Can Movers Help You With Other Stuff Besides Moving?

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If you thought moving companies do nothing but put all your stuff on a big truck, you’d be right—if you were living sometime in the distant past.

Today’s moving companies are constantly expanding their range of services and offering them all à la carte. That half-job or heavy lifting you need help with? Sure, you can try begging and bribing your friends, or you can call up a few movers in your area. You might be surprised at what they can help you with.

So What Else, Exactly, Can Movers Help With?

More than you can probably imagine. Heck, you don’t even need to be moving to have them give you a hand! More and more, people are turning to moving companies for all kinds of tasks too big to tackle alone. Movers make great day laborers, for things like:

Clearing out your garage or basement

  • Having a couple of sets of hands to move stuff while you figure out whether it goes to the curb or your cousin’s house or back into the garage can save you an entire weekend (if your garage looks anything like mine)
  • This also applies to attics, sheds, or anywhere

Hauling individual furniture from Point A to Point B

  • From your house to the curb; from your bedroom to the basement; to that cousin’s house; to the municipal trash dump; to your local secondhand store or consignment shop

Moving everything out of the room you are repainting or remodeling 

  • And then moving it back when you are done

Hauling stuff to your home from the furniture store

  • Or from your second cousin’s house, or from the garage of the guy selling that big beautiful piano on craigslist

Movers can (and often will) also take care of those jobs tangential to a move:

Even if you’ve managed to tackle your entire move on your own, you may be left with a mountain of unwanted cardboard boxes and unusable packing paper that you just don’t want to deal with. Movers, however, see gold in those mountains. So try giving them a call.

Protip: Most movers tend to charge for a minimum of two hours of labor, due to scheduling their business hours. This is not by any means a hard and fast rule, but make sure you ask before you book your help.

Can I hire movers to JUST help me load and unload my U-Haul?

You betcha!

Renting a truck or a moving container and hiring moving labor for all the heavy lifting is a huge trend—and for good reason. You save a ton of money by renting your own truck, and you save your back by hiring movers.

À la carte movers often:

  • Bring all the equipment
  • Have all the knowledge necessary to do the job right
  • Pack stuff you need packed, wrap stuff you need to be wrapped
  • Load it all up safely and securely

You drive your U-Haul (or Penske or Budget), or have your portable container delivered, and a fresh crew of movers unloads everything at your new home. This is what we call a Hybrid Move. As far as moving goes, it’s the best of both worlds. And it’s what HireAHelper movers do best.

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Protip: If you are moving locally, your movers may be able to rent you moving blankets for a small fee. But if you are moving out of the area, you might be able to rent them from your rental truck company. You may, however, have to buy them. Just please don’t move without them!

Can my movers do my entire move?

Yes, of course. Your traditional Full Service moving company will handle the whole moving enchilada if that is what you want, including packing up your entire home, right down to your last box of biscuits. This is the easiest way to move. It is also by far the most expensive.

Movers Know Best

Of course, we can’t tell you what’s best for you. But we can say with total confidence that movers know how to best handle your stuff. Whether it’s a single item job or a few pieces of heavy furniture; whether you’re moving one room or one door down or one hundred miles away; whether you need loading help, unloading help, or both, hiring moving labor is the best and most economical way to make sure your belongings are taken care of.

If you’re not sure what to do, that’s cool. Calling a mover and asking a few questions costs nothing. And it could end up saving you a lot.


Illustrations by Rob Wadleigh

How to Best Unload Your Moving Truck

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Loading your truck is like getting ready for prom. You want everything to be perfect.

Unloading, on the other hand, is kind of the same way; take everything off, drop it on the floor and go jump in the pool with your friends, right?

Yes and no. Unloading a moving truck is definitely easier than loading one, but like jumping in the pool, there are good ways and bad ways to do it.

Below are some tips for safety and speed so you can not only do the job right but have plenty of time for the post-party. (And this all applies for moving containers too!)

How to Prepare Your Unload

Park on a flat, level surface

If you are renting a portable container like a PODS, you can expect it will be set on even ground. The same thing goes for a rental truck.

You’ll want to park in a similar level place, to make unloading both safer and easier. If you simply have to park on a sloped surface, point the front of your truck downhill. (You can imagine why.)

Apply the emergency brake

This applies even if you park on a level surface. It also doesn’t hurt to put chocks – or rocks or blocks of wood – under one or more of the wheels. 

Open the back of the truck slowly

Your stuff will have shifted around in transit, and the possibility of something tumbling out onto the ground, or on you, is very real.

If something is about to come tumbling out, you may feel and/or hear it pushing against the door as you open it. But not always.

Keep your eyes open and have an extra set of hands ready.

Ramps slide out quickly, be careful

Rental trucks generally come equipped with a loading ramp that slides right out from under the rear door. Unlatching it, sliding it out and locking it in place is simple. So is hurting yourself if you aren’t careful.

That ramp is heavy! And pulling it too hard can turn it into a battering ram with you being the one getting battered. Ease it out all the way and set it down on something not your toes. And remember to set those hooks at the top of the ramp securely in place!

How to Unload Safely and Quickly

Get off to a pretty slow start

That’s right! Even if nothing looks about to topple over, you still want to take it easy when you begin unloading your stuff.

Your stuff will shift and resettle in transit

This goes triple if you have a freight trailer!

The pedal of the bicycle you so carefully placed on top of all those boxes might now be stuck in between two of those cartons, and pulling too hard trying to free your bike can send a whole stack of stuff cascading down on top of you. 

Remember, if your truck was packed to the gills, you won’t have much room back there for your feet. Take your time. Watch your step. Ease those first items off the truck, always aware of how close your Nikes are to the edge of that deck. One misstep and there goes your stuff (and you).

Assign a ramp person

If you have someone (or a few people) helping you, assign one person to stay on the truck to break down the load and put everything at the edge of the deck where the others can grab it without having to climb into the truck.

Not only does this save time, it also eliminates a ton of bending over.

Working like this, it’s never long before the person on the truck gets ahead of the others. This is a good time for that person to nominate someone to help carry that sofa or dresser off the truck and into the house. In addition, jumping off the truck and helping get all the stuff they’ve set on the deck into the house is the obvious way to keep the process rolling.

Tackling the unload all by yourself? Try working in a similar fashion. As you break down your load, position as many boxes and other items as possible along the edge of the deck. Then you’ll be able to make a bunch of trips back and forth without having to walk up and down that ramp every time, saving both your legs and your back.

 

Form a box brigade

Building on above, if you are lucky enough to have two or more people helping you unload:

  • Keep one person working on the truck
  • One person carrying stuff from the truck to a staging area (usually the garage or the front door)
  • One person working inside carrying everything from the staging area to where it all belongs

Naturally, the person on the truck will start getting ahead of the person carrying stuff to the staging area, who will in turn probably get ahead of the person running back and forth inside the house. Periodically jumping off the truck or stepping inside to help your buddy catch up keeps everyone moving – and quickens the process of emptying out that truck or portable container.

Which, of course, leaves more time to enjoy the pool.

Use a dolly

When you are unloading your moving truck, a hand truck (also known as a dolly) is your best non-human friend.

Rolling heavy stuff means you don’t have to carry it. Rolling a stack of boxes means making one trip instead of three or four! The bigger your load and the heavier your stuff, the more you will thank yourself for having that hand truck around. It’s an essential item to rent of your moving truck doesn’t come with one, or if you don’t hire moving labor.

Make sure, by the way, to use that hand truck correctly. You should always be higher than the dolly when rolling stuff down that ramp. If you are hand-trucking something large and/or heavy, have an extra set of hands at the lower end to keep that thing moving steadily—and slowly!

Want to really learn how to use a dolly? Check out this post.

Center everything before it goes off the truck

It goes without saying that when you’re unloading major appliances and large pieces of furniture – or anything for that matter – you want to be doubly certain neither your feet nor the wheels of your hand truck miss that ramp.

But you also want your hand truck to hit the ramp squarely; if one wheel starts going downhill before the other your hand truck will start to tip to one side. Your buddy on the bottom end will naturally try to steady it, which can send one of his feet off the side of the ramp, and things will just keep going downhill from there.

Whether you are rolling or carrying that big heavy appliance or piece of furniture, you want to get centered on the back of the truck before you head for that ramp.

Again, when using a dolly, those wheels go down before you do. If you and a buddy are carrying that item, whoever is holding the bottom end needs to travel down first. In either case, the person on the lower end is responsible for maintaining a straight line of forward progress. 

Ready to unpack?

That’s a whole other thing, so make sure to read our unpacking guide too!

Protip: If you have to walk up a slope or up any stairs, it’s good practice to turn yourselves around so the person holding the top of that big bulky piece is again in a higher position.

Going upslope, however, the person on top takes over steering duty. The person on the bottom then will have the responsibility of providing most of the upward momentum. (This is especially true when going up a staircase.)

In other words, the person on bottom pushes while the person on top does their best to avoid banging into the walls and tripping up the steps. 

Get Some Quick Help

And if all else fails (or you realize you have more stuff than you thought you did after loading your truck), do yourself a favor and double-check our movers’ prices for unloading trucks.

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

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Read real customer reviews.

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From my decades of experience moving people, an unbooked mover is pretty motivated to come out, as opposed to sitting around doing nothing. Do a quick fly by on HireAHelper if you were wondering, “But are there any local movers near me available to lend me and my friends a hand?”

I’ve saved plenty of people’s moving day who thought to check, even last second.

Illustrations by Emily Roberts

The Best Type of Packing Tape to Use When Moving

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Packing tape is an item you probably don’t give much thought to until you really need it, after which it’s the only thing that really seems to matter.

If you’re painting a room, you’ll want to find the perfect painter’s tape to get the job done right. If you’re in the midst of moving your “to buy” list probably includes boxes, moving blankets, packing material, and yes, packing tape!

But what type of packing tape is best to use when moving?

It depends on what you are taping, so first you need to know a couple of things.

After moving lots ourselves, we’ve concluded that not all tape is created equal. Some tapes are not right for moving boxes and will make packing a heck of a lot harder. Not only that, but only having one type of tape won’t work well for each step in your moving process.

So knowing what we know now, let’s chat about how the tapes you’ll find at the store are actually different…

Tape Factors

There are lots of factors that differentiate each type of tape. Here are things to keep in mind when choosing the right tape for your packing needs.

  • Temperature: Some tapes are better than others when it comes to standing up to certain temperatures and humidity levels. You’ll want to take the environment into account when deciding on a tape so it stays sealed even in a humid storage unit or on a chilly moving truck.
  • Grade: The grade is a fancy word for the stickiness and strength of the tape. The higher the grade, the thicker and stronger the tape.
  • Adhesive: There are a few different kinds of adhesives for different stuff you’re sticking together. Most notably, hot melt adhesive and acrylic adhesive.
  • Width and Color: How wide is the tape, and is it wide enough to cover the gap in your boxes? What color is it? Color is something to think about when it comes time to organize and sort all of your boxes during the unpack.

Okay now that we got the technical jargon out of the way, let’s figure out what tape is best for you and your move!

Best Tapes for Moving

#1: Shipping Tape

Shipping tape is going to be your best bet for your move. This tape is often a hot melt adhesive and thus is strong enough to withstand the handling of your moving boxes as you get from point A to B. You’ll also want to grab a handheld tape dispenser so it’s easy to cut and apply to boxes quickly. (Plus, this makes you feel pretty cool knocking out boxes like a pro.)

You can buy this tape and the tape “gun” at any home improvement, office, or moving store—it’s often clear and comes in 2-3 inch widths. Shipping tape also lacks a cloth backing, so it’s easy to undo from your boxes when it’s time to unpack.

Use For: Building and sealing moving boxes.

Price: ~$9-12 on Amazon

#2: Storage Tape

This special tape should be used for boxes that are going into your storage unit with no plan to get them out any time soon. We’re looking at you, boxes of Beanie Babies from 2nd grade. Because it’s a heavier acrylic adhesive, this stuff can last up to 10 years in any type of temperature or humidity. So you can leave those boxes in your storage unit knowing that they’ll stay tightly closed.

Use For: Boxes going into storage for the long-haul.

Price: ~$15-20 on Amazon

#3: Masking Tape

Most of us have used masking tape … it’s that thin beige tape that you may use for random tasks around the house. While this tape comes in handy during the moving process, it shouldn’t ever be used for sealing. It’s really just not that good at it. But it’s still a worthwhile tape to pick up when packing because you can use it to bundle kitchen utensils or even label boxes.

Of course, it’s really great tape to write on, so grab that permanent marker and start labeling, baby!

Use For: Labeling and bundling packing items.

Price: ~$10 for 4-pack on Amazon

#4: Washi Tape

Washi tape is quite possibly our favorite tape on the list because it has so much personality. Plus, it’s way cuter than tapes #1-3. You used to only be able to find this tape at craft stores, but now it’s popping up all over the place because people can’t seem to get enough of the cute patterns and colors. This tape comes in handy if you want to have an organized move and color code all of your boxes.

We especially love this idea to make sure your boxes stay organized by room and end up in the right place on moving day!

Use For: Organizing boxes.

Price: ~$5-15 for wide varieties of patterns and colors on Amazon

Tapes You Shouldn’t Use for Moving

If you stick to our top four tapes for your move, then you should be good to go. But just to make sure you stay on track, we want to mention the tapes that you should avoid for moving.

  • Electrical Tape
  • Plumber’s Tape
  • Medical Tape
  • Cellophane Tape (aka Scotch tape)

Time to Get Taping!

So are you feeling a bit more informed about your taping needs for your upcoming move? Who knew there were so many varieties to choose from? But if choosing the perfect tape for your move makes the process a tiny bit less stressful, then we think it’s worthwhile to spend the time buying the right stuff to get the job done! Go on that tape shopping spree and load up your cart with all of your taping needs.

How Moving Helped Me Pay off $107,000 in Student Loans

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Student loan debt is higher than ever, with 44 million Americans owing $1.48 trillion on their student loans. In fact, the average Class of 2017 graduate left school owing $39,400.

Assuming a 4.45% interest rate and a 10-year repayment plan, a balance of that size would require a monthly payment of $407.

That’s a serious burden for new graduates, let alone anyone facing today’s sluggish wage growth and sky-high rent.

So here’s an out-of-the-box idea for conquering your student loans: Move to another state. I moved from New York City to Austin, Texas, and it helped me pay off $107,000 in student loans.

Here’s how this decision helped my finances, along with surprising reasons why relocating could help yours, too.

Moving seriously lowered my cost of living

Andy Josuweit, CEO of Student Loan Hero

I attended Bentley University and majored in managerial economics. My degree helped me start my business, Student Loan Hero, but it also left me saddled with $74,000 in student loans.

In total, I had 16 different loans from four different loan servicers, none of which helped me understand my repayment options. I put some of these loans into deferment, only to watch my balance balloon to $107,000.

Between the stress of carrying all this debt and the challenges of starting a business, I realized that living in New York, one of the country’s most expensive cities, might not be the best idea for my finances.

In 2015, I decided to move to Austin. I’d heard the quality of life there was great, and I loved its mix of urban culture with outdoor activities. Having grown up in rural Pennsylvania, I was drawn to a city that still had trees and nature.

Plus, the cost of living in Austin was a lower than in NYC. In New York, the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,070, according to Apartment List. But in Austin, the median cost is just $1,120, nearly half that of New York.

Overall, Numbeo found that rent prices in New York are 97.6% higher than in Austin. Even groceries are 47.26% higher in the Big Apple!

Besides enjoying more affordable rent and food, I also saved money by not owning a car my first two years in Austin. I mainly relied on my bike to get around.

Of course, this might not be an option for a lot of Americans, especially for those who don’t live in cities with many options for public transportation.

In my case, though, giving up my car helped me reach my financial goals.

Relocating could help you save on state income taxes

Decreasing my cost of living wasn’t the only reason I saved money by moving to the Lone Star State. My tax bill also decreased significantly, since Texas doesn’t have state income taxes.

It’s one of seven states that don’t have an income tax. The full list includes:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Additionally, New Hampshire and Tennessee only tax interest and dividend income, which is money you make from stocks or mutual funds.

Between lowering my cost of living and eliminating state and municipal income taxes, I saved over $15,000 by relocating to Austin. Thanks to these savings, I was able to make extra payments on my student loans.

“If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.”

As a result, I started to see my student loan balances go down. Not only did I save money on interest, but I also watched my six-figure balance return to a manageable level within a year.

I had been tackling my balance as aggressively as I could since 2013, and moving to Austin helped me pay it off even faster. In August 2016, I made my last payment on my student loans.

How much you save

Since my move helped my finances so much, I was curious about what impact a similar strategy could have for other Americans. To find out, Student Loan Hero conducted a study on the financial impact of relocating to a state with no state income taxes.

Student Loan Calculator

We learned that moving to a state with no income tax would save the average person $1,977 per year. We also found that nearly one out of three people said they would move to an income tax-free state if it meant they’d save money.

Although this number seems fairly high, it’s not all that surprising that debt, taxes, and finances affect where people choose to live.

If you’re interested in how moving could affect your finances, check out the state tax savings calculator in the study. It compares costs between two states and reveals how moving would impact your student loans.

If you’re considering a move, be sure to compare the cost of living between your current and prospective cities. But if you’re focusing on state income taxes, the calculator reveals how much you could save year to year.

For example, let’s say you’re living in Oregon and making $60,000 per year. You only have one exemption, and you owe $25,000 in student loans at a 5.70% interest rate. By moving up to Washington, you could save $4,777 per year on state income taxes.

If you put those savings toward your student loans, you could get out of debt 67 months earlier and save $7,193 on interest.

Should you move to pay off your student loans faster?

Although I’ve been discussing how much you can save by moving to another state, there are expenses involved in relocating. For one, you have to pay for the move itself. Plus, you must make sure the new destination has job opportunities in your field unless you’re capable of working remotely.

If you’re considering a move, ask yourself these essential questions:

  • Can I find a job in my line of work?
  • Can I work remotely in my current role?
  • How much in moving expenses will I have to cover?
  • What will my new cost of living look like?
  • Is the new state a good fit for me in terms of climate, culture and other factors?

You might also estimate your moving costs with HireAHelper’s moving cost calculator. This tool gives you a quote based on your old and new zip codes so you can prepare for the expenses of your move. The great news is that there are many moving options to considerably lower your moving costs, which you can read about here.

Moving Cost Calculator at Moving101.HireAHelper.com

As long as you’ve done your due diligence, moving could be a smart financial move. With the money you save by choosing an affordable city over an expensive one, you could pay off your student loans ahead of schedule and move closer to a debt-free life.

Saving money, by the way, might not be the only perk in moving. In Austin, I now enjoy 228 days of sunshine, not to mention some of the best tacos I’ve ever had.


Andrew Josuweit Bio: Andrew Josuweit is CEO and Co-Founder of Student Loan Hero. After he graduated with $107,000 in student loan debt, he realized he wanted to help others become debt-free and financially independent.

The Best Way to Unpack After Moving

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Unpacking should be the best part of the entire moving process. No, really!

You’ve already coordinated all of the logistics of renting a truck and hiring Helpers, you’ve packed everything up, moved, and unloaded your rental truck. Now all that’s left to do is go through all of your boxes and get everything in its place so you can enjoy your new home!

So why do some people still dread unpacking? Well, imagine sitting amongst a mountain of boxes with no clue what’s inside any of them or where everything is going to go. Okay … yeah, that does sound pretty dreadful. But it doesn’t have to be that way! By planning your unpack, you can save time, money and headaches.

How to Make Unpacking Easier Before Moving Day Happens

We all know the quote, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The most important step to a smooth unpacking experience is proper planning before your move. 

Of course, you’ll have some planning to do if you’re getting movers and renting a truck … but you still need to spend some time packing. And no, we’re not talking about randomly throwing items into boxes and calling it a day.

Here are some things you should do before moving day to make unpacking easier.

Take Photos Before You Start Packing

Before you touch anything, we want you to take out your phone and have a little home photo shoot. 

Here are things you especially need photos of:

  • Bookshelves
  • The back of your TV
  • Kitchen drawers
  • Desk area
  • Tool shed

We urge you to snap pics of the areas in your home that you love! We know all too well how long it can take to get a shelfie looking just the way you want it. By snapping some reference pics now, you’ll be able to replicate that new look in your home in no time.

Create a Number and Color-Coded System For Your Boxes

After the photo shoot, gather all of your packing supplies (boxes, paper, tape, scissors, markers … the works!) and start packing boxes like a pro.

Try to only pack up items from one to two rooms inside every box. This will make your life much easier when it’s time to unpack later.

Got a bunch of stuff on shelves? Create a numbered system to remember where everything goes. That way it’s easier to get them unpacked and into their new permanent spots.

And we can’t forget our favorite tip of all … our color-coded box systemWith this technique, you get to use our most beloved crafting tool—washi tape! Get the full instructions from this post, but the short version is that you need to separate your boxes by the room, marked with bright washi tape so your movers know exactly where to deliver them. Genius and oh so colorful!

Make it Much Easier to Unpack Essentials

There are 7 items you’ll want to have on hand for moving day, but we also think you should create a box of moving day essentials. Because imagine the night of moving day when you’re tearing open boxes trying to find pajamas, your toothbrush, and your medication for the night. Sounds like a disaster to us.

This is what should go in your “Moving Day Box” so you don’t have to tear through your moving truck:

  • A change of clothes
  • Utensils
  • Toiletries
  • Prescriptions
  • Phone charger

Be sure to label this box and keep it near you!

Get Help Unloading Your Rental Truck

See prices for movers by the hour—instantly.

Read real customer reviews.

Easily book your help online.

 

Clean The 5 Most Important Things

We know you have approximately 10,000 things to do to get your rental deposit back. But trust us, now is the time to give your new place a thorough cleaning because it’s empty. You simply put items in place rather than cleaning and unpacking at the same time. Want to know the five most essential things to clean?

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • The Refrigerator (and refrigerator fan)
  • Bathtub and any tub jets
  • Outside (and Inside) the stove
  • Washing machine

If you want to know more, click here.

Unpacking Tips

You’ve done the prep work (even the cleaning, you rockstar, you!), and now moving day is here! Even if you hired help for your unload (great call), there are still things you can do to make unpacking time a little easier. 

Place Your Boxes in Rooms by Color

It may sound easier to just have your Helpers pile up all of the boxes in one spot of your new place, but unpacking will be a lot easier if you follow your color-coded box system to get each box in the correct room. If you followed our washi tape tips, you should have each door in your new place marked so the Helpers can easily drop the box in the right spot!

Protip: Get your “Moving Day Essentials Box” opened right away so you have everything you need to make it through the next day or two.

Use Washi Tape to Figure out Your Furniture Layout

As long as your movers are there, have them get your furniture in the spot where you want it! We love the idea of using painter’s tape to mark out the layout of furniture right on the floor.

Before you move (or even while your movers are bringing things in and out),  go around your place and put tape on the ground to outline your furniture. That way the movers will know exactly which wall to put your bed on and where that long dresser goes. You can always move things later on, but getting items in the correct space will make your life a lot easier in the coming days.

Unpack the Bathrooms and Bedrooms First

Moving day will be exhausting, so if you’re going to unpack anything immediately, make sure it’s your bed and bedding. Once your movers get the mattress into place, find the sheets, comforter and pillow and make your bed. If you have kids, do theirs too. Having a comfy spot to sleep at the end of the long day will feel amazing!

Unpack your bathroom boxes too. That way you’ll have all of the toiletries and medications on hand for the night and morning. A fresh shower after a long day of moving will be heavenly, trust us!

Save the Kitchen for Tomorrow

The kitchen is the most time intensive room to unpack, due to the amount of tiny and heavy items, so don’t unpack it on moving day. Your brain will be tired by the end of moving day, and you’ll want to be refreshed and recharged before you tackle this space. Save the kitchen until morning when you can make a fresh pot of coffee.

How to Stay Organized After Moving Day

You’re into your new home and you’re surrounded by all of your possessions. First, take a deep breath. You’ve made it this far! Now it’s time for the actual fun part … making your house a home.

Avoid Distractions, Don’t Unpack Games or TV

We might suggest making a playlist of music to entertain you, but we don’t think you should get your TV setup and turned on right away. You may find yourself sitting on the couch instead of unpacking if you have a TV show or movie on. So much temptation…

Another distraction? Little ones. You’ll additionally want to make a plan for your pets when you’re moving and unpacking, so they don’t get in the way. Same goes for kids. Have a plan to keep them occupied or if you can, drop them off at grandma’s house so you have uninterrupted time to unpack. It’s all about keeping the distractions to a minimum so you can devote enough hours to get your house in tip-top shape!

Unpack Only One Room at a Time

Instead of hopping from space to space, we suggest making a list of your rooms in order of importance. Then, don’t move onto another space until the one you’re on is done.

The kitchen, bedrooms and kids’ rooms should be up high on the priority list, while the guest room and garage may not need TLC right away. Also, make sure you have furniture and appliances setup before you get too carried away going through boxes. Did you clean your counters first? You’ll want to have spots to put all of the items as you whip them out of the boxes, so having dressers and cabinets ready to go is a must!

Break Down Boxes as You Go, in Real Time

As you unpack boxes, it may be easy to just throw empty ones in a big corner. But trust us, that pile will quickly get out of control and soon you won’t be able to walk around your house without an empty box tumbling down on you. Take one box and make it the designated paper box. As you unpack boxes, crumple up the paper and shove it into that box. Then, be sure to break down boxes as you unpack. You’ll want to have a utility knife on hand so you can do this quickly.

(And Don’t Unpack Everything)

There may be some boxes that don’t actually need to be unpacked. We’re looking at you, Christmas decorations. Make a large pile of items that may be heading to storage or the garage. Then be sure to get those items to that space in the coming days.

What to Do After You’re Unpacked

You’ve made it! You survived moving day and every box in your place is unpacked. You should be feeling pretty darn good about yourself right about now, but the fun isn’t over just yet. There are still a few things you can do to really get your unloading and packing done.

Make Use of Those Moving Boxes

If you will be moving again soon, then you may want to hang onto some of the boxes that are still in good condition. Organize your boxes and find a spot to neatly tuck them away. Are you thinking, “What the heck do I do with all of that cardboard?!” Don’t fret! Instead, try out some of the cardboard hacks.

If getting creative with cardboard isn’t your speed, you can recycle your moving boxes. Check out this searchable database that’ll let you know the closest place to recycle anything (including moving boxes!). Just be sure to set a deadline for yourself to get those moving boxes out of your new place, so they don’t stay piled in the garage forever.

Use These Organization Protips

We’re all guilty of just shoving random items into a cabinet or closet and calling it a day. But to really feel settled in your new home,  be intentional with what goes where.

Whenever we’re on an organization spree, we go room by room with a notepad and write down areas that need our attention. Then we’ll spend 30 minutes each night giving those spots some TLC. Those short increments of time seem much more doable than an entire day spent organizing an entire home.

Let the Decorating Begin! (In a Month)

We always say that you need to live in your home for a while in order to decorate it well. So many people quickly buy furniture and accessories for their place without ever giving each room a test run, and they end up with design regret. Yep, don’t paint the walls until you’ve spent a little time in your new place!

We promise that you’ll make much smarter decor decisions after 2-3 months.

Here’s how to get started when it’s time to begin: 

It may not seem like it, but unpacking can be the best part of the moving experience! We promise that these tips will make your unpacking experience easier and more efficient.

The sooner you unpack, the sooner you can enjoy your new life!

The 3 Things to Never, Ever Procrastinate on When You Move

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Procrastination, as a strategy, is starting to get more and more interest from the scientific community.

For example, Adam Grant points out in his book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World” that Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Frank Lloyd Wright and Leonardo Da Vinci were all notorious procrastinators. And hey, it worked out pretty well for them, so what’s the big deal? This train of thought has given me plenty of ammunition to justify all the times I’ve procrastinated for a test, a presentation, or heck, a daily shower.

But I know that one of these times this strategy is going to really backfire. Life is going to punch me in the mouth and, if it weren’t for my wife, our recent move would have been a disaster.

So Abraham Lincoln aside, here are a few areas where procrastination is absolutely not the best strategy. Take it from me, I’m an expert.

Finding All Your Moving Boxes

For our move, I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say we used 50 boxes. And I’m talking good sized boxes, like the kind a kid would hop into to pretend they’re an astronaut.

So let’s compare approaches:

Procrastination Chris: “Oh, you know, we’ll figure it out. A couple nights before, we’ll go into a Wal-Mart and ask if they can spare a few extra boxes. That should be easy.”

The reality: Retailers aren’t always on board with giving away their extra boxes. I don’t know what it is, but I think it’s like going into a restaurant at the end of the day and asking for any spare food; On paper, it makes sense since they’re gonna throw it out anyways. But in practice? Places of business don’t want to deal with this every single day.

My wife’s solution: Reaching out to friends who work retail weeks in advance, then getting the boxes in. She began the process weeks before, rather than a few nights before.

Booking the Moving Truck

I feel like anyone who buys a pickup truck automatically puts a bullseye on their back. You really need to start coming up with excuses for why you can’t help everyone in town move well before you put down your first downpayment.

Case and point: I remember being at a buddy’s bachelor party down in South Carolina and everyone that showed up had a pickup truck. Ford F-150, 250, even the 550, which is a monster truck that also fires off a cannon. I looked around and thought, “Man, if you ever have to move, you’ve got a small army here!”

But in most places, a lot of people don’t even own cars, let alone pickup trucks. And no offense to your buddy with a Mini Cooper, but that’s not gonna get the job done.

Procrastination Chris: “Eh, we’ll just get a U-Haul. Easy!”

The reality: Moving trucks aren’t totally simple. For one, they don’t have a normal rearview mirror; They’ve got these big side mirrors that stick out to give you a view when backing up. If you’ve never driven one before, it’s a lot to get used to. And maybe it’s just me, but it’s amazing how accustomed you get to a backup camera once you have one in your car. Without a backup camera and none of the “beep, beep, beep-beep-beep”, I’m surprised anyone before 2007 ever had a scratch-free bumper.

Most importantly, moving trucks get booked ahead of time. Yeah, that means you’re supposed to coordinate your move date with the date you need the truck, usually well ahead of time – especially during the busy season. Oops.

My “I got lucky” solution: One of my buddies loves helping people move. It’s like having a friend who enjoys doing taxes. He once drove a U-Haul from Chicago to New Orleans, so driving this one a couple block was small potatoes. Phew.

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Getting Help From Your Friends

In fairness, I sent out a calendar invite at least three weeks, maybe a month in advance to some co-workers and another friend.

I cannot, cannot, cannot stress this enough! Without a minimum of four regular friends helping out, I don’t think any move has ever been possible. And yeah, I know there’s an exception out there: the dude who sleeps on an air mattress and only owns like two outfits. But for the vast majority of us, we actually need help moving all of those boxes.

This is where procrastination can backfire big time. If I would have reached out only the day before – nevermind the morning of – they could have all had other plans and/or they could have quickly come up with an excuse. (“I, uh, gotta walk the dog.”)

This is one you don’t want to leave up to chance. Even if it works, it’s sort of like when a basketball player fires up a terrible shot and the coach screams, “No! No! No!”, but then it goes in anyway and they let out a sigh. Yes, procrastination may work every now and then, but not a great long-term strategy. Especially for moving.

My “hope-they-still-talk-to-me” solution: Very patient, very tired friends.

Make Moving Not Suck

Everyone’s moving situation is different, whether the city, suburbs or small town. I think back to that fleet of pickup trucks in South Carolina; Some people are lucky or they’ve got all their buddies around with the right vehicles for a move. They’re all set.

But for most of us, we’re not so lucky.

Most moves involve someone fresh out of college with their mom and dad, and the dad is getting upset because his kid procrastinated, and now his back hurts, and the mom is upset because the dad is upset, and then someone’s like, “Hey, you can’t park here,” and the mom looks over at the dad before he snaps, “Carol, I know, but I have to go feed the parking meter!” All the while the kid’s younger sibling is on their phone taking a selfie (#MovingDay). And everyone is about one step away from not getting together for Thanksgiving.

It’s not worth having one of the worst days of your life with your friends and family. Find some help. If you’ve got the friend brigade of pickup trucks, awesome. If not, hire it. It’s cheaper than you think.

And whatever you do, just don’t procrastinate on this one. No matter what DaVinci says. 


Chris O’Brien is an author writing out of Chicago. His latest release, “Moving Sucks”, captures all the pain of moving day, but with a comedic twist. Watch for its release on Amazon.com this November. For more info, email [email protected].

Movehacks: How to Unpack and Organize Before, During and After You Open a Box

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Some people tell us unpacking is the most enjoyable part of their move. (“It’s like Christmas!” they say.) Others dread unpacking like nothing else in the world. (“It’s worse than a triple root canal!” they cry.)

Either way, unpacking can quickly turn your new home into an ocean of cardboard and newsprint. To make the process more manageable – dare we say more enjoyable? – here are some industry tips for getting your unpack off to a raging start.

What to Do Before the Unpack

Yeah, you gotta clean before you unpack 

You might not want to hear this right off the bat, but be prepared to clean before you begin to unpack. Even if it’s just wiping the shelves and countertops and giving the floors a quick sweep, unpacking in a clean home is infinitely more pleasant than unpacking in a dusty one. These items definitely take priority when it comes to cleaning:

  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Refridgerator
  • Bathtub and bathtub jets
  • Stove
  • Inside the washing machine

For more a more in-depth look at the how and why for house prep, check out this post.

Don’t unpack from down on the ground, clear some counter space

In the kitchen or dining room, do whatever you need to do so you can get your boxes up high. Why? Because you’ll need that counter space to place boxes on before you carry your things around your new place.

Why on a shelf? Because if you unpack from the place you dropped down that heavy box, you’re going to feel it in your lower back the next day. And week. Trust me, unpack up high. Always.

Unpack to shower and sleep first

No one in the history of unpacking has ever unpacked in one day. Unless you think you can be the first, don’t wait to unpack your bedding, set up your bed, hang your shower curtain and dig out what you need to feel clean and refreshed after a long day (or week? or month?) of moving.

Protip: Yes, this involves a little foresight when packing. Mark the boxes that contain the things you want to access first. (This may also include real plates, glasses and utensils to make you feel more at home when you sit down for dinner that first evening.)

What to Do During the Unpack

Unpack the “easy” boxes first to make room 

It takes almost no time to unpack your books and stick them on the shelves of your bookcase. In a matter of minutes, you can transfer your t-shirts and jeans from boxes to dresser drawers. And for goodness sake, get those massive and bulky wardrobe boxes unpacked and out of the house!

Go about halfway with the pictures 

Unpacking large pictures, mirrors and paintings is also quick, and you can then get rid of those bulky mirror cartons. Some folks, however, suggest hanging your pictures up early on to give your new place that homey feel. I say lean them up in a corner somewhere until you get all your furniture in place. Later on, you can do the “a little to the right…a little more…no back left…no not that much…okay there, no, a shade higher…yeah, that’s perfect” thing.

Make a quota of boxes unpacked per day and stick to it

If you are the motivated type, feel free to skip this tip. If you are easily distracted and tend to put things off, you might find it helpful to …. Hey, are you listening? …  set goals for yourself. Commit to unpacking one room per day, six boxes per hour, whatever. And reward yourself for sticking to your plan by going out afterward. Just remember how satisfying it will be when you’re all finished. 

Repack what you don’t actually need for storage

As you empty your boxes, set aside those items you decide you won’t need right away – or for a long time. Keep a few of those now-empty boxes handy and consolidate those items you put aside for quick transfer to the basement, the attic or the back of your closet.

Protip: Just as you did when you first packed, write the contents of each box with a marker as you go through your consolidation.

Don’t unpack the TV

The ultimate distractor. Do unpack the tunes, though. 

Purge. Again

We suggest purging while unpacking. On move after move, it’s common to see people wait for weeks (or months) for the family’s stuff to arrive. Living without most of their stuff, they often realize that so many things were unnecessary. And while packing stuff in a box allows you to forget about it, having to unpack it and find a place for it helps you decide whether you really need it. As with the stuff you’ll be storing in the attic or the basement, set up a box or two for these things you’ve decided to part with.

What to Do After the Unpack

Hide your paper trail

Keep a couple of medium-sized boxes on hand, and use them to stash all the packing paper that would otherwise turn the floors of your new home into a churning sea of crumpled newsprint. Flattening and folding all that paper will save a lot of space – if you have the time and patience – but doing so also helps you find smaller items that can go unnoticed and disappear forever. I can’t count how many times a customer dropped their used moving boxes off at our warehouse with items still buried in the packing paper inside.

Protip: Packing a large box with flattened paper can make it surprisingly heavy. Medium boxes are more manageable in this respect.

Now, about getting rid of all those boxes…

First, get them out of your way. The garage – if you have one and there’s room – is the obvious choice. (Think twice before stashing them in the basement “temporarily”.) If the weather is good and it feels appropriate, start breaking down your empty boxes and putting them out by the curb. Unless your new home is on a cul-de-sac it may not be long before you see passer-by stop and take those boxes off your hands. If this doesn’t work, here are three ideas that don’t require a box-hungry passerby.

  • If you have the time, the storage space and the mental fortitude try passing on your boxes to someone else who is getting ready to move. Facebook groups and Craigslist are two widely-used resources for advertising moving boxes for sale or for free.
  • Some moving companies will be happy to take your boxes and your packing paper off your hands. If none of the smaller local movers will take them, check for national van line agencies in your area (like United, North American, Atlas and Allied). The agencies I worked for never bought used boxes from people, but we were always happy to take them if they were in decent shape. 
  • Recycle if you can’t find someone who will reuse them.

Unpacking can prove a more formidable task than expected. Whether you think it’ll be like Christmas or a root canal, putting these tips into practice will help you feel at home faster.

Then you can sit back and watch the TV.

Every Place You Can Get Free Moving Boxes

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People say there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Well, how about a free box? We hear a lot about those, but where are they?

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The Movers Who Hire the Homeless

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It was only my second day as a mover when I was sent on a pack job. I was with two other guys. They’d been with the company a while, so it seemed totally natural when one asked me to label his carton of picture frames for him.

“Here, just use my marker,” I said, holding it out for him.

He just stared at it.

“He doesn’t label boxes,” the other guy said.

What he meant was, he couldn’t label boxes. My fellow packer was functionally illiterate.

But boy, could he pack a house.

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