To err is human.
Those wise words will be of little consolation for you when you lose money, time, or both due to a costly mistake during your home move.
There may not be a 100% mistake-free move, but at least you can try to minimize the common moving mistakes that are perfectly avoidable with 3 doses of planning, 2 doses of forethought, and 1 overdose of common sense.
We have a priceless gift for you: the top 33 mistakes to avoid when moving home.
Knowledge is power, remember?
- You misjudge the right time to move home
The decision to move home can be life-changing, so it should only be reached after careful consideration and detailed analysis of your current situation. Ask yourself if it is the right time to move or not. Have you saved enough money to move out? There’s hardly a bigger moving mistake than to mistime your residential move.
- You fail to create a moving budget.
You do need a budget to be able to control your moving expenses with the purpose of spending as little money on your move as possible. Failure to make a moving budget is a clear mistake – how will you know if you have enough money to cover the moving costs in the first place? Request multiple cost estimates from a few top-rated moving companies to start on the right track.
- You fail to research your movers.
One moving mistake that can really cost you is your failure to research well your movers before you agree to use their services. Read moving reviews and ratings left by customers, check their membership status with the American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and of course – check their legal status with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
- You assume all movers will try to cheat you.
You may have heard horror stories about people being scammed by rogue movers and their belongings being taken hostage. The truth is that there are many honest, trustworthy and reputable moving companies you can choose from – just do your homework and pick an upstanding relocation partner.
- You withhold important move-related information from your movers.
When moving company representatives visit your home for a visual inspection, you should NEVER try and withhold any essential bits of details from them in an attempt to get lower estimates. Such a tactic is a clear mistake because when your movers find out that you have more items to move than you did originally, they will simply issue you another estimate that includes the extra charge.
- You fail to request in-home visual surveys.
Some moving companies may want to give you price estimates over the phone or via e-mail. Say no. You’re not a professional mover so you can’t possibly know how much your armoire weighs. Instead, ask several top-rated movers to visit your home for on-site visual surveys.
- You accept the very first offer that comes your way.
You shouldn’t. Compare carefully at least 3, preferably 5, written moving estimates that you received after the in-home surveys. Pay special attention to the additional services included in the quotes and their respective rates. The comparison analysis will help you pick a reasonably priced mover.
- You fail to explore your insurance options.
Moving companies are required by law to offer you Basic limited liability coverage but that type of insurance is almost never enough to match the actual value of your possessions. If you own valuable items, then do consider purchasing additional moving insurance either through your mover or from a third-party insurance company.
- You sign incomplete or blank documents.
Mistakes to avoid when moving include the thoughtless act of signing any incomplete documents or even blank (!!!) documents handed to you by any moving company. Don’t ever do it! Why? Because this way, you can easily become a victim of a moving scam. Remember that there are bad movers out there as well.
- You hand your valuables to your movers.
You did WHAT?!? Do not make the mistake of handing any of your valuable items to the movers regardless of how reputable and honest your hired moving professionals seem. The rule of thumb is that expensive, sentimental and irreplaceable items must stay with you at all times.
- You forget to transfer your utilities.
You’ve just arrived at your new home, you enter it and flick the light switch. Nothing happens. What’s going on? Another one of the common moving mistakes is to forget to transfer your utilities at least a few days before Moving day. Contact the utility companies (electricity, water, gas, phone, Internet, cable TV) and arrange their transfer.
- You move during the height of the moving season.
Due to a number of external factors, you may not always have the opportunity to select the date of your own move. But if you do have that rare flexibility, don’t make the mistake of moving with the crowd. To save money, choose a move-out day during the off-season (September-May), away from the beginning and end of the month, and surely far away from the weekend.
- You start packing without a packing timeline.
Packing things randomly without a good plan will be one of the common moving mistakes, and it won’t usually lead to any satisfactory results. You do need to follow a logical and versatile packing timeline to keep you organized and motivated. Remember that time management is key during the most time-consuming home-moving task of them all.
- You delay the start of the home packing task.
Any attempts to procrastinate the beginning of the most arduous task in any moving calendar will classify as one of the worst mistakes to avoid when moving house. Do not underestimate the time you’ll need to pack up your home – start packing as soon as you can, even sooner than ASAP. And no, no packing tasks of any kind should be left for Moving day itself.
- You start packing from the easiest rooms to pack
This is clearly not one of the worst packing mistakes you can make, but think about having to sort and pack up your storage areas – the toughest rooms to pack – when your energy and motivation are at their lowest points. Add the pressure of the looming Moving day, and you’ll see why you should have started packing from your garage, basement, attic, and walk-in closet.
- You fail to obtain and prepare all packing supplies in advance.
Having to interrupt packing in order to get more packing materials will slow down your packing progress, and as you well know, even a single day can prove to be the difference between success and failure. Secure enough cardboard boxes, bubble wrap, packing paper, packing tape, and even a set of color markers.
- You purchase all your moving boxes brand new.
Sure, you could do it, but would it be really necessary? Although cardboard boxes constitute the biggest expense when it comes to packing supplies, you should be able to find free moving boxes fairly easily – just ask friends for spare containers or visit local businesses that are required by law to recycle cardboard boxes.
- You pack all your stuff without sorting it out first.
Oh oh… without a doubt, moving all your belongings between the two homes will be the gravest moving mistake of them all. Not only will you spend more time packing things you don’t really need but you will also pay much more for their senseless transportation. Yes, sort out your things ruthlessly.
- You fail to prepare any essentials boxes.
Speaking of mistakes to avoid when moving house, don’t forget to take the most essential items with you until you get reunited with your normal household items. Prescription medication, important documents, kitchen utensils, hand tools, a change of clothes for each family member – you’ll thank yourself later.
- You ignore the small-box-big-vs-box packing rule.
Packing for a move can be rather tricky so nobody is 100% safe against common packing mistakes, like the failure to follow a simple yet critical rule: heavy items go into small to medium boxes, while lightweight things go into large cardboard containers. Keep a weight limit of around 40-45 lbs. per box, and be especially careful when packing books for a move.
- You leave “quick” packing tasks for Moving day.
Do you plan to get up really early on your move day and finish some packing jobs before your movers show up? If you do, then don’t do it. The main reason why you have followed a good moving timeline is to finish all your packing tasks by the Big day, so make sure you do.
- You pack items forbidden for transportation.
How willing are you to re-pack some of the boxes you’ve already filled? Don’t make the mistake of packing items that your moving company won’t move for you – any hazardous items (flammable, explosive, or corrosive), perishable goods (food or plants), and irreplaceable items. Dispose of any dangerous items prior to Moving day.
- You fail to fill in the space inside your cardboard boxes.
The problem with making blunders when moving house is that there won’t be a second chance to learn from your mistakes. In other words, there’s little you can do when you find your fine china sets or crystal glasses broken to pieces after the move. Nothing inside your packed boxes should be moving – fill any spaces with newspaper, old pieces of clothing, or sheets of bubble wrap.
- You fail to label your packed boxes.
Speaking of common mistakes when moving house, failure to label moving boxes is probably the commonest of them all. Even though you may be blessed with a good memory, make sure you write the contents, destination room, and special handling instructions on each and every box you pack.
- You turn your back on packing safety.
Packing for a move quickly is always a bonus but that speediness should not come at the expense of safety. Tape the bottoms and sides of each cardboard box before you start to fill it up. Also, place pieces of crumpled paper or bubble wrap on the bottom to create a shock-absorbing protective layer.
- You refuse to get packing help.
It’s okay to be stubborn when packing up your home because that stubbornness can help you save money. However, it’s a clear moving mistake to overestimate your packing abilities and then still refuse to get help from friends or professional packers. Packing up an entire home was never meant to be a task for one person.
- You make the wrong choice of clothes and shoes on Moving day.
Big moving mistakes can sometimes lead to personal injury or property damage. Or both. Make sure you dress up appropriately for the most unpredictable day in the entire move – wear comfortable non-baggy clothes made of flexible and breathable fabric. Also, choose a pair of closed shoes with good traction (anti-slip soles), flexibility and overall protection.
- You fail to ensure moving day safety for your kids and pets.
If you’re not careful enough, judgment errors can easily creep up during your home moving day. Moving day safety is crucial: ensure that small children and pets stay 100% safe. Ideally, they should be looked after in a room away from the moving action – hire a babysitter /pet sitter for the day.
- You think moving equipment is grossly overrated.
Moving home without professional assistance is already a brave decision – why should you prove you’re even braver by not using essential pieces of moving equipment like an appliance dolly, furniture sliders or moving straps? Being reckless can be one of the costliest self-moving mistakes you’ll ever make.
- You fail to use the proper lifting techniques.
If you intend to do most or all of the heavy lifting on your own, then you must be familiar with the right lifting techniques. Otherwise, you can easily hurt your back, damage a muscle group, hurt your hands, fingers, or toes, or you may even get a hernia. Some heavy lifting jobs are better left for hiring professional movers.
- You assume moving on your own is cheaper.
It can be a moving mistake to jump to conclusions without looking at a relocation issue from all possible angles. Yes, self-moves can be cheaper but only if specific conditions are met: 1) moving across town or to a neighboring city, 2) not taking any specialty items with you, and 3) having plenty of helpful friends.
- You assume renting a truck is a piece of cake.
One of the major mistakes when moving on your own is to underestimate the job of renting a moving vehicle. Choosing a good truck rental company is never easy but the hardest part comes when you need to select the storage capacity of the moving van. How do you make the right choice?
- You take it your friends will be eager to help you move.
Another judgment error is to assume that your pals will be more than ready to give you a hand when you’re getting ready to move out. Your friends must be juggling busy work and family schedules as well, so reach out to them as early as you can and show understanding to the ones who don’t answer your call for help.