How to Make Your Next Move Cheap, Easy and (Almost) Stress-free

There I was, up at the crack of dawn on moving day and feeling the first waves of panic set in as I wondered if it really was too late to hire professional movers.

But then I thought, “Hey, I’ve done this before. I can do this now. And there’s no way this will be as bad as the time I only had one person to help and we had to get it done between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.”

And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Because after moving seven times in six years, I’ve finally picked up a few tips and have managed to remember them in time to implement them. Here are my helpful tips and my Moving Day Mantra: Be good to your friends, be good to your stuff, be good to yourself.

Be Good to Your Friends

If you plan on moving by yourself, I applaud and strongly caution you; it will not be fun. What I would suggest instead is that you rely on your buddies (or family — that’s even better) to help carry the load. It’s critically important to treat your friends well. You will probably need to move again someday, and they will definitely remember if you made the experience unpleasant for them.

  • Ask your friends well in advance and be clear about what you need from them. Do you need them to help all day? Do they need to bring their cars? Do you expect them to carry incredibly large and heavy pieces of furniture? The more details, the better.
  • Have your stuff ready to go before they arrive. This seems simple, but apparently it bears repeating. You did not ask your friends to help you pack your underwear drawer; you asked them to help you move your underwear drawer.
  • Promise them pizza and beer, and follow through. It’s incredible how much easier moving is when you know that there are food and beverages waiting for you at the end. And if your friends can’t stick around for the post-move feast, make sure you treat them another time. Even this simple “thanks” goes a long way.

Be Good to Your Stuff

Moving boxes
move Image via vtwinpixel/iStock

Just imagine, you’ve climbed the three flights of stairs to your new condo and are nearing the front door when your oversized box containing only your heaviest and most breakable items collapses, and all of your belongings go tumbling down the steps. Or, you could save yourself the worry and make sure you’ve packed everything efficiently and securely.

  • Be smart with your boxes. There’s no need to spend money on “moving boxes” from a hardware store. Go to a liquor store and ask if you can grab some of their empty boxes. They’re meant for heavy bottles, so not only can they hold a lot of weight (much more weight than a foldable cardboard box), but they are free and easy to carry.
  • Save the paper — wrap your breakables in rags, towels and old t-shirts. This allows you to keep your dishes, glassware and other fragile items safe, and pack multiple items at once.
  • Use luggage for your particularly heavy items (like your Encyclopedia Britannica collection). Piling all of your books or other heavy items into a cardboard box is asking for trouble, and at the very least, a sad surprise for the unsuspecting friend who tries to move it. Instead, pile it all into your travel luggage, ideally the kind with wheels.

Be Good to Yourself

moving van with boxes and furniture
Image via totalpics/iStock

Remember, moving day is not the day to be a hero. Plan ahead to make the day as easy as possible and eliminate the stresses that you know are going to arise.

  • Yes, you should rent a truck. And I don’t mean a pickup truck — I mean a plus-sized, covered rental. Perks include: They are fun to drive, they are surprisingly inexpensive and you can move all of your belongings in one shot. While you can theoretically get it done in 10 trips using your friend’s 1998 Nissan Frontier, you shouldn’t.
  • Check your new home’s parking situation in advance. You don’t want to show up with a 20-foot trailer and discover that there’s nowhere to legally leave your vehicle while you unload your stuff.
  • Register your new address two weeks before you move. You’ll want to make sure your work, bank, the post office and the DOL all know your new address. And don’t forget to get internet set up ahead of time, so that you don’t have to go without for the first few days in your new place.

My most recent move was actually a pleasant experience, and it’s because I (finally) thought about it all ahead of time. If there’s one lasting lesson, it’s that by fighting procrastination and an inherent lack of planning, you too can make your next moving experience a positive one, even on the cheap.

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