Moving Resource Guide
Moving to a new home or rental property can be seen as a dreaded, tedious task. There are so many things to consider: which moving company to use, which items to pack, the type of box to use, how to load the moving truck, and more. If you’re not a professional mover, navigating the logistics of moving can can be tricky.
Whether you’re an experienced mover or not, whether you’re hiring professional movers or taking care of the transition yourself, this Moving Guide help you save time, choose a moving company, consolidate your truck trips, and improve overall efficiency.
Why are you moving?
Whatever the reason, you'll need to plan accordingly.
If, for example, you're relocating for work, your employer might cover the costs or provide resources to help you transition. Speak with your company to find out your moving allowances and the resources at your disposal.
But, if you’re moving to find a new job, you’ll probably need to be cost-efficient as possible. Research your options thoroughly and plan ahead for bumps in the road.
And of course, if you’re a college student, you may need to bribe family and friends with pizza to help you (in addition to being frugal when making your moving plans).
Regardless of the reason, don’t wait until the last minute to plan. In the months or weeks leading up to a move, it’s essential to form a plan so you’re not blindsided by unexpected costs or issues. Consider the following questions when planning for your move:
- How big is your new place compared to the old one? If you’re downsizing, you might have to get rid of some of your furniture or put it in storage. If you’re moving to a larger place, you might need to buy more furniture to fill it up. For more information on choosing the right storage unit, check out some of these tips on Extraspace.com.
- What utilities and features are included in your new place, and what will you have to compensate for? If you rent, you might be thrown off by an apartment without a dishwasher or a washer/dryer. If you’ve always had a garage and your new home only has a small storage closet, you’ll have to adjust accordingly.
- How far away are you moving, and how much do you own? Can you accomplish this move on your own, or will it be necessary to hire a moving company? If you’re moving across the street, chances are you can handle the move on your own. However, if you’re moving across the country, you’ll likely have to hire professional movers.
Consult this moving checklist to make sure you’ve covered all your bases. After addressing these preliminary considerations, it’s time to start reserving trucks, packing, and preparing yourself financially. The following sections provide advice on choosing a moving company, creating a realistic budget, packing efficiently to reduce breakage, and remembering the commonly overlooked small details of moving.
Finding the right moving company
Whether you’re hiring professional movers or renting a truck on your own, research different companies and packages to find the best service for your needs. Ask friends for recommendations and opinions, read reviews online, and call ahead with any questions to make sure the company has what you’re looking for. Additionally, check out these resources for more information about the pros and cons of hiring professional movers and handling the move yourself:
- Learn your rights as a mover and how to avoid fraud
- Decide between moving on your own or hiring professionals
If you’re moving close by or you don’t have a lot of furniture, it might be best to rent a truck and move on your own. But, you'll want to book the truck as far in advance as possible—most people move in the summer, and college towns are particular busy in September, and it can be tough to reserve a truck during those times.
Find a truck that's right for you on some of the following sites:
Generally, you'll want to find the smallest truck for your needs, because moving truck prices depend on the size of the truck. But, you may waste time and gas money making multiple trips if the truck isn't big enough.
Here are some ways to choose the right size vehicle for your needs:
- Measure the dimensions of your furniture to make sure each piece will actually fit. If you’re moving far away, make sure the truck is big enough to hold everything you’re moving at the same time, so you don’t have to make multiple trips.
- Will you need to return the truck at a different location? Many companies will allow you to pick up the truck in your current neighborhood, and drop it off in your new neighborhood. Consult the truck company’s website or call the store to ask about any additional charges you may incur by doing this.
- Find out what additional features the company offers. For example, a dolly could make all the difference if you are loading and unloading furniture by yourself, and then would be worth the additional cost. Also, furniture blankets will protect your things, and many companies offer them at no additional cost. Be sure to check before you reserve the truck.
But then again, maybe you don't want to do all of this work yourself. In which case, hiring a professional moving company is a great option. You may even find that this is cheaper than moving on your own.
Check out some of these pros and cons before deciding to hire a moving company:
If you do choose to hire a moving company, familiarize yourself with its policies and rules. Stay in contact with the company, and alert management of any changes in your moving needs, including dates, times, and services required. Many companies offer a variety of packages and options, such as full-service or long distance, and they usually provide online quotes, so you can shop around.
Some resources include:
- American Moving & Storage Association
- Find a Local Mover with United Van Lines
- Select a Mover with Two Men and a Truck
The further in advance you plan your move, the more time you have to plan a realistic, affordable budget. Some costs to consider include:
- Moving truck or company: How much will it cost to actually move your items? Costs include the rental fee, gas, any services the company provides (packing, etc), and extras such as dollies and furniture blankets. Ask plenty of questions to determine if there will be any additional fees.
- Security deposit and last month’s rent: In addition to the first month’s rent to secure a new apartment, you may also have to pay last month’s rent and a security deposit. This upfront payment, sometimes equal to three months’ rent, will be a significant expense.
- Storage unit: Depending on how far you are moving and when your new lease starts, you may need to keep some belongings in storage. Consider how much space you will need and if you want it to be air conditioned to protect your items during long-term storage.
- Hotel and rental car: Again, depending on the distance you're moving and your timeframe, you may need to rent a car and/or stay at a hotel. Don't forget to budget this smaller costs in.
- Repairs: You current home may need repairs or updates before you sell or end your lease. Paint, spackling paste, and lightbulbs can add up.
- New furniture or utilities: Depending on the distance, it may be more cost effective to sell your old sofas and kitchen table on Craiglist, and buy replacements once you've moved. Additionally, if your new home has appliance hookups, but no appliances, you'll need to budget for the cost of those items as well.
The following guides include helpful information on creating a moving budget:
- How to set a moving budget from About.com
- 5 moving budgeting tips from U.S. News & World Report
- Make a moving budget with help from MovingGuru
Improper packing is probably the number one cause of furniture damage during a move. If you’re doing it yourself, you'll need the right packing materials. First, call local furniture, liquor, and grocery to see if they have any boxes they'd be willing to part with for free. Then, pick up your tape, scissors, permanent marker, packing peanuts, and bubble wrap and a local shipping location, Staples, or Office Max. You can also stock up on newspaper in the weeks leading up to the move to wrap some of your fragile items in at no extra cost.
Then, when it's time to pack, you'll want to do a few things to keep yourself organized:
- Group similar items together, such as kitchen supplies or bedroom accessories. This will make them easier to find when you unpack.
- Identify fragile items, and label the boxes as fragile. Be sure to specify which side should face up to avoid jostling the items inside during the moving process.
- Label, label, label! Keep a marker with you at all times and label each box so you know exactly what’s inside when you unpack. Ideally, you should be able to find any particular item you’re looking for without opening any boxes.
Refer to the following resources for additional tips on packing:
If you’re hiring professional movers, be specific when communicating your expectations. Make sure the movers know which items are fragile, which items you’d like to be grouped together, and any other specific requests you might have.
You'll also want to alert the U.S. Postal Service to your address change. You can do this in advance on USPS.com.
And, give yourself time to fix the things that you'll need to: your landlord or the new homeowner will notice every ding or scratch, and you'll probably have to pay for repairs.
All right, it's time: moving day! If you hired professional movers, you'll want to stay and supervise, but the movers will handle the heavy lifting (literally). If you’re doing it yourself, this section will provide advice for saving time, avoiding injury, and packing a lot of things into the smallest possible space.
If you've already moved a few times, you'll know what works best for you and gets the work done fast. But regardless of your tried-and-true methods there may still be room for improvement. Here are some tips for fast and easy truck loading that also protect your possessions:
- Load the largest items first: Once you fit the biggest pieces of furniture into the moving truck, the smaller items can be squeezed between them into the open spaces. Remember that it’s much easier to fit a couch into an empty moving truck than it is to squeeze it in at the end.
- It’s okay to stack furniture, just do it safely: To use the space of your truck efficiently, try to arrange your furniture so there’s as little space between each piece as possible. Push each piece as far back into the truck as you can manage. Once you’ve placed your largest pieces, insert smaller furniture such as end tables in the spaces between your couches and mattresses. Be smart about it though: put the heavier things on the bottom and stack lighter items on top.
- Protect your items: When furniture is stacked on top of or alongside other furniture, it’s bound to move around and get damaged. Use your own blankets, or the blankets that are often provided with the moving truck rental. You may need to ask for them, but they are well worth the effort (and potential fee).
- Use a dolly: It’s so much easier to wheel heavy furniture onto a truck than it is to carry. Carrying furniture greatly increases the risk of not only injury, but also dropping and damaging the furniture. If you must lift your own furniture, lift with the legs and not the back. Many truck rental companies offer a dolly as an extra service, and the convenience might be worth the additional charge.
Once you fit all your furniture in the truck, you can fill in the gaps with boxes and other items. But again, keep in mind the stability of the objects: when the truck moves, will your piles come crashing down?
If you successfully loaded a moving truck, you can probably unload it too. The important thing to remember is to back up the truck and position it as closely as possible to the door through which you’ll carry your belongings. Leave some extra space for the truck’s ramp to extend.
Your moving process might be affected by outside circumstances. For example:
- Are you or have you been in the armed services?
- Are you a college student moving from one apartment to the next?
- Are you moving to a nursing home or assisting an elderly relative in the process?
If you said yes to any of the above, the following sections have some specific advice for your circumstances.
Living a military lifestyle, you can expect to move around quite a bit, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult. The Relocation Assistance Program makes these transitions as painless as possible. The program helps you plan your move and provides information to prepare your family for the transition.
Check out these resources for more information:
Even if you're not in active service, you may be able to take advantage of the many moving services for veterans, including financial assistance, counseling, and moving advice. The following resources, also available for active duty members, can assist with in your move:
Moving for the elderly requires special care. If you’re a relative, keep in mind that the transition to a nursing home or an assisted living establishment might be a touchy subject. Many elderly people have lived in the same home for a long time, and they’ve formed emotional attachments to their surroundings. Be compassionate and understanding, and allow the person time to say goodbye. It also helps to make the new space as comforting and close to home as possible. Refer to these Senior moving tips prior to the move.
If you’re handicapped or helping move someone who is handicapped, the moving process and resources available will depend on the person’s condition. First and foremost, relay any relevant information to your movers or truck rental company. Know what to expect in advance, and be prepared.
The benefits of being a college student are that you probably don’t have a lot of furniture, and many of your belongings may be stored at your parents’ house. This makes the moving process much simpler. If you’re moving to a new apartment in the same city or general area, it might be best to simply reserve a moving truck and enlist your family and friends to help you move. If you’re moving farther away, weigh the following options when considering whether or not to handle your own move:
- How far away are you moving? Moving a few hours away is still manageable without hiring professional movers, but you should weigh your options carefully. If you have a car, keep in mind that you’ll need someone to drive the moving truck, unless you plan to make a return trip.
- How much furniture do you have? If you can’t fit it all in one truck load, consider the cost of gas to make multiple trips. It might be better to either hire movers or try to find a bigger truck.