Moving 101: Top 10 Lessons Learned & Tips that Worked

My sister finally moved into her new apartment yesterday, an experience that was both fun and absurdly stressful at the same time. She was only moving two city blocks so we thought it would be fast and easy- boy were we wrong! Since summer is the season of moving for many folks, here are some lessons learned and some tips that worked for us that will hopefully help anyone facing an upcoming move.

1. No matter how prepared you are, packing up the truck takes longer than you think it will. Getting the furniture out of my sister's apartment, down the hall, into the freight elevator, down another hall, out of the building and onto the truck took us over three hours. Unloading that same truck at the new building where my sister's apartment is on the same floor as the loading dock? Less than 1 hour!

2. If at all possible, consider hiring folks to help with your move. My sister was lucky enough to have friends who previously worked at moving companies volunteer to help so we thought we were all set, until one friend was called into work and another showed up 3 hours late. We managed to get everything done, but next time I would consider paying for help just to ensure we have the bodies we need.

3. Pre-stock the fridge at the new place with beverages. We made sure to have plenty of cold beverages available in the new apartment, and I guarantee the promise of a refreshing treat helped get the truck unloaded faster.

4. Move midweek if you can. Once we realized the move would take longer than expected, we were able to call uHaul and extend our time with no hassle or additional charges- not something that is always possible on a weekend when trucks are often booked back to back.

5. Pay extra for the rented dolly unless you already own one yourself. Piling five boxes on a dolly and wheeling them down the hall is a lot easier than carrying them one by one. Without the furniture dolly, there is no way my sister and I would have been able to manoeuvre her couch, but with the dolly, moving it was a breeze.

6. Pack the truck so the big furniture items are the last in/first out. Especially in a small space, you are much better off getting the couch and bookcases into place and stacking boxes in front of them than vice versa, because trying to rearrange things once the truck is empty creates a massive amount of additional work.

7. Try to have at least a sketchy floorplan of where you want those large furniture items to go. Because the bookcases came off the truck and were popped right into place, my sister and I were able to unpack her 30 boxes of books in a flash at the end of the day, creating an instant feeling of accomplishment as well as clearing a huge amount of floorspace.

8. Get a good night's sleep the day before the move, Moving is stressful and physically demanding, and by the end of the day, tempers will run short, especially if you start the day already tired. The same goes for that first night in your new place- don't stay up half the night trying to unpack or organize. Accept that settling into your new place takes some time and try to enjoy that part of the process.

9. On your way to the truck rental place, keep your eye out for the closest gas station where you can fill up before you return in order to avoid exhorbitant refueling charges. Also remember to budget for gas when you're planning out the cost of your move. Though we were only moving two blocks, we put a total of 15 miles on the truck (no uHaul place close to us) and burned through five gallons of gas (yep- the truck got a whopping three miles to the gallon!)

10. Get it done on moving day even if you're an in-town move. As tempting as it is to look at the last few random bits and think "I'll come back for that tomorrow", the reality is that once you are in your new place, you want to be done with your old place. We went back with the truck for a second load of odds and ends that our helpers thought we should just deal with another day, and though it was a pain, now my sister is done and can simply focus settling into her new apartment.

We would love to hear from readers about your moving advice, so share your moving dos and don'ts in the comments below.

(Image: Shayne Kaye licensed for use under Creative Commons.)