12 Essential Moving Day Tips

We hear it all the time: Moving is stressful — and that’s putting it mildly. But with a little careful planning, you can minimize the likelihood of any moving day horror stories.

Read on, because we’re about to give you some of the best tried-and-true moving day tips to simplify your moving experience.

And before any move, we always recommend planning ahead by using our moving cost calculator to find the best moving solution within your budget.

1. Make a “to-do” list

One of the best moving day tips is to make a list of everything you need to get done. From taking care of kids, pets, and utilities, to dealing with professional moving companies and realtors, starting a new chapter in an already busy life can be overwhelming.

To help keep things on track, prepare a written list of things you’ll need to do to ensure everything goes smoothly, including:

  • Checking that all your items are appropriately packed in moving boxes, breakables are wrapped in bubble wrap, and pieces of furniture are disassembled
  • Making an inventory list of your belongings
  • Meeting your movers and checking that the DOT number on the moving truck is the same one listed on the estimate
  • Providing water and/or other refreshments for the movers and for yourself
  • Supervising the load-in
  • Transferring utilities
  • Doing a final sweep of the house, handing over your keys, getting your deposit back, etc.

Prioritize each item and cross off completed tasks as you go so you can see your progress — it’ll give you a motivational boost when the going gets tough.

Pick a room such as your living room or kitchen to serve as your “hub” where your movers know they can find you and where you’ll keep a copy of this to-do list.

For further help strategizing your moving process, check out our ultimate moving checklist.

2. Wake up early and eat a hearty breakfast

Ask any mover and they’ll tell you that sleeping late and skipping breakfast is a lousy way to start the big day. To ensure you have the energy to get through it, make sure you:

  • Set your alarm clock early enough to give yourself time to prepare
  • Plan to have food delivered or head out to your favorite breakfast spot so you won’t have to clean and pack dishes or cookware
  • Have a cooler packed with water and high-energy snacks to refuel throughout the day

With these moving day tips, you’ll get an early start with a full stomach, which will allow you the hours and energy necessary to get into your new home as soon and with as little “hangriness” as possible.

3. Wear the proper clothes

Ever see professional movers wearing sandals, Bermuda shorts, and tank tops? Probably not.

That’s because these types of clothing items are woefully insufficient for the rough-and-tumble task of moving.

Banged shins and crushed fingers are common occurrences, so instead, consider wearing:

  • Long pants or sturdy shorts
  • Non-slip boots or other closed-toe shoes to protect your feet and provide traction
  • A long-sleeve t-shirt or arm guards to protect your arms from bumps and scrapes
  • A bandana to keep sweat and hair out of your eyes

Likewise, clothes that fit too loosely are more likely to get snagged on things like doorknobs, garden tools, and big-screen televisions, which can lead to unnecessary injuries and damage.

Depending on where you live and when you’ll be moving, it’s also wise to plan for eventualities like snow, rain, and excessive heat.

Your moving day clothes will probably end up dirty, damp, and odorous, so we recommend also setting aside a clean outfit for the end of the day.

4. Minimize any packing on move day

If you’ve followed the advice from our article on moving day etiquette, you’ve made a schedule and packed the vast majority of your items before moving day. But you should also keep a few extra packing supplies like empty boxes handy for packing any final essentials, such as:

  • Toiletries like toothbrushes and soap
  • Linens like sheets, comforters, and bath towels
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Lamps, internet modems, or other electronic devices

Resist the urge to allow your movers to load them as-is, as this will likely lead to damage. For your own peace of mind, take the time necessary to box them correctly or pack them in your car for when you get to your new house.

5. Set aside personal items and essentials

Though the movers will load and move most of your household goods, there are always some things you’ll likely want to handle yourself.

These include essential items such as:

  • Medication
  • Jewelry and irreplaceable family heirlooms
  • Important documents like credit cards, birth certificates, and loan details
  • A change of clothes
  • Phone chargers (tie these together and throw them in a plastic bag)
  • A box cutter (for unpacking)

These items should be set aside in a closet or small bedroom to avoid accidentally being loaded. Put an “off-limits” sign on the door for your movers before they get to work.

6. Keep some cleaning supplies on hand

Even homes inhabited by the most fastidious housekeepers tend to look like pigsties once they’ve been cleared of furniture. In some cases, renters can miss out on getting their security deposit back if leave without sufficiently cleaning their old apartment.

So after you’ve conducted your final walk-through, you’ll probably need to do a little sweeping and dusting to prepare your old home or apartment for its new residents. Supplies to have on hand include:

  • A vacuum and/or a dustpan and broom
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • A duster
  • Universal spray cleaner that can be used on all types of surfaces

Set aside these items with your essentials box so they don’t mysteriously disappear mid-move. Don’t be tempted to leave behind straggler items like hangers or unused packing boxes — pack them up, throw them out, or recycle them.

7. Think twice when scheduling utility shut offs and setups

Whether you’re hiring movers or doing things yourself, moving tends to take longer than expected. If your move runs late, the last thing you want to deal with is a dark house with no water, so we advise scheduling shutoffs for the day after your move.

You also don’t want to struggle with a lack of electricity on your first night in your new home, so you’ll also want to make sure the utilities in your new home are set up to be functional as close to your arrival as possible.

Make sure to contact the providers of your:

  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Water and sewer
  • Internet and cable
  • Trash

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to transfer or cancel any subscriptions!

8. Create a safe place for kids and pets during the move

Kids, pets, and moving go together like alcohol, lawn darts, and family reunions — in other words, not very well.

If possible, make arrangements for any small two- and four-legged family members to spend moving day with friends or relatives.

If that’s not an option, one great moving hack is to set aside a room in the house where they can eat, play, snooze, and relax out of harm’s way. Make sure to keep the following items in an open box you can take along in the car when it’s time to go:

  • Favorite toys
  • Books/coloring books
  • Games
  • Favorite snacks

See also our guides on moving with children and moving with pets.

9. Make sure you have enough cash

In our digital-currency world, this is often overlooked when thinking about moving day tips. But let us tell you, making a last-minute run to an ATM only to discover it’s out of cash or out of order can really throw a wrench in your move.

A few days before your move, calculate how much you’ll need for things like:

If you’re paying your movers in cash, add another 10%-20% on top of the estimated cost in case things take longer than planned.

10. Plan to have food, drinks, and first aid

We’ve already established that carrying heavy furniture into and out of homes and moving trucks is a dangerous activity that requires tons of energy.

Breakfast may be the most important meal, but proper nourishment and first aid are all-day concerns when it comes to moving.

  • Proper hydration is vital, so have plenty of water and/or sports drinks like Gatorade on hand even if you’re moving during the cooler months.
  • Heavy, greasy food tends to make everyone feel sleepy, so consider having smaller meals or snacks throughout the day and saving the pizza for quitting time.
  • Have a basic first aid kit available to deal with the inevitable minor scrapes and bumps.
  •  Don’t forget toilet paper — this is not the day to find yourself in the bathroom without TP!

11. Assign tasks to your team (for DIY moves)

Moving day tips aren’t jut about how you can take action for an easier move — you should also delegate tasks to others to help out. Taking charge of your DIY move doesn’t necessarily mean barking orders like a drill instructor, but you will need to be organized and assertive — and don’t wait until the last minute to assign everyone a role.

  • A day or two beforehand, make a list of all your helpers and assign them moving tasks that fit their physical ability and aptitudes. (Don’t forget to include yourself!)
  • Declutter the stairs and any other areas where people will be carrying heavy items to minimize trips and falls.
  • Draw a floor plan of your new home to make it easier to visualize for those who are helping you move in.
  • Make sure everything is already wrapped and/or packed in moving boxes — don’t expect folks to help you pack the day of.
  • Clearly mark boxes with FRAGILE items.
  • Use color-coded stickers or otherwise label your boxes so everyone easily knows which room of your new home to place them in.

If people are helping you pack, make sure you have all your moving supplies laid out for easy access, including cardboard boxes, packing paper, bubble wrap, markers, stickers, scissors, and packing tape. To make everyone’s lives easier, make sure any heavy or large boxes are loaded on the truck first so small and light boxes aren’t crushed.

The packing process can be a huge hassle if you aren’t prepared, regardless of whether or not you have helping hands. Be sure to read through our guide on when to start packing for a move for more packing tips.

12. Do a thorough walk-through

Regardless of how careful you think you’ve been, there will almost always be some overlooked items lurking in the recesses of your semi-empty home. This is one of many essential moving day tips that can help you avoid losing things in the hectic chaos of the move.

Retrieving them may not be so easy once you’ve left for good, especially if you’re making a long-distance or cross-country move (check out our guide on how to prepare for a cross-country move for more tips).

Take the time to do a thorough post-move inspection. Be sure to check:

  • Drawers
  • Cabinets
  • Closets
  • Attics
  • Crawl spaces
  • Your basement
  • Your garage and/or shed

Keep a garbage bag or empty box with you while conducting your sweep so you can easily toss in any missed garbage or personal items as you go.

Moving day tips to ensure a smooth move

We obviously take moving day very seriously here at moveBuddha, and we know that no amount of planning and prep can guarantee a perfect move. But by taking these moving day tips and precautions into account, you’ll set yourself up to have a more positive moving experience.

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