Moving Is the Worst, but These Tips Will Make It Way Less Stressful

Terri Williams

The idea of moving can sound like a great adventure, but for most people, the actual process of moving is a giant headache, or much worse. In fact, a lot of people equate it to some of life's biggest annoyances.

In a recent Comcast Xfinity survey, 19% of respondents said they would rather get a root canal than spend the day moving, and nearly half would choose sitting next to a screaming baby on a one-hour flight over packing up their place. (But what about a two-hour flight?)

Hey, relocating is a reality of life. The good news: There are ways to make it less stressful. No, it won't be a barrel of laughs, but moving doesn't have to be a traumatic experience. So when the time comes, consider putting the following tips to use.

Follow the rule of twos

When you know a move is imminent, there's a tendency to procrastinate, and this adds to the stress. A good way to stay on track is to follow the rule of twos: Start planning two months before moving day, and start packing two weeks before.

“If possible, give yourself eight weeks to handle your moving checklist in an orderly, low-stress manner,” says Laura McHolm, co-founder of NorthStar Moving Co. in Los Angeles. “This will give you time to send change-of-address information, pack up your home, arrange to transfer your child’s school records, etc.”

Make a checklist

Don't even try to commit your moving to-do list to memory!

Laurence Jankelow, co-founder of Avail, a Chicago startup that makes software for landlords, recommends making a checklist that includes the following items:

  • Contacting your utilities company to change or cancel service
  • Scheduling cable and internet installation
  • Updating your home or renters insurance
  • Hiring a moving company
  • Updating your billing address

Think of packing as a marathon, not a sprint

To keep from becoming overwhelmed, pack in sections, going room by room.

“Start with small tasks in each room—each drawer and cabinet are their own victories," says Rambod Mirhossein, project manager at Errands Group LLC in Orange County, CA. Packing should be considered a progressive process, not something you complete overnight.

“And don’t forget as you tape each box closed, label it with the contents and the name of the room where it will be unpacked," Mirhossein says.

Get acquainted with your new floor plan

Don’t make the mistake of assuming that all of your furniture will fit in your new place.

“The room sizes won’t match up exactly, so you’ll want to measure all of your furniture to make sure it will fit where you want it to," says Ross Sapir, founder and CEO of Roadway Moving, in New York City.

He recommends obtaining a copy of your house's floor plan as soon as you close, so you'll have time to make other arrangements (i.e., go shopping) if necessary.

Pack an emergency bag

When you arrive at the house on moving day, you'll want to have easy access to your daily necessities like medicine and a toothbrush.

“Having a box or bag that you can immediately go to that has everything you need to survive a couple of nights is ideal,” says Cameron Brown, co-owner of Einstein Moving Co., in Austin, TX.

He advises packing the following items in this bag or box: toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush, deodorant, soap, and shampoo), an extra change of clothes, a towel, important medications, toilet paper, a book or other entertainment, chargers for cellphone and computer, a checkbook, and other moving essentials.

Arrange parking

If you won’t have a driveway to load and unload the moving truck, Jankelow recommends scoping out where you can park. Don't assume you'll be able to park the truck on the side of the road. Some cities allow you to reserve a parking spot, but make sure you do this well before moving day.

"Some cities require at least a week’s notice, and it can take a couple of business days for the city to post a ‘No Parking’ sign,” he says.

Check in with your moving company

Double-check your reservations with the movers.

“Check in two weeks ahead of time to confirm what time they’ll show up on moving day, and then check in again the day before the move to make sure you’re both on the same page,” Jankelow says.

And while you’re checking reservations, make sure you know what you’re responsible for.

“Unless you're having the movers do absolutely everything, it's likely you will be responsible for some packing prior to moving day,” says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBudda, an online platform.

Every moving company is different, and some have specific requirements. Does everything need to be in cardboard boxes? Do the mattresses need covers?

"Being unprepared on moving day can add a lot of stress and potential extra costs to your move," Carrigan says.

Double-check your lease

Renters, it's extremely important to scan the leases of your old and new homes for any moving day stipulations.

“You might be charged for failing to fulfill any move-out requirements," says Jankelow. These requirements can include using the back door when moving or vacating the unit by a certain time of the day.

“Some landlords may charge a lot of money for even filling a small nail hole—and that’s not an expense you want to add to moving day," he says.

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