10 Moving Nightmares (and How to Avoid Them)

Moving Day in Montreal, Canada

Marc Bruxelle/istockphoto

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Moving Day in Montreal, Canada
Marc Bruxelle/istockphoto

Packs a Wallop

Moving is a terrible chore that can easily go from affordable inconvenience to pricey disaster, and last year the number of people facing it skyrocketed. The percentage of Americans moving from place to place had been on a steady decline since 1984 — about half hadn't moved in a decade, according to a 2017 survey by Homes.com, to the point where less than 10% moved in 2019. But a Pew Research Center survey in 2020 found 22% of respondents saying they either changed residences because of the coronavirus pandemic or know someone who did. It's past time to be aware of preparations to help keep moving costs down and avoid some common catastrophes.

Related: Moving Soon? 22 Ways to Save Money and Reduce Stress

Your Lease Is Up Before Your New Place Is Ready
Leszek Glasner/shutterstock

Your Lease Is Up Before Your New Place Is Ready

Solution: Ask your current landlord if you can stay for a portion of the next month for a prorated amount — that is, you pay the value of what a day would typically cost at your monthly rent, multiplied by the number of extra days you need to stay. If that's not possible and the gap between your move-out and move-in dates isn't more than a day or two, the cheapest option is probably to pack everything into a rental truck or moving pod and leave it somewhere safe where you can monitor it. That's likely cheaper than renting a storage unit, and more efficient than moving things into and out of someone else's garage.

Related: 13 Ways to Lower Your Rent

You're Paralyzed By the Amount of Stuff You Have to Pack

You're Paralyzed by the Amount of Stuff You Have to Pack

Solution: A move has to start somewhere. Begin by filling a duffel bag with the things you'll need for the final days in your current home, as though you were going out of town for the weekend — clothes, toothbrush, and other necessities. Gather packing materials, including tape, labels, markers, scissors, and bubble wrap or other padding, in a container so nothing is misplaced. Then the fun begins: Go room to room, placing grouped items in boxes, bins, or bags. Label each with color-coded stickers or labels designating the intended room. Tape securely to avoid broken or lost items, and keep related boxes together.

Related: 12 Ways to Ship Anything For Less

The Movers Don't Show Up
Gubin Yury/shutterstock

The Movers Don't Show Up

Solution: Make sure to have reliable contact information before the day of the move. That way, if there's a traffic delay or another problem, you won't be left in the dark. Have a contingency plan, whether it's a friend with a truck or the number of a local truck-rental location. If possible, give yourself some leeway. Don't schedule a move for the last possible minute.

Related: 21 Tips for Moving to a Big City on a Small Budget


The Movers Arrive and You're Not Done Packing

Solution: There's no way to avoid this scenario except to plan ahead, and stay organized and on deadline. It might mean taking days off work to get the packing done, calling in favors from friends, or hiring someone to pack for you, a service that ideally includes packing materials and saves time.

Related: How Moving Can Actually Make You Money

Black man moving furniture

The Move Runs Way Over Budget

Solution: There are plenty of strategies for saving money on a move without the risk of hiring a cheap, potentially disreputable moving company. For instance, schedule a move for the middle of the week — that's when rates are lower, because most people tend to move on weekends. Summer is a popular season to move, so try to avoid moving in June, July, or August. Use boxes and packing materials you already have or borrow from friends, family, and co-workers.

Related: Moving On the Cheap — by Purchasing Moving Boxes?

Loading furniture into removal truck

The Movers Turn Out to Be Scam Artists

Solution: To find a reputable moving company, start by asking friends for recommendations. Get multiple estimates, and be wary of companies that offer suspiciously cheap bids. Other warning signs are companies that give estimates without knowing anything about a move (valid movers will provide an in-house inspection before throwing out a figure), or demand partial or even full payment in advance. Research moving companies via the Better Business Bureau or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which has tips for sussing out earnest movers from scammers and complaint histories for registered movers.

Related: Watch Out for These 18 Scams Targeting Seniors

Closeup hands of woman touching her back pain in healthy concept on nature background.

You Get Hurt During the Move

Solution: Lifting heavy objects and carrying them around can lead to injuries. Lift by placing feet shoulder-width apart, then squatting down, bending at the knees and hips only. Keeping the back straight and looking straight ahead, lift the object slowly by straightening the knees and hips. Carry objects at bellybutton level, close to your body. For especially large objects, use a dolly. Drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed.

Related: 10 Popular Activities Physical Therapists Wish You'd Stop

Women arranging stuff in new apartment

Moving Bores You to Tears

Solution: Moving is typically dull and unpleasant. If you don't have one already, now's the time to buy a portable Bluetooth speaker. Make the most of the time by catching up on a podcast, new music, or an audio book. If you've roped friends into helping, it's a good time to catch up.

Related: 23 Steps to Help Organize Your Next Move

Don't Buy Expensive Furniture

You Can't Get Your Stuff Into the New Place

Solution: Measure the entries and hallways of the new place and compare them beforehand with the measurements of your largest furniture pieces. Break down the furniture, if possible — some couches and bed frames have legs that come off, and many shelving units can be split into smaller parts. If furniture can't be broken down and still doesn't seem to fit, try new angles and press soft parts against door frames. You may have to remove doors from their hinges to eke out a little more space. If you're still stuck, try thinking outside the door: There may be a window or balcony that will accommodate the object. If all this fails, it might be time for new stuff.

Related: 15 Things to Buy (And 6 to Skip) Right After Moving

crumpled cardboard mail box

The Movers Damage Your Belongings

Solution: Properly pad and secure fragile items when packing, of course. But if you're worried about breakage, get moving insurance and take photos of the most important possessions beforehand. Then make sure they're intact as soon as the move is complete. Take pictures of any damage and immediately file a claim with either the insurance company or the moving company.

Related: Is Renters Insurance Worth It?