4 Tips for Last-Minute Movers

August 17, 2015 | By

Last-minute moves can be a nightmare. Take it from me, I know from experience.

Last winter, faced with the possibility of enduring another brutal New York City cold snap while living in our tiny Lower East Side rental apartment that barely had any heat, my girlfriend and I found another apartment that had central heating and could be had for a very favorable rent.

There was a catch: We had to move within 48 hours upon signing the lease to our new apartment and strike a deal with our landlord to get out of the lease for the old apartment, which is what ended up happening.

Operating with little time and with little sleep, we bought all the packing materials we could find, successfully found movers to help us at the 11th hour, packed up our apartment in speedy fashion, and relocated everything to our new apartment in one piece.

Would I advise that you follow my lead and move at the last possible moment? Of course not. A successful move takes careful planning and a well-thought-out plan of attack. That means knowing which days to move, when to book your movers, and how much you can set aside to spend for your move.

But, unfortunately, when you’re faced with an emergency moving situation, you do not have the luxury of time to execute your move.

“You should always take into consideration that every little thing that happens with your move may not go according to plan,” says David LoPresti, director of MovingHelp.com, an online marketplace that connects customers to local and customer-rated movers.

“You can’t afford to procrastinate,” he adds.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re faced with a last-minute move into a new abode.

Timing is everything

Finding and booking movers in a few days’ time could potentially be “very difficult,” says Andrew Roth, the co-owner of College Muscle Movers, a moving company that operates in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas of Minnesota.

“It’s almost predictable when customers are moving,” says LoPresti. “A majority of my customers are moving during the weekends or during the summertime when their kids are out of school,” he adds.

Instead, Roth advises that you immediately sit down and start reaching out to as many moving companies as possible.

“Many movers are booked weeks in advance, so your biggest obstacle will be finding a company that is available,” says Roth.

The same applies to renting moving trucks and vans. People shouldn’t assume that a rental truck or van will be available when you’re in a bind.

“There’s going to be a truck available, but it likely may not be at the destination you would prefer,” says LoPresti. “A truck may be available 5 miles away from your home or at a location that’s 30 miles away.”

Buy as many packing materials as you can — and get a move on

When time is of the essence, people will want to buy any or all packing materials they can find in one fell swoop.

“Just go home, start packing, and just get into it,” says Roth. “Once you’ve gotten into a rhythm, packing goes by more quickly than you would think.”

When packing, it’s also important to set aside the important documents and possessions—like financial statements, checkbooks, and computers—from the other items you are planning to move. That way they won’t get mixed in with your other home items.

Also be sure to take a full inventory of the stuff you will be moving so you can provide your mover with a detailed list, says Roth. A checklist of things to pack will help you devise your plan of attack.

Separate the larger items from the more manageable ones

Moving furniture, beds, clothes, dishes, and the sundry of other personal belongings can be daunting. Instead, go easy on yourself by separating the larger stuff you can’t move yourself from the possessions you can, says LoPresti. This will help you save time with your move.

“If you are more able-bodied, you can have a moving company come in and move your larger furniture items, and then you and your loved ones can pick up a rental truck and ferry your smaller items back and forth,” says Roth.

You should also take stock of what you really need to move and what you can afford to leave behind. A beanbag chair that you’ve had since college, for instance, is not as essential as your bedroom mattress and kitchen dishes.

“This cuts down on moving time, and you won’t need to rent the biggest truck you can find,” says LoPresti.

Embrace Murphy’s Law

There are a lot of potential setbacks that can come with a last-minute move. You may not get that truck you need, or the landlord may not give you the time frame you need to execute your move.

Then there is your budget for the move itself, which can also be hard to predict.

“Most local moving services charge by the hour, so it’s important to ask what the hourly rate is and how long the company expects the service to take,” says Roth.

“Also it’s good to know whether each company has a minimum number of  hours of service. If you’re trying to hire movers on very short notice, though, you may not be in a position to be too picky about prices,” adds Roth.

There are movers that can be hired through Craigslist at cheap rates, but they’re often not insured and run the risk of being too much of a headache to deal with.

LoPresti said that hourly rates for last-minute movers can vary from market to market, and generally can start as low as under $100 and go as high as above $400.

“If your move is larger in nature, that will likely take the better part of a day and the overall cost could be relatively high,” says Roth.

Experts also advise that you insure your household items as well.

My girlfriend and I were fortunate in finding movers at the last moment, but it cost us a lot more than what we would have liked to pay.

However, the stress and the unpredictable budget were worth it. We survived the New York City winter with a heated apartment, and we love the bigger space it affords us.

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