Tips for Moving in the Winter

From snow and sleet to freezing temperatures and treacherous roads, moving during the winter has its disadvantages, but for those with flexible schedules, there are a number of advantages as well.

Better pricing, quicker delivery times, and valuable incentives like free storage often make winter moves attractive options for families with modest relocation budgets.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of moving during the winter, and we’ll throw in lots of helpful tips to make the moving process safer and more efficient.

Before jumping in, take a moment to check out these helpful pre-move resources –

  • Moving cost calculator – Talk about a great budgeting tool. Just enter your move dates, origin and destination cities, and the estimated size of your move, and the magic algorithms will do the rest
  • Best interstate movers – The moving industry is full of shady players. With so much at stake, hiring a top-rated long-distance mover with verified customer reviews is imperative
  • Best moving container companies – It’s simple. You load and unload, they drive, and you save big bucks
  • Moving cross-country tips – Some helpful ideas for preparing for your long-distance relocation

The cons of moving in the winter

When moving during the winter, you’ll want to consider the following hazards, pitfalls and inconveniences –

1. Kids are in school

One of the biggest downsides of moving during the winter is that kids are typically in school.

Moving during the school year can be particularly stressful for children, which is why many families choose to relocate between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

2. Moving is more dangerous in the winter

Moving is dangerous even on sunny spring days.

Smashed fingers, banged shins, and stubbed toes are relatively common, and slips and falls can result in damaged floors, walls, and household goods as well.

Add in sub-zero temperatures, icy walk boards, and howling winds, and the process of carrying everything from your home or apartment into a moving van becomes even more treacherous.

There are things you can do to stay safe, but injuries and accidents are more common in bad weather conditions, so take this into account when deciding when to move.

3. Treacherous road conditions

If you’re moving locally this probably won’t be a big issue.

However, especially on long-distance DIY moves, driving a rented moving truck cross-country in wintry conditions can be stressful and dangerous.

4. Delays are common during bad weather

Even during the winter months, weather-related delays are relatively rare, but they’re not unheard of.

For example, if you’re moving from Chicago to Grand Junction, Colorado in February chances are you’ll encounter snow and ice somewhere along the way.

In many parts of the country, the DOT may mandate that commercial vehicles shut down during particularly harsh winter weather.

If so, your household goods may be delivered much later than expected, and since this is something over which moving companies have no control, you probably won’t be entitled to compensation for a late delivery.

5. Unforeseen expenses can add up quickly

Especially when driving a moving van yourself, we always recommend getting off the road when conditions are bad.

Whether roads are officially closed or you decide on your own to stop and wait out a storm, you’ll spend more money on food and lodging, both of which can drain resources quickly.

The pros of moving in the winter

Now that the cons are out of the way, let’s take a look at why moving in the winter may make sense.

1. Moving costs are lower during the winter

During the peak season between May and September, many moving companies have more business than they can handle.

As a result, most increase their rates to capitalize on this surge in demand.

During the winter the opposite is true, which means you’ll probably save a lot of money whether you’re hiring professionals or doing your move yourself.

Not only will there be more trucks available, but rental companies like Penske and U-Haul typically reduce their rates during the fall and winter.

2. You’ll have the upper hand in negotiations

When customers are scarce between October and March, many moving companies have idle crews and trucks that aren’t generating revenue.

This puts you in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating good deals with prospective moving companies.

Remember, during the summer movers charge customers an arm and a leg, so don’t feel guilty about negotiating the best deal possible if you’ll be relocating during the winter.

3. Freebies and incentives abound

To generate business when times are lean, many moving companies offer attractive incentives to lure customers away from competitors.

Here we’re talking about including one month of free storage with every move, or giving customers free or discounted used boxes if they’ll be doing some or all of the packing themselves.

Professional moving company representatives usually make offers like these when they’re doing virtual or in-home estimates, but if not, don’t hesitate to bring it up yourself.

4. More lenient cancellation and service change policies

If you run into a problem with financing or renting a new apartment in the winter, it’ll be much easier to cancel or change your moving date at the last minute.

On the contrary, if you’re planning on moving at the end of June and have to reschedule your move for the first week of July, the moving company may be fully booked.

This often means that you’ll have to find another mover at the last minute, or worse yet rent a truck and do your move yourself – if you can find a truck at all.

Regardless of when you’re moving, make sure to get a copy of each mover’s cancellation policy, and be wary of movers that ask for big deposits.

5. You may get better service and quicker delivery times

On both local and long-distance moves during the non-peak season, the most efficient and experienced crews with the lowest claims ratios and highest customer satisfaction ratings get first dibs on moves.

Translation – during the winter you’re much more likely to get a top-notch crew which often equates to decreased move times, fewer claims, and all-around better service.

In addition, it’s much more difficult for van lines to fill trucks during the fall and winter, so chances are your household goods will be delivered more quickly than they would be in the summer.

Tips for moving in the winter

  • Check weather forecasts frequently in the days leading up to your move
  • Keep snow shovels and rock salt on hand to clear sidewalks, walkways, outdoor steps, and walk boards during bad weather
  • Have a first aid kit ready to patch up minor injuries
  • Tarps and plastic sheeting draped over the back of the truck will help keep the inside relatively dry
  • Dress in layers, wear shoes with adequate tread, and have dry clothes at the ready in case the weather takes a turn for the worse
  • Get more help than you think you’ll need because moving in the winter often takes longer than expected
  • Have a space heater, water, snacks, and hot chocolate on hand to keep everyone warm and happy
  • When moving long-distance, stay on highways as much as possible, and either pre-book hotels or know where they are along the way in case you need to get off the road quickly
  • Whether traveling by car or truck, make sure to take ice scrapers, tire chains, blankets, water, and non-perishable food for emergencies
  • Before heading out, check the news for road closures and make sure your cell phone is fully charged
  • On full-service moves, make sure to exchange phone numbers with the van operator so you can alert each other of unexpected delays

Frequently asked questions (faqs)

Is moving in the winter a bad idea?

Not necessarily, but when it comes to reducing stress and staying safe, moving during the summer may be a better option.

How much cheaper is it to move in winter?

It’s common to save between 10 and 20% when moving during the winter, but it depends on which company you use and where you’re moving from and to.

What time of year is best to move?

If your schedule is flexible, moving during the fall may be your best bet. Prices are generally cheaper than they are during the peak season, and you’re less likely to run into inclement weather than during the winter months.

Is it hard to find a professional moving company in the winter?

No, during the winter finding a moving company with the available capacity is much easier than it is in the summer. However, scams are just as common, so don’t skimp on the vetting process.

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