Winter Blues, New Views: Homeowners Guide to a Positive Move
Peak moving season in the United States stretches from April to September, but not everyone is able to move when the weather is at its best. You may find yourself preparing for a move in the winter because of a new job, because your rental lease is up, or because you found the perfect house. Whatever your reason, relocating your household in the winter can present some unique challenges.
Our last cross-country move was in December. It was overwhelming because we experienced weather delays with the moving truck, Chulengo was sick with his first winter virus, and I was trying to figure out how to celebrate the holidays when we didn’t have a home.
But don’t let icy roads and early nights scare you; with the right preparation and a little extra patience, you can sail through your winter move and be snug as a bug at your new home in no time.
Packing for a Winter Move
Preparing for a winter move begins with packing for the weather. If you relocate a long distance from your current digs, your possessions could spend hours in the back of an unheated moving truck. Certain items, like glass and dishes, can become more fragile and prone to breaking in cold weather.
It’s a good idea to wrap all your delicate, breakable items in a double layer of bubble wrap. Make sure to fill extra spaces in your boxes with bubble wrap or newspaper so these items don’t rattle around. (Not sure how many boxes you’ll need for your move? Use a packing supply calculator to help.)
Certain plastics can also become more brittle in colder weather, so be careful when packing plastic totes. You may want to avoid using plastic totes altogether. If you use them, try to avoid filling them with heavy items.
Finally, cold weather can damage sensitive electronics. Therefore, it’s a good idea to pack your electronic equipment together and put those boxes in your heated car for the moving trip. Or if you’re flying cross-country, put them in a suitcase and take them with you to limit their exposure to cold.
Prepare Your Route and Be Flexible
Keep an eye on the weather as your moving day approaches. If possible, create a contingency plan in case bad weather hits. That may mean delaying your move by a few hours or even a few days if a storm hits on the big day.
If you’re driving, plan your route following main streets that are more likely to be plowed if you expect ice or snow. Double-check the plow schedule in your area so you don’t head out before the roads are clear.
One last bonus tip is to have your vehicles serviced before your move. Cold weather can stress car engines and tire pressures can change in cold weather. The last thing you want during a long day on the road is for your car to break down!
Stay Safe and Prepare Your Home for Your Move
Moving in wet conditions or snowy conditions increases the risk of accidents during the move. While you can’t eliminate all risks, you can lower the chances of an accident, injury, or damage to yourself or your property with the right preparation.
Here are a few ways to protect your movers and your property on moving day:
- Clear all walkways of snow and ice before you begin loading the moving truck. You may also want to put down salt to keep ice away.
- Provide lots of light along the walkways.
- Wear shoes with a good grip to lower the chances of slipping.
- Put tarps or cardboard over your flooring so that wet, dirty shoes don’t damage your floors and carpets. (You don’t want to lose your security deposit if you rent).
- Add grip tape to all outside stairs.
- Keep pets out. Moving can be extremely stressful for animals, so bring your pets to a friend or family member’s home or board them on moving day.
- Turn off your heat. Your doors will be open for long periods as you move your possessions out. There’s no reason to pay for heating you won’t be using.
- Wear layers. You’ll warm up as you begin hauling boxes, so make it easy to take off top layers.
- Drink plenty of water. You can still sweat in cold weather but may not feel as thirsty. Take breaks during your move and stay hydrated.
Don’t forget to prepare your new home for your move as well. If you can, arrange for someone in your party to arrive before the moving truck to clear and light pathways. You’ll also want to cover the flooring in your new home so muddy, wet shoes don’t damage your new place.
Still feeling a little uneasy about moving by yourself in winter? Then you might want to hire movers. Paying movers will add to your overall moving cost, but a professional moving company can take loads of stress off your move.
You can also choose what level of assistance you want. On the most cost-effective end of the spectrum, you can rent moving pods you can fill at your convenience. The company will then pick up the pods and bring them to your preferred location, where you can unpack them on your own timeline.
A more standard option is to hire a moving company to take all your boxes from point A to point B. They will fill the moving truck, transport your possessions, and unpack it. Finally, for the most hands-off experience, many moving companies will also pack your possessions for you.
Moving professionals have experience working in every season and will know how to pack and move your items during the winter. If you want to stay on their good side, consider offering your movers hot beverages like coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. As well as warm meals like soup. It’s also customary to tip your movers around 5% of your total moving cost. If your movers are working in severe winter weather, consider tipping them a little more to take that difficult task off your hands. Here’s a tipping guide I created to help make tipping movers more simple.
Lose Your Winter Worries About Moving
There’s no reason to dread a winter move. The weather can be unpredictable in many parts of the country this time of year, so be prepared for the move to take longer than normal. You’ll also want to pay closer attention to packing your belongings well and staying safe during the move. And remember, moving expenses are typically cheaper in the winter months. Moving trucks, laborers and storage units may cost less. You will typically have more flexibility with choosing a moving date. With less demand, schedules for moving companies can be a bit more open in the winter season.
With the right preparation, lots of patience, and a flexible mindset, your move will go smoothly. You’ll be in front of a roaring fire in your new home in no time!
Wanting to stay organized during the house hunting and moving process? Check out the Move Mama Move Relocation Planners to keep you on top of it all in both physical and digital versions. Subscribe (in the sidebar →) to Move Mama Move, and you will receive a special offer on items in Move Mama Move’s shop, including the Relocation Planners.
Or, if you’re looking for a few tips to get started with your move, check out the 90-day moving checklist to start getting your move in order.