There are many things in life that can cause stress. Finances, family, and health are top concerns. Work is right up there, too. But in many surveys, one of the most stressful life events is moving. Uprooting, packing all of your belongings, and reestablishing yourself in a new living space can seem daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, if you do it right, moving can be much less stressful. With that in mind, here is our step-by-step guide to stress-free moving.

Planning Is Everything in a Stress-Free Move

Are you a natural planner? Are your sucks rolled up and arranged by color in your drawer. If you answered yes, then you are well on your way. But for the rest of us, planning and organization may not come so naturally. Nevertheless, as you approach your big move, this is the time to buckle down and get organized.

Even if it’s not your style, a stress-free move is going to require plenty of lists, pre-planning, and careful organization. But don’t worry if the idea of a personal spreadsheet makes you shudder. This step-by-step guide will get you through the rough stuff and set you on a path to a stress-free move.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Stress-Free Moving [infographic]

Two Months Before Moving Day - Moving Quotes

Now is the time to start contacting moving companies. It may still seem like the move is pretty far off, but waiting could be costly. Especially if you are moving in spring or summer—peak moving times—moving company schedules fill up fast. Don’t be surprised if you contact a company even this far in advance and they can’t give you your ideal move date. If you can be a little flexible, ask about moving a day or two before or after your goal date. If you need to hit a specific day, don’t despair. Two months should be enough lead time to secure your date.

Most experts suggest you get three quotes from three moving companies. You might be surprised by how much the costs can vary. Keep in mind that the initial quote may not reflect the final amount you pay. Be sure to ask about charges for extra boxes (you never know) and any other last-minute changes that could affect the price.

Also, don’t overlook insurance. Unless you really have nothing of value, insurance is a good investment. The minimum required coverage by law is hardly enough to make you whole in case of lost or damaged items. When comparing quotes, make sure that you are comparing comparable insurance, too. 

When you get your quotes, make sure you know who you are hiring. Especially for long-distance moves, many local companies are actually affiliates of larger national companies. If you get a quote from two local movers who both work with the same long-distance mover, you’re not really getting two quotes.

Two Months Before Moving Day - The Great Purge

Now is also the time to start the great purge. It doesn’t pay to move things you won’t want in your new home. Get rid of items you no longer need, clothes you don’t wear or that don’t fit, and anything you don’t want to take with you. Ideally, do this before you get your quotes, so your quote reflects what you are actually moving. If that’s too much pre-planning, just give the movers an idea of what you’re not taking so they can adjust their quote.

One Month Before Moving Day - Start Packing

As early as a month prior to your move, you can start your packing. Obviously, you can’t pack away your kitchen utensils or your favorite pair of pants. But if you look around your home, you will be surprised by how many things you could live without for a month. These will be the first items to get packed away. Starting a month ahead of time and packing for an hour or two at a time will make the whole job more manageable as the date gets closer

This is also the time to start purchasing packing materials. One tip: You need more materials than you think. However many boxes you expect to use, however much tape, packing paper, and bubble wrap you think you need, buy more. You can always return materials you don’t use. But having the materials on hand when you are ready to pack is much more efficient than running out to buy more when you’re in the middle of packing.

It can be hard to estimate how many boxes you will need, but consider what you are moving. For heavy items, like books and smaller kitchen appliances, get book boxes. They can hold more weight, and they are smaller than other boxes. The small size will keep you from overloading a box and then discovering that you can barely lift it. On the other hand, for light bulky items like linens and bedding, you will need some pretty big boxes. We also recommend getting some giant ziplock bags, or even vacuum bags. They will protect your linens and help save space.

Besides your boxes, get lots and lots of packing tape, bubble wrap, and packing paper. Count your cups, dishes, and other fragile items, and purchase accordingly. There are special boxes and packing materials for cups, plates, and other breakable items. Don’t try to save money here. Using the right packing materials will avoid broken items.

One Month Before Moving Day - Arrange Your Schedule

Expect to take time off for the move. If you can get a couple of days off, do that. The day before the move and the day of the move will be really busy. Arrange now to get off of work or any other commitments. If you can only take one day, take your moving day. But expect some late nights and plenty of last-minute details. Even if you plan well, there are some last-minute items you can’t avoid, like deep cleaning and packing items that you can’t go without for more than a day or two.

If you have friends or family you can recruit for packing help, give them a heads up now. Having an extra set of hands can be a huge help. And be polite. Offering food and beverages is a great way to thank people. For friends who will be helping you in the final days, remember that your kitchen will be packed away. Consider food that you can purchase ready-to-eat, like pizza and canned beverages.

One Week Before Moving Day - Pack Almost Everything

When you hit the one week mark, it’s time to start packing even the things you use frequently. Unless it’s something you really can’t live without (like toiletries and your most frequently worn clothes), pack it now. Hopefully, you’ve been packing for a few weeks already and have most of your stuff in boxes. Once you are within a week of moving day, everything has to go in boxes.

Now is also the time to pack even your everyday necessities, but not in boxes. Start a suitcase for your last few outfits. Put your toiletries in a case. And now is also the time to pack any valuables that you want to transport yourself. Be honest with yourself. If you can go without it for a week, put it in a box. Only carry with you what you absolutely need.

One Week Before Moving Day - Tie Up Loose Ends

Now is the time to take care of anything that needs to happen before moving day. Fill out a change of address with the US Postal Service. Contact your utility companies to arrange to end service as of your moving date. Besides gas, electric, and water, don’t forget your trash pickup, tv, internet, and any services like landscapers or pest control.

As your home empties out and boxes are centralized in the middle of rooms, take the opportunity to do a deep clean. If you are renting, you will need to get your home really clean if you want your deposit back. It’s ok to ask your landlord or management company what you need to do. It may prevent you from unnecessary cleaning and tell you where to focus your energies.

Tell your friends you are moving. By now, most of your friends hopefully know. But now is the time to make sure everyone has your new address. If you are moving out of state or far away, take some time to see your friends before you go. This is undoubtedly a busy time, but take a moment to breathe, too.

The Day Before - Everything Must Go

By the time the day before your move ends, everything must be packed and ready to go. Think of yourself as camping out. Your kitchen is packed away. So are your linens and any toiletries you don’t need daily. Order in for dinner, or, if you prepared well and have the time, go out to eat and celebrate your upcoming move. Pack an overnight bag for moving day and the day after, and get lots of sleep. You need to be at the top of your game for move day. If you’ve lived in your home for a while, take the opportunity to bid your home farewell. Take a few pictures. You’ll be glad you did.

Moving Day

The big day is finally here. At this point, if you planned well and followed the steps above, the movers should be the one doing most of the work. However, you will still have some responsibilities. Once the furniture is out, do one last deep clean to reach spots that were blocked. You’ll be amazed what’s been hiding behind large, immovable pieces of furniture.

Take good care of yourself and the people around you. Remember that you need to eat. You may not have a kitchen, but you can purchase snacks ahead of time or order easy-to-eat takeout. Also, have plenty of bottled water on hand for you, your helpers, and the movers. Even if the movers have their own, offering water is a nice gesture.

Make Sure You Have the Right Movers

It’s always good to get multiple quotes from at least three moving companies. But how do you know who to choose? As we recommend with any business you hire, do your research. Check reviews, look them up on the Better Business Bureau, and ask for references. Ask for proof of insurance and licenses, too. Still, it can be hard to find out everything you’d like to know about a moving company. Luckily, TrustDALE has done some of the work for you.

When you hire a TrustDALE certified moving company, you can rest assured that there will be no unpleasant surprises. Every moving company we recommend has passed our seven-point investigative review process. We can guarantee that they offer excellent service and competitive prices. Plus, every TrustDALE certified mover is backed by Dale’s $10,000 Make-It-Right™ Guarantee.

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