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Hack Your Move: 19 Secrets for Moving Like a Pro

Posted by Jennifer Oppriecht

On Thu,Aug 08,2013


Hack your move

It’s August. Moving day approaches. Whether moving into a college dorm for the first time or your first nice “not-a-student-anymore apartment,” here’s the reality: moving stinks.  Which is why we’ve created this list of 19 hacks guaranteed to make moving day better.

We’ve scoured the web so you don’t have to—okay, mostly Pinterest; tossed in some tips from the professionals (our friends in the moving biz), and the result is a list you’ll hopefully find useful.

Here’s Hack Your Move: 19 Secrets for Moving Like a Pro. Comment with your favorites or any secrets you’ve got up your sleeve that we missed! Help out your fellow man… er, mover.

Moving hack #1: Treat loading the truck like a game of Tetris. Figuring out how to efficiently place your items in the moving truck can be a bit like playing the most addicting Nintendo puzzle game of all time, minus the catchy tunes. Here’s a fancy infographic that proves it.

Furniture Tetris resized 600
Image source: Extra Space Storage Blog

Moving hack #2: Follow the wisdom of movers who’ve come before you. Video games aren’t your thing? Then follow the time-tested advice of moving professionals everywhere.  This handy diagram shows the science behind loading that moving truck.

 How to load a moving truck

Image source: JDM Packing Supplies

Moving hack #3: Miscount boxes (aim high). Nothing worse than running out of boxes the night before moving! Who needs the last-minute stress?! Reference this chart, get a couple extras “just in case,” and avoid the late-night scramble for cardboard.

how many boxes do i need for moving
Image source: Two Men and a Truck

Moving hack #4: Shamelessly rock the moving-day gadgets. You know the weird contraptions you see professional movers using? Well, there’s a reason they use them, and they may be worth the slight rental fee from the truck rental company. After all, professional movers spend a lot of time doing this sort of thing. I bet they’re onto something.

Dollies, moving straps, and hand trucks: tools that make moving faster, safer, and easier. Use them!

Moving hack #5: Color-code your boxes with labels or packing tape. Straightforward enough, right? Ditch the sharpie (which you’ll inevitably set down and lose somewhere) and the time-consuming task of writing out the room names on every box. Save the taping of boxes until the end, tape in batches using the designated color for each room, and you’re set!

  How to label boxes when moving

Image source: On Task Organizing

Moving hack #6: Pack your entire closet at once. Don’t even think about taking all those clothes off their hangers, neatly folding them, and placing them in your suitcases. Instead, gather them on the hangers in garbage bags and transport them in neat little stacks. Simple.

How to pack clothes when moving

Image source: I Heart Nap Time

Moving hack #7: Use suitcases for your heaviest items, like books. Here’s the perfect follow-up to our last hack, and a much better use for your suitcases than clothing that’s already ready for moving anyway.

 easiest way to pack books for moving

Moving hack #8: Call in the troops for help, but have a game plan. Nobody likes that person who asks for help moving, but once help arrives, nothing’s ready for the moving truck. Have everything boxed up and ready to go by the time your friends show up. 

Here’s the recipe for really making the help happy: 1) Food (and drink!) 2) clearly-labeled boxes and direct instructions 3) small blocks of time set aside for friend help—don’t expect them to be there all day and 4) an act or gift that demonstrates appreciation.

For a free solution, consider this “coupon book” where friends can redeem things like rides to the airport, help with their own moves, or pet/baby-sitting.

 favors for friends coupons

Image source: The Dating Divas

Moving hack #9: Sell everything you own. Okay, so this is a pretty extreme hack for most people. But seriously, have you considered the idea of selling or donating most of what’s making your move such a pain?

This Lifehacker Guide to Selling Your Unwanted Crap for Money should probably be bookmarked. It’s a definitive compilation of how to sell anything you own: from electronics and children’s toys to clothing and books.

sell everything i own

Image source: Lifehacker

Moving hack #10: Look into your crystal ball and purge! Do you have a move ahead of you – whether to next year’s apartment or out of town for a job transfer? Picture yourself moving the same items all over again. If you’re not going to use it, PITCH IT!

Or, as you’re packing, start a pile of items you’d like to donate. We’ve highlighted Thrift Stores in Madison WI before. Many will pick up furniture and other items for you!

Thrift Stores in Madison, WI

Moving hack #11: Scope out the new restaurant delivery options. When moving, few things are as universal as the desire to devour some delivery grub for dinner the first night in your new place.

Pick out the pizza or Chinese delivery joint in advance so you’re ready to eat and relax. Check out Madison-based startup EatStreet so you don’t have to worry about delivery zones.

food delivery in madison wi
Image source: EatStreet

Moving hack #12: Rent boxes. There are lots of companies that rent plastic moving boxes. They deliver the boxes to your door, you pack them up and move them, and when you're done they come pick up the boxes. It's good for the environment, and saves you the hassle of running all over town to find moving boxes.


Moving hack #13: The toolbox should be the last thing you pack and the first you unload. It’s how you’ll guarantee you have a hammer to open that bottle of win, after all!

things to remember for moving, toolbox

Moving hack #14: Determine your furniture layout in advance. Wouldn’t it be nice to carry the heavy items directly to their new home in the new place? Check out these online tools (many free!) which make configuring your furniture a breeze. It’s like playing The Sims. Except, not a total waste of time.

floorplanner, for fitting furniture in my apartment

Image created at Floorplanner

Moving hack #15: Get creative when packing your dishes. Who the heck reads the newspaper anymore? Odds are you don’t have a ton of it lying around to wrap around your plates. Styrofoam is your friend.

pack plates for moving with styrofoam plates in between
Image source: The Frugal Girls

Moving hack #16: Use a rubber band to prevent getting locked out. Does your new apartment door automatically lock behind you. It’s especially irritating when you’re moving and you get locked out over and over again! Problem solved...

avoid getting locked out when moving, rubber band to keep door open

Moving hack #17: Create permanent solutions to ongoing organizational nightmares. This is just an example, but as you’re preparing to pack, think about the items that have “driven you nuts” for as long as you can remember. Explore Pinterest to see if there’s a solution; there probably is. Cords a heaping, tangled mess? Keep toilet paper rolls from a month before or cut the paper towel rolls in half.

organize cords  

Moving hack #18: Follow our moving-on-the-cheap checklist. Last month, we assembled 18 Things to Do Before Moving that Will Save You Cash. If your goal is to move for as little money as possible, follow that list.

Moving hack #19: Say “to heck with doing it myself,” and use a service like unpakt. We haven’t extensively tested this unique online moving company comparison tool, but it definitely looks promising and there are a number of participating movers from our area. Check it out and let us know how it goes!

That’s it – we’d love to hear about any hacks we’ve missed. 

One more thing – it may not be a hack, but it sure can help.  While you’re moving, don’t forget to use our #SBAmovein hashtag for Twitter and Instagram.  Use the hashtag and you can win big, and I do mean BIG, prizes. Subscribe to the Smarter Renter blog so you don’t miss the big contest announcement later this week!

Lease Checklist

Topics: Madison Apartment, Moving Out of Your Madison Apartment, Moving Out, Moving In, Moving Into Your First Apartment, Moving Out of Apartment, Moving, #SBAmovein, Moving Out Checklist, Moving to Madison, Things to Do Before Moving, life hacks, life hacks for moving

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