Moving Mistakes You Need to Avoid

Updated on May 19th, 2020
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There’s no getting around it. Moving is stressful. Carting everything you own – whether across town or across the world – is an enormous undertaking. What’s more, since most of us will only move a few times in our lives, we never have quite enough practice to get really good at it. Fortunately, there are brave men and women among us who have taken it upon themselves to master the art of the move. We’ve gathered the best of the best here to outline the most common mistakes people make when they’re moving. Read on for moving insights from experts located in New York to San Diego and make your next move the smoothest one yet!

Moving to a new home

Setting up cable can wait – don’t put off the important things

One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to book the flight on the day of the move. Somebody has to be present when movers come to load the truck. Here’s an anecdote: We had clients who booked a move, and when we came to the address they told us they are already in Europe, waiting for their things, and that we help ourselves with keys under the mat and just ship it all to them. They didn’t even sign the necessary papers needed to continue the move or sign the necessary papers! Another mistake that happened is when clients packed their passports with the rest of the things and then we had to unload the entire truck so they could find it and load it back again. – I Love Moving

Many times customers wait until the last minute to pack their boxes. This is a mistake and generally results in a variety of issues: 1) boxes aren’t full and closed 2) boxes aren’t labeled and 3) there are many miscellaneous items that aren’t packed in boxes that should have been. These issues lead to damages and inefficiencies when moving. We recommend that our customers start packing all of their boxes early on, or better yet leave it to the professionals and hire a moving company to pack all of your belongings with care. – Best of Utah Moving Co

Truly, from a mover’s perspective, the vast majority of the mistakes someone can make when it comes to moving boil down to not being ready. We’ve seen all sorts of variations on this theme, from the common and mundane things like not having finished the packing or needing to decide in real-time where things are going, to the rare and strange like answering the door before getting dressed or not having a destination lined up by the time the move begins. The bottom line, you should always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need for each phase of the moving project.

Outside of not being ready for the move, the biggest mistake that people make when it comes to moving has to do with trying to plan for too much to happen on move day. When you’re talking about moving an entire house, moving out of town, or both, the closer you can get to dedicating the entire day to moving, the better. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but when we see clients schedule their move, closings on both homes, and cable set up all on the same day, we could certainly consider that to be a mistake. – Blue Whale Moving Company

Disorganization and excess (don’t forget your kids)

Every drawer must be emptied out before the move, or our movers would have to do that themselves. The furniture (especially Ikea) is not meant to be transported with the stuff inside, as it might break due to additional weight. Plus, pretty often movers would have to flip the dresser or a cabinet on the side or place it upside down while stacking the truck, which will create havoc inside every flipped drawer and will result in broken, missing items. – BestMoversLeague

Regular movers know the insider tips and tricks to moving. The best tip we can give you to save on moving costs is to declutter. Most people have so much stuff they never use. Selling things we don’t use is a good way to get rid of some of the heavy or bulky items that take up space and cost money on the moving truck. At the same time, you can recoup some money that will come in handy during your move. Also, remember to keep a moving-day box handy with everything you will need first on the day you move to your new home. The box should contain bedding, and kitchen- and bathroom essentials so that you don’t have to rifle through several boxes when you’re already tired. – Nationwide Auto Transportation

When you’re not moving far, it’s tempting to think that no preparation is needed. There’s no mistake like being underprepared! You’ll save yourself time and money by doing simple things like going through junk drawers ahead of time, donating unwanted items, and emptying your refrigerator and freezer. We’ve also seen kids left behind, a lot of tears (which is okay!), and ever had a client on their 4th glass of wine? This can make things tough on moving day! Bottom line: be ready for your move, no matter how big or how small. – Golden Eagle Moving

It’s all about labeling. If you don’t put the work in upfront when you’re labeling all your items, you’re going to be super confused when it comes time to unpack. Do your future self a favor and make sure your boxes are as organized as possible with labels on all outward-facing sides. Additionally – one of the worst things that can happen when you move? Not looking on the bright side. Focus your perspective on the positive: you’ll get to explore new places, create new memories, find a new favorite coffee shop, and reinvent yourself. When you readjust the way you look at your circumstances, your move can be really exciting. – VIP Transport

The most common mistake we see when people are moving (long or short distance), because we really only see people when they get storage units, is when people are downsizing from a house to an apartment or just from a larger space to a smaller space, they end up with a lot of extra stuff they don’t have space for. So that’s where we come in. We always see people needing to store the extra belongings that they don’t need on a daily/weekly basis such as seasonal clothes or toys (like skis). Luckily the solution is easy. Store it with us! – Greenbox Self Storage

Moving should be about making the most of the space you are going to. Avoid taking items that you no longer use or need. If stuff is broken or damaged dispose of it but if it can be used or has a function, donate it. Go through mementos and keepsakes that take up space but serve no purpose and take photographs to create a digital copy of them. We often carry with us lots of things we do not really want or need, not realizing the time, money, and energy we are wasting in the process. – Caring Transitions

Don’t pack your belongings in trashbags or different size boxes. These are not stackable and take more time to place into the truck, which makes the bill higher! Spending a few bucks at Home Depot for boxes will save you a lot. – Best Movers Service

Taxidermy and mass spectrometers: Tell movers about your important items

Customers often assume that movers will take anything and everything, but as much as we’d like to, we are limited. Some of the coolest things we HAVE moved are a 3000 lb custom-built wine fridge for which we needed a customized runway, a $500k mass spectrometer, a $1M set of speakers, and we also moved an entire museum for Glenn Beck’s show from KC to Dallas! Some of the craziest things we’ve had to turn down were a bunker full of weapons and ammo and even a family’s collection of passed relatives’ ashes. (Some policy additions were needed after this request.) We always recommend checking with your movers if you have anything out of the ordinary. – Moving Proz

David Simoni at Mid Cal Moving and Storage in Stockton, California, recommends that you only choose moving companies licensed and physically located in the state of your origin address – only licensed movers will be fully insured and follow state regulations. For the most accurate pricing, make sure you look for a moving company that offers in-home surveys (though virtual surveys may now be acceptable). Never pick a mover that requires a deposit before the day of your move, and a good mover will also allow you to reserve your moving day and cancel or change dates without penalty. – Mid Cal Moving and Storage

Most local moves are hourly and based on crew size. To minimize costs, customers should simplify and as possible, make it clear for the crew what needs to be boxed and moved (and to where). Review all move requirements with the crew chief at the beginning of the job so they won’t have to keep asking. The more the crew needs to ask, the longer the job. – Victory Van Corporation

If you have unusual items, it really is best to be upfront immediately about them. Maybe it’s just an insanely heavy marble table, a golden statue, or a giant shoe custom made to hold your regular sized shoes. Either way, it’s best to let your crew know to be prepared so they can plan on the best way to prep and move this piece. And please: we can handle taxidermy, but no live animals. – Bookstore Movers

Passports, toothbrushes, and an umbrella: Don’t lose track of important items

A lot of people forget to consider the weather and assume the weather on moving day will be nice. They forget to leave out an umbrella, a raincoat, or a small light windbreaker in the summer, and a heavy jacket and boots, gloves, scarves in the winter. Then they must spend a lot of time opening the boxes to find those items. When working side by side with a client, we will often create a box of ‘ very important items’ This will help them to leave out essentials on move day. – Moving Forward Madison

One of the common mistakes people make when moving short distances is to forget where they placed important documents and valuables. Be sure to pack all of these separately and label them. This way when you need to find something important; you will know where to look for. Things such as medication, change of clothes for the first couple of days, passport, important documents, valuables, toiletries, etc. are to be packed and labeled separately. It’s also recommended to carry your important documents and valuables yourself. – One Move Movers

Do not tape parts to your furniture, or keys to your file cabinet to the furniture itself. More times than not, people use blue painters tape which is designed to come off. Furniture gets lifted, tilted, and frankly, jostled around, so there is a good chance the tape will fall off and the parts will fall out. Instead, get yourself a small-sized moving box and label it “parts box”. Then put labeled zip locks or wrapped paper in the box. All your parts are now in one place. – RL Relocation LLC

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Ryan is on the marketing team at Redfin and loves writing data-driven articles about all things real estate. Ryan's dream home would be a Cape Cod-style house near the ocean and the mountains.

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