Before planning your apartment move, you might also look through our other insightful articles so you will be better prepared to plan your move. See these articles on how to find an apartment to rent.
Preparing for your Apartment Move
While you are in the midst of searching for an apartment, do not forget an often overlooked part of searching for an apartment - preparing for your move. You can easily save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by moving (perhaps with a few helping hands) your own apartment! Then again, anyone who has moved their own apartment, (however short in distance) will tell you how much of a pain it was, both physically and mentally to move by yourself. One might argue that DIY moving is simply too painful to be worth doing, but for those who are on a budget, or would prefer not to trust their family heirlooms to a moving company, proper preparation for moving your apartment can go a long way in making your move much cheaper and much less painful. You’ll find some great hints and practical advice for the details of a short distance DIY move.
Step 1: Recruit helping hands
The first step in planning and preparing any DIY move is to make sure you have the people to do it. Often, this means lining up family and friends to help you out with your move, but other times it means hiring a short haul moving handyman. Whatever your choice, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make sure that when the move date comes, you have the helping hands ready.
When you are recruiting friends and family to assist in your move it is essential that you do not under or over recruit. Too few and you may find yourself struggling to move that mattress up to the 3rd floor of your new apartment. Too many and everyone will be stumbling over each other. Consider what the bulkiest largest object in your apartment is and how many people it would take to move it. (Remember it is not enough just to move it laterally down the hall but make sure you have enough strength to move it up and down stairs, and into and out of rental trucks) That should be the minimum number of people you have on hand for your move.
When you schedule, make sure to give your volunteers (or draftees) plenty of notice before your move. No one likes to be asked to help move an apartment tomorrow when they’ve already made plans to enjoy the day at the beach. Let your volunteers know at least two weeks in advance when you are planning to move. Have alternates available should some people back out. Check back periodically and the day before your move to make sure they are committed.
Most DIY Apartment movers don’t own their own 10 or 17 foot box truck. Fortunately there are many affordable services out there to make sure you have the equipment for the job. Consider your local Uhaul or Budget Truck rental centers, but make sure to reserve your equipment in advance (at least a week in advance) and to pickup your equipment on time, or you might find yourself stuck without a set of wheels – and with a bunch of annoyed volunteers.
Most truck rental companies charge a nominal fee and a mileage fee. The mileage fee is what will usually cost the most, so make sure to plan your drive properly to avoid wasting money.
Step 3: Packing your belonging
One of the most important steps in making your entire moving process easier is to properly pack your belonging. Many first time movers make the mistake of trying to move without enough boxes or packaging. While you may be able to pinch some pennies up front, (moving boxes often cost 3$ each new) you’ll find that without the proper containers your stuff will often end up on the sidewalk instead of in the moving truck. Unless you’ve planned far in advance and have accumulated many sturdy cardboard boxes through local classifieds, local markets, etc. bite the bullet and get those boxes; you’ll thank yourself later for it.
Be sure to start packing your belongings before your actual move date. Depending on how many things you have to move, you’ll need to decide when you start packing. Do not count on packing anything on your actual move date. This will throw a big wrench in your system should you get backed up. (Not to mention your “volunteers” would not appreciate you wasting their time while they wait for you to pack)
Pack like objects in related boxes (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen etc) this will make your move in at your new place much easier. Also take care to properly pad fragile objects (such as porcelain dishes). Newspaper makes decent and cheap padding material for 80% of what you need to move, although for more expensive and sensitive objects you should consider packing them in their own box. One key step is to make sure not to over pack. With even medium sized cardboard boxes, you’ll be surprised how quickly the stuff you put in them quickly adds up to 50, 75 or even 100 pounds! Consider how many stairs you’ll have to climb to move to your new location as well as the strength of your volunteers. When you pack a box, make sure to pick it up yourself and check it before you close it up. You should be able to lift it without too much trouble. (Imagine lifting that same box after you’ve moved 10 other boxes up 2 flights of stairs – you’ll thank yourself the day after you move if you’ve packed reasonably.)
Getting the Right Tools for the move
Getting the right set of tools in conjunction with proper packing for your move can make the difference between a back breaking traumatic experience and a tired, but pleasant feeling of accomplishment. For moving apartments a suggested basic set of tools can be quite handy for your move.
A hand truck (or two)
This is the bread and butter of any move. With this you can easily multiple the number of boxes you move in a trip. It is also flexible in helping you move larger bulkier furniture such as mattresses and box springs. If you do not own one, you can often rent them from the rental truck companies. Make sure you have enough hand trucks for the people you’re recruited (or they’ll be standing around waiting for them to come back)
While your apartment may not consist of splintered wood or other material, a decent set of gloves will go a long way in preventing hand fatigue, good gloves should also help you get a grip on those slippery boxes and furniture.
Protective Tarps and covering
For mattresses and other upholstered furniture, having proper coverings for them can make all the difference while they are banging around in the back of the moving truck.
Moving is a tiring proposition! Make sure you have plenty of water for yourself and anyone helping you. Not only will they feel more appreciated when they’re hauling your boxes, but they’ll probably do a better job of it while they are hydrated.
The Move Itself
As you can see most of the work involved in the move is the preparation. For the move itself however here are a few tips to make sure they you don’t find yourself scratching your head wondering how to get your mattress into the back of the truck.
Pack the Large Stuff first
It may seem to be an obvious lesson but we often forget until it is too late. Make sure to move your largest objects into the back of the truck first - beds, couches, tables etc. Your boxes (You got boxes and packed them well right?) are much more flexible and can fit in and around all the nooks and crannies of your larger furniture.
Lift properly (and make sure your volunteers do too!)
Don’t assume your volunteers move heavy objects for a living. Make sure they lift properly by using their legs and not their back. This is essential for preventing injury.
To avoid injury (and a bad temperament) make sure to set expectations properly and leave ample time for breaks. Often we’re in such a rush to move our apartments moved that we don’t stop and rest. When we are tired we make more mistakes, when we make mistakes we take longer to finish moving.
While there is much more to know about moving an apartment, these pointers are here to give you basic guidelines on how to prepare for your DIY move and keep it as painless as possible.
Next Step: Check out our other helpful apartment guides
Now that you have read our DIY - Apartment Moving, you might want to refer to our other great apartment renting resources.
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