1. Check the Weather (and check it again!)
In the cold, and often unpredictable, winter months, the weather can change quickly and drastically. We recommend checking the weather forecast daily in the weeks leading up to your move, but also relying on what you’re seeing and feeling when you step outside on moving day to determine if the conditions are moving-friendly. Also, particularly for long distance moves, be sure to check the weather at the location you’re leaving, the location you’re moving to, and in the areas you’ll be passing through on your move to ensure you’ll have cooperative weather every mile of your journey.
2. Be Sure Utilities are On in Your New Home
Nobody wants to arrive at a cold house on moving day, and in especially frigid temps, heat that is too low poses a risk for freezing pipes. Check with your landlord or realtor to be sure that all utilities remain turned on and can be readily transferred to your name. We also recommend checking with your current landlord, or home buyer, to see how they would like to handle the utility transfer. Chances are they’ll be happy that you didn’t simply disconnect services, which can take time (and money!) to reactivate.
3. Cover Your Floors
On moving day, there will be countless trips from the inside to the outside and back again, and if it’s snowy, muddy, or just plain messy outside, those trips can result in exhausting floor clean-up once the day is done. Prepare your floors ahead of time by laying down protective tarps, sheets and towels, which can easily be washed or tossed at day’s end. In addition to protecting your floors, these will also help minimize chances of people falling, providing traction for wet soles. If floor coverings aren’t an option, leave a tray at the front door where shoes can be easily slipped on and off.
4. Have Old Sheets, Blankets, and Towels On-Hand
The weather can change in the blink of an eye during a move, and if rain or snow start falling, you will need protection for your furniture and belongings as they're moved into the house. In the months leading up to your move, ask friends and family to donate any old linens they’ll be tossing, and add them to your moving stockpile!
5. Ensure Children and Pets are Safe and Warm
If it isn’t possible to get a babysitter or pet sitter for move-in day, be sure to have a warm, safe space for kids and/or pets to relax and play during the moving process. While it can be a great learning experience – and big help! – to get older kids involved, consider that there are a lot of moving parts in a move, and it can be easy for little ones and pets to get underfoot or wander off.
6. Plan an Early Start
While getting an early start for any move is recommended, it is especially important during winter months when daylight hours are precious and few! Plan to leave as early as possible to account for the early sunset, and be prepared for an extra day or two of unpacking the moving truck if you have an especially large move.
7. Lower the Heat on Move-In Day
On moving day, your doors will be constantly opening and closing, which can result in your heater working overtime trying to keep up. Meanwhile, your bill will keep unnecessarily climbing, resulting in a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. We recommend lowering the heat on move-in day so you aren’t “heating the whole neighborhood” as your parents might say!
If it is very cold outside, be sure to keep the heat at an adequate level that there is no risk of freezing pipes. Also, consider adding a space heater to one dedicated ‘warm room’ that can serve as the safe space for children and pets, as well as a place you can warm up during much-needed breaks.
8. Pack Your Car with Essentials, Electronics, and Other Cold-Sensitive Items
Be sure not to put anything in the moving truck that can be damaged by cold, which is especially of concern as the truck sits out overnight. If including cold-sensitive items is a must, clearly mark the boxes that you want to open first. If possible, and you're taking a car that will be temperature controlled, pack fragile items, temperature-sensitive items, and electronics in your car. Also keep all essential medication with you, especially if you aren't traveling in the moving truck itself. Then, if something happens and the truck arrival is delayed, you aren’t left waiting without your prescriptions.
9. Plan Ahead for Parking
Parking in the winter can be tough, especially when inclement weather strikes. If you’re moving to a city, you may need to reserve a space ahead of time, at a possible fee, to have a dedicated parking spot for your moving truck. Be sure to post clear, obvious signs a day or two ahead of time, alerting neighbors of the specific times during which you have reserved parking.
10. Pack a Winter Emergency Kit
Pack a full winter emergency kit in every vehicle someone will be traveling in, including: first aid kit, ice scrapers, snow shovels, rock salt, tow rope, blankets, non-perishable snacks, warm clothes, blankets, and cash.
11. Be Sure Moving Conditions are Safe at Both Locations
Ensure that all walkways and driveways are shoveled, salted, and safe, at your current location as well as the location you’re moving to. If you aren't physically able to shovel and snow has fallen or is in the forecast, be sure to have someone lined up to handle that for you ahead of the movers getting there.
12. Provide Warm Drinks Throughout the Day
When the weather outside is frightful, a warm cup of cocoa, coffee, cider, or tea can be delightful! Keep a fresh batch of warm drinks on-hand for everyone involved in the move to enjoy as needed.
13. Be Sure to Take Frequent Breaks
Be sure to take adequate breaks. Sometimes in the winter we push harder because we aren't sweating as heavily as we would be in the summer, or we just want to power through. Be mindful that even if you aren’t dripping with sweat, you are likely exerting yourself far more than is typical, and doing so while going in and out (and in and out, and in and out!) of the cold.
14. Winterize Your Car for the Move
Ensure your car is ready for the move, with fluids changed or topped off, brakes and battery inspected, and good tread on your tires. As a bonus, this will also be one less thing to worry about once you settle in your new place, giving you time to find a new garage if it was a far move.
15. Dress in Layers and Slip-Proof Footwear
Dress in layers to keep comfortable indoors and outdoors, and wear slip-proof shoes or boots. Also be sure to pack an extra clean, warm, dry outfit or two so you can change if you get wet. No one wants to step back out into the cold with damp clothing on – brrr!
16. Slow Down
Go slow, and go with the flow! Travel hiccups and additional travel time happen – they’re simply part of the moving game. Mentally prepare for that ahead of time, and try not to get too upset if things don’t go as planned. Moving day will be a distant memory before you know it!
17. Consider Hiring Professional Movers
If you aren't experienced with driving a truck on potentially icy roads, trust this move to the professionals. We understand the importance of cutting corners during a move wherever possible, but safety should be your primary concern. Also, be clear on insurance for your goods in case they were damaged in an accident. Even the most experienced drivers can hit an unexpected patch of ice, and you’ll want to be sure your valuables are protected in the event they are damaged in transit.
18. Have Alternate Travel Routes Mapped Up
Have several routes available just in case there is extensive road work, road closures, or accidents along your preferred route. While most of us can make a quick reroute thanks to GPS, being familiar with alternate routes ahead of time can help in deciding which route is best, and easing anxiety if we have to veer from our ideal course.
19. Consider if Holiday Travel is Right for You
While we recommend avoiding the hustle and bustle of traveling during the holidays when possible, we also understand that it can be necessary if you’re starting school or a new job. Additionally, the holidays can be an ideal moving time for parents of school-age children. If you have children and want to take advantage of days they’ll already be enjoying winter break, it might be worth the additional costs and concerns that can come with a holiday move. In short – be aware of the pros and cons, and decide what is the right fit for your unique considerations and needs.
20. Set Aside Emergency Funds
We know this is easier said than done, particularly with how expensive moving is, but every extra penny counts in a pinch. Set aside as much emergency money as possible in case bad weather does hit and you need to spend the night at a hotel, or keep the moving truck for an extra day. This cash cushion will give you peace of mind, and if you end up not needing it, it will be nice to have some saved money for anything you might not have realized you needed in your new place. (For example, I once found myself a single curtain short when moving into an apartment with 3 bedroom windows instead of my former 2!)
21. Be Mindful of Cold and Flu Season
In addition to packing plenty of cold medicine, cough drops, warm slippers and a heating pad, we recommend prioritizing getting set-up with a new primary care doctor in the event of a long distance move. Then, if you do get sick and over-the-counter medicine isn’t cutting it, you’ll already be set up as a patient, and will likely have an easier time getting seen quickly.
22. Have an Emergency Contact List with You
Make sure you have all potentially necessary phone numbers with you, including roadside assistance and a number you can dial into for up-to-date reports on road conditions.
23. Be Clear on Moving Day Flexibility
Be clear about potential moving day flexibility should especially bad weather arise. Chat with your current landlord (or home buyer), new landlord (or home seller), moving company, and anyone you are scheduled to meet in person for something at your new place. While dates are sometimes ‘set in stone,’ knowing if there is some degree of flexibility for events outside your control can give you peace of mind, and help you properly plan.
24. Make Your House Feel Like a Home
We recommend packing a “feels like home” box full of the little things that make a big difference. For me, this box includes my favorite table runner, go-to coffee mug, suncatchers for the kitchen window, and an essential oil diffuser. Think on what easy-to-pack-in-one-box items will instantly make your new space feel like home, and be sure those are among the first items you open. If it's close to the holidays, pack up a few of your favorite, must-have decorations so you can infuse your new space with warmth and good cheer!
25. Pack Your Pajamas!
Even in a house lined with moving boxes to unpack, little comforts can go a long way. Be sure you clearly label the box with everyone's pajamas, bed linens, and bath towels tucked inside. Even if you don't get the bedrooms fully put together, you'll be warm and can get a good rest for the next day.
26. Ensure Your Internet and Cable are Transferred
Last but not least, make sure you have your internet and cable transferred
ahead of your move so you can snuggle in after a long moving day and warm up with your favorite shows!