Top 5 Moving Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When talking to people about their moving experiences, I often hear the same problems, mostly to do with disorganization and moving company complaints. After receiving a few emails from readers who are also suffering from the same moving issues, I thought I'd compile a list of the top 5 most common mistakes people make when they move.

1. Thinking You Have More Time Than You Do.

If you've never moved before, or if it's been a while, we often forget just how long it takes to get things organized. Now, some of you won't have a choice of timing or the amount of time you have to plan, perhaps due to an employment-based move or because of a personal emergency. For the rest of you, it's all about organizing and timing your move in order to avoid last-minute panic.

Whenever you're planning a big event, like a move, it's best to work backward; determine your move-out date, whether it's determined by a home sale or end of rent period or end of school term. Once you have your move-out date, count back to at least eight weeks, ten is preferred. I do recommend an extra couple of weeks just to give yourself time to hire movers (if that's part of your move), sort your belongings and figure out a solid budget.

Use the 8-week guide to moving to help prioritize tasks and figure out exactly what you need to do so that on moving day, you're not panicking because the movers haven't shown up yet!

2. Not Thoroughly Checking References for at Least 3 Moving Companies.

Call as many moving companies as you can - I recommend at least five - then do thorough reference checks. Even knowing that your mover has not had any unresolved complaints still does not mean that your move will be smooth, but you're certainly more apt to be able to resolve any problems that might arise. Moves are tricky. Things can get broken or go missing, which is not always the fault of the mover; however, you can limit the stress and unnecessary hassle if you do background checks before asking each to come over for an estimate.

3. Not Asking All the Questions You Need to Ask of the Movers and Not Carefully Reading the Paperwork or Contract.

Before you hire, make sure you ask all the questions you need to ask to ensure that you're getting what you need out of the moving company. Find out about their estimates, if the insurance will cover your things, and if there are any extra costs for services rendered. This isn't the complete list of questions you need to get answers for, but it's a start. For a complete list, check out this article on hiring moving companies.

And when checking paperwork, another mistake a lot of people make is not rechecking the inventory sheet to ensure that all the items packed on the truck, arrive at their destination. This is particularly important if your household items are sharing space on a trailer; it's easy for items to be left behind. If something is missing, do not sign the inventory sheet until the item is found.

4. Not Souring Through All the Stuff Before Packing.

I'm guilty of doing this myself: not getting rid of all the stuff I should before I start to pack. Usually, it's because we're doing a last minute move or because I just don't have time. But what I've found over the years, is that by not sorting through my things I end up taking more time both when I have to pack all that extra stuff and when unpacking it, too. Or, what's worse, is that the stuff I really don't need never gets unpacked and it just sits in our garage until the next time we move.

So, now whenever we move, the first thing I do is go through all our belongings and get rid of anything we haven't used in the last year. I do a thorough review of all our books (which cost a lot to move if you're being charged by weight) and give away any that aren't true keepers.  I'm also ruthless when it comes to paperwork, things that are being kept because of some sentimentality (like my husband hanging onto his high school physics books!), and any extra clothes, shoes or sports equipment we haven't used in a long time. Most things can be donated and it's much better than your unwanted items end up in the hands of someone who could use them, than in a box in your garage.

So sort through your things first and save yourself both time and money.

5. Not Leaving Enough Time to Pack All of Your Stuff.

While this may seem like an obvious tip, it's incredible how most of us miscalculate the time we need to pack because when you're packing for a move, you often forget to build in time to carefully wrap fragile items, find packing supplies (especially if you're using used boxes), and the tedium that often comes with packing which requires frequent breaks with many interruptions.

I always start every move with a plan of attack. I make a list of the essential things and areas of the house that need to be packed last before I start to pack the first box. If you plan well, then you won't need to unpack boxes to find the stuff you need and had already packed.

So plan, plan, plan. Then pick up your supplies, set aside a space to put the packed boxes and assign tasks for your family.