Moving to a new home can feel like an exciting adventure. But let’s be honest — the actual move usually sucks. If this is your first time moving, you might be surprised by just how much it can suck!
After all, moving is a lot of hard work. Trying to manage everything on your own can be undeniably stressful, especially if you have to finish your move quickly.
While there’s no sure-fire way to completely eliminate the suckiness from the moving process, doing things like working with the best moving companies can help it suck less. In this article, we’ll take a look at some simple things you can do to improve your moving experience, including how to manage your expectations and prepare for things going wrong.
Essential tips to make moving suck less
You’re not going to be able to make moving fun. But there are a few things you can do to make moving just a little less painful from start to finish.
Before moving day
A lot of the work for making a move less sucky starts long before moving day:
- Hire professional movers. If you have the budget for it, hiring professional movers will make your move a lot easier. Full-service local and long-distance moving companies take care of all the heavy lifting, and many can even help with packing and unpacking. A more budget-friendly option is to use one of the best moving container companies, which has you load and unload a moving container that is delivered to your property, while the moving company takes care of transportation.
- Start planning early. Make a checklist of everything you need to do as soon as you decide you’re going to move. This will help you plan out what you need to do and when. Keep all moving-related documents — such as moving company agreements and housing contracts — in an easy-to-access folder so you can stay on track.
- Declutter. Chances are, you’ve accumulated a lot of stuff that doesn’t need to go to your new house. Go through your current home room by room to identify items you no longer want or need. Selling, donating, or trashing these items can help you save time and money later, because you’ll have fewer things to pack.
- Don’t turn down help. If friends or neighbors offer to help with packing, cleanup, or other move related tasks, don’t say no! Moving can be very tiring, and every little bit can make a big difference in your ability to get things done.
- Don’t surprise your kids. If you have kids, moving can be even more difficult. Don’t make the move a last-minute surprise. Let them know in advance and help them feel involved in the move. Try to frame things as positively as possible so they feel better about it.
On moving day
Moving day is where a lot of the heavy lifting takes place — especially if you’re not using a full-service moving company.
Here’s how to make this suck less:
- Drink water. You’ve got to stay hydrated while carrying heavy boxes! Keep water bottles handy for yourself and anyone else who is helping with the move so you don’t get sick.
- Take breaks as needed. Even if you’re in a rush, you should still stop periodically to take breaks so you don’t wear yourself out. Similarly, don’t try to carry heavy boxes or furniture on your own. Always lift safely so you don’t hurt your back.
- Find a place for your kids and/or pets. Young kids and pets can be understandably stressed by the moving process. You also don’t want them running around and getting in the way while you’re trying to load the moving truck. Try to arrange for a sitter who can keep them safely away from the action.
- Pack a separate essentials bag. Keep a bag of toiletries and other essentials with you. Don’t load them on the moving truck. This way, even if you can’t unpack everything later, you’ll at least have all the basic necessities for bathing and sleeping.
After the move
Unfortunately, the work of a move isn’t finished after you unload the moving truck. Unpacking and getting settled into your new place can also kind of suck.
You can make it better with the following tips:
- Unpack while you still have the right mindset. The more you can get unpacked soon after unloading the moving truck, the better. Waiting to unpack some of your boxes will only drag out the process, especially as you get farther removed from moving day (and the moving mindset).
- Take a shower. You’ll probably feel pretty gross by the end of moving day. Taking a shower break will help you feel clean and rejuvenated for what comes next.
- Eat out. You’re not going to have energy to cook a meal after a full day of moving. Reward yourself for your hard work (and make dinnertime easier) by picking up a meal from your favorite fast food restaurant.
Managing your expectations
No matter how well you prepare, moving doesn’t always go smoothly. Understanding that there may be bumps in the road (both literal and figurative) will help you prepare and not get as stressed out when things go wrong:
- Truck delay on moving day: Traffic, maintenance issues, or workers simply showing up late could keep your moving truck from showing up on time. Working with a reputable moving company with a strong track record for timeliness can help reduce the risk of this happening.
- Delivery delay due to bad weather: You can’t control how weather could affect your delivery, especially for long-distance moves. That’s why it’s best to pack a bag of essentials that you keep with you. Even if the moving shipment is delayed, you’ll still have toiletries and a few changes of clothes.
- Items lost or damaged during the move: Both DIY moves and professional moves sometimes have lost or damaged valuables. Be sure to pack items properly when doing it yourself, such as placing heavier boxes on the bottom. With professional moving companies, be sure you understand their policy for filing claims so you can get reimbursed accordingly if this happens.
- Not enough space on the moving truck: A quality moving company will make an accurate estimate of how much stuff you have so they send the right-sized moving truck. DIY moves are more likely to encounter this problem, especially if you don’t get the recommended truck size or moving container for your home. You might have to make multiple trips if your moving truck is too small.
- Your new home isn’t ready: You pack everything up and move out of your old home, only to find your new space isn’t ready! In this case, you’ll likely need to get temporary storage for your items and stay with family or friends until you can move in. Fortunately, some professional moving companies and moving container companies include temporary storage solutions for up to 30 days for free.
Understanding moving costs
Moving can get fairly expensive, which is why it’s always a good idea to get a free quote from multiple reputable moving companies before making a final decision.
You can use our moving cost calculator to get a clearer picture of costs, but it’s also good to know how different factors can influence your moving costs.
Factors that affect moving costs
The following are some of the biggest factors that will influence your moving costs:
- Professional movers vs. DIY: Hiring full-service movers will always be much more expensive than renting a U-Haul truck or going with another moving truck rental company for a DIY move. Ultimately, you’re making a trade-off between time and labor versus money spent.
- Distance: The total mileage of your move will directly influence your total costs. It should be no surprise that local moving will always be cheaper than a cross-country move for similar services and move size.
- Move size: The more stuff you have, the more your move will cost. Many moving companies charge based on the volume or weight of your possessions. And even for a DIY move, more stuff means you’ll need to rent a bigger (and more expensive) truck.
- Time of year: Summer is the peak season for moving, and that increased demand means prices will typically be higher. When possible, move during the off season (October–April) to save money.
- Move complexity: When using professional movers, you can expect to pay more for complex moves, such as those that require navigating multiple flights of stairs). You’ll also generally pay extra for add-on services like furniture disassembly and unpacking.
- Available discounts: Many companies offer moving discounts for students, seniors, or military service members. Some even offer discounts depending on whether you pay with cash or credit cards. It never hurts to check which discounts are available!
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What to do if things go wrong
Your moving experience can really suck if things go wrong. You can’t control everything that happens, but how you react can help things work out okay in the end:
- Gather evidence. If you need to file a claim with the moving company, start by gathering all necessary evidence. This could include taking photos of damaged items or collecting statements from workers or others. Get any evidence that might be needed for resolving your issue with the moving company in the moment. Don’t wait.
- File reports. After gathering any necessary evidence, file your report or claim as soon as possible. Double check your moving company’s claims process to help your paperwork get processed in a timely manner. When necessary, you might also need to file a claim with your own insurance company.
- Know how to deal with shady movers. If you feel like you were scammed or your moving company isn’t treating you fairly, you still have options. You could file a report with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or seek arbitration through a national forum for movers. Your local small claims court may also be able to provide assistance.
- Practice acceptance. Realize that you may not be able to fully resolve everything to your satisfaction. Clear your head, try to relax, and focus on what you can control, like getting settled in your new home.
Moving terms you should know
One final way to help moving suck less — make sure you understand what your movers are talking about! Understanding some basic moving terminology will make it easier to make the right decisions:
- Adjuster: A person who helps settle claims against the moving company if things go wrong with your move.
- AMSA: The American Moving & Storage Association. Legitimate moving companies are often affiliated with this group.
- Bill of lading: This is a legally binding document that acts as a receipt for your move. It has all the details of your move, such as the shipping date and item inventory.
- Binding estimate: A written agreement for a moving estimate that guarantees the total cost of your move, based on the services you requested and inventoried items. Non-binding estimates can change based on the estimated and actual weight of your items.
- Crating: Using wooden boxes to protect fragile, specialty items.
- Delivery window: A rough time frame for when you should expect your shipment to get delivered to your new home.
- Flight charge: An extra charge for carrying items up or down a flight of stairs. Many moving companies also have a similar elevator charge.
- Full-value protection insurance: Insurance that covers the full replacement value of an item if it is lost or damaged during a move. This is more expensive than basic insurance offered by movers.
- Non-allowable list: A list of items that a moving company will not transport because they are hazardous or otherwise unsafe (such as ammunition, fireworks, etc).
- Storage in transit (SIT): Temporary storage in a warehouse offered by some movers if your move-in destination isn’t ready yet.
Why is moving so hard?
There are a lot of reasons why moving is hard. It can be hard emotionally to say goodbye to friends and neighbors. It’s hard to confront the unknown about a new place.
Then, there’s the fact that the moving process itself is strenuous and time-consuming. Getting everything packed and loaded onto a moving truck, negotiating leases or closing on a house, and transferring utilities are just some of the tasks you need to get done.
And whether you do a DIY move or hire professionals, moving will cost money. With all of that combined, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit stressed about your move.
How can I make moving easier?
Making use of professional moving services can certainly make moving easier by having someone else load your moving truck and transport your goods. Book early so you can compare your options and ensure availability.
Decluttering can also go a long way in making your move easier. Selling, donating, or trashing items you no longer want or need means fewer items you’ll need to pack later.
What are the top tips for reducing stress during a move?
The best way to reduce stress during a move is to start planning well in advance. Give yourself as much time in advance to schedule movers, declutter, pack your stuff, transfer utilities, and other moving tasks.
Starting early will make these tasks feel much more manageable since you won’t be in a rush to get everything done. This way, you’ll even have some time to relax and take a break.
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