No matter how far you’re traveling, moving is a challenge in any season. Add the cold temperatures, inclement weather, and icy driveways of winter to the equation and suddenly your move goes from challenging to daunting.
Don’t worry; with a few simple tips, we’ll get you ready for your winter move. Whether you’re planning your move or are already booked, packing yourself or hiring a professional crew, keep the following tips in mind to make your adventure stress-free and safe.
Tip #1) Watch the Weather
During the winter months, inclement weather can threaten even the most prepared movers. To stay ahead of the danger, keep an eye on the weather forecast for your chosen moving date. Winter weather can turn on a dime, so it wouldn’t hurt to check the forecast as often as:
- 2 weeks out
- 1 week out
- 3 days out
- 2 days out
- The night before
Check the forecast for every area that you will be traveling through during your move, not just for your move-out and move-in locations If you’re moving from Austin TX to Boston MA, you’ll encounter all different sorts of December weather as you pass New Orleans, Charlotte, and Washington.
Snow isn’t the only weather condition to look out for. The following weather conditions could make for a difficult (or even impossible) move:
- Snow, especially if the flurry is forecasted to be 3 inches or greater.
- Low-visibility conditions, such as high winds mixed with snow flurries.
- Rain, especially heavy rain when there’s about to be a temperature drop.
- Freezing rain, or any kind of wintery mix that could create icy conditions.
- Extreme cold, anything that could stall vehicles or harm exposed skin.
- A “Winter Weather Advisory” from the National Weather Service or local news.
But what if the worst happens? The best thing you can be is prepared to alter your travel plans. Whether you’re moving DIY-style or with professional help, be ready to contact the following people at a moment’s notice:
- Your professional movers or any volunteers helping with your move.
- A babysitter or pet boarder.
- Utility companies at both your old and new home.
If the weather is severe enough, you’ll be forced to push your moving date back. Reach out to the contact points as soon as possible, giving everyone involved with your move the time to alter their plans.
Tip #2) Clear Your Driveways and Walkways
During a move, one bad slip could mean breaking an heirloom, or worse, an injury for your or a mover. Luckily, slips can be prevented with a little bit of prep work.
Clear Your Driveway
Your driveway will be the high-traffic area during your move: every item in your home will eventually make it out to the driveway to get loaded onto the moving truck.
For safe moving, clear your driveway of snow and ice before the moving truck arrives. When a heavy vehicle rolls over snow, it packs the snow down firmly and makes it much more difficult to remove. If you remove the snow before any moving vehicles arrive, the job will be much easier.
Salt and Clear Your Front Pathway
Another high-traffic area during moves is the front pathway leading from the driveway to the front door. Most items will exit the house here, making it key that you keep this area free from ice and snow.
The night before the move, generously salt the front porch and walkway leading to the driveway using rock salt. If any snow accumulates overnight, be sure to clear it from the pathways before your movers or volunteers arrive.
Tip #3) Protect Your Belongings and Floor
Winter means cold temperatures, rock salt, and snow, all of which are bad news for your floors and fragile belongings. To protect your property, you’ll want to take a trip to the nearest hardware store to buy wrapping materials.
Use mats to cover every entryway, both on the inside and outside of your home. People helping you move can use the outdoor mat to kick away snow from their boots and the indoor mat to remove their snowy boots, to keep from trekking snow, mud, or rock salt into your home.
In high-traffic areas of your home (such as the hallway leading to your front door), cover any tile or wooden flooring with plastic coverings or drop tarps. Available at most hardware stores, tarps protect your floors from any snow or rock salt that makes its way into the interior.
If you’ll be passing over a carpeted area during your move, build a pathway of flattened cardboard. The cardboard will protect your carpet from rock salt, mud, and other debris that causes stains.
Double-wrap all of your fragile belongings in bubble wrap or packing plastic. Fine china and glassware can be sensitive to sudden temperature changes, cracking if exposed to sudden bursts of cold or hot air. Wrapping these items will protect them both from these temperature changes and any accidental drops.
Tip #4) Save Electricity, but Create a Warm Space
If you're moving during a low-temperature day, your gut instinct will be to blast the thermostat during the packing process. Unfortunately, most of your home’s exits will be propped open during the bulk of the move, making it very difficult for your home to maintain any heat. Instead of cranking the thermostat, try two things: lower the thermostat and create a warm room.
Lower the Thermostat
Save on unnecessary heating costs by lowering your thermostat during your move.
We don’t recommend completely shutting off your heat. With zero heat circulating in your home, you run the risk of freezing your water pipes.
Create a Warm Room (or Two)
With the thermostat down and exits opened, your home won’t be a very cozy place to work. To keep everyone safe and comfortable during the move, try to create at least two warm rooms where movers can rest and warm back up.
The easiest way to create a warm room is to: 1) Rent a space heater and 2) Choose a small space to place the heater. Space heaters are easy to run: simply plug one into a wall outlet, make sure it’s free from any obstructions, and turn it to a comfortable warming temperature.
For the space heater to be most effective, try to select a small room that can be easily sealed. Any small room with a single entryway would work best.
We recommend you convert at least two spaces into warm rooms:
- Bathroom: Make one of your bathrooms a warm room, allowing movers to do their business in comfort. Avoid showering in the room, as the condensation could damage the space heater.
- Bedroom: Convert a small bedroom or guest room into a warm room for your movers to rest, eat, and chit chat throughout the day.
Tip #5) Keep Yourself and Your Movers Warm
Whether you’ve hired professional movers or asked a favor of a few loyal friends, it’s vital to the health, productivity, and good spirits of everyone on your moving team that they all stay warm throughout the day.
In addition to creating warm rooms, try out these cozy ideas:
Dress Warm, and Keep a Spare Outfit
When working outside during the packing process, you should be as roasty as possible. On your person, you should wear long underwear (top and bottom), a warm jacket or sweatshirt, a hard-shell coat, hard-shell ski pants, a warm hat, gloves, and a face covering.
If possible, keep wintertime clothing extras within arm's reach. If someone forgot gloves, you could save them a trip to the hardware store.
Keep Warm Drinks on Hand
A hot cup of joe is the perfect break time companion during a chilly move. Prepare a thermos of coffee, decaf coffee, or hot cocoa for your movers to help themselves throughout the day. Don’t forget to provide cups!
Offer Warm Snacks and Foods
Keep everyone warm with soups, cookies, pizza, and other hot-and-ready foods.
Tip #6) Hire Professional Movers
With inclement weather, cold temperatures, and other hazards, a wintertime move can become intimidating for even the most seasoned DIY mover. If you’d like help with packing, hauling, or unpacking, a professional moving company might be the right solution for you.
The best part about hiring a professional moving company is the experience and flexibility of the team. If a winter storm disrupts your big day, don’t worry, the pros have seen this one before. Most moving companies will work with you to shift your move-out date, knowing that it’s better to protect their team and your belongings than it is to try to haul through a blizzard.
Another benefit of hiring a pro in the winter is that you’re likely to get a great deal on your moving fees. Due to the fear of inclement weather, the winter is considered the off-season for professional moving companies. With more availability, your moving company is more likely to offer a lower price and a better moving date during the cold months.
Lastly, professional movers can move the things you can’t. Grand pianos, expensive art, fragile belongings, and automobiles are exhausting items for a DIY-er to transport themselves. Most professional moving companies have the gear necessary to move these items cross-country, without you having to lift a finger.
Thinking about asking for some professional help this winter? We’ll save you the research time. Check out our list of top-rated professional moving companies:
Leap into Life’s Next Adventure
We hope that our wintertime moving tips cleared the path ahead, so your move-in day can feel like the first step of a big adventure.