Top 4 packing & moving tips


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Moving can fire up a rollercoaster of emotions. In the first few days of a move, you may feel a rush of excitement (new digs = a new life).

And then, inevitably, the dips into stress might kick in. There’s a looming to-do list of all that needs to take place before the big move can happen.

People who are about to move often wonder:

  • What to pack?
  • What to purge?
  • How to organize boxes?

Like with any life transition, moving requires a lot of preparation. Thankfully, there are numerous ways to prep for and streamline the moving process both before and during the move.

Below are some tips that could make moving more efficient (and less of a headache), including a guide of common costs tied to packing and moving. Here’s a helpful moving checklist as well.

Related: The most common moving expenses

How to Streamline a Move

Naturally, there are plenty of tips for moving that can help ease the transition to a new apartment, condo, or home. Here are a few helpful suggestions for streamlining any move, from decluttering to becoming a packing pro, from budgeting in advance to understanding common moving expenses.

1. Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

When planning a big move, it can be helpful to rely on the Three Rs: reduce, recycle and reuse. Moving is one time to zoom out and celebrate the joys of minimalism. In other words, moving locations could be a chance to declutter, purging items that have gone unused for months or years beforehand.

In addition to being able to get rid of unwanted (aka unneeded) “stuff,” decluttering can help on a very practical level to cut back on moving expenses. With fewer things to move from point A to point B, there’s less need for tons of packing materials or an extra large moving truck.

As an added perk, reducing how much stuff needs to get packed can make the move-in easier, ensuring that the new place won’t feel overstuffed.

Before beginning the packing process, it’s wise to discard items that aren’t truly needed. This way, whoever’s moving can avoid having to pack up things that, once moved, would go unused.

Sure, it’s common to get attached to certain objects, but it’s likely that there are still redundant items lying around in different closets or cabinets.

To get rid of unwanted goods, individuals could try selling them on platforms like, Facebook Marketplace, NextDoor or Letgo. If it’s time to let go of something, why not make some extra cash along the way? (These platforms can also be great places to find gently-used moving boxes at reduced or no cost).

Some people may want to donate to local thrift stores or consignment shops.

Fewer items to move can make moving speedier and more cost-effective, too. Purging unwanted large items can be particularly helpful for a long-distance move. More heavy items can mean a higher gas bill, when driving a rented moving van or one’s own car.

Even when hiring professional movers, having fewer big items could translate into a less expensive moving truck or fewer billable moving hours. Purging now could save time and money on moving day.

2. Becoming a Packing Pro

During the decluttering process, it can be useful to identify boxes and packing materials needed during the move. Why spend money on new cardboard boxes when there are likely unused boxes already lying around one’s current home (or at friends’ places)?

A visit to local recycling drop-off points may be in order, as it’s possible they’ll have free cardboard boxes available there, too.

Having boxes of different sizes can help with packing all items safely and securely. The wrong sized box could raise the likelihood of something getting damaged or broken.

Next, one could collect the rest of the moving supplies, such as packing tape, markers, labels, scissors, newspaper and bubble wrap.

To begin packing, start with non-essential items. For instance, try packing out-of-season clothes or kitchenware that’s rarely used a few weeks before the move. By doing this, you won’t lose access to items you’ll still need on a daily basis (e.g., shampoo or a coffee maker) all while getting a head start on the packing process.

When packing fragile items, crumpled newspapers can prevent breakage. It could be helpful to take photos of all of the valuable items. This way, if they break or the movers damage them during the move, it will be easier to file a claim and receive reimbursement for the dinged items.

3. Tying Up Loose Ends

If moving to a new area, it could be beneficial to tie up some loose ends upon arrival. With this in mind, people who are moving can make a list of everyone to contact once they’re moved in at the new place.

It’s likely that you’ll want to come up with a list of family members, service providers, doctors, and friends to contact about the new address. Here are a few individuals and institutions that might make this list:

  • Friends and family members
  • The U.S. Post Office
  • Neighbors
  • Employers
  • Credit card companies and other financial institutions
  • Service providers (e.g., water bill or internet)

For those hoping to keep utilities or services with a specific provider, it may help to call ahead of time to verify if those services are offered in the new area.

If the city or company offers services in the new place’s vicinity, it’s possible to request for the service to get transferred to the new address on or after move-in day.

If current providers do not operate in the new area (this can be especially true for utilities after a long-distance move), a person can schedule an end-date for existing services. Then, it’s possible to set up new accounts in the next area or town.

People who are moving can see if certain services are offered (or not) in their new area. Things like high-speed fiber internet aren’t available in all cities or neighborhoods, for example.

If one company doesn’t offer its services at the new address, perhaps a competitor does! So, be sure to sniff out all of the local options before deciding.

It’s worth keeping in mind that, to start new services, some providers prefer to be notified weeks in advance. To have enough time, either to schedule a technician’s visit or to mail out necessary equipment.

In terms of moving tips, it’s essential to track both existing services that will no longer be needed (e.g., a local internet provider) and any new ones that need to be initiated (e.g., natural gas or water).

Some subscription or delivery services, like regional gym memberships or CSA boxes, cannot always transfer from one state to the next, especially if the provider only services one area.

When moving across the country, a person may no longer have access to the same gym they’d used at their previous address. This can be true if the gym is not part of a larger national franchise or chain.

So, some smart moving tips and tricks could include cancelling recurring memberships at local-only businesses before the move and then finding an equivalent service in one’s future backyard.

4. Creating a Folder for Moving Documents

With so many items to juggle— from leases to monthly bills, from moving truck reservations to invoices from professional movers — it can be a stress-saver to compile all of one’s moving documents into a single folder.

Even if some documents were sent electronically, printing each one out can help organize essential moving details.

Some documents to include in the moving folder could be:

  • Old leasing agreements (double-check the move-out fine print)
  • A new signed lease (if renting again)
  • Invoices from professional movers
  • Receipts associated with the move

Depending on the who’s moving, members of the US armed services may be able to deduct moving expenses related to their move.

If moving to accept a new job, be sure to speak with HR in advance to determine if any common moving expenses will be reimbursed (and which receipts or invoices will be needed as documentation).

For those who plan to hire professional movers, setting aside cash in an envelope could help when it comes time to tip. Often, people tip their movers if they’re happy with the job they completed. Taking out cash the day before a move can simplify tipping, as it’s one less thing to think about during the actual move day.

Common Moving Expenses

Now that planning for packing and moving have been covered, there are some common moving costs to bear in mind. When budgeting for a move, it can be useful to plan for expenses that can add up.

1. Understanding Professional Moving Costs

When moving things from an existing home to a new apartment or house, people generally opt to either rent a moving truck (and haul the stuff themselves) or to hire professional movers (who generally bring their own truck and elbow grease). While forgoing professional movers might be the more economical option, it can be hard to move by oneself.

If renting a moving truck, some costs are typically incurred. Depending on the size of the moving truck or van that’s rented, it could cost anywhere between $50 and $2,000.

Keep in mind, for a larger vehicle than the standard package, it’s likely to cost a bit more. Other potential costs tied to renting a truck include cost of gas, damage protection, and other fees.

If moving with a rental vehicle takes longer than expected, individuals may need to pay additional dollars to return the van or truck later than expected. Gas can be quite pricey when hauling heavy items, like boxed books or furniture.

For those who’d prefer to hire a professional moving service, it’s wise to compare multiple companies’ prices to find the best value. Generally, the shorter the distance of the move, the lower the cost.

Some movers charge by the hour, pro-rating when the move goes over the initial reservation time. Others charge a flat rate no matter how long the move (or how long the distance).

According to Consumer Affairs, moving a three-bedroom house will cost between $600 and $1,000 (if making a local move). For a long-distance haul, it goes up to between $3,400 and $4,100.

Also noteworthy is that the price of a move may vary depending on the season when it takes place. And if a person wants to protect belongings from damage, full value protection insurance might also be worth investing in.

2. Estimating Transportation Costs

In addition to budgeting for the cost of moving things across county lines (or the entire country), it’s good to calculate the expense of transporting the person who’s moving. When moving long-distance, extra human costs — such as, flights, lodging, food and rental cars — can add up.

If shipping a vehicle (aka not driving), be sure to budget this pricy line-item into the overall moving expense sheet.

3. Moving Supplies and Other Expenses

With a big move, it’s likely that a bunch of boxes, bubble wrap, tape, labels, and markers will come in handy. But, beyond the moving checklist essentials, there are a few other supplies that may need accounting:

1. Cleaning supplies: When leaving a home, landlords expect the property in its initial condition. So, buying mops, brushes and other cleaning supplies are one extra expense to bear in mind. If the space is carpeted, it may be worthwhile to decide if hiring professional cleaners could help return the ‘old place’ to move-in ready status.

2. Repairs, renovations, and maintenance: New homeowners might have to make before they settle into their next house. New homeowners may even want to change the locks or replace the smoke detectors. If any essential renovations are needed, it can be wise to get the updates done before moving in (to avoid the chaos of moving during any fixes).

3. Furniture and other home items: Whether you’re packing up a substantial amount of furniture or not, it may still be necessary to buy a few additional home items, such as, a new couch or upgraded bed. Looking at flea markets or garage sales can help not break the bank.

4. New license and vehicle registration: People moving across the country may need to calculate the cost of getting a new driver’s license (and registration) in a different state. Fees for getting a new license and vehicle registration vary by state.

Financing a Big Move

Moving can be costly and stressful. In fact, according to HomeAdvisor, the national average for hiring movers in 2020 is $1,271, with a typical range of $693 – $1,888. A high-end move with a professional company could even cost upwards of $10,000.

By understanding the various moving expenses involved, it’s possible to approach a move with a clearer action plan. At times, more money is needed to cover moving costs.

Taking out a personal loan could be one way to pay for the expenses tied to moving. In some cases, personal loans carry lower interest rates than what’s charged on a recurring debt, like credit cards.

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Image Credit: Vladimir Vladimirov