Picture this: It’s your first night in your new house, everything important is unpacked, and you’re lying in bed in your new bedroom. Your move is finally over, and everything went more or less according to plan.

What did you do right?

The truth is, every moving situation is unique. A single college graduate moving to her first apartment won’t need to do the same things as a family of seven moving to a bigger house across town.

If you’re planning a DIY move, the best way to make sure your move goes smoothly is to have a plan for avoiding the most common DIY moving mistakes.

Keep reading to find out what those are.

1. Not Leaving Yourself Enough Time

calendar time

A successful DIY move includes plenty of time to pack, unpack, and hire any professionals you’re going to work with if you decide you need to. You should also budget some time for unexpected roadblocks and any additional stops you need to make on moving day.

I recommend you start planning the logistics of your moving day a whole two months in advance. You may find out you need to:

  • Sell, donate, or toss a ton of stuff
  • Purchase moving insurance
  • Hire a moving company for some or all of your hard-to-move items
  • Rent storage space
  • Buy packing supplies and moving equipment
  • Deep clean your current house

Tip: The kitchen is usually the most difficult room to pack (especially all those dishes), so start early!

2. Packing Too Much Stuff

It’s tempting to just start throwing things in boxes so they’re out of the way, but you might be setting yourself up for a headache later. Now is the perfect opportunity to go through all your belongings and get rid of stuff you no longer want or need.

It will save you a ton of unpacking, and wouldn’t it be nice to start fresh in your new home without the burden of all that unnecessary stuff?

sell donate throw away moving

Not sure what to do with unwanted items? Here’s a simple strategy to try:

  1. Take a piece of paper and make two columns: “Sell/Donate” and “Throw Away.”
  2. List everything to see how much you have in each column.
  3. Create a plan for each group of items.

“Sell/Donate” items: If possible, the best way to start is by holding a garage sale. Bigger garage sales attract more shoppers, so ask your neighbors if they want to participate! To sell certain items, you may want to try Ebay, CraigsList, or Amazon.

It’s easy to donate what you don’t sell. Find a list of organizations that will pick up donations in your zip code on DonationTown.org. The Salvation Army also does donation pick-ups in some areas.

“Throw Away” items: Rent a dumpster or plan a trip to the dump for everything you can’t sell or donate.

3. Not Properly Labeling Boxes

label moving boxes

Photo: Jaymis Loveday

Many people either forget to label boxes or the labels aren’t specific enough. Whether you decide to hire movers or try to do as much as you can solo, good box labeling will make moving and unpacking much easier.

Here are some ideas:

  • Label boxes according to room
  • Color code each room (i.e. green = kitchen, red = living room, etc.) and use corresponding sticker colors on each box and on the door of each room in your new house
  • Write “FRAGILE” on boxes with delicate items
  • Label an “OPEN FIRST” box with everything you’ll need the first two days in your new home
  • Label all boxes on at least 3 sides for convenience

4. Using the Wrong Packing Equipment

common diy moving mistakes

Photo: Peretz Partensky

If you’re planning to DIY your move, you’ll need to safely transport furniture, dishes, lamps, and other items without damaging anything. To do that, you’ll need the right packing equipment.

Your best bet is to invest in the high quality stuff that good professional movers use.

  • New boxes (not used ones)
  • Blankets and furniture pads
  • Packing tape, bubble wrap, and other packing supplies
  • Shrink wrap
  • Sturdy rope and/or ratchet straps to secure stuff in the moving truck
  • Plastic sheets and tarps in case it rains while you’re unloading the truck

5. Lifting Heavy Items Yourself

piano moving

Not only do professional movers know how to lift heavy items safely, they also use professional moving equipment, including hand carts, dollies, and carpet glides.

Even if you have all the equipment professional movers use, I strongly recommend you don’t try to lift anything really heavy yourself. Lifting heavy items without getting hurt is a skill that takes time and experience to learn. It’s just not worth risking your health or safety.

Even if you DIY almost everything else, it’s worth hiring professional movers for the really heavy things.

6. Not Unpacking the Essentials First

Here’s when you’ll be thanking yourself if you labeled your boxes well. It’s important to prioritize your unpacking — there are a few things you won’t want to spend even a day without. Everyone is different, but here’s an unpacking order you might use:

  1. Bathroom essentials: toilet paper, bath towels, shower curtain, shampoo, soap, toothbrush/toothpaste, garbage bin or bag, etc.
  2. Kitchen essentials: food, dishwashing supplies, dishes and utensils, paper towels, etc.
  3. Your bed: You’ll want a nice comfy place to sleep your first night in your new home. (When you work with ANC Movers, we’ll assemble your bed for you at no extra charge!)

Unpack anything else you’ll need that day or the following morning. Everything else can wait — you deserve some rest and a good night’s sleep!

bed new home

7. Stressing Out

Moving can be stressful. In my experience, the best way to avoid moving stress is to plan as much as possible and not try to do too much at once. It’s important to be able to take a breath every now and then.

If you haven’t made a big move before, ask friends or family members for advice. What mistakes did they make during their last move?

Is DIY Moving Right for You?

Doing most of the moving yourself might work for you if you don’t have too much stuff and you’re not transporting anything big, heavy, or awkwardly shaped. For most people DIY moving just doesn’t make sense, especially for people with a lot of stuff, heavy items, a long-distance move, or other complications.

If you’re considering a DIY move, but you’d like to see what it would cost to hire a good professional moving company, just fill out this form to get a free, no-obligation quote from ANC Movers. Or call us at (360) 992-8702.

Paper image: Cookieater2009