13 Things I Learned Moving Myself

Editor’s note: Brian is a frequent contributor to the JK Moving Blog.  What follows are tips and suggestions based on his experience moving himself over a two day period. This is part 1.

The lease on my one bedroom apartment was ending and because I’m in my 20s and I’m adventurous, I decided to move.  After finding a new place to live, I thought, “I work at JK, I’ve attended a few training classes, I’ve helped people move, I can absolutely move on my own. How hard can it possibly be? I live in a small place; it’s not like I have that much stuff.”

Over the course of two days I managed to move all of my belongings and I learned a few things that I would like to share with you. Some of these tips might seem like common sense, but I certainly forgot them along the way. So here is part one of what I learned moving myself.

1.   Minimize what you move

I sold my couch, bed, TV stand, and TV– basically anything that wouldn’t fit in the back of my car. I even made multiple trips to donate goods I no longer needed. Even with this effort, I still moved more than I expected. In retrospect, I should have gotten rid of more.

2.   Talk with your donation center first

I felt good about donating instead of throwing items in the trash. Whichever organization you decide to donate to, call ahead and verify their drop off hours and make sure they’ll take what you want to donate. Some centers can’t take all of your items and it’s better to know ahead of time.

3.   Cancel your utilities, change your address, and let people know you’ve moved

Tape, your best friend during a move.
Tape, your best friend during a move.

Understand your lease before you move out. My apartment complex was helpful in explaining exactly what I needed to do for a successful move out; it’s worth the 20-30 minute conversation. Did you know you can change your address ahead of time and schedule when you want the switch to happen? I did not know this. (Added bonus, you can receive moving offers from your favorite stores, which is a nice touch.) And finally, make sure you tell your employer, insurance company, and bank that you’ve moved. They’ll want to know where you are and you want to ensure that you receive necessary mailings.

4.   Remember that every box you pack, you have to move

I wanted to minimize the number of trips I had to make to my car, which meant throwing neatly packing as much as I could into two medium sized boxes. The problem was moving these boxes after packing them. I have bruises and scratches from dealing with these bulky, overweight boxes. Remember, safety first, so pack the boxes carefully and watch the weight.

5.   Secure your boxes

This seems pretty obvious, but I forgot to do this. What do I mean by securing your boxes? Use tape. Tape is one of your best friends in the packing process. I had tape and did not use it initially. My thought process was, “I’m only going to carry it a few feet to my car and throw it in the trunk. Then from the trunk I’m going to bring it inside. What can go wrong?” See Tip 4. Because my boxes were a bit heavy, the bottom almost fell out while I was carrying it to my car. This is not an ideal outcome when moving.

6.   Label your boxes

I apparently have issues with boxes. My thought process was, “How many boxes do I really have? I don’t need to label them.” Well, that’s just foolish thinking. I only had five boxes and I didn’t label any of them. When I started unpacking, I wanted to do it in an organized fashion. I couldn’t do this because I didn’t know what was in each box. Save yourself some time and clearly label your boxes.

7.   Have your important items ready

I did know where my sheets and pillows were, which was incredibly helpful because after the move was done, all I wanted to do was take a nap. What I didn’t have readily available were clean clothes to change into or any of my toiletries. I had to dig through three boxes to find a change of clothes. Had I simply left a change of clean clothes with my sheets and pillows, I would have saved myself much aggravation.

8.   Give yourself plenty of time

I moved myself out of a one bedroom apartment and had sold or given away most of my items, and it still took me two days to move everything. Remember, you’re not a professional with professional equipment, so give yourself more time than you think you need.

9.   Do a final walkthrough

Trunks, not that big.
Trunks, not that big.

I’m really glad I did a final walk-through. I found a cabinet that I didn’t clean out and I found a pair of athletic shorts left behind. And this was after numerous walk-throughs and hours spent cleaning. You might miss something; it’s worth doing the final walk-through. Speaking of walk-throughs…

10.   Keep your garbage bags and paper towels with you until the end

As I mentioned, I still had to clean a section I missed. Luckily, I still had paper towels, water, and elbow grease so I was able to clean. Not sure what my options would have been had I not had the paper towels. And the garbage bags are necessary because inevitably there will be one more bit of trash that didn’t make it in “the last load to the dumpster.”

11.   Remember to eat

A month before my move I started eating everything in my cupboard and two weeks before the move, I limited what I bought from the store and ate all the frozen pizzas in my freezer. Which was great come move day because I didn’t have much to move in terms of food. The problem was, I didn’t have anything to eat when I got hungry. And even if I did have food to eat, I didn’t have any silverware available to eat it with. Plan ahead and know what you’re going to eat on move day.

12.   Check the weather

I really lucked out on this one. I did not check the weather and if I had; I would have hurried my pace. As I was in the final throes of unloading, the rain started coming down. Hard. Because I didn’t have anything of value in this carload, I carried things in the rain. If I had valuable items, I would have had to wait and gotten nothing accomplished.

13.   Get a friend

Even if it’s to provide moral support. I took on this endeavor on my own because, “I didn’t have that much stuff.” Honestly, I was dragging halfway through the move and could have used the help of a friend or two. Even if it was just them opening my trunk it would have been helpful. So whatever it takes to get your friend’s help, it’s worth it.


Am I glad I moved myself? I am. It was good to go through my belongings and get rid of some items that I wasn’t using and didn’t need. Would I move myself again? Absolutely not. Once was enough. When I move again, I’m getting three in-home estimates, making an informed decision, and letting the professionals manage it for me. What about you? What have your experiences been moving yourself? Please share your tips, suggestions, and funny stories in the comments section below!

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