10 Tips for a Stress-Free Move

Stress-Free Moving Tips

Summer really is prime moving time. Given the natural break between school years, it makes sense that lots of people (students + parents) choose to schedule moves during this season. The hubs and I have been part of the summer moving club for 10 years (and counting!) and we most recently relocated to a great loft-style apartment in a central neighborhood in San Francisco. With over 17 moves between the 2 of us over the past 10 years, we have developed some solid best practices. Keep reading for our top 10 tips for a stress-free move.

  • REDUCE – 6 weeks prior
    • Start listing excess furniture and household accessories on Craigslist.
    • Go through your closet and list extra clothing and jewelry pieces on ebay.
    • This might sound like more work than it’s worth but a few nice cell phone pictures and clear descriptions later, I was able to generate over $1000 before our most recent move. It covered the cost of our entire move and then some!
    • Donate whatever’s left 1-2 weeks prior to your move.
  • BUDGET – 4 weeks prior
    • Determine how much you anticipate the move will cost – keep in mind those sneaky costs that aren’t always top of mind:
      • Professional cleaning of current residence
      • Travel to new home – gas, food, lodging
      • Moving supplies
    • It’s always more expensive than what you think. Make a best case scenario guess then double that and you will probably end up with an estimate close to the actual cost of your move.
  • HIRE MOVERS – 2-4 weeks prior
    • With your moving budget in mind, start collecting price quotes from multiple moving companies and negotiate rates.
    • With the exception of extremely close friends and family (we love you brothers!), we never expect others to sacrifice a precious weekend day to help us with our move – especially if the move requires super heavy lifting, lots of stairs, or awkward entries/exits. Hiring professionals is the way to go!
    • Unless you are moving locally, it likely makes sense to negotiate a flat fee for your movers. Some services (like Flat Rate) will include 30 days of storage in addition to their moving services. Staying local? Negotiate an hourly rate.
    • If you have expensive furniture pieces that you want to keep in good condition, I would recommend using professional movers with insurance. If you aren’t too worried about your belongings then maybe consider renting a Uhaul and hiring helpers on Craigslist. This could be a great cost savings option for those with smaller budgets (ahem, college students…).
  • UPDATE ADDRESS – 2 weeks prior
    • Sign up for address forwarding through USPS
    • Update your address on all personal accounts:
      • Place of employment
      • Utilities
      • Bank & Credit Cards
      • Voter registration
      • Insurance
      • Car registration 
      • Here is a comprehensive checklist from Lifehacker worth checking out
  • SUPPLIES – 1-2 weeks prior
    • Save money on boxes by using all of your suitcases and duffels to pack belongings.
    • Find cheap or free boxes on Craigslist. Lots of people who move will list their boxes on Free Craigslist for others to use (a good idea for you to consider as well – less waste is always good!). If you choose to buy new, Uhaul lets you return extras.
    • Save money (and reduce waste!) on packing paper by using soft t-shirts, kitchen, bath, and hand towels to wrap fragile items. Long socks work great for protecting stemware.
    • Don’t forget other essentials:
      • Tape
      • Bubble wrap
      • Markers
      • Box cutter
      • Stretch wrap (great for wrapping around drawers so you don’t need to pack the contents!)
      • Sandwich bags (great for containing small parts – tape those baggies to the larger pieces they belong to)
      • Mattress covers – these are a MUST, my favorite are these from Target. They are less than $15 and they zip on so your mattress is fully protected. I always buy two – one for my mattress and another for my box spring. Moving trucks are gross, keep your bed clean.
  • PACK – 1-2 weeks prior 
    • Separate and store your valuables in luggage that you will keep close to you during your travel.
    • Leave your clothes on their hangers and then load into boxes – you’ll thank me for this one.
    • Clearly mark and separate things you will need right away in designated boxes/bags:
      • Toilet paper
      • Paper towels
      • Hand soap
      • All-purpose cleaner
      • A set of plates, bowls, cups, flatware
      • Dish soap & sponge
      • Dish towel(s)
      • Trash bags
      • Rag towels
      • Bath towels
      • Vitamins/medicine
      • A week’s worth of clothing and toiletries
  • ORGANIZE – 1-2 weeks prior
    • Number each box and maintain a numbered list of what is in each corresponding box – you will be able to find necessary items more quickly this way AND you will better ensure that no boxes were lost in transit.
    • Label the SIDES of your boxes so you can read the labels when stacked on top of each other.
    • Color code each box by what room it belongs to. Sticker labels can be helpful for this. Put a colored sticker on each box and on moving day put a post it on the door/entry to each room with the corresponding colored sticker. This will help movers easily understand where to put everything.
  • TRAVEL PREP – 1-2 weeks prior
    • If you’re driving a long distance to your new location, make sure to have your car maintenanced beforehand – oil change, break check, tire rotation, etc.
    • Pack a suitcase with a week’s worth of clothes, toiletries, and personal essentials so you aren’t scrambling to open boxes right after you move in.
  • CLEAN – 0-3 weeks prior
    • Research and hire cleaners for your old place if necessary OR clean as you pack (what I do). As soon as I finish packing one room into boxes I go in with the cleaning supplies and scrub everything down.
    • Save room in your moving budget to get things cleaned you might not clean regularly:
      • Sofa cushion covers
      • Drapes
      • Shower curtains
      • Bedskirts
      • Rugs
    • Before unpacking your new place, it’s a good idea to give the kitchen and bathrooms a good scrub. You don’t want to load dirty cabinets with clean dishware or toiletries!
  • RECORD – 0-1 weeks prior
    • Before leaving your old (hopefully clean!) place, make sure to take photos of every room so that you have proof of the great condition you left it in. These photos will come in handy in the unfortunate chance that the landlord unfairly withholds your security deposit from you for extraneous cleaning and repair costs.
    • Give your new home/apartment a once over before moving boxes in and take photos of anything that isn’t working properly, is stained, cracked, broken, etc. and email to your new landlord to establish that these things won’t be held against you upon move out.
  • RELAX (bonus tip!)
    • You did it! Time to unpack, decorate, and enjoy your new home. Now pour yourself a glass of wine and indulge in some delicious take out. Enjoy!

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