Who the heck would want to put themselves through moving in the winter? With bad road conditions, low inventory on the housing market and cold weather, hauling boxes and furniture outdoors becomes less than ideal.
… or at least, that’s a common perception. The good news is, this belief is unfounded. With the right approach to moving, you can make the transition fairly easily in spite of the cold weather. So just how can you manage winter moving with minimal hassle and maximum success? Let’s dig in!
Challenges of Winter Moving
While winter moving is far from impossible, it is important to understand the unique challenges you’ll face while relocating. In addition to these general moving tips, you’ll also want to take careful notes on what winter moving requires.
Low Inventory Makes Finding a Home Challenging
Both rental and sales inventory drops during the winter months, when fewer people are moving. Depending on whether more people are moving to or from an area, you might face more or less competition, but overall your choices will narrow.
The best approach is to start looking well in advance and have all your documentation ready. Make sure your credit score is as high as possible by avoiding big purchases (e.g. new cars) before applying for a home or a mortgage loan. Make scouting trips if necessary so you’re not flailing for a home when your move is already scheduled.
Weather Conditions Are Less Friendly
Hands down, winter moving means less friendly weather conditions. Think:
- Wet and icy roads
- Rain and snow that make driving hard
- Slippery surfaces that endanger your footing
- Snow on walkways
Perhaps more frustratingly, storms that blow in can significantly change your driving route if you’re moving across states. Luckily, we have answers.
Simple Steps to Streamline Winter Moving
While winter moving does bring its own unique challenges, in some ways it’s a blessing. You have the roads to yourself; moving companies are less busy and therefore more flexible; and since fewer people are moving, you usually get more flexibility on move-out dates.
As for the challenges, you can overcome them fairly easily so long as you plan ahead with the following steps.
1. Avoid the Holidays
Most likely you already want to stay home for the holidays, but in case you were considering moving over winter break, you might want to think twice. That’s when everyone else moves too, which means movers will have less flexibility and houses may be harder to come by.
2. Make Contingency Plans
While Old Man Winter brings sledding and brisk walks, not all aspects of the frosty months are as appealing. If you are driving any distance, you must watch out for storms that make mountain passes and high elevations risky.
The best bet if you have to travel many miles is to make more than one plan. For instance, you can plot out the shortest route (through mountains) and the safest route (along southern highways). If you’re extra-diligent, plot out how you can cut over from one to the other.
3. Get Help
It’s critical to get help for winter moving. Whether you opt to get it from friends, family or professionals, it’s best not to go it alone. With slick surfaces and short daylight hours in the winter, you need to get the job done safely and quickly. That’s where help comes in. That might mean:
- Help loading or unloading the truck
- Assistance with sweeping off your front walk at the old home or new
- Care for your children while you get the job done
- Someone to bring lunch so you don’t have to worry about it
- Pros to load and unload for you
Whatever would best streamline the process, put those plans in place well ahead of time – weeks or even months, if you can. That way you’re not scrambling when that icy weather hits.
4. Pack Tarps
Winter moving comes with lots of damp, from light mists to straight-up storms. Setting your boxes down on wet pavement is the quickest route to them falling apart and damaging the goods inside, so don’t do it.
If possible, carry goods straight from the moving van to your front door (or hire movers to do so). If you or your movers have to set anything down, whip out those tarps and provide a dry surface.
5. Carry Emergency Supplies
If there’s one thing winter brings, it’s more breakdowns. Cars suffer from low tire pressure, disrupted internal systems and broken wipers more frequently in colder months. While no one likes to plan for a breakdown, it’s still the smart thing to do. Carry an emergency supply kit in your car or moving truck at all times.
6. Wear Layers
This Grandma-ish advice is nowhere more applicable than when moving in winter. Winter moving exposes you to a huge range of temperatures, from the toasty interiors of cars and houses to the sometimes-brutal outdoor temps. Plus, while the weather might plunge to the teens or lower, you’ll still work up a big-time sweat while heaving and hauling.
The answer: Layers. Start with a warm, long-sleeved tee, then top with a fleece and puffy coat. Keep in mind that no matter how hot you get, you should not strip down to less than your tee-shirt, which is a good way to become hypothermic or even frostbitten. Keep kiddos bundled at all times, even if they’re helping.
7. Protect Your Belongings
When moving in the winter, it’s important to take extra care when packing certain items. Use blankets or towels to double wrap dishware, glass and other fragile items that might be vulnerable to changes in temperature. This tip will easily help you kill two birds with one stone—you’ll pack up your entire linen closet before you know it!
Electronic devices may need as long as a full day to acclimate back to room temperature, so be sure to mark these boxes accordingly and avoid leaving them outside or in the garage for an extended period of time.
When it comes to furniture, it’s essential to protect your mattress and other items from the winter elements. If you’re in a pinch, you can always stop into your local Life Storage facility to pick up one of our mattress covers. We also have moving boxes and other materials on hand to help make moving day run as smoothly as possible.
You may want to completely drain any appliances that handle water (like your washer or fridge) before you move to prevent them from freezing. Toiletries and other sealed containers can also be susceptible to freezing temperatures. To play it safe, consider bringing these items in your personal vehicle with you instead of in the moving truck.
When to Get Storage in Winter
If you need a long-term resting place for goods, or simply want a safe space for your goods over a month or two, storage may be your answer. In the winter, though, it’s important to seek out climate-controlled units, or you risk damage to your possessions from cold and moisture.
Whether you only want a few months’ help or to leave your stuff for a year or more, make sure you rent a facility well ahead of time so you have wiggle room for moving goods in before the big day.
At the end of the day, winter moving isn’t so different from any other time of year. It takes diligence and planning – but with both on hand, you’ll be just fine. Did we miss any winter moving tips? Let us know in the comments!