How to Handle a Last Minute Emergency Move

Though planning for a move weeks or months in advance is wise, sometimes it’s just not possible.Moving can be disruptive and stressful in the best of times, but emergency moves are often brought on by sudden life-changing events over which you have no control.You or a family member may need movers at the last minute for the following reasons –

  • The moving company you hired cancels
  • Rental trucks are sold out
  • A death in the family
  • A divorce or sudden break-up
  • A job loss
  • An elderly family member with medical problems needs assisted living

Some moving companies claim to be “Emergency Moving Specialists” or “After Hours Movers.”

But other than having a truck and crew available, there’s really no way to specialize in same-day moves.

Andy in many cases, nefarious movers prey on uninformed customers caught between a rock and a hard place.

If this sounds like you…

Your best bet is to hire pre-vetted interstate movers you can trust.

But first –

1. Take Stock of Your Situation

It may seem like your world is imploding when faced with a same-day move that came out of left field.

What to do When Your Mover Cancels Last Minute

But in many cases, your unavoidable last-minute move may be avoidable after all.

Once you’ve weathered the initial emotional onslaught, take an hour or two to consider things from every angle.

Perhaps the situation can be avoided by –

  • Negotiating with your landlord to stay in your apartment a few more days
  • Asking the new homeowner if they’ll delay moving in
  • Staying in a hotel or extended stay residence temporarily
  • Moving in with a friend or family member until your situation normalizes

Sadly, there’s no magic bullet, but resisting the urge to make snap decisions is key.

2. Give Yourself as Much Breathing Room as Possible

Last-minute moves rarely go well.

Not only are careful planning, vetting movers, and packing yourself impossible, but getting multiple in-home estimates is out of the question.

For these reasons and others, it’s best to do whatever you can to delay your move.

Of course in instances of serious illness, eviction, or an abusive relationship this won’t be possible, but if it is, giving yourself an additional couple of days or even a week can make all the difference in the world.

3. Don’t Go It Alone

Most of us value self-sufficiency and prefer to handle problems on our own without projecting our drama onto those around us.

That said –

Last-minute moves are no time for heroics.

Reach out to friends, family members, and coworkers, and don’t hold back when describing your dire situation.

Though some can’t or won’t come to your rescue, some will, and every little bit helps.

If you’re truly alone, consider hiring packing and labor companies like –


Bellhop is a great option for those forced into a DIY move.

In fact, our recent company review found that –

Bellhop Overall Opinion: Over the past 10 years, Bellhop has become an industry leader in the moving and storage industry. Their unique “Uber-like” technology has enabled the company to find and retain the best moving labor in the country. Bellhop continues to impress us with their incredible customer satisfaction scores and very competitive pricing. We can’t recommend Bellhop enough.

Hire A Helper

This online marketplace has more than a decade of experience under its belt, and they specialize in connecting prospective customers with various providers, including –

4. Consider Every Option

Thank your lucky stars if your last-minute move rears its ugly head in the fall or winter.

If it does, you’ll have more options because most moving companies and other service providers won’t be fully booked.

On the other hand, if it happens during the peak moving season between June and August, your choices will be limited.

When finances aren’t a limiting factor, your best bet may be to call local agents for the big national van lines.

Here we’re talking about:

Not all van line agents are the cream of the crop, but many are, and odds are you’ll have a better experience than if you choose a local mover from the phone book.

However, if the movers you’re calling are already booked to capacity, you’ll need to consider alternatives like –

Container Moving Companies

Container moving companies are convenient options for last-minute moves.

Though they’re usually more flexible and less expensive than full-service movers, they don’t all have national coverage, and you’ll need to do the packing, loading, and unloading yourself.

Renting a Truck

Especially on relatively small same-day moves, renting a truck may be the way to go.

If you need to get everything out of your home or apartment but have nowhere to take it, you might consider reserving a truck for multiple days.

In this case, loading your items and driving to a nearby hotel or friend’s house for a few days will ease stress and give you some peace of mind.

Yes, you’ll pay for the truck every day you have it, but it’ll be way less expensive than hiring professional movers and storing your items at their warehouse.

Your household goods will be fine on the truck as long as you lock it and park it in a safe area, and you’ll have time to relax and plan your next move.

Freight Moving Companies

Freight Moving Companies usually have more equipment than traditional moving companies and are therefore good options for those faced with an unexpected move.

Just keep in mind that –

  • They’re usually only available for long-distance moves
  • You’ll need to do the packing, loading, and unloading yourself
  • Their spring-ride trailer suspensions can be tough on furniture

Did You Know?

It may sound insensitive, but many moving companies are wary of customers who need to move in the same day.

Unfortunately, moves of this nature go south with alarming frequency, and many reputable movers avoid them like the plague.

5. Be Skeptical of Unreasonable Promises

You may find that the service providers you contact for your last minute move promise you the moon and stars.

But while believing the hype might provide temporary comfort, tales of great service and reasonable prices rarely pan out.

In fact, you’d be better off with a mover that tells you some things you don’t want to hear – in other words, the truth.

Insider’s Tip: If your mover (or broker) tells you they can have your items packed and loaded one day and delivered to another state the following day for $700, they’re probably misleading you to get your business.

The Problem With Moving Brokers

6. Be Cautious of the Lowest Estimate

Why NOT to Higher the Cheapest Mover

“Low ball” estimates.

They’re the number one tactic used by nefarious movers intent on preying on unsuspecting customers in bad situations.

But since in-home estimates usually aren’t possible on last-minute moves, you’ll be forced to settle for phone estimates.

They can be notoriously inaccurate, but still, if you’ve got the time it’s a good idea to get two or three for comparison purposes.

Why Moving Estimates Can Be So Different

Again –

Since normal planning and vetting go out the window on same-day moves, you’re almost always better off hiring high-quality moving companies with verified customer reviews.

Did You Know?

For many move-related Google searches, it’s the least reputable companies that show up on top.

7. Don’t Be Pressured Into Making Unwise Decisions

Unfortunately, on rush moves, you won’t have the luxury of taking your time before making a decision.

But consider the following –

  • If a company’s sales tactics make you feel uncomfortable trust your instincts
  • Scammy movers are “pushy”
  • Reputable movers are forthright

Remember, unwise decisions made in haste almost always make a bad situation worse.

Related: Moving Sucks: Here’s How To Make It Suck Less

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