Moving is never easy. Even a small, short-distance move will bring about some unexpected challenges, and bigger moves can create even more obstacles. You have to uproot and transport your entire life, so it’s natural to feel stressed and overwhelmed throughout the process.
However, there are certainly ways to reduce the stress of moving and make the experience more manageable. By planning in advance and taking advantage of all of your resources, you can get through your move with minimal issues. Here are eight tips for a low-stress move:
1. Start before you think you need to.
Planning your move in advance is the best thing you can do to reduce your stress. When you give yourself enough time to breathe throughout the process, the obstacles you face along the way will feel like small hiccups instead of emergencies.
Think about everything you need to do for your move and how much time each task will take. Work backwards from your moving date to figure out when you should start packing and preparing. Then, start a few weeks earlier than that. Packing always takes longer than you’ll expect, and it’s better to finish up early than to be rushing at the last minute to get everything ready.
2. If possible, schedule your move at an off-peak time.
The summer is the most popular time of the year to move. During these months, you might have a hard time finding a moving truck, hiring movers, and scheduling your move. If possible, plan to move in the winter or early spring instead so that you have more options and can choose the dates that work best for you and your family.
Similarly, most people prefer to move on the weekends. If you’re able to take a few days off in the middle of the week, you could schedule your move for a weekday. This might make it easier to find an available moving company, especially if you’re moving on short notice.
3. Downsize on your belongings.
Moving is the perfect time to sort through your possessions and let go of items you don’t need. Bringing unnecessary clutter to your new home will only cause stress, and you can save a great deal of time by getting rid of unneeded belongings instead of packing and transporting them. You probably have items in your closets, basement, garage, or attic that you haven’t used in years. If they don’t have sentimental value, it’s probably time to let them go. Downsizing will allow you to enter your new home with peace of mind.
4. Label everything.
Before you start packing, come up with a system for sorting and labeling your possessions. Think about what will be the most helpful when you need to unpack the boxes. The more detailed you can be, the better.
At the minimum, you should label each box with the room it belongs in. Some people like to write on their boxes, and others prefer using color-coded stickers as shorthand. You should label every side of the box so that you can easily see its destination no matter how it’s positioned in the moving van.
If you want to be extremely organized, you could use a numbering system for the boxes in addition to labeling the room. Each box should be labeled with a unique number. Then, as you pack, you can create a list on your phone or computer of the specific items in each box. When you’re trying to locate something as you unpack, you can run a search for that item in your document to find out which box it’s in.
5. Ask for help.
Many people hesitate to ask for help because they don’t want to inconvenience others. However, moving entirely by yourself is challenging. If your friends, family, or neighbors are willing to help you, ask them for assistance. Most people are happy to help a friend in need, so there’s no harm in reaching out to your community for support.
Maybe a family member could watch your children while you pack so that you can focus better, or maybe someone you know has boxes or other moving supplies you could use. When packing and preparing starts to feel overwhelming, you can ask a friend to come over and simply keep you company while you work. Their presence may put your mind at ease and distract you from the stress of moving.
6. Hire a moving company.
Working with professional movers can eliminate almost all of your stress. Although hiring a moving company isn’t cheap, the time and work it saves you is likely worth the cost, especially if you’re preparing for a long-distance move. It can reduce the risk of items breaking during the move as professional movers are experts at packing up the van. Moving companies also offer insurance so that you’ll be reimbursed if something is lost or broken.
Different moving companies might offer different levels of service. Some will supply the packing materials, pack your belongings, disassemble and reassemble furniture, and take care of virtually every aspect of the move. Others won’t pack your belongings for you, but they will load the truck, drive to your new location, and unload everything. Typically, the more the moving company does for you, the more you’ll pay. Stick to your budget, but consider all of the benefits of hiring movers.
7. Pack essentials separately for your arrival.
When you finally arrive at your new home, you’ll be exhausted. The last thing you’ll want to do is go digging through boxes to try to find your hairbrush, medication, or favorite blanket. To help yourself and your family feel at home in the first few days at the new house, pack a few separate bags with the belongings you’ll need immediately upon arrival. This should include toiletries, medicine, some bedding, and some clothing. Packing a favorite book or your children’s favorite toys or stuffed animals can help reduce stress in the new home, too.
8. Expect and embrace the stress.
Even if you plan everything well in advance and create a thorough checklist and organizational system, moving can still be stressful. You have so much work to do, and you have to manage the logistics of the move while also preparing for a major life transition.
Do whatever you can to help the process go smoothly, but allow yourself to feel stressed. When you start to feel overwhelmed, take a break. Remind yourself that moving is an inherently stressful experience and that it’s normal to feel frustrated, worried, or exhausted. By expecting and embracing a little bit of stress, you’ll continue to feel like you have the whole situation under control.
Moving might be stressful, but it’s also an exciting opportunity for change. To approach your new home and new life with the right mindset, do your best to minimize your stress along the way. Give yourself plenty of time, accept help, be organized, and plan ahead. If you’re careful and intentional with your move, you can get through it with a cool head and a clear mind.
Michael Carr is the Co-Founder & COO of BrandFace, LLC. He is also a real estate branding expert and international bestselling author. As America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer, he has sold billions of dollars in commercial and residential properties.