily dictated by the moving services you buy, how far you’re moving, and how many belongings you have. Keep in mind moving your belongings won’t take all that long to move. The average studio or one-bedroom apartment will take between two to four hours, while a two-bedroom or three-bedroom can take up to five hours.
The full timeline of your entire move will span two to eight weeks, depending on factors such as:
- Contacting services
- Finding insurance
- Selling unwanted belongings
Create a Budget
Your moving budget is a guiding compass in the rocky waters of the moving industry. It will keep you from going overboard and struggling with a big bill upon arriving at your new home.
Do you want a full-service moving experience or will you go the DIY route? Have you considered shipping some of your belongings to free up your schedule? Your moving budget needs to take into account details such as:
- Packing services
- Packing supplies
- Moving services
- Cleaning supplies and cleaning services
- Shipping your belongings
- Storage (short-term or long-term)
- Moving insurance
Downsize Current Items
An easy way to make your move more manageable is by downsizing your current items. It’s common for people to gather up a lot of clutter after living in one place for years!
Are you thinking of getting a new sofa for your next apartment? Sell your old one and put the extra cash toward the move. Do you really need all that extra silverware? Clean it and donate it to your local thrift shop.
Online marketplaces such as Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and eBay are great ways to downsize your current items for extra cash. While the process is a little different from site-to-site, the basics you’ll need to keep in mind are:
- Take several well-lit photos of the items you want to sell
- Choose a competitive price after researching similar items on the same site
- Tag your items appropriately so buyers can find them
- Factor in shipping and postage into your price if you need to mail them
- Donate any gently-used items you don’t sell to local charitable organizations
Some charitable organizations, such as Goodwill, offer a tax write-off for your donation. Keep your receipt and itemize it on your next tax return for a lower tax obligation.
Gather Packing Supplies
Now that you have a timeline and have sold a few of your unwanted items, it’s time to gather up your packing supplies. This part of the moving process tends to be fairly affordable, since many moving supplies are household staples.
Packing supplies you should have on your list no matter the size of the move are:
- Cardboard boxes (small boxes and large boxes)
- Plastic bags
- Packing paper and bubble wrap
- Tape (both light painter’s tape and heavy-duty duct tape)
- Paper towels
- Box cutters
- Trash bags
You need to wrap your fragile items with extra care, as the moving process has a way of breaking or bending some of our favorite belongings. Double-check with your movers to see if they’ll move items such as:
- Antiques (old watches, plates, or jewelry)
- Computer equipment
- Original artwork
Look Into Moving Insurance
Are you worried about losing expensive equipment during your move? Moving insurance will offer you the peace-of-mind you need to complete your move successfully.
The function of moving insurance is to give you financial support during the event of a damaged, lost, or stolen item. Moving insurance comes in a few different varieties: you have released value protection and full-value protection. Choosing a compatible one depends on your budget and what items you want to protect.
Released value protection is a basic coverage that provides some financial reimbursement for a damaged or lost item. This takes the form of $0.30 per pound for local moves and $0.60 per pound for long-distance moves. While having some of your finances covered is nice, this method still won’t cover the full cost of any one item.
Full-value protection is exactly what it says on the tin. Also shortened to ‘FVP’, this option will provide you complete coverage for the items you sign up for. In the event of a damaged or lost item, the moving company will either pay you the market price or will offer you a similar replacement.
Consider Shipping Moving Boxes
If your schedule is packed tight and you don’t have the time to drive your own moving truck, consider shipping your moving boxes.
Gone are the days of having to ‘babysit’ your belongings until you can put them into your new home. Now you can simply ship your belongings to the destination and have them arrive at a scheduled time!
There are a slew of available shipping services that will add more flexibility to your moving timeline.
Land Shipping Options: Amtrak or Greyhound
Are you trying to complete a smaller move? Consider using Greyhound to ship your moving boxes using their bus system.
The Greyhound Package Express uses the spare space in their bus for movers to transport extra items. This is a great choice if you’re moving a single bedroom, a studio apartment, or a one-bedroom apartment. On the other hand, larger moves will find such small space insufficient.
If you have more belongings, the Amtrak model might be more your style. The Amtrak train system is fast, reliable, and affordable – just make sure your boxes don’t exceed fifty pounds and are within the limit of 3ft x 3ft x 3ft. The biggest downside to this service is they don’t accept fragile items or electronic equipment.
Air Shipping Options: Southwest Airlines or Alaska Air
If you’re moving cross-country, air shipping is highly appealing. The speed with which you can send your belongings means you arrive when your items do.
Small moves can move most of their belongings using air shipping bag rates. These run between $60 to $75 per bag. Since these costs add up quickly, large moves should use air shipping sparingly.
The downside to using air shipping is the lack of storage and the high prices. If you need extra time to unload all your belongings, consider waiting a little longer with a train or bus shipping service.
When to Hire Movers
Should you hire a moving service? This isn’t an easy question due to how many factors go into completing a successful move.
Ask yourself the following questions to better narrow down whether a moving service would be helpful for your journey:
Do You Have a Lot of Belongings?
A major reason movers purchase moving services is to get help managing a large volume of belongings. Moving services not only help you transport your items, they can also help you load and pack.
Single rooms, studio apartments, and one-bedroom apartments usually don’t need full-service movers. Basic loading and transporting is usually sufficient for smaller moves, with the exception of expensive equipment such as treadmills.
Multiple-bedroom apartments and houses benefit greatly from full-service movers. The sheer volume of furniture, items, and packing make this extra assistance a real time-saver.
Are You an Inexperienced Mover?
Inexperienced movers are sometimes intimidated by the massive number of steps needed to move to a new place. Having a team of professionals helping you out will reduce the pre-move jitters.
Professional movers offer a slew of technical and practical support alongside driving, packing, and transporting. They’ll provide you valuable insight such as:
- Motel or hotel accommodation
- Budgeting food and gas
- Insurance options
- Flexible scheduling
Are You on a Strict Timeline?
It’s ideal to have extra time in-between moves. This gives you the ability to take advantage of slow periods or seek out discounts. A strict timeline makes this difficult…which is where professional movers can help.
While most moving companies prefer not to handle emergency moves due to the lack of preparation, some still provide the ability to move at the last-minute. When seeking out moving services, ask about emergency moves upfront so you can get an accurate quote.
Do You Have a Place to Stay?
If you’re able to stay with a friend or an acquaintance, this part should be taken care of. If you haven’t secured a spot, a moving service will help set you up.
Professional movers will help you choose a hotel or a motel as you wait to transition into your new home. Bring with you the following items:
- A change of clothes
- Extra food
- An overnight bag
Do You Have Kids?
Professional movers offer you flexibility in one handy package. If you have kids you need to watch or take to school, reach out to a moving service to free up your schedule.
Moving tips are a unique flavor of advice. For all the new technology and tools we have at our disposal, the underlying foundation is the same.
The timing of your move, your moving resources, and your home size all play a big role in the final price. While professional movers aren’t always needed for very small moves, they’re indispensable for multiple-bedroom apartments and houses. Remember that a moving company doesn’t just offer transportation, but also provides additional services like budgeting advice, packing services, and insurance options.
Our final moving tip before you start packing for your new place? Don’t be afraid to take the plunge. A little stress now will pave the way for a new and exciting journey tomorrow.
Molly has been writing about the moving industry for more than 10 years and knows exactly what makes a mover great.