How to Move in One Day

Though we’d all like to move out of our old home and into our new one in a day, in some cases it’s just not feasible.For apartment dwellers and minimalists it may be doable, but horror stories of big families with big houses trying to cram a two-day move into one abound.

Remember –

  • Packing and moving always take longer than expected
  • You and your helpers are more likely to hurt yourselves and damage your home and furniture later in the day
  • If you miss your rental truck return time you’ll be charged extra
  • Convenience, safety, and peace of mind often trump cost and time constraints

If time is your scarcest resource, hiring high-quality interstate movers is almost always the way to go.

But before scheduling virtual or in-home estimates, check out our Moving Cost Calculator to get a ballpark idea of how much your move will set you back.

Now let’s look at a few tips that’ll help make your move relatively easy and efficient.

1. Assess Your Situation

Biting off more than you can chew is a surefire way to turn an otherwise smooth move into a nightmare.

We all do it, but discovering at noon when it’s 100 degrees and you’re already exhausted that you’ve got at least 8 more hours of work to do can be disheartening and panic-inducing.

To assess your situation realistically:

  • Ask friends and family if they think your move can be done in a day
  • Ask yourself why doing it in two days isn’t an option
  • Consider the cost difference – sometimes it’s negligible
  • Think about the effects on your helpers, kids, and pets

Did You Know?

If you have more than 2 bedrooms and an attic, garage, and basement, your move should probably be spread over at least two days.

2. Consider Your Options

Full-Service Movers

Though they’re usually pricier than do-it-yourself moves, hiring professional movers is a good value for time-strapped families.

You’ll still need to plan ahead and do some of the work yourself, but full-service movers with big trucks, the right equipment, and experienced crews can reduce move time drastically.

Container Moving Companies

Container moves feature many of the benefits of DIY moves, but you won’t have the added hassle and danger of driving a clunky moving van.

With this option, you will have to pack, load, and unload yourself, but if you’d rather not you can hire specialty packing and labor providers like HireAHelper.

Insider’s Tip: Not all moving container companies service the entire country, and on local moves it may not be possible to have your container delivered on the same day.


Again, one-day DIY local moves should be limited to apartments and small homes without attics, basements, and garages.

If you’re determined to push the envelope but think your items may not fit into one rental truck there’s a simple solution.


Sure you’ll pay more, but if you rent one you’ll spend way more time loading to make sure everything fits – and there’s no guarantee that it will.

And if that happens you’ll need to make two trips.

Not only will your helpers be exasperated, but the chances of returning the truck on time go to zero.

U-Haul Competitors

3. Make a Move Calendar

Yeah, that’s right…a move calendar.

And no, you won’t need new bifocals or a vinyl pocket protector.

But by listing everything you need to do (in a phone app or an actual calendar) before your move day, you’ll –

  • Increase the likelihood of getting everything done on time
  • Minimize the risk of forgetting important things
  • Give yourself much-needed motivation as you check each item off as it’s completed

4. Plan Ahead and Start Early

Remember that move calendar we just talked about?

If so, a big part of it should be dedicated to a packing schedule, and it should start weeks before your actual move day.

Most folks procrastinate until the end of the day, but it’s often possible to get the most packing done in the morning when your brain is caffeinated and your body is refreshed from a good night’s sleep.

Did You Know?

Putting off packing until a day or two before your move is another GREAT WAY to have a really BAD MOVE.

5. Downsize

There’s no better way of reducing move time and cost than by minimizing the amount of “stuff” you move.

This can be done by the –

  • Discarding things that are old, worn out, and of little value
  • Donating items to worthwhile charities, which may entitle you to an income tax deduction
  • Selling items at a yard sale or on Facebook and Craig’s List

6. Have Ample Supplies On-Hand

Planning ahead applies to actual packing and to sourcing packing material as well.

There’s no better way to fritter away productive packing hours than by not having the supplies you need.

Suddenly an afternoon of packing can morph into a Star Trek binge, which means you’ll have that much more to do the following day.

7. Get Help

Going through the moving process alone can make an already daunting task infinitely more stressful and time-consuming.

Enlisting packing and moving help from family members, friends and coworkers can be like pulling teeth, but breaking tasks into manageable chunks can sweeten the deal.

Having a 4-hour packing and pizza party a week before move day is a great way to connect with folks you may not see in a while and get a lot done in the process.

And if your move is too overwhelming for novices, you’ll have the option of hiring professional packers.

8. Pack Things you Don’t Use First

Most homes and apartments are full of things that do little more than take up space and add decoration.

These “non-essential” items should be packed first.

They include:

  • Artwork
  • Vases
  • Work and personal documents
  • Knick-knacks and collectibles
  • Seasonal Halloween and Christmas decorations, winter coats and fishing gear
  • By packing them early you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that’ll motivate you to continue, and you’ll clear clutter that’ll make future packing easier.

9. Pack Room by Room

The “shotgun” approach to packing is inefficient and often leads to exasperation when it appears as though very little is getting done.

To combat this, use your move calendar to prioritize which areas get tackled first.

Consider starting in the garage, attic, or basement, as they generally contain most items that get used least.

Once you’ve knocked them out, focus on:

  • Offices
  • Guest bedrooms
  • Formal dining rooms

Then as your move date draws near focus on master and kids’ bedrooms, kitchens, and living rooms.

10. Use Suitcases and Trash Bags

Though cardboard boxes are great for packing, in an effort to utilize space efficiently, reduce cost, and save a few trees, also use –

  • Hampers
  • Wicker baskets
  • Plastic bins
  • Suitcases and duffle bags

Likewise, stand-up wardrobe boxes can be pricey, but leaving hanging clothes on their hangers, bundling them together, and binding the hooks with twine, tape or zip-ties is a great alternative, especially if you’re just moving around the corner.

When loading them into the truck or container lay them perpendicular at the top of a tier on a flat layer of boxes.

Insider’s Tip: If you’re hiring movers and moving locally, ask if they provide rental cartons or “loaner” wardrobes.

11. Label Boxes Carefully

Unloading is usually much quicker than loading, but having to stop with every box to determine what’s inside and where it belongs can add extra hours.

Using a black marker and large letters, label what’s inside each box and which room it came from.

Colored tabs are another great way to keep track of what goes where, just put a corresponding tab on the door of each room in your new home or apartment.

It’ll speed things up when it matters most – on move day.

12. Expect the Unexpected

You’ve heard of Murphy’s… whatever can go wrong, will.

Truer words were never spoken in relation to moving.

Here we’re talking about –

  • Bad weather – it can make moving slow, tedious, and dangerous
  • Problems with the rental truck – like the one you reserved isn’t ready until 10:00 AM
  • Traffic jams – they can grind the pace to a screeching halt
  • Friends and family bailing at the last minute – it happens
  • The truck or container isn’t big enough – should’ve gotten a bigger one
  • A child getting sick on move day – cough, cough

All these things (and many more) can conspire to turn your move into a disaster, but by considering them early on and having options, you’ll nip many of them in the bud.

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