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Common Moving Day Mistakes to Watch Out For

Emily Calorino-Sipe - Writer for Top10.com
A man and a woman planning for their moving day.
Ever tried playing Tetris with your furniture on moving day, only to realize your couch is less "L-shaped" and more "not-going-through-this-door shaped"? Frustrating, right? And that's not even the worst of it.

As a moving expert who's partnered with countless moving companies and seen many successful relocations, I can assure you that moving day doesn't need to be chaotic. Still, overlooking certain details can cause unnecessary stress and problems on the big day.

A OnePoll survey recently revealed that 45% of people find moving more stressful than a breakup or divorce. This shows why you need to take proactive steps if you want a smooth, stress-free move. I've been part of numerous relocations, so let me share my top tricks and strategies to help you avoid common moving day mistakes.

» Master your move with our ultimate moving checklist + tips.

You Don’t Have Enough Time

Moving usually takes longer than you might expect. This is generally because of the planning fallacy, where people think tasks will be quicker and easier than they actually are. Knowing about this moving cognitive bias can help you make smarter decisions and face fewer problems when relocating.

How to Avoid Underestimating Time for Moving

Set aside roughly one hour for every 200 square feet of your living space. For example, you can pack up a 600-square-foot apartment in about three to four hours. This is just a base estimate and can change depending on factors like the number of movers, the type of dwelling (apartment vs. single-family home), and your house's layout.

Also, always add a buffer to handle unexpected issues, such as dealing with elevators in apartment buildings. This extra time helps lower stress and prevents rushing during your move.

There Aren’t Labels on Your Boxes

Movers need labels to know where to put your boxes in your new home. Without tags, there's also no way to tell what's inside each container, leading to inefficient unpacking and potential damage to fragile items.

How to Label Boxes

Mark each box with its intended destination, like "dining room," so movers can place it in the right spot. Also, always label boxes before sealing them. If you wait until after closing them, you'll need to reopen them to add labels.

You can also mark boxes by priority. Use "H" for high, "M" for medium, and "L" for low, or number them to decide which to unpack first. For detailed tracking, number boxes like "living room 1 out of 10." This strategy can help ensure you have all your boxes before the movers leave.

You Forgot to Measure Your Furniture and Doorways

If you measure your furniture beforehand, you can make sure that it fits into the new space. This prevents surprises on moving day and helps with planning the loading process.

Also, measure doorways and hallways before moving big items. If you don't, you may damage your old and new homes. Trying to squeeze oversized furniture through tight spaces can scratch walls and damage your items, leading to unnecessary repairs.

Be Cautious of Pillars and Tricky Layouts

Moving things quickly around corners can scratch or dent walls. Planning and measuring in advance help avoid these problems.

Still, it's challenging to anticipate everything during a relocation. If you discover an item won't fit mid-move, pause and reassess. For instance, you may need to disassemble a bed frame so it can go through the front door.

Assembling Large Furniture

Before moving day, take a walk around your home. Consider whether you assembled any large items, such as L-shaped desks, in their current rooms. This pre-move walkthrough can help you identify potential issues you may not have considered.

If your measurements are off, you may have trouble with hallways and oversized items on moving day. Have tools ready to take apart and put back together things that won't fit through doorways.

Your Fragile Items Aren't Packed Correctly

When preparing for a move, protecting your belongings is crucial. Here are some effective strategies to ensure your items stay safe during transit:

  • Wrap fragile items like plates, bowls, vases, and glassware in newspapers, cardboard, or paper bags. For extra protection, use towels, sheets, and pillows.
  • Place large linen items such as pillows and comforters in the truck last. They can act as cushions for furniture and help prevent damage during transport.
  • For additional safety, consider renting moving blankets from providers like U-Haul. These offer extra padding and protection.
  • Avoid overfilling boxes with fragile items. Evenly distribute weight and limit the number of items in each box to reduce the risk of breakage.

You're Not Using the Right Moving Company

Doing thorough research on moving companies is essential for a smooth relocation day. Representatives should be informative and friendly and demonstrate a strong commitment to customer service. The company should also be reliable. Trusted firms like American Van Lines will usually confirm details with you 24 hours before the move.

Additionally, local relocation services often consist of individuals or small teams with a truck. Such services can be excellent choices, offering personalized attention. Yet, they may not always provide the same level of reliability as larger companies like Colonial Van Lines or Eagle Moving Group.

Clarify the Payment Method

Most moving services prefer post-service payments, and deposits are rare except for large-scale relocations. U-Pack, for example, requires a refundable deposit when you book your move. This amount depends on how far you're moving and the size of the container.

Plan Your Move Ahead of Time

North American Moving Services recommends booking your move early, particularly for big or complex relocations. They have a free online quote tool and can help you choose the right moving date.

They aim for precise scheduling and will confirm your relocation date and time in advance. They also provide a "Moving Concierge" service for improved organization. If unexpected events require a timetable change, they can be flexible, but contact them quickly to discuss any shifts.

» Check out our top 10 best truck rental companies for a stress-free move.

The Moving Truck Can’t Park on the Street

Before your relocation day, verify local parking regulations for commercial vehicles and obtain any required permits. If you live in an area with narrow streets or in an urban setting, you may need special passes for parking a moving truck.

Plan your move during daytime hours to avoid common nighttime restrictions. If your building has a service or freight elevator, check if you can use it for your relocation. Also, notify your neighbors about the move—discuss its potential impact on them and the steps you're taking to minimize disruption.

You Didn't Book a Big Enough Truck

To pack a small moving truck, start by loading large furniture and bulky items first. You can always transport smaller items that don't fit in your personal vehicle, such as a car, SUV, or truck bed.

If the moving truck doesn't have enough space, consider your options: For short-distance moves, see if the movers can make a second trip for the remaining items. For cross-country relocations, you may need to hire an additional moving company or request another truck, but be ready for extra costs.

Your Furniture Doesn’t Fit in Your New Home

Begin by instructing your movers to bring everything inside. Once all items are in your home, take time to assess the space. You may need to rearrange furniture or decide which pieces to keep, depending on the available space and layout.

You can use temporary storage solutions to create room for planning your ideal setup without clutter. But if you need to keep your stuff in outdoor spaces, opt for weather-resistant furniture and avoid leaving delicate items like leather or velvet outside.

After you've settled in and know what you have room for, consider donating any unneeded furniture. Many charities will pick up gently used items, turning a potential inconvenience into a helpful contribution to others.

Make Your Move Smooth and Stress-Free

If you're moving, you can hire professional movers to make the process smoother. They handle about 650,000 relocations each year, so their experience is valuable. They can help you sidestep common moving day mistakes, making your move much easier.

» Moving on a budget? Here are 10 essential tips to save money when you relocate.

Emily Calorino-Sipe - Writer for Top10.com
Emily Calorino-Sipe holds a bachelor's degree in business administration, focusing on international communication. She is a relocation expert that helps clients through each stage of their journey worldwide. Her writing is a clear, informative, and reliable resource for anyone planning a move.