Tips & Guides / Moving Guides

15 Common Moving Mistakes to Avoid

By Barbara Zito | Sep 13, 2022
Man moving boxes during apartment move.

Moving to a new place is a big endeavor. While no move is without at least some hitch, you want your big day to go as smoothly as possible. To do that, you’ll need to avoid any of the common moving mistakes people make that can end up being costly both in terms of time and money.

Here are 15 moving-related mistakes to keep in mind—and hopefully keep away from making!—as you prepare for your next move to your new home:

1. You didn’t declutter ahead of time

Donating Decluttering And Cleaning Up Wardrobe Clothes

Decluttering is important for keeping stuff organized, and it’s absolutely vital if you plan to move to a place that might be smaller or configured differently than your current home. But even if you do happen to be moving to a bigger space, you likely might not need or even want some of the things you currently own.

A common moving blunder is to pack things that you only plan to discard or donate when you get to your new home. There’s a reason many people have a garage or yard sale before they leave their old home, and it might make sense to host one of your own.

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2. You don’t have enough packing materials

It’s very easy to fill up boxes, but it can be hard to calculate just how many cardboard boxes you’ll need to pack up your belongings. Some moving company sites actually have box calculators that will help you estimate how many you need for the size of your space.

If you know you’re going to be moving months from now, it’s not a terrible idea to start holding onto those delivery boxes coming to your current home or asking friends and neighbors to save theirs for you. You can always purchase packing supplies from a moving company or an online retailer, but this can add up depending on how many you need. Start collecting boxes early and perhaps you’ll only end up needing to purchase some rolls of packing tape.

3. You started packing too late

It’s super easy to procrastinate when it comes to such a time-consuming task as packing. But you’ll want to start sooner rather than later so that you don’t feel rushed as moving day approaches. Yes, it’s possible to get a lot of packing done quickly, but it only adds more stress to your already full schedule.

If you have too many things going on that will prevent you from packing in a timely manner, you might want to consider adding the expense of packing services to your moving budget—many professional moving companies, including long-distance movers, offer this in-home service for their customers.

Keep in mind that when you rush with packing, you’ll make mistakes that could cost you in the long run—such as causing any damage that might forfeit your security deposit at your old place. You’ll thank yourself for starting early so you give yourself time to breathe.

4. You started packing too early

Yes, it is possible to start packing too early. The idea of moving to a new area might be very exciting, but it’s also rather annoying to know that you still need access to something—anything from a shirt to a water pitcher—that you’ll have to unpack a box to retrieve.

If you do want to get a jump start on packing, be sure to pack away only non-essentials like out-of-season clothing. And if all those packing boxes are getting in the way of daily life, consider a short-term solution like renting a self-storage unit to clear the space.

5. You didn’t book movers early enough

Man holding clipboard on blurred boxes background

If you’re moving during the height of moving season, you’ll need to book movers way in advance in order to get the day you want. Even if you book an off-season move, such as around the holidays or in the winter when people are hunkering down instead of moving out, it’s best to call movers as soon as you know that you’ll be moving. Like with booking any appointment, the sooner you do it, the more choices you’ll have in securing a time slot—and also getting the best rates.

6. You didn’t pay for moving insurance

Many professional moving companies have insurance built into their contracts, but if not, you’ll want to get it from a third-party insurance company. Be sure to purchase a plan that has enough coverage for any high-value belongings that might get lost or damaged in transit. There are other ways to save money when moving, but skipping moving insurance is not one of them.

7. You didn’t get enough moving estimates

It’s understandable to get excited when the first moving company you speak to has your proposed moving date available—but that doesn’t mean you should book it right away. Just as you would get several quotes for any other service before committing to a provider, you should do it with movers—especially if you’ve got an out-of-state or another long-distance move ahead of you. Need a recommendation? Ask local real estate agents whether they can recommend a mover.

Keep in mind, however, that the earlier you start researching movers, the better the chance you’ll have at getting not only your preferred move-out date, but the best rate for it, too. Plus, it’s easy to get a free quote from a mover—you can use the online cost calculator that many moving companies provide, or you can simply ask.

For more information, check out our blog post, “How Much Do Movers Cost?

8. You don’t have a moving checklist

Maybe you like writing things down, or perhaps you prefer entering your to-do list digitally. Either way, make sure you have a task checklist for your move. There are simply too many things happening all at once, and it’s not a good idea to rely on memory, especially when you start to get stressed. Make some lists—anything from what to pack to what travel arrangements need to be made if you’re gearing up for a long-distance move—and start checking off items as you go. You’ll feel accomplished at what you’ve completed and compelled to keep going until you check them all off on the day of the final walk-through of your empty home.

9. You didn’t pack valuables properly

Making sure her valuables are snugly packed. Shot of a young woman unpacking a box at home.

Whether you need extra bubble wrap or padding for breakables or simply need a safe spot for jewelry or other valuables, it pays to take time now to figure out how to pack your things properly. If you’re working with professional movers, you might ask them for tips on how to pack, especially any irreplaceable items. They do this sort of thing for a living, after all, and their business depends on having happy customers whose belongings get to their final destination in tip-top condition.

10. You didn’t secure the required parking permits

Moving to a city has its own challenges, and a big one is parking. Whether you are hiring a mover or are driving the moving truck yourself, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the OK to park it on the street—both at your current home and your new home. Don’t leave this task to the last minute, either, as it might take time to process the paperwork.

11. You forgot to notify the post office of your new address

The U.S. Postal Service makes it very easy to forward your mail—but you have to notify your local office when to do it. You can fill out the change-of-address form on the website, which will also allow you to enter the date that you wish to start receiving your mail at your new house or apartment. It takes just a couple of minutes to do and it will save you a lot of hassle later on.

At the same time you change your address, call your utility company and let them know when the shut-off for electricity should happen so you’re not continuing to pay that utility bill after you’ve moved out.

12. You forgot to pack an essentials bag

Unless you are truly traveling light, it’s unlikely that you are going to unpack every single box on the day you move in. That’s why you’ll want to pack some essentials—everything from a change of clothes to any medication you might need—so that you can get set up with some creature comforts right away. Be sure to label those boxes and keep them somewhere that’s easily accessible. The same goes for a toiletry bag, as well as any important documents you need to keep at the ready. Don’t forget some non-perishable snacks, because moving will work up an appetite!

13. Your boxes aren’t labeled properly

Photo of a womans hands taping up a cardboard box, can be used for removal or logistics related themes.

This isn’t just about indicating which boxes contain fragile items. This is about labeling all boxes so you’re not forgetting which box contains what when you arrive in your new city. Color-coding is one way to go about it—every room in your new place gets a color that corresponds to a color-coded box so that the movers know exactly where to put it.

You’ll also need to make up an inventory list as you go through the packing process to ensure that all the boxes you had pre-move have ended up with you post-move. Go room-by-room to make sure everything is in order, and be sure to clearly label any boxes containing delicate items with the word “FRAGILE.”

14. You didn’t take proper measurements for furniture

Your furniture might fit nicely into your current place, but will it do the same in the new space? Better get the measuring tape or double-check the floor plan to find out if you want to avoid one of the more common mistakes during a move. Don’t forget about measuring doorways and stairwells, too, so that your furniture can make it into your new location along with all those boxes.

15. You underestimated your DIY move

Home Move Stress. Frustrated Couple Moving Apartment

It’s certainly admirable that you want to save money on your move by not hiring pros, as is not wanting to bribe friends or family with pizza and a cold drink to help you carry all those boxes. But if you are in over your head with how much you have to move or how quickly you have to move it all, it’s important to ask for help.

At the very least, having some help will make relocation less of a stressful situation. But you’ll also save your items from getting left behind or destroyed—not to mention potentially injuring yourself as you try to carry very heavy items. Be honest with yourself, and if you don’t have enough time or energy to devote to moving it all on your own, ask for or hire some help.

Whether you’re moving cross-country or to a place just across town, moving is a time-consuming endeavor. It’s fine if you don’t want to pay the expense of a full-service moving company, but if you’ve only got a few days to pack up for a long-distance move, you’ll have to do some careful planning to make sure everything is packed carefully for a stress-free relocation.

For a mistake-free move, be sure to keep an eye on your moving checklist and keep it up-to-date with any other tasks you might have to complete. When you arrive at your new place, you’ll want to spend more time exploring your new neighborhood, not chasing down missing boxes or lamenting over your eight-piece china set that is now in 20 pieces because you didn’t use enough bubble wrap.

Looking for a stress-free move for your next place? Landing offers fully furnished apartments with flexible leasing so you can find and move into your new home without a hassle. Learn more about what a membership can do for you!

Barbara Zito

Barbara Bellesi Zito is a freelance lifestyle writer from Staten Island, NY, where she lives with her husband and their dog. She covers real estate and home improvement for a variety of digital publications including Apartment Therapy, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, and of course, Landing’s blog.