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February 4, 2019

How to Prepare for a Last-Minute Move on Short Notice

Reviewed By: Mary Beth Johnson, VP Business Development, Atlas World Group - 40+ Years in the Moving Industry

  • Move Management
  • Tips and tricks
The expert movers and packers at Atlas can make a short-notice move that much more manageable.

In an ideal world, everyone has plenty of time to plan their move from one home to the next. Whether you received an incredible last-minute job offer, unexpectedly won a bid, and quickly closed on your dream house, or simply did not have much notice, you cannot always enjoy the luxury of time. In these cases, knowing how to quickly plan a move is vital.

How to Accomplish a Last-Minute Move

When circumstances leave you with limited time to prepare, stress can escalate quickly. However, with a well-organized approach and some strategic planning, you can still manage a last-minute move with relative ease by taking it one step at a time.

1. Create a Moving Checklist

Even though time is tight, having a moving checklist can keep you on track. Prioritize items based on urgency and importance.

As you get tasks accomplished, check them off and focus on your next pressing order of business. Divide tasks into categories like packing, cleaning, paperwork, and logistics to keep them organized.

2. Call Your Local Movers

If you plan on consulting with your local moving company, now is the time to do so. Movers are usually booked well in advance. Therefore, speaking with your mover as soon as possible provides optimum opportunity to get a last-minute booking or consult with them on any services you may need.

While you might want to save money by moving yourself, hiring professional movers can expedite the process. While some moving companies will not book last-minute moves, some are experienced and equipped to handle last-minute moves efficiently.

3. Declutter Your Belongings

This may seem like a time-consuming task that will not provide much value, but it is one of the key elements to successfully moving on short notice.

Amid a last-minute move, there is no time to pack items you no longer need, want, or have space for. Go through your belongings and separate items for donation, disposal, and items you want to keep. Skipping the decluttering step can result in losing valuable time packing non-essential items.

4. Gather Supplies or Enlist Last-Minute Packing Services

Collect boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and other packing materials before you start if you plan to move on your own. Utilize suitcases, bags, and any other items you can securely put items into.

If you need help with packing, consider giving your local moving company a call. They may not have the availability or resources to dedicate to a short-notice move, but they can most likely provide a packing service crew to help you speed the process along.

Remember, whether you are packing yourself or hiring professionals, it is crucial to focus on packing the most important items first. Pack away belongings you cannot live without first, then focus on less meaningful items if you have time.

5. Create an “Open First” Box

Once you finally arrive at your new home, the last thing you want to do is sort through dozens of boxes to find your most needed items.

Pack an "open first" box with essential items like toiletries, a change of clothes, medications, important documents, and a phone charger. This box will be a lifesaver on the first day in your new home.

6. Document Your Belongings

Take photos of your valuable items before packing them away. This can serve as documentation for insurance purposes in case of any damage during the move and will also help you locate them easily once you’re in your new home.

7. Pack Room by Room

Packing one room at a time will help you stay organized. Pack the essentials in each room first, then move on to less important items.

Keep similar items together and label your boxes clearly to make unpacking easier.

8. Pack Smart

Pack your most delicate items with care to ensure their safety throughout the relocation process. Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and tightly tuck them away in boxes so they do not roll around or break.

9. Label Everything

As your packing, label each box clearly. Labels can include rooms, like “kitchen” or specific contents, such as “winter clothes.”

This will make unpacking easier. It will help movers know where to place each box in your new home. If you are moving yourself, it will let you know what the contents of the box are.

This also helps with prioritizing. You know what items you need first. Being able to select the exact box and unpack your needed items makes the relocation process more efficient and smoother.

10. Begin Notifying Relevant Parties

An often forgotten, but critical, factor during the moving process is notifying relevant parties of your move. It may not seem important at the time, but your future self will thank you later.

Inform relevant parties about your change of address. This can include the post office, utilities for your current and new home, banks, subscriptions, and more.

Failure to do so could result in lost mail, continuing to pay for your utilities after you move out, or your utilities being connected at your new home after you have already arrived.

11. Clean as You Go

Do not leave cleaning until the last minute; you may not have enough time for it all at once. Tidy up rooms as you finish packing to minimize the workload on moving day.

12. Pack Your Personal Vehicle

If you are moving locally, use your personal vehicle to transport valuable or delicate items that you want to handle yourself.

This can include pets, your “open first” box, medication, family heirlooms, and more.

13. Plan for Pets

If you have pets, arrange transportation for them that ensures comfort during the move. Keep them in a secure and comfortable area until you are ready to leave.

This can be in a personal vehicle, or you can arrange specific pet transportation for them. Learn how to keep your pets safe during a move.

14. Double-Check Everything

Before leaving your old residence, double-check each room and storage area to ensure nothing is left behind.

15. Stay Calm

When you are on a time crunch, it is easy for the stress to begin building quickly. But it is always best to try and stay calm. Take short breaks and maintain a clear mindset.

Maintaining a clear mindset will allow you to make definitive decisions, stay on track, and avoid rushing.

16. Utilize Storage Solutions

If you cannot complete the move in one day, consider renting a storage unit from your local mover or nearby facility. This will give you time to sort and unpack without feeling overwhelmed.

Additionally, a storage unit can house any less important or bulky items that are not feasible to bring on moving day.

17. Celebrate Your Progress

Moving last-minute is a challenge, and you deserve to celebrate your efforts. Once you are settled in your new home, take some time to unwind and take in your new surroundings.

How Can I Hire Pro Movers on Short Notice?

A family packing moving boxes. Packing is one of the absolute musts of a short notice move.

Moving on short notice often means there are fewer movers available to assist you. It is also important to recognize that costs may be higher with short notice, as you do not have quite as much time to compare quotes or negotiate. Look for a reasonable price and a trustworthy company that can get you where you need to go, when you need to get there.

Hiring a pro mover on short notice may require speaking to several companies before locating one who can help. Some professional moving companies offer fast, small moving programs that can you get there even faster than typical moves. Once you find one, you can make time to handle the other responsibilities previously detailed.

Whether it is a local transition or a cross-country journey, Atlas Van Lines' extensive experience and comprehensive services will get you where you need to go. Get your free quote today!