9 hacks to avoid the biggest moving mistakes
Moving is a great opportunity for a fresh start. There’s something magical about setting up a new home. But the process of moving itself can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. Even with all the help out there today people still make moving mistakes that can cost them time and energy. One of the best things you can do to prepare for a move is to well…prepare. Plan as early as you can and take things one day at a time. Not sure what I mean? Then keep on reading, my friend.
Here are some things you should do to avoid common moving mistakes.
1. Declutter before you move.
Before you pack a single thing, do a massive decluttering session. I mentioned before that moving is a fresh start. The last thing you want to do is fill your new home with items you don’t want, love, or use. So take a week or two and declutter every nook and cranny of your home.
During this editing process, separate items into five piles: Keep, Toss, Give away, Donate, and Consign. Get yourself a few boxes of contractor bags and attach a label to each one. This way you don’t confuse them with your regular garbage bags. We have a list of companies for clients to defer to for all these piles. If you would like that list, please contact Rachel Lipsitz.
We also recommend Junkluggers. They’ll remove excess items from small to large furnishings and more. They donate to charities rather than bring everything to a landfill.
This pre-move edit is essential. Remember that a move is a fresh start. It’s your time to review all you’ve collected over the years. When deciding to keep or toss something, consider who you are now, not who you were when you bought the item. Look at this move as a spring cleaning of your life for a lifetime.
2. Have a plan.
Once you’ve decluttered your home, it’s time to make a plan. This plan should include a very detailed outline of when you’re going to do what. Include tasks like getting all the paperwork together, buying supplies, packing, and more. When you break something as large as moving down into weekly and daily tasks it’s going to save you a lot of time. And stress. Talk about a bonus.
If you have a move-out date, start your plan no less than two months from that date. You might think that’s a long time, but trust me, it’s not. If your move-out date is only a month away you’ll need to do a bit more each week. Don’t rush through this step. Talk it over with your family and come up with a plan that works for everyone. The more you do this together, the easier it’ll be.
It’s also a good idea to create an unpacking plan for the new house. Don’t let those boxes sit unopened for weeks on end. Plan to unpack for an hour each day. Have your children unpack their bedrooms and reward them for every box they finish. Moving doesn’t end once you arrive at the new house.
3. Prepare your documents.
Moving comes with a lot of paperwork. Change of address forms, rental or purchase papers, moving contracts, utility companies, etc. Dedicate a single folder for all the paperwork you’ll need. A 2021 article on Real Simple suggests having hard copies as well as digital copies. This is to ensure that you have the information on hand in case your phone dies during the move. So get yourself a single folder, label it “Moving Paperwork” and keep it with your essential stuff, which we’ll get to in a minute.
4. Schedule help as early as possible.
One of the biggest moving mistakes I’ve seen people do is trying to go at it alone. Or keep it within the immediate family. Please don’t do this. Moving is a laborious activity that requires a lot of support and muscle. So start asking for help now.
If you’re not going to use a moving company, reach out to friends and family. Tell them your moving date so they can plug it into their calendar. Reward their help with food, snacks, and beverages. If you’re using a moving company, book them as soon as possible. Believe it or not, there is a moving season just like there’s a wedding season. So find the company you want to use and book them as soon as possible.
5. Pack things you know you won’t need now.
Packing is probably everyone’s least favorite part, but it must be done. Save yourself aggravation by breaking your packing up into sizable chunks. For example, start packing things you know you won’t need. Are you moving in the summer? Then go ahead and pack your winter gear and accessories. Have some niche items you only use during certain times of the year? Pack those away.
Store these already packed boxes in the same location. This way you’re not going on a scavenger hunt during moving day. Label them thoroughly — another thing we’re going to talk about — and make a list of things you’ve packed. Add that to your Moving Paperwork folder for reference.
6. Get your new place geared up.
There’s nothing worse than moving into your new home and the electricity doesn’t work. Like booking help early, do the same with your new home. After you know the date, get in contact with your utility providers and schedule service at your new home. This includes electricity, heat, and water. You’ll also want to request that those same things be turned off at your current home. Be sure to keep records and dates of this in your moving folder. Trust me when I say that folder will come in handy.
7. Make an essentials box.
Another one of the biggest moving mistakes I see is people not making an essentials box. This is a box or two that holds all the major essentials you’ll need on the day you arrive in your new home. This can vary depending on your needs, but some items to consider are:
Toiletries like toothpaste and brush
Cleaning supplies like paper towels and counter cleaner
Toilet paper and hand soap
Change of clothes
Small tools like a hammer, screwdriver, and/or Exacto knife
Paper plates and napkins
Can’t survive a minute without coffee? You might also want to include your coffee maker and a mug or two. What you put in your essentials box is up to you, but be very selective. Limit each family member to one essential box each. Then make one general essential box for shared items like toilet paper and paper plates. You can use suitcases for your essentials as well. Pretend your packing for an overnight trip. That will help you determine what goes in your essentials category.
8. Stock up on supplies.
Don’t wait until the last minute to stock up on supplies. Moving requires a lot of supplies. Boxes, tape, sticky notes, markers, packing material, etc. It can get expensive and fast. If you’re not moving for a while, make a list of supplies and start saving for them. Supply costs should also go in a moving budget. Make sure you buy good, solid boxes. Yes, it’s fine to use old Amazon boxes for small items, but use new boxes for larger pieces. Before buying, always ask friends or family if they have tape you can use and shop your home too. You can also find some great ideas for supplies over on the Moving section of our Shop list.
9. Label your boxes thoroughly.
Mislabeling boxes is one of the most common moving mistakes out there. Simply writing “Kitchen” isn't going to help you. Especially if you have that same word written on 12 boxes. When you label your boxes, label them as thoroughly as you can.
For example, instead of “Kitchen,” you can write “Kitchen: Mugs + Glasses.” Or “Kitchen: Plates + Bowls.” When it comes to your bedroom, write things like “Master Bedroom: Mom Clothes.” Or “Master Bedroom: Vanity.”
Thorough labels will help you unpack the items you need quickly. You’re going to need your plates and glasses before you’ll need your baking pans in the kitchen. Remember how I said to pack things you don’t need first? If you label those boxes thoroughly, you can save them for last and not feel pressured to get them done. If you see a box that says “Skiing Equipment” and it’s June, chances are you won’t need it for a bit. So save it for last.
I’m not saying you need to write a full inventory on the outside of the box. But adding a little more detail will make unpacking a breeze and get your new home in order a lot faster.
If you’re in the planning stages of moving or have a move coming up, don’t let these common moving mistakes ruin the experience for you. There’s no shame in asking for help and here at Imagine It Done NY we have a few partners who might be able to help.
Roadway Moving works with us to provide a seamless moving experience where you don’t have to lift a finger. While we handle the “soft pack up,” Roadway packs all your furniture, art, breakables, electronics, appliances and delivers everything to your new home. Find them and other amazing partners on this page. Need more help? Contact us today and let us know how we can help you during your next move.
Check out this blog on packing by Real Simple.