Most Common Mistakes You Need to Avoid During A House Move

Any time you’re juggling a lot of things at once you’re apt to make a few missteps. And while to err is human, moving has a tendency to be stressful enough as it is. The least amount of moving mistakes you can make, the more pleasant (and cost-effective) the entire process will be.

There are plenty of things in life that are better to learn the hard way, for example cooking, calculus, and driving a car. But how to move is not one of those things. The more you learn about what you should and shouldn’t do before your next move, the better your move will go. So read on to learn the eight moving mistakes you should be careful not to make, and how to keep them from happening.

house removals

1. You don’t do enough research on a moving company

Moving companies are plentiful, but not all of them are created equally. To find the right professional movers near me for the job, you need to get referrals, read reviews, and actually call up a few different companies for information and estimates. If you just pick the first name that comes up on the search engine results page, you’re taking a major risk with both your belongings and your peace of mind. You’re also not doing your wallet any favors, since the only way to know you’re getting a good deal is to do some price comparisons.

Do this instead: Do your research. Use a tool like our moving company directory or the ProMover list provided by the American Moving & Storage Association. The goal is to start with a verified list of reputable moving companies so that you’re already working from a baseline of professionals you know you can trust. From there, you can choose the company that works best for your situation and your budget.

2. You don’t get the right insurance

Federal regulations require that interstate movers offer both released-value protection and full-value protection to their clients. The former sets the value of your belongings at 60 cents a pound, and because many consumers know their things are worth more than that, the latter provides coverage based on your own valuation of the items being moved. Full-value protection however doesn’t mean the moving company will write you a check for that amount if your contents are damaged (instead you’ll get a replacement item of equal value, or the company will pay for the item’s repair). Another option is separate liability insurance, which is offered by some movers and is governed by state law, or additional moving insurance from a third-party company. You can also check your homeowner’s insurance policy if you have one and see if it covers items in transit.

While the chance you’ll need to actually use your insurance is minimal (provided you’re working with a reputable moving company), it’s up to you to decide how much risk you want to take on. Fail to do that, and you may end up with little to no recourse if something happens.

Do this instead: When you’re choosing a moving company, ask about what types of coverage options are available to you. Once you get the facts, you can make an informed decision about what level of coverage makes the most sense for you and whether you need to get more than what’s being offered.

3. You DIY your move when you actually need more help

Using professional house removals isn’t cheap, but it’s almost always worth it. Doing a move yourself, even if you have friends helping, is going to be more time and labor-intensive than hiring pros. If you have items of major value, it’s also going to be way riskier. While there are plenty of situations where moving is just fine, it’s a mistake to immediately quash the idea of using a moving company just because you want to save some dough or because you think it will be an easy job (it rarely is).

Do this instead: Be honest with yourself about what your move is going to entail and how much work you’re willing and able to put into it. If you don’t have a ton of items that need to come with you, a DIY move may be a perfectly good option. But if you’ve got a truck’s worth of heavy belongings, do yourself—and your friends—a favor and opt for the pros.

4. You don’t give yourself enough time to pack

Even if you’re just planning on throwing things haphazardly into moving boxes, packing takes time. It’s almost inevitable that areas you thought would take ten minutes to pack take closer to an hour, and then there are those areas that you know from the get-go won’t be a walk in the park (hi, kitchen). Giving yourself an insufficient amount of time will always lead to stress, and that’s stress that could have been avoided with better planning.

Do this instead: Be realistic when allotting time to packing. Figure that a studio or one-bedroom apartment will take about two days, a two-bedroom home about three days, and a three-bedroom home about five days. Add on another day if you have a lot of delicate items that will need to be carefully wrapped and stored, or if you know you have a tendency to get distracted from the task at hand.

5. You give yourself too much time

On the flip side of starting too late is the equally damaging mistake of starting too early. Not only does giving yourself too much time unnecessarily prolong the moving process, but it also makes it pretty likely that you’ll pack something you end up needing and then end up having to go through already-packed boxes to find it. Plus, who wants to live around moving boxes longer than they have to?

Do this instead: Follow the same timeline as described in the previous tip. While it may be tempting to start packing as early as possible, resist the urge and only get going once your move is more imminent.

6. You don’t get rid of things

Within the holy grail of moving tips is the notion that there’s no better time than during a move to edit down your personal belongings. The less you have to move, the better, plus there’s no use wasting time packing and unpacking the things that you no longer want or need. Yet too often we get caught up in wanting to minimize tasks and simply throw everything into a box instead of doing some organization and getting rid of things. In addition to being a waste of time, bringing along unnecessary items can make your move cost more in labor and fuel.

Do this instead: While you’re packing, sort items you don’t want or need into donating, recycle, and toss piles. Resist the urge to hold onto things that no longer serve a purpose in your life—you won’t miss them.

7. You forget to pack a moving essentials bag

How is it that it’s always the most important items that are the hardest to find after a move? A moving essentials bag is a small duffel bag or suitcase where you store the items you can’t afford to lose and/or the items that you know you’ll need on moving day and within the first couple of days at your new place. If you don’t pack one, you’re probably going to be frantically looking through boxes trying to find a single item, or have to go out and buy something you already have.

Do this instead: Choose a designated bag and fill it with the necessities: wallet, keys, important documents, basic toiletries, chargers, items for your pets (kids should each have their own essentials bags), medications, and a change of clothes. You’ll be glad you did it.

8. You don’t budget correctly

It’s impossible to anticipate the cost of your move down to the penny, which is why moving companies give you estimates—not quotes. But it’s still smart to get a general idea of what your move is going to cost you, especially if you’re trying to keep costs in a certain range. Sticker shock after a move is totally common, but it can be mitigated by doing the legwork ahead of time to figure out what you’re comfortable spending and how much you’re going to need to budget.

Do this instead: Use a moving cost calculator to figure out how much you’re likely going to be spending based on the amount of stuff you have and the distance you’re going to be traveling. Don’t forget to factor in additional costs on top of that, like packing supplies and potential days off of work.

Your move doesn’t have to be a drag. Prepare ahead of time by taking steps to avoid common moving mistakes and you’ll be setting yourself up for a significantly easier process. While surprises can still happen, at least you’ll know you’ve got your basics covered.