12 Tips on How to Handle a Last-Minute Move


Even if you have months to prepare, moving is stressful. It requires a lot of planning, ongoing organization, and a bit of patience. When you need to move on a deadline, this process becomes even more difficult. For this reason, most people try to avoid stressful, last-minute moves. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible. Regardless of your plans, life can always throw you a curveball. Whether it’s a new job, a transfer, or even a hot housing market, it’s important to know how to handle an expedited move. The first step to overcoming the anxiety that follows is to breathe. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed, but it’s not an impossible feat to accomplish. To help, here are 12 tips on how to handle a last-minute move.

1. Make a Checklist

While it may seem counterintuitive to sit down and make a list, doing so can help you get organized and ensure that you don’t forget essential to-do items. So, even if you feel completely overwhelmed, try to take a few minutes out of your day to create a packing and moving checklist. There are plenty of options for downloadable lists online, which can make this step even easier. Just make sure that you include everything you need to get done, any deadlines that you may have, and contact numbers that you may need to access during the entire process.

2. Sort Out Logistics

The next step in successfully initiating a last-minute move is to sort out all of the logistics. It’s easy to get hyper-focused on packing or cleaning your home and overlook setting up utilities. However, without utilities you’ll find yourself in your new home with no access to electricity, gas, water, or Internet. Therefore, it’s important to include in your pre-moving checklist. You can schedule the transfer for moving day so the utilities at your old home shut-off on the same day the new ones are activated. This will ensure you have everything you need during the entire moving process.

3. Use Suitcases

Begin packing for your move as soon as possible using the suitcases you have lying around. You’ll want to set aside one small bag for each person in your family to use during the move, but then you can begin filling the rest with shoes, books, clothes, or anything else you want to pack early. This reduces the number of moving boxes you’ll need to buy and makes good use of items you’ll need to transfer anyway. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pack all of the contents of your home into your suitcases, it’s a good start.

4. Leave Clothes on Hangers

Another tip for handling a last-minute move like a pro is to leave all of your clothes on the hangers. Taking everything off the hanger, folding it, and placing it in a box only to be removed in a few days and rehung is a waste of time. Instead, purchase a few wardrobe boxes from the local department store and simply move them out of your closet and into the boxes. If you want to save money and time, you can also take a handful of your clothes on hangers, make a small hole at the bottom of a heavy-duty trash bag, and slip it over the stack with the top of the hangers sticking out. This will keep your clothes protected during the move and make transfers into your new home a breeze.

5. Get Packing Supplies

At some point, you will need to get at least a few packing supplies, so try to do this early on. You should get a variety of different sized boxes, packing tape, markers, packing paper or bubble wrap, and anything else you may need. If you plan to make the move on your own, inquire about renting a moving truck and a dolly to facilitate the process. Always put your heaviest items in small boxes to avoid over packing them and reserve large boxes for light things like blankets, pillows, towels, or linens.

6. Donate or Sell Excess

As you begin to put your belongings into boxes, consider each item. Think about whether or not you actually need or want all of your things and if you don’t think you’ll use or enjoy something in your new home, put it into a box to donate or sell. This will help you reduce the number of things that you need to pack, and eventually unpack, while simultaneously giving you the chance to purge and declutter. If you have some time, try to make a little money off of your clutter by hosting a yard sale or posting things on online marketplaces.

7. Hire a Junk Removal Company

For families with large items they no longer need, like an outdated TV or an old couch, consider hiring a junk removal company. These professionals will come to your home and remove unwanted items for a small fee. Depending on the quality of your belongings, they may take them to a donation center or simply toss them into a junkyard. However, this can help you expedite the moving process without overexerting yourself.

8. Tackle One Room at a Time

As a rule of thumb, try to only tackle one room at a time. You may be tempted to go from one room to the next but putting all of your focus on a single area will allow you to pack it faster than if you keep moving around. Plus, packing each room separately will organize your belongings and make them easier to unload when you’re at your new home. Put aside anything you may need during your transition and pack it in your suitcase with the other essentials.

9. Keep Essentials Available

As mentioned, you’ll want to put things aside that you think you’ll need when packing and moving. This should include toiletries, a few pairs of clothes, pajamas, a pillow and bedding, and a few essential kitchen items to continue cooking while you pack. You’ll pack these items last and unpack them first when you arrive to your new home. Essentials may also include chargers, prescription medicine, and a coffee maker.

10. Recruit Help

Tackling a last-minute move is not a one-man job. Depending on the amount of time you have, you may need to ask your friends and family for help. Try to do this early on so they can accommodate you in their schedules and make sure you supply drinks and food as a thank you. If you have children, have them help by asking them to pack up their toys and other small belongings in boxes of their own.

11. Hire a Moving Company or Rent a Truck

The moment you find out you’re moving you should look into either hiring a moving company or renting a truck. Since both options can be booked up far in advance, it’s best to do this as soon as possible. Ask for referrals on moving companies and don’t be afraid to call around if your first choice is unavailable. There are several options across cities in the U.S. so you should be able to find someone to help.

12. Consider Short-Term Self-Storage

You can also look into using short-term self-storage to help facilitate your move. This gives you a chance to put boxes or furniture into storage during the packing process to make moving day easier and less dependent on companies or large trucks. Using self-storage also allows you to unpack slowly rather than trying to navigate a home filled with hundreds of boxes. If you’re downsizing, you can continue using storage for long-term needs and access items anytime you want.

Even the most prepared families can struggle with a move, so if you find yourself needing to relocate at a minute’s notice, stop and take a breath. It is possible to successfully complete a last-minute move without losing your mind. In fact, with a little strategic efficiency, you can easily pack and move in two weeks or less. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by staying organized, focused, and utilizing a self-storage unit for short-term storage. To help, The Lock Up Self Storage offers both short- and long-term self-storage units with flexible leasing options. All of our units are climate-controlled and secured by 24/7 perimeter alarms, gated access codes, and CCTV. Regardless of your location, The Lock Up provides you with safe, secure, and temperature-controlled units so you don’t have to worry about the safety and perseverance of your belongings. To learn more about our locations, self-storage unit sizes, and available units, call us today at (866) 327-LOCK.