Moving: How to transport the belongings of your home

I’m not sure there are words to fully express my feelings of loathing about moving. After a week of boxing up our things, moving the things to the new house, and starting to unbox our things, my animosity about moving has only deepened.

I’m of the opinion that if you can afford it, you should have professional movers handle the entire process for you — packing, moving, unpacking. At the very least, have professionals take care of the moving part. Your body and mind will greatly appreciate not carrying boxes and fighting with large pieces of furniture.

Our move is actually happening in two parts, and we decided to only get movers for the second part. Since we are selling our old house, we needed to leave some furniture in it to stage it. Staging a house is when you make it look like a home that belongs in a magazine or catalog — no personal items, no clutter, and nothing in the cabinets or storage areas. Our real estate agent told us that staging a home can improve the sales process because it allows people to see the space in use, but also imagine their lives in the home.

As a result, our dining table, chairs, bookshelves, and other large pieces of furniture are still in the old house. These items will remain there until someone buys our place, and then we’ll have professional movers come and do the heavy lifting for us.

Unfortunately, this means we handled the first part of the move on our own. We carried boxes and boxes and boxes out of our old house, into a van, out of the van, and into our new house. I’m honestly surprised I have enough arm strength after carrying so many boxes to type this post.

The following are lessons learned about moving from this experience and the 14 times I’ve moved previously:

  • As previously stated, if you can afford it, hire professional movers to take care of the move for you.
  • If you can’t hire movers, the first thing you should do is have a lot of drinking water and food on hand. You don’t want to get dehydrated or hungry during this process. You need as much energy as possible to keep you going and in a good mood.
  • When loading a moving truck or van, I like to put the heaviest objects in a U-shape against the sides and back wall of the space. Mattresses, couches, dining tables, and dressers are the things that I usually load first.
  • Use blankets to wrap the objects and keep them from being damaged.
  • In the open space at the center of the van, I stack the heaviest boxes in a single layer on the floor. Then, I build up boxes from heaviest to lightest and from back to front. Since you tried your best to get absolutely everything into boxes, you shouldn’t have much left after creating your tower of boxes.
  • Play a game of Tetris and fit in the last, unboxed items. Again, use blankets to wrap these items to protect them from damage.
  • Get a large padlock and lock up the truck.
  • When you arrive at your destination, plan to unload the truck in the opposite order, starting with the unboxed items and finishing with the large furniture.

Be sure to check out our article “Moving: How to pack your home” and the comments for advice on packing. The next article in this series will cover the more pleasant, yet still mentally demanding process of unpacking. Also, please share any advice you have about the actual moving stage in the comments to this post.

43 Comments for “Moving: How to transport the belongings of your home”

  1. posted by Holly on

    I’m with you on hating the whole act of moving. The last time we moved we paid professional movers to actually move our stuff. We still did the packing and unpacking of boxes. It wasn’t cheap, but it was so worth the money.

  2. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    Moving sucks. There’s no way around it. My tip: Unless you have a lot of stairs to deal with, it’s totally worth borrowing or renting a couple of handtrucks/dollies/carts (if you don’t already own any) to help you move the boxes. You can move twice as much per trip with less strain on your back and arms.

    And make sure you’re not packing too much in your boxes. If you can barely lift it, it’s overpacked. Use smaller boxes for heavy things (books) and bigger boxes for light things (comforters). It seems obvious, but after helping countless friends move countless times, apparently not.

  3. posted by DawnF on

    We had ice-cold Gatorade for our movers when we all got to the new house. It’s interesting how perky and friendly they became as I handed out cold bottles of beverages to everyone. I also made sure that I had cash on hand for tips at the end.

    One trick that I found HUGELY helpful was when we removed pictures/frames/art from the wall I immediately taped the nail/hook from the wall that belonged to that picture/frame/art to the back of it so we could easily and quickly hang it back up at the new place.

    Good luck, Erin as you continue your moving process! Keep us posted – so we can all learn from your experience!

  4. posted by AdrienneMay on

    I hate moving, but alas, I know that we will be moving again soon. It seems like something always happens to something that I love, but I love your tips, especially the taping the tack/nail to the picture so you don’t have to hunt for a new one to rehang it.

  5. posted by Michele on

    We moved several times in stages within a 6 month period of time. I moved to a new city with the dogs, while my hubby stayed in the ‘staged’ home to work up until retirement and sell the house. We only left what he absolutely had to have in the home to get by and everything else was sorted, tossed, donated, or packed and labeled and put into a storage unit in boxes only big enough for me to lift alone comfortably. (My husband has a bad back)
    We did this major sort/pack over a 2 month period so it was relatively painless.
    I took everything I could fit to minimally get through life with 4 dogs in the bed of my pick up truck…that included a blow up queen sized bed and the dogs! I bought two folding tables and two folding chairs at Costco and an inexpensive couch ($40) at Goodwill. 5 years later, we use the tables and chairs all the time in the garage, in the back yard, when we have large parties or to extend our dining room table for Thanksgiving!
    My husband moved after retirement and he brought everything he could cram in to his pick up truck.
    When the house sold, we contacted a moving company and they came and picked up all the furniture and boxes in the storage unit and brought them to our new rental house 6 weeks later. That’s when I donated the couch back to Goodwill!
    We bought a house 6 months later, and since the rent was incredibly cheap on the rental, kept it an additional 2 weeks to pack up everything and move two pick up truck loads at a time to the new house. We also called a moving company to pick up and deliver the furniture.
    It was a very painless move, even though it was snowing for the entire two weeks! We didn’t have any help, because we didn’t know anyone in the new town.
    I’d say planning and preparation are the key and making sure you have sufficient time and resources. If we had not saved up enough money to arrange for two movers, and researched price and reviews of the movers, it could have been a lot worse.As it was, it only cost us 4 tanks of gas for each pick up truck for both moves, (we moved 1000 miles away to a different state) $900 for the first moving company, $300 for the storage unit, $100 for the second moving company, and just a little time and effort for the boxes and packing materials- it was all either donated, or freecycle or obtained from local stores.

  6. posted by Andrew Spencer on

    Wise words and fun to read – Andrew
    Andrew Spencer writes informative and useful articles on office furniture including home office, office desks and office chairs.

  7. posted by Dawn Faletto on

    Last time I moved I got all my boxes from the local Barnes and Noble. This meant that almost all my boxes were not only the same size, but the perfect size to move my books (all eight bookcases worth). Having the same size boxes really made packing the moving van much, much more efficient!

  8. posted by Elaine on

    I’m still in the “sell pretty much everything you own and borrow your uncle’s minivan” phase and you know, it’s really nice.

  9. posted by John on

    Simple advice if you hire movers. I worked a summer in college for a moving company and learned a lot about packing/moving myself but also about how to treat your moving crew if you hire someone to do it.

    As someone mentioned before you can dramatically change the attitude and work habits of your team by simply being friendly and offering cold drinks and lunch. The majority of people offer nothing (not even water) so if you buy them sandwiches or pizza and some drinks they will be happy.

    Also when they show up immediately find the crew chief. If he makes a pre-visit you can do this then too but make sure it’s the same guy the day of the trip. You want to find the guy that is managing the crew on that day. Find out what you can do to make their day easier, tell them you’ll be buying lunch, and impress upon them how much you appreciate them working in this heat, cold, rain, multiple level house, whatever. Then tell him to find you when you’re done for their tip (yes tip) and ask him if he’d prefer it be given to each guy individually or to him to distribute to the team.

    Yes you already paid for the moving service but these small things can have a big impact on your move. The guys packing and hauling the stuff aren’t seeing the big dollars. They are getting an hourly rate and whatever tip you choose to give (some people give nothing). They are human beings and right or wrong how you treat them will impact how much care and effort they put into your job.

  10. posted by Kate on

    I believe very strongly in the opposite way of loading a moving van. Put the boxes in first (heaviest on the bottom), then the loose unpacked larger items, and the heavy furniture MUST go in last.

    Especially if you have a team of professionals, or a team of friends, who will be unloading.

    The furniture comes out of the truck first, and you can direct it into it’s final resting place. The loose items like lamps or tvs can come out next – again, directly to their home. The boxes come out last, and are piled in an out-of-the-way space in the correct room for each box.

    Then you can sit on your sofa, in a comfortable house, to unpack your boxes.

    There is nothing worse, than a row 3 deep of boxes stacked along the wall where your sofa or bed is supposed to go, and no one can use the sofa or bed or table or chair until all the boxes have been re-shifted out of the way. Move things ONCE and you shouldn’t have to re-move them again for days or weeks after a move before your house is livable.

    The exception to this is critical kitchen or bathroom boxes. If possible, move those over and unpack them before your moving truck even shows up, so that you have a working kitchen and bathroom when the moving truck arrives. It will make your move 1000 times more comfortable!

  11. posted by chacha1 on

    I’m having trouble remembering whether our movers put furniture in first, or boxes, the last time we moved – I think it was furniture first. BUT I do remember we provided food, beverages, and tips – and we got fast, friendly, careful service.

    If you’re diligent about labeling your items, the movers can better arrange things so that you can get into the rooms to use them as well as to unpack. If furniture placement is a real priority (i.e. you don’t want to have to shift things yourself), label BR/DR/LR boxes to go in the garage or a spare room.

    Another tip: for moving artwork: if it is one of a kind, irreplaceable, and you love it – move it yourself. Otherwise, wrap it very carefully yourself and set it aside in a group marked “Load Last, Unload First.”

    Final tip: coffee. If you have a big party-size carafe, fill it. If not, go get a party box from Starbucks for moving day.

  12. posted by Sassy on

    I am SO with you on having professionals handle it. After my husband and I moved ourselves from our apartment to our first house (we had help with the aquarium and two pieces of furniture), I was known to burst into tears if he used the “M” word — it took years and having enough money to hire movers before I would even consider the possibility!

  13. posted by Jane on

    Kate took the words out of my mouth – the last thing you want to be doing is a tango around boxes while carrying a heavy item of furniture.

  14. posted by Anita on

    I second (third?) Kate and Jane’s point about loading boxes first, furniture last. It can distribute the weight of the van/truck a bit awkwardly if your furniture is really heavy, but if you are (or have) a good driver, this shouldn’t be a problem. And only having to lift heavy things once and not needing to rearrange them several times is a BIG plus.

    I must be the odd one out, in that I don’t mind moving. I don’t love heavy lifting or dealing with cat freakouts, but packing, unpacking and especially getting to customize a space to make it my own is my kind of fun.

  15. posted by Celeste on

    I totally agree with using the dolly/handtruck. Never carry one box when you can be rolling several.

    My only unpacking advice is to arrive early to wipe down/sweep cabinets and closets where you’ll be storing items. Get those bookshelves and/or dressers and other storage pieces inside and dusted if necessary before you open any boxes to unpack. When you unpack, the item needs to go into/onto the new storage place. You cannot just have a table or counter full of stuff that has to be relocated. Only handle it once, FTLOG (for the love of God).

    I agree with the box tango. We didn’t make this clear to our amateur moving staff once, and they’d just walk in and drop boxes. It was hell.

    Figure out how you’re going to handle the debris generated from unpacking. Will you flatten boxes or stack them for curbside trashpickers? Will you put them in the garage for the first Craigslister who can get there? Will you bag up the newsprint? If you don’t have to wade through packing debris at any time, your psyche will be so much happier.

    And yes, I learned all of this by not doing it. Experience is what you get when you didn’t have good judgement.

  16. posted by STL Mom on

    I’m with you, Erin — moving stinks!
    We’ve done some partial moves, and if you can afford it, hire movers by the hour to load and unload your truck. It cost us about $300, including tip, to hire three men for two hours. The work that would have take us all day took them an hour and fifteen minutes, and then they repeatedly asked if there was anything else they could do for us, since we were paying for a two-hour minimum. We could have paid almost $300 for massage therapy, spackle, and touch-up paint if we had moved things ourselves, so I thought it was a good deal.
    Back when we were young we did it all ourselves. I remember my husband and my brother carrying a sofa four blocks to our new apartment so we wouldn’t have to rent a truck. Every once in a while they would set the sofa down on the sidewalk and sit on it to rest.

  17. posted by Liz on

    I may be the only person in the world who loves moving, but I really, really do!

    I relish the opportunity to look at LITERALLY everything you own with a pack or purge mentality. It gives you such a feeling of a clean slate, and parameters for what you keep… I also love the planning and process of starting over in a new space, unpacking and moving in and seeing all your familiar things in a new environment. Sure it’s exhausting, but I’m such a planner and a list-maker (and just the teensiest bit of a control freak) that the process of moving just feeds into my personality quirks. Nothing gets me in an organized frame of mind like a cardboard box, a room full of stuff and a sharpie! πŸ™‚

    We love our condo we’re in now, and aren’t planning on moving any time soon, so I am constantly jealous of people who have that opportunity!

  18. posted by Patti on

    Use bath towels, washcloths, dish towels, blankets, comforters, pillows, even clothes, and other soft items to wrap breakable dishes, lamps, picture frames, etc. No moving paper or plastic to recycle or dispose of, no black fingers from newsprint, and fast unpacking

    Last time I moved I stored kitchen flatware and small utensils inside a couple of 2 qt plastic juice pitchers; saves space inside the box to pack small items inside larger ones

    I also (at the time) had one of those large outdoor wheeled garbage cans w/ a lid ( the inside was already relatively clean as it always had a good bag inside, so I used the can to move household chemicals like bleach, toilet cleaner, multipurpose cleaners, toilet brush, etc. Kept all the hazardous stuff in one safe place, the handles that locked onto the lid kept the contents secure, the built-in wheels made transporting it easy, and because all cleaning supplies were in one place, unpacking was also easy

  19. posted by mona on

    RE: the post about tipping and providing food and beverages for movers. I have heard this from many others, I don’t get why movers expect so much extra consideration than anyone else who you hire for household labor. Why can’t they plan for their own lunch? I can understand tipping of course should the service be adequate and we did provide coffee and donuts for our movers in the morning as a courtesy, but even that I consider to be “extra,” it seems like movers have come to expect all beverages and a full meal be provided, I don’t understand this, homeowners are stressed out enough on moving day to have to deal with food for the movers in addition to everything else.

  20. posted by Mike on

    I see a lot of good suggestions both in the article and in the comments. You folks have gotten pretty savvy about this topic, I see. All I would add to this (besides an emphatic echo of @Kate that pre-moving the kitchen and bathrooms is an essential step) is that if you have notebook computers, a valuable baseball card collection, or whatever along those lines, probably best to move that yourself in your car, or even leave it in care of a friend (for in-town moves), rather than having it be “in the loose” during the moving process. I moved once and was missing a box of valuable Magic: the Gathering cards at the end of the move. I ended up finding it (someone had subsumed it into another box and it turned up during unpacking) but for a few days there I thought I had been seriously either robbed or just lost the goods.

    One other thing I would suggest is that we can “unclutter” the headline. It could simply read “Moving: How.” πŸ™‚

  21. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    I would suggest that also before ever packing for the move, that you have uncluttered and organized as much as possible. Also, especially if moving out of town, use up as much food in your pantry and frige as possible. And, have all laundry washed and clean. Don’t want to have to worry about dirty laundry as you are getting unpacked.
    I haven’t moved in over 20 years, but I have helped oldest daughter move about 6 or 7 times. These are things I have learned, but have not yet been implemented in her moves, lol!

  22. posted by Rosemary on

    You tip your movers? Wow!

    Makes me glad to be an Aussie where we don’t tip anyone. We pay a price for a service and we don’t pay anything else.

    I do have cold drinks on hand, but that is just common hospitality. I don’t do lunches. Bring your own.

  23. posted by ecuadoriana on

    I have moved a LOT during my life- more times than I can count. I’ve always moved myself, because I actually like the packing process! The whole spacial-relationship thing is like a puzzle (my friends call me to pack their suitcases for trips. I have such a knack for packing!). Anyway, moving is a good time to weed out the stuff I don’t want, so it’s the ultimate opportunity for decluttering PRIOR to moving it into the new place only to discover it doesn’t fit, or doesn’t work in the new space! Like, if you are moving from a New England Colonial to a South West Adobe style, you had better be prepared to discover how out of place, & out of proportion, your furnishing will look!! Trust me, that antique spinning wheel looks awesome by the hearth in Maine, but looks completely ridiculous in Miami!

    All the suggestions are excellent, but here is MY number one tried & true method for moving yourself: After you decide you are going to move find out all the dimensions of the truck/trailer you plan to rent (inside dimensions, height, width, length!). Then get a roll of masking tape & a tape measure. Block off a HUGE corner in your house (I use a room that doesn’t get as much traffic like the dining room) using the masking tape to mark off the spaces for each size truck- don’t forget the height & don’t forget to allow for overhead of the roll up door, which could knock up to 10″ off your measured height (they don’t tell you that at the truck rental place!)! Write those dimensions with sharpee marker on the tape. Then as you pack boxes start “loading” them into the “truck/trailer” space. If you don’t have a big enough space in one room, break it into 2 spaces in 2 rooms.

    This method saves so much aggravation on that rainy or sweltering hot day when you start loading that long reserved truck only to discover the “T
    ten pounds of manure in a five pound sack” syndrome (what my grandmother used to call it when one tried to cram too much stuff into too small a space!).

    I also start breaking down & moving the furniture into that space as well. Some things like sofas, beds, dressers, etc. that you are still living with during the packing process can be measured and then the space marked off in your “truck” space with masking tape with the words “sofa” written on the tape. The heights can be marked with masking tape along the boxes stacked next to the sofa space or the wall. I sometimes will stand up a sheet of cardboard to indicate the height of the piece of furniture. But I do try to pack as many pieces of furniture into my space as possible before hand anyway.

    I have used this method every time I plan on moving & it works great! Never fails. I start “packing” my truck space & know right away the size truck I will need! The rental places say you need a certain size truck based on a certain amount of furniture per room. But it’s NEVER equal to how people really live (U-Haul actually has a virtual 3-D moving video on their website to show you how to pack your furniture into the truck. So NOT in any way similar to my household furnishings!

    If one is moving a huge household of stuff (several bedrooms, garage/basement full of work benches, etc., for example) then obviously you wouldn’t have a tractor trailer worth of space in your house. THAT is when you’d be calling the professionals anyway.

    Good luck with your move Erin!

  24. posted by Mletta on

    I don’t know how you found the time or physical energy to move yourself. The last move from apartment-to-apartment that I did, partly on my own, I was in my early thirties. It was exhausting. NEVER again. Even though big pieces were moved by a moving company, I thought I would save money and time by doing the boxes myself. Big Mistake.

    A few years ago, I moved back from a short stint in Boston (I had stayed in a furnished rental, but I still had a lot of stuff because I had to set up an office in the rental space and I need my personal objects!). I ached for days. I had help loading up the mini-van in Boston, but no help unloading it into my building in NYC, into the elevator, out of the elevator and into my apartment. (No super or porters around on weekends!) That wasn’t the plan but the “help” never showed up. ALWAYS have a Plan B.

    If you have the money and can find decent help (or reliable friends), always get someone else to physically move it. You will be busy enough packing it and unpacking it once it’s in place. It’s one thing if you don’t work, don’t have kids or are in superb physical shape and are killer-young. Then, maybe you can do it. But that’s not most of us.

    As for how you place stuff in a van, we always place big pieces in last (providing they can fit that way) so they are first off the truck. You want whoever is moving to get the toughest stuff out and in first.

    It’s really critical to use dollies and handtrucks as much as you can both coming and going. Why carry boxes if you can load three or four on a handtruck and move it out? You’d be surprised how many movers don’t use handtrucks or dollies, a sure sign they are trying to extend the time if you are billed by the hour.

  25. posted by TMichelle on

    I feel terrible! We have had professional movers move us several times and I just now know about tipping them. πŸ™

  26. posted by Cami on

    Oddly enough, I like moving. The challenge of fitting everything into a new home, repurposing items, reorganizing every room from scratch…these are a few of my favorite things. *hums*

    One year we moved five times, and yes, I had a toddler. Most of the moves were across town, and I always moved my kitchen FIRST, usually in the trunk of my car, even if it took two trips. That way everything was where I wanted it to be, and ready to go. After the kitchen is in place, everything else is easy.

    I’ve even thrown a housewarming party the same weekend I moved. Nothing will make you empty the boxes faster than knowing people are coming over in less than 24 hours!

  27. posted by Another Deb on

    As someone who once moved herself out of, into, out of and into three different upstairs apartments in a three week space of time in three different states, my advice is to have a GOOD supply of ice and anti-inflammatory meds at the ready.

  28. posted by Kel on

    Sadly based on personal experience it needs to be said, if you are fortunate enough to have friends help you 1. be packed and ready to go when they show at the time you specified. 2. thank them 3. don’t complain or blame them for your lack of planning. 4. Cold drinks in the summer, hot in the winter and springing for a pizza at the end of the day will go a long way towards maintaining a good friendship.

  29. posted by Elizabeth on

    Very timely post…we moved last week and are still unpacking. We got our supplies from Freecycle…moving boxes, wardrobe boxes, packing paper and bubble wrap. We’ve already lined up someone to take the boxes once we’re finished.

    Another tip…make sure your movers are “fresh”. Ours had another job that morning, and by the time they got to our move, they were beat. I found that it’s very hard to whip a tired horse, even if you’re paying by the hour. We finally called it at 8:00 p.m. even though they had scheduled another trip to move the rest. We ended up doing that part ourselves.

    The best thing I did…I only packed and moved the things I love and use. With three kids and 12 years in the same house, we had a LOT of stuff. I left everything in the room where it was used and had a giant moving sale. I made $600 and had a charity truck pick up all the leftovers (an entire truck-full to bless needy families). I won’t miss any of it, and it feels really good to help others and start our new home relatively clutter-free.

    I used part of the proceeds from the moving sale to hire cleaners for the vacant house. I am considering hiring a cleaning service for the new house, too. Nothing makes me feel like a horrible housekeeper more than moving. When that king sized bed was dismantled, I was horrified to see what had collected underneath.

    Moving also made me realize what great friends I have…one couple spent the entire weekend with us, wrapping china, cleaning, and keeping us motivated. Another sent a very sweet framed prayer for our new house and a generous gift card for the nearest garden center.

    Next task…figure out how to remove the door frame where all our children’s heights were measured on their birthdays and bring it to the new house.

  30. posted by JustGail on

    Yet more good advice from everyone – I hope I don’t need to use it for a very very long time. I guess the only thing I’d add is for those who have the luxery of advance warning and the ability to move bits at a time. Our last move, was from house A (lived there for 25+ years) to house B (we built it, so we had months to get ready). I was going to go through and toss/donate items that no longer needed. I kept thinking I had a few months to get this accomplished. I’m sure many of you know where this is going by now. Time snuck by, I was making a bit of progress, house B was almost done, we listed house A. It sold. Fast. So all of a sudden the 2-3 months we thought we probably would have suddenly turned into 1 month. We moved a lot of stuff that we didn’t need to. ALL by the DH and me, with a bit of help form the DS (who was 8 at the time).

    I guess that’s a long-winded cluttery way of saying don’t count on having all the time you think you have to sort and pack, unless it’s in writing. Start early, and keep at it!

  31. posted by Re on

    I hate moving. The last time I moved I hired movers and treated them well by providing gatorade, sandwiches for lunch and tipping them. Each of the movers personally thanked me for the gatorade, sandwiches, and tip. They finished up two hours earlier than the estimate, not one thing was broken and they put everything exactly where I wanted it. Their finishing early saved me a nice amount of money. I still think those sandwiches were one of the best investments I ever made!

  32. posted by Aunt Cloud on

    If you know anyone who works in a lab (research or medical – doesn’t matter), ask them for petri dishes boxes. They are the perfect size for books and perfectly cubic and stackable.

    Also, numbering the boxes and writing the contents of each box in a notebook was hugely helpful, especially when packing the kitchen. You know you should unpack box #15 (dinner plates, utensils, chopping board) before box #1 (roasting pan, cake stand), and the last couple of boxes I realized I didn’t really need do they all went straight out the door.

  33. posted by Andrew Mac on

    Erin, you mention using a van or truck for moving. For those using a TRAILER, the way to pack is almost opposite. It is best to have the heavier items closest to the vehicle pulling the trailer and definitely in front of the trailer wheels. With the weight on the front, the trailer coupler connects more securely with the hitch ball. This connection keeps the trailer safe during transport. Hope this helps!

    Everybody else, we are moving in June and these tips are great!

  34. posted by Gal @ Equally Happy on

    My fiance and I just moved in together. She hired movers ($500), I did not. By 2pm her move was done and she was reading a book on the sofa. By 5pm my move was still going. It was painfully slow and I managed to wreck a nice dresser by dropping it from the truck.

    I will never again try to do something like this on my own. It’s not worth it in terms of time and effort.

  35. posted by Robert Wall on

    The idea of buying lunch for people is a good idea regardless.

    If you have a smaller amount of stuff and a relatively easy move (moving out of a 1st floor apartment, into a 1st floor house, for instance), you might be able to get six to ten friends to show up and help you just for the price of several pizzas and a case or two of soda/beer. I’ve seen this done before, and if everything is packed up and ready to go it can be a pretty efficient process.

    Every time I move I actually haul most of the boxes and items around, but I have a friend of mine come over to help – not really to haul boxes or anything, but to make sure doors are open/shut appropriately, help me get the truck backed in where it needs to go, and do other misc. little things where I basically just need another set of hands.

  36. posted by Mary on

    7 years ago we bought a house closer to my husband’s work. We paid to stay an extra month in the rented house and every night my husband would load up the car and in the morning on the way to work, he would stop at the new house, and we would unload it. He slept in the rental and I stayed in the new house (the first thing we had moved was my home office). Also, that month gave him time to build a run for the dog. We only had help for the large appliances. I don’t know if we would do it that way again, but it allowed both of us to continue working and gave us plenty of time to unpack and think about where we were going to put stuff.

  37. posted by Kate on

    For my last move two years ago, one of the best things I did was buy rolls of dayglo duct tape in two colors.

    The boxes I would need right away post-move containing stuff such as toiletries, night clothes, cell phone charger, cat food, etc. had one color of tape quickly wrapped around the box, which helped me to remember to load it last and to find it when it came time to unpack, without a ton of tedious labeling. I probably had about 5-6 boxes total labeled this way and it REALLY helped.

    The 2nd color I used for fragile/breakable items which again helped me and my friends take special care in the loading and stacking at the new house, and the eventual unpacking.

    But since I’m now in my 40s as are most of my friends (or older!), the big lesson I learned is: next time, use professional movers. Drinks and food and Advil — all of which I supplied — are great, but I think I’m too damn old to ask my friends for heavy lifting!

  38. posted by mae on

    friends moved across country … rented large van and pulled car behind it… wife followed in a second car… hired men to move the furniture to the truck at first site and then hired men to move the furniture into the house at the other end… lots less expensive for sure… would consider doing that for small moves….

  39. posted by Carol on

    Wow! My first comment on this site even though I’ve been following it for a few months now! I just have to tell you how my DH and I handled it 30 years ago! We lived off paper plates, microwavable food (micros were a new thing back then!) or take out. You must have hand trucks and dollies. With them you can move hundreds of pounds. But our big secret was that we backed the truck up right over the lawn to as close to the steps as possible and used 2 planks (2×12 x whatever length you need). the 2 planks went side by side from the end of the truck to the doorway and right into the house. We then just rolled everything off the truck into the house. Thank God it didn’t rain. It worked when we were young and strong but now….movers sound real good to me!! Good Luck Erin. Carol

  40. posted by Suzy on

    I’ve moved a few times, but last spring a friend had to move cross country & we took the time & packed half of a semi-trailer/moving truck.

    The moving company dropped the trailer in the parking area of the apartment building & my friend & I loaded the stuff into the semi. It was supposed to come with a ramp, but “they didn’t have one available” (at the other end either)

    We loaded the truck properly & tied boxes & furniture to the walls of the semi & carefully piled boxes & wedged stuff in so it wouldn’t shift.

    It took us a week to load it since it was just the two of us & a lot of stuff to move. (especially books!!) My friend had started a lot earlier to pack but hadn’t realized how much stuff there was. Quite a bit of stuff was packed & stored in the garage, but much couldn’t be done until the truck got there.

    If I ever have to move again, especially long distance, I will definitely use a dropped trailer or shipping container!!

  41. posted by Cath on

    I would definitely hire movers again, but not packers. Our last move was our first with packers and two annoying things happened. When we were getting settled in our new house, we couldn’t find the hardware for our pedestal-style kitchen table, so we couldn’t attach the top to the bottom. After digging through many, many boxes, my husband ended up running to a store to buy a folding table. We had to use that flimsy table (with two toddlers) for months, until the hardware finally turned up…. in the container of gift wrap!

    The packers also stole about a dozen DVD’s. We know they were stolen because they weren’t with the other DVD’s, only the blockbuster titles were missing, and they never did turn up after all the boxes were unpacked.

    But hiring movers to carry your heavy and awkward items is certainly a sanity (and back) saver!

  42. posted by Michelle on

    I have loved reading through everybody’s moving tips. So much good advice. Quite some time back, I wrote a HUGE blog post with all of my best moving tips for when we made moves using professional movers. It’s definitely a post that only people getting ready for a move would likely wade through, but I hope it helps someone else in their journey. The post can be found at:

  43. posted by heatherK on

    I’d suggest marking the heavy boxes somehow, e.g. simply writing a big “H” on it. That way at a glance you’ll know which ones are heavy

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