In a perfect world, you’d have ample time to prepare for any move that you have to make. Moving is a process rife with tiny details and individual tasks, and three or four weeks, at minimum, is generally preferred for doing it right. But in the real world, life comes at you fast, and so does a last minute move.
There are two primary types of hurried moves. There are the ones where you don’t have a lot of lead time between finding out you have to move and the move itself, and then the ones where you procrastinate just a bit too much and find yourself staring at a completely unpacked home a couple days before the movers are set to arrive. In either instance, figuring out how to move quickly is a necessity. Here are 6 tips to help you out.
1. Start with the logistics
A last minute move has a way of making every task seem both imminently necessary and utterly difficult to accomplish. It’s easy to feel paralyzed by how much needs to get done, but instead of letting your moving to-dos overwhelm you, just take a deep breath and get to work crossing items off of the list.
Your first step is going to be either hiring a moving company or renting a truck, depending on if you’re going to need professional help with your move or you’re planning to do it yourself. If you are using movers, you won’t have much time to do research, so use a tool like Google to quickly find a list of reputable movers in your area. If you’re renting a truck, get quotes from two or three companies and then make a decision right away. The sooner you have the logistics of your move sorted out, the sooner you can get to work on everything else.
2. Get rid of the things you don’t need
The less you have to pack, the easier packing will be. And with a last minute move, easy packing is key. Go through each room, closet, and cabinet of your house or apartment and pull out items you no longer want or need. Separate these items into three piles: donate, recycle, and throw away.
Think practicality, not sentimentality. A move is a great time to edit down your things, and a hurried move gives you even more incentive to travel lightly. Resist the urge to just pack everything with the idea that you’ll get rid of things once you’re unpacking in your new home. It’s much simpler to sort these items out pre-move and save your time and energy for the things that really matter.
Once your piles are sorted, get rid of them. Take the trash and recycling out, and drop off your donations. You can donate pretty much anything to Goodwill, provided it’s in good condition. Used linens and towels can be dropped off at your local animal shelter, while unopened, unexpired food (particularly canned food) will go a long way at your local food pantry.
Have furniture or other large items you’d like to donate? Depending on availability, you may be able to have a charity group come by and pick them up. Head to Donation Town, enter your zip code, and you’ll find a list of nearby charities who will come pick up gently used furniture and household items. Schedule as soon as you can so that it will be more likely someone is free to come out.
3. Put together a moving essentials bag
Before you start packing, put aside a small duffel bag and fill it with the essentials you can’t afford to misplace in the ensuing chaos. This includes any medications and important documents you have, chargers, day-to-day toiletries, and maybe a couple changes of clothes. While this is something you would want to do even if you weren’t moving in a hurry, it’s especially important during a last minute move, when things are likely to get a bit messier and more exhausting. Once your essentials bag is put together, you can get started on the big project: packing.
4. Don’t think, pack
Packing in a hurry requires a little less deference paid to organization and a little bit more paid to just getting everything in a box and setting it aside. The goal here is to get all of your things from your current home to your new one intact, and if a short time frame means that you can’t optimally sort items or keep an itemized list of what’s packed where, so be it. Instead, keep your eye on the prize and follow these packing tips for moving in a hurry:
- Pack now and sort later. Don’t worry about keeping like items together or having a “theme” for each box. Put things where they fit, even if it means packing the water glasses with the board games and the spare light bulbs with the contents of your filing cabinet. As long as everything is packed safely and securely, you can deal with sorting once you’re in your new home. And it’s okay to skip labeling boxes, but do make sure to note on a box if there are fragile items inside.
- Use soft items like socks and towels to wrap breakables. Fill two needs with one deed by wrapping breakable items like vases and glassware in soft items you need to pack anyway, such as socks, towels, and clothing. As a bonus, you’ll also save money on packing supplies.
- Set up boxes as you need them. Keep your space as clear and manageable as possible by only setting up boxes as you’re ready to fill them. Once a box is filled, tape it up, move it out of the way, and set up a new one.
- Pack clothes as they are. Save yourself a ton of time and boxes by packing up clothes as they already are. For clothes hanging in the closet, wrap a strong garbage bag around them, starting from the bottom and tying the bag’s strings around the hangers. Keep dresser drawers intact and simply remove each drawer and wrap it in packing materials or keep the entire dressers as is (provided it’s not too heavy to move).
5. Ask for help
Moving is a big task, particularly when it has to get done quickly, and it’s totally okay to turn to your friends or family for some helping hands. Having one or more helpers can help you stay on track and prioritize, in addition to assisting you in just getting the job done faster. Truly time consuming tasks like packing up your kitchen cabinets and getting items dropped off for donation become significantly more simple when you’ve got another person (or persons) helping you out. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, but do be sure to show appreciation by ordering in a meal while they’re helping you pack or baking your helpers some cupcakes once you’re settled in your new home.
6. Leave some tasks to the movers
One of the big benefits of hiring professional movers is the assistance you get when things are really down to the wire. I once started packing an apartment at 10pm when the movers were arriving the following morning at 7am (I do not recommend this), and if it hadn’t been for their help throwing everything in my closet into wardrobe boxes and safely wrapping up my furniture there was no way I would have gotten everything done. If you have movers coming, it’s okay to leave a few tasks, just know that you’ll end up paying a bit more in packing materials and labor. With a hurried move though, sometimes that’s they best way to go.
Moving is a stressful process no matter how much time you have. If you’re figuring out how to move in a hurry, focus on the big picture and just getting your things to your new home as safely as possible. Unpacking might take a little bit longer, but hey, at least you made it.