10 Things Pro Movers Wish You Would Do

Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Moving day ranks right up there with a root canal as an event we dread well before it happens. Between the costs, the time suck, and the stress of coordinating the whole thing, it’s no wonder people describe moving as one of the top five most stressful life events. We asked moving experts to share the mistakes they see their customers making, and we’ve compiled them here, so you can move smarter the next time you decide to pack it up and get the F out. And yes, doughnuts for your movers (and you!) definitely make things better.
Moving is the worst. And the best. It can signal a fresh start or a devastating end. Whatever your style, wherever you settle, at the end of day, the most important thing is finding a place to call home. Check out more of our "Get The F Out" moving stories here.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Going The DIY Route
It's no surprise that moving professionals think you should hire them. And if you have anything more than a small van load, they have a valid point. “Anyone who tries to move on their own forgets how completely exhausting and difficult it is,” says Josh Cohen, Founder and CEO of Junkluggers and Luggers Moving.

He also has a good point that anyone who dreams of just using an Uber XL often forgets: “There are so many things that can go wrong that will end up costing you more than just hiring a professional mover from the start.”
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Last-Minute Packing
Throwing everything in a bag may work for a weekend getaway, but when it comes to moving to a new place — even if it’s just a bedroom’s worth of stuff — you're dealing with a whole different beast.

“Time and time again, we see customers who underestimate the amount of time needed to prepare for their move,” cautions Randy Rachell, Mayflower Moving training and development coordinator.

Rachell also points out that those who plan to do all of their own packing often find themselves too stressed to complete the job before the scheduled move date, and sometimes even end up asking for help from professionals at the last minute, which significantly increases the cost of the move.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Inaccurate Comparison-Shopping
While the pros we talked to say it's smart to compare rates from different moving companies, they cautioned against putting too much emphasis on comparing online quotes.

The only way to get an accurate quote is to have the movers come and conduct a physical survey of your space and stuff, explains Andy Kroll, general manager of North American Van Lines. That way, the number will be much more within the range of what you’ll actually end up paying on moving day.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
A Lack Of References
A positive word-of-mouth recommendation is the gold standard for a moving company, so ask around. And resist the urge to go with a "man with a van." If the person is not licensed, he or she won’t be liable for damage. You should be looking for a mover who is licensed with the American Moving and Storage Association, which has a consumer protection and certification program for professional moving companies.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Cheap-O Moving Supplies
While it might seem wallet-friendly to get free boxes from a local store, it puts your belongings at risk by exposing them to possible moisture and even vermin (ew!). Rachell points out that upcycled boxes also tend not to be as sturdy and well-sized for the movers to stack. A small investment in professional packing materials — rented bins are great if you’re trying to be eco-friendly (and they're sometimes more affordable) — goes a long way towards ensuring the move goes smoothly and your belongings arrive unharmed.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Too. Much. Crap
Experts encourage anyone considering a move to purge well before the big day (hello, Marie Kondo). This process should begin as soon as you think you might be moving — long before you even start putting stuff in boxes. Go through your belongings, and ask yourself, “Do I really want to pay someone to move that?” If the answer is no, find a way to get rid of it.

“Clutter makes it hard to see what you actually want to take with you,” says Kroll. Don’t have the budget to cart your discards to the Goodwill? Try posting on FreeCycle; you may be surprised at what people will want.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Over-Packed Boxes
Sure, it seems efficient to pack your boxes or bins to 100% capacity, but overly heavy and top-heavy boxes were among the chief complaints of movers — and not because they’re heavy to lift (remember, these folks are used to hauling king-size beds out of walk-ups). The reason pros hate extra-heavy boxes is because they pose a risk of falling on other items during the move. Use your best judgment, and always pack heavier items at the bottom of the box.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Too Many "Helpers"
A move is a big deal, regardless of how much or how far you're moving, and you should treat it as such on moving day. The pros recommend having two adults — and only adults — on hand. No cats, no dogs, no kids, and no last-minute “we’re moving!” parties while the pros are trying to do their job.

And do yourself a favor: Take an official vacation day, complete with an out-of-office message. Your move will go better if you are dedicated to making it run smoothly, not trying to dial in to that 2 p.m. meeting.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Lack Of Labels
Label, label, and label again. It’ll make unpacking much less painful if you know what's inside each box. And don’t just write “kitchen.” Be specific: “Kitchen — blender, spatulas, and dish towels,” will be a much more helpful reminder of what’s inside. And don’t just label one side of the box. Labeling every side, or assigning a specific-color sticker for each room, can make unpacking easy.
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Illustrated by Natalia Spotts.
Communication Breakdown
Even though they’re experts, don’t automatically assume your movers know what to do when they show up. Let them know that Great-Grandma Martha’s antique armoire has a loose leg, any building rules when it comes to moving items out the door, and any other FYIs that will help them do the best job possible. Plenty of water and some simple snack options are appreciated, and while all the movers said that tips are not expected, they did indicate that they are welcome (of course they are!).

“Movers generally will earn between $15-$20/hour, so an extra $5-$10/hour on top of that in tips is very much appreciated and will go a long way for them, if you feel it is deserved,” says JunkLuggers’ Cohen.
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