Tips for Moving Short Distances

Not every move is a coast-to-coast journey. Sometimes you just need to move across town.

However, this doesn’t mean you should skimp on the preparation.

Even short-distance moves can be difficult, particularly in regard to budgeting and scheduling. You may also find yourself moving more items than usual if you work from home.

Keep reading if you’re thinking about a short-distance move but aren’t sure where to begin.

Below are a few tips to help make your short-distance move swift, efficient, and affordable.

What’s a short-distance move?

While not a hard and fast rule, a short-distance move is generally any move where the distance between your old and new residences is 50 miles or less. 

Is it worth hiring movers for a short-distance move?

Yes, sometimes it makes sense to hire movers when moving close by.

Moving across town may not seem daunting, but you may want to hire movers if:  

1. You have a lot of heavy items

Do you have heavy items such as exercise equipment, sofas, and appliances?

If so, you may find it worthwhile to hire movers to help you get these items sorted.

This tip goes double if you don’t have friends or family who can help, and triple if you live upstairs. You don’t want to tear a muscle attempting to move from one area to the next.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

2. Time is of the essence

Are you relocating for work? You may have a limited time to move all your things before returning to the grind.

Movers are comfortable working within strict time limits, so consider calling a professional moving service to speed things along. The average short-distance move with the aid of pros takes between a few hours and a few days.

3. You have health or mobility issues

Hiring movers may be the way to go if you have a bad back, chronic health issues, or aren’t as young as you used to be.

Attempting to handle everything yourself will stretch out your move and may interfere with other elements in your life, like work or school.

Tips for handling a short-distance move

Many of the same principles you’d apply to a long-distance move will apply to a short distance. Nonetheless, a refresher on the basics never hurts!

1. Plan as early as possible

Don’t delay!

The earlier you start planning your move, the sooner you’ll get it done.

We recommend planning your move at least three months in advance.

This will give you plenty of room to sell or donate unwanted items and seek out moving help.

Our moving cost calculator will give you a general idea of how much everything will cost.

2. Downsize and reduce clutter

The longer you live in one space, the more time you have to build up clutter.

Do you have furniture you no longer need or clothes you never wear? Declutter by calling your local thrift shop or charitable organization and scheduling a pick-up.

Donating unused items is environmentally friendly, socially responsible, and may give you a much-needed write-off at tax time.

3. Keep it simple

When you’re short on time and money, don’t try to be fancy with your move. As long as your items are packed properly, you can skip elaborate wrapping and bagging.

If your clothes are still on their hangers, consider tossing them into a heavy-duty trash bag. If you have a bunch of knick-knacks around the house (and they aren’t too fragile), pile them into a box and pad it out with newspaper.

4. Pair items logically when packing

Unpacking will be much faster when you pair all your items together. For example, keep your bathroom items in the same box and your bedroom items in the same box, etc.

5. Label your boxes and bags clearly and accurately

Reduce confusion upon arrival by clearly labeling what’s what. Get some painter’s tape and a Sharpie so your labels don’t peel off during the move.

We don’t recommend writing directly on the boxes or bags so you can donate them back to a charitable organization or friend in need.

How to save money on short-distance moves

A short-distance move can be inexpensive if you’re resourceful.

We have a few ideas you can try for your next life change.

1. Get cheap (or free) supplies from local businesses

You don’t need to break the bank trying to move. Instead of shelling out money for essentials such as boxes, tape, and bags, consider reaching out to businesses in your area.

Many local businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, and retail stores have unwanted cardboard boxes and bags they don’t need. Many are happy to get rid of surplus and give you items for free, while others may charge a small fee. Make sure the boxes you get are free from holes or water damage so you don’t damage your items while moving.

2. Get family, friends, or co-workers to help

Reach out to your “network” if you can’t afford a professional moving service.

Getting help is generally easier on short-distance moves because it’s more convenient for those willing to lend a helping hand. 

Does that mean you shouldn’t provide compensation? Depending on who you’re working with, offering a little money or buying a coffee will go a long way in generating gratitude.

3. Put together an overnight bag

Not sure where to stay?

Slap together an overnight bag with the basics so you can stay at a motel, hotel, or a friend’s house while transitioning.

Your overnight bag should include the following:

  • Three days’ worth of clothes (tops, bottoms, underwear, etc.)
  • Toiletries
  • Wallet with a few days of cash
  • Keys
  • Phone and charger
  • Important documents (social security card, passport, etc.)

Short-distance moves can be swift, affordable, and painless, provided you do some research and planning beforehand.

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