Who said moving has to be impossible?

Along with moving comes some of life’s biggest milestones: Buying your first home. Upgrading your space to make room for your expanding family. Relocating for a new employment opportunity.

When you’re opening new doors, exploring new neighborhoods, and moving your life forward – what’s there to complain about? Oh, right, the actual process of moving.

Let’s face it: moving is not only a time-consuming undertaking, but it requires careful planning.

Chances are you’ve moved at least once in your life, so you know exactly what we mean. However, with a little preparation, a thoughtful and organized strategy, and clear expectations for what lies ahead, you can remove stress from the moving equation.

To help you get started on your new journey, we’ve put together this ultimate moving guide with everything you need to make your move as seamless as possible.

First Things First: Where to Start When Planning Your Move

Get Organized

Create a moving folder dedicated to keep track of all your documents, such as your moving checklist, timeline, paperwork, and invoices.

Take Inventory:

Create a room-by-room list of your belongings so you can take stock of all the items you plan on moving. This list can be used as a point of reference when hiring a moving company or as a resource when you’re shopping for insurance.

Transfer Your Services:

Contact your cable, internet, and utility companies to transition your services to your new home. You’ll also want to notify your credit card company, bank, insurance agent, and the post office of your change of address.

The United States Postal Service now offers an electronic filing service to submit your change of address.

Declutter Your Space:

Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of items you no longer use or need. You’ll save time packing, reduce moving costs, and eliminate the stress of finding a place in your new home for unwanted goods.

Before you go chucking items in the trash, you may want to consider holding a garage sale or donating old furniture and clothing to a local charity.

Make Crucial Decisions:

Should you hire professional movers or take the responsibility into your own hands? With a moving company, you’re gaining the expertise and knowledge of professional movers who will be able to tackle the heavy lifting, pack efficiently and effectively (saving you time), and will take a boatload of stress off of your shoulders.

Want to make it a DIY move? Some people opt to move themselves as a way to make their piggy banks smile and have control over the care and handling of their belongings.

Some downsides to a DIY move is the risk of injury, the mental drainage, and the unexpected complications that can crop up such as the inability to fit furniture through doorways or running out of packing materials.

Are you Moving Yourself or Hiring Movers?

Getting Started: Where Do I Find Moving Boxes?

Moving boxes can be purchased at any hardware store, moving center, or local storage unit, such as U-Haul. Larger corporations, like Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot & Lowes also have boxes and packing materials available.

Looking to conserve a few bucks and get your hands on some free moving boxes? You can try Craigslist, Freecycle, local bookstores, grocery stores, furniture stores, the U-Haul Box Exchange, or connect with a friend who has recently moved.

Other packing supplies to consider:

Tape

(for sealing boxes)

Bubble Wrap

(or towels/clothes)

Markers

(to label)

Blankets

(to protect furniture)

When Should I Begin Packing & What Should I Focus on First?

Packing is easily one of the most time-consuming aspects of making a move. The task can feel both daunting and mentally exhausting. When you’re surrounded by bubble wrap and brown boxes, mustering up the motivation to get started may feel like an impossible feat.

But by simply shifting your perspective and taking a strategic approach to packing, you’ll discover the process is much more manageable than originally anticipated.

Procrastination will only make the whole ordeal more stressful – so make an effort to establish a plan of attack to get the ball rolling early. So, what’s the big secret to making the packing process easier, and dare we say…fun?

You need to breakdown the process into smaller, achievable tasks and prioritize your packing by room.

Kitchen & Closets

A week before the big day, start clearing out your closets and kitchen area. Remember, you want to pick out enough clothing and toiletries to sustain you over the next week – including a few extra days after your move as well. As you near moving day, try to refrain from cooking at home. Instead, enjoy some tasty treats that you have left in your pantry or eat out.

Rarely used items:

A good rule of thumb is to box up items you rarely use first and then work your way up to the items you use daily. Try starting in areas like the garage, attic, or closets where items are already being stored away.

The key to making the transition a seamless one is to label and sort boxes by room, so you can easily transport your belongings to the appropriate place in your new home.

Non-necessities:

When you’re a month to a few weeks out, begin packing items that are not a necessity in your daily life. For example, belongings in a guest bedroom or bathroom, knick-knacks, table settings, etc. You most likely won’t use these items until you are in your new home.

Bedrooms & Bathrooms:

A few days out, begin tackling your bedroom and bathrooms, leaving only the absolute essentials behind to pack the morning of your move.

When moving day arrives, your focus will likely be consumed by all the disassembling, transporting, and unloading – and many people tend to overlook a vital must-have for their move: an overnight bag.

Stressing Out?

Keep your move on track with our moving checklist!

To survive your first 24-hours in your new place – and to avoid the headache of tearing through box after box in search of a toothbrush, make sure you throw together a personal care bag with things like a change of clothes, toiletries, and your cellphone charger, so you can easily access these items during the first few days in your new place.

How to Pack:

What Size Moving Truck Do I Need?

Before you pull up to that picturesque front porch of your new cozy abode, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to transport all your belongings to your new home. That means renting a moving truck and determining the appropriate size.

Rest assured, your moving day will be jam-packed with responsibilities, like securely packing up the truck, safely unpacking your belongings, and ensuring you’ve completely emptied your old space of everything you need. Do you want to amplify your stress by renting a vehicle that can’t adequately transport all your belongings?

Think of it like this:

If you rent a truck that’s too small, you’ll either have to embark on multiple trips to compensate for the lack of space, rent a second truck to carry the extra load or get rid of personal items that don’t fit

If you select a truck that’s too large, your furniture and boxes may incur damages from slipping and sliding precariously around the truck during transportation.

That’s why it’s imperative to choose the right size truck, so you can transport your belongings properly.

Types of Trucks

Small trucks are appropriate for those who live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment. If you’re in a mid-sized apartment, you should only use this option if you don’t mind making two trips or you have plenty of friends or family helping to transport your belongings.
As one of the most commonly rented trucks for DIY movers, a medium-sized vehicle is ideal for people in a small home. If you’re moving into a house larger than 1,200 sq. ft., only utilize this size truck if your upgrading from a small apartment and have yet to accumulate a ton of possessions.
Moving from one average-sized home to another? Then you will likely need a large truck to compensate for furniture, appliances, and personal belongings you’ve amassed over the years.

How to Select the Right Size

To determine the right moving truck size to house your possessions, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What’s the size of my current home?
  • What’s the size of my new home?
  • Do my possessions take up a lot of room in terms of volume?
  • How far am I transporting my belongings?

We recommend operating under the assumption that you’re unable to make multiple trips to relocate your belongings and everything must fit comfortably into one rental truck.

Let’s face it: a majority of people aren’t spatial gurus and able to accurately quantify cubic volume. The lesson here is to defer to a larger size if you’re on the fence about which rental truck you should opt for.

How to Properly Load a Moving Truck

Did you know there’s a preferable way to pack up a moving truck? Correctly loading up your truck will ensure you maximize space and minimize the possibility of damaging your property.

For a safer, more efficient move, assemble your heaviest possessions in an “I formation.

To prevent heavy items from shifting during transportation, use tie-downs and evenly distribute the weight of these belongings on the truck bed. A good rule of thumb is to carry valuables, such as important documents, as well as anything you need to quickly access during your move with you instead of placing them in the truck.

To start:

You want to place the heaviest objects, like your refrigerator and washer, in the truck first to form the top of the “I formation.”

Dining room tables and desks should be carefully loaded into the middle of the truck with heavy boxes placed underneath. Along the left side of the truck, load your box springs, mattresses, and other similar large cushions. On the opposite side, along the right wall of the truck, is where you’ll want to place your sofas and couches.

Any additional boxes that fall into the heavy category can be put in the center of the truck to complete the “I formation.” Lastly, take your smaller, lighter boxes and position them around your heavy boxes to complete the “I formation.”

How to Choose the Right Moving Company

When it comes to hiring a reputable moving company, it’s essential that you know what qualities to look for and be well-equipped to ask the right questions. After all, you’re handing over your valuables and precious belongings to people you don’t personally know.

So, it should go without saying that choosing wisely is imperative.

Avoid

Waiting until the eleventh hour to begin doing your research. Set aside plenty of time to evaluate movers and learn as much as you can about each company, their moving process, and any hidden fees you may incur.

As you begin weighing your options and connecting with various professional movers, you should be prepared to ask questions. This will allow you to uncover pertinent information about each company and keep an eye out for any red flags or sketchy responses that rub you the wrong way.

Here’s a look at some great questions to ask:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What are the exact rates?
  • Is the estimate binding or non-binding?
  • Are there other fees not disclosed at the time of the estimate?
  • Is there a storage fee if the truck arrives before you do?
  • Are they licensed?
  • Can you provide references?
  • Do they have any questions for you

At the end of the day, always trust your gut instinct. If the estimate seems too good to be true or the moving company doesn’t present themselves in a professional light, then move on.

How Much Does Hiring a Moving Company Cost?

Every person who plans on making a move has the same question swimming around in their head: “How much will relocating cost me?” Several factors can influence the cost of carting your belongings from point A to point B.

Things like geographical location, distance, and the number of items you need to transport will all impact the ultimate price tag attached to your move.

If you’re moving locally (fifty miles or under) you can expect to pay an average of $30 to $50 per mover per hour.

For example, if you’re moving a 3-bedroom home, you may need 4 movers over a 6 to 9-hour time frame to complete the job, which would cost approximately $700-$1000. For larger cities, you can expect to pay higher local moving rates.

There are certainly logistical challenges that can also affect your hourly rate, including stairs or fragile items. Some companies charge a set rate for stairs, such as $50 to $70 per flight of stairs traveled. If you live on the top floor of your building, and the moving company is required to transport items via an elevator, you may only be charged a one-time fee, such as $75-$100.

As you may have assumed:

The size of your home will directly influence your cost. The larger your house, the higher your moving costs will be.

There are also additional expenses you may incur should you need extra movers or require disassembling and reassembling of furniture. The date and time of year you elect to move will also impact your final price.

For example, weekends and the summer season are both considered peak moving times, meaning they’re accompanied by higher rates.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget the gratuity – your movers deserve to be compensated appropriately. Per the industry standard, you should tip 5% of your total bill.

Moving Tips: What Should I Do Before the Movers Arrive?

Before your moving day, sort through each room and dispose of any items you’ll just wind up throwing away when you arrive at your new home. This will save your movers time packing and conserve money you would otherwise spend on transporting goods you don’t need.

You should also spend time deciding what you’ll be responsible for packing and what you’ll be leaving for the movers.

We suggest packing valuables, such as passports, important documentation, and jewelry, along with any fragile items, such as lamps or vases to ensure everything is safely protected. Some people elect to purchase a lockbox to help make the process easy, and secure.

How to Pack Various Household Items:

Next, you should contact your moving company to confirm what items cannot be moved. This typically includes hazardous materials, perishables, plants, and animals. Once you understand what’s considered a non-negotiable item, it’s time to get organized and start cleaning.

Start by:
Unplugging, emptying, and cleaning all electrical appliances.

Afterward, you can begin tackling drawers, cupboards, and bookshelves and emptying all the contents stored inside. You never know what could be hiding on a top shelf or at the back of a drawer. Lastly, strip the beds and other furniture of any covers, decorative cushions or pillows, and linens.

To save yourself the hassle and stress of having to sift through mountains of brown boxes, remember to separate enough clothing and toiletries to hold you over for the week leading up to your move, as well as a few days after you settle into your new place.

Should I Purchase Moving Insurance?

Regardless of whether you’re moving across town or halfway across the country, your possessions are valuable – from a monetary perspective and for the special memories they hold.

When you place your belongings in someone else’s hands, you want them to be handled with the utmost care, and have a backup plan if your property is lost or damaged.

#1. What is moving insurance?
Most people don’t realize that their homeowners or renters insurance doesn’t cover any loss or damage to your possessions while in transit. So, what’s your option instead? Moving insurance. It’s important to note that moving companies aren’t certified to sell insurance.

Instead, they offer something called valuation. Valuation functions exactly like insurance does – i.e. the moving company will compensate you for loss or damage to your belongings.

#3. Released Value Protection
Under federal law, moving companies are mandated to offer two types of valuation to movers. The first is known as Released Value Protection, or Basic Carrier Liability. While this coverage is offered at no additional cost, it provides minimal protection.

For example, the company may assume liability for up to 60 cents per pound per item. In other words, if your 50-pound flat-screen TV is lost or damaged throughout your move, the moving company would only be obligated to compensate your $30.

#2. Full Value Protection
The next type of valuation is called Full Value Protection. This type of coverage requires a premium and is typically subject to a deductible. However, you’ll receive much more comprehensive protection.

Under this policy, your moving company would be liable for the full replacement value of the belongings they’re transporting. As the customer, you would declare the estimated value of your goods, per pound, and receive a premium that coincides with the amount of coverage you’ll need.

#4.Third Party
You may also want to consider seeking separate liability insurance from a third party. You can contact your insurance company to discuss possible coverage endorsements that can be appended to your policy to cover the duration of your move.

Which Coverage is Right for You?

As you begin to calculate your moving expenses, it’s important to make sure you aren’t purchasing more cover than you need. To decide which coverage is right for you, take inventory of all your valuable belongings – from your laptop to your designer shoes to your artwork.

Determine the estimated dollar amount of what all of your belongings are worth and then use an online calculator to assess the approximate weight of your possessions.

To help paint a clear picture for you:
If your personal goods carry an estimated weight of 10,000 pounds. With released valuation coverage, your mover would be liable for $6,000 (Remember: 60 cents per pound).

In this scenario, it’s up to you to decide if that’s sufficient enough for you or if you’d rather invest in the full value protection option.

If you’re questioning whether or not full value protection is worth it, here is another example. Suppose you value your belongings at a higher cost of $80,000. In this instance, $6,000 of coverage wouldn’t even replace your prized print of a Picasso painting. This type of scenario may warrant full value protection coverage.

Now that you have clear expectations surrounding the moving process and how to properly prepare, you can brush off the stress and formulate a clear plan of action.

We encourage you to save this document for future reference and download our ultimate moving checklist – which will keep you organized and reveal some must-read tips and tricks you won’t find here.