How to Move by Yourself

Jon Fesmire |

Moving is a challenge, whether you have help or not. There’s planning, packing, heavy lifting, driving, and the days of unpacking at your new address. Moving by yourself can seem especially daunting, but it’s not impossible.

Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and get ready to make your plans. Moving without help may not be the ideal situation, but it is doable. These tips should help.

Reduce Your Load

As you look around your place and think about packing, you may decide that you don’t need everything you have. This is a sign that it’s time to identify things to let go of.

These may include clothes you rarely wear, old electronics, old school books, decorations you’ve never put out, and much more. You can sell many gently used items on Craigslist, eBay and elsewhere. Of course, you can also donate items to charities like Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity. As for those old electronics and other odd items, you may be surprised at all the things you can recycle.

Sell or give away items you absolutely cannot move by yourself. It’s a shame to have to get rid of mattresses or couches, but you can replace them. More on that shortly.

Once you’ve reduced your belongings, hopefully you’ll have a little extra cash in hand, and you’re ready to start packing.

Boxes

There are a variety of box sizes for moving, but we recommend using primarily one size. Do this, and your boxes will stack better, be less likely to fall over, and maximize your space. Document boxes are especially good. They’re medium-sized and work well for anything from drinking glasses (properly protected with bubble wrap!) to books to clothes.

Labeling and Inventory

When you get to your new place, or put your boxes in storage (more on that next), it will help tremendously to know what’s in each box. The least you need to do is label each box. Do this by room. Every box full of living room items should have “living room” written in sharpie on the side, every box with bedroom items should have “bedroom” written on it, and so on.

If you want to be certain of what’s in each box, keep an inventory, too. You’ll need to give each box a more specific label, like “living room 1” and “living room 2.”

Get a pad of paper, write the label name of the current box on top, then write down everything you put in it as you pack. You can then put this into a Google Sheets or Excel spreadsheet so you know exactly where each item is.

Staging in Self Storage

Carrying everything from your house or apartment to your rental truck on moving day can be especially tough. That’s why we recommend temporarily renting a self storage unit. As you pack, you can put the boxes in your car and stack them in your unit. By moving day, you should have most of your things in storage, so you’ll have much less to move from your home. Then, you can drop off the items from your old place at your new place, and have a few weeks or so to get everything that you put in storage.

Yes, this is far more convenient if you aren’t moving very far, but if you’re able to return to the city you moved from, you’ll be able to retrieve the rest of your belongings, then close your storage contract. Also, if you do get a unit, seriously consider getting one with climate control to better protect your belongings from changes in the weather.

Truck and Moving Equipment

Reserve your truck ahead of time, at least a week in advance. You’ll want a hand truck, a floor dolly, and moving straps. You may also want moving blankets and a portable ramp, which you can lay over steps to roll items up and down them. Do your best to rent a truck of appropriate size. A cargo van, or 10x12 foot truck, is good for partial moves or moving the contents of a studio apartment. A 14x17 foot truck is appropriate for a one to two bedroom place or office. Moving alone, you won’t need anything larger than that.

When you rent the truck, get the insurance for it. Also, drive carefully. You’re not just driving a bigger car. You won’t have a rearview mirror, so you’ll have to rely on the side mirrors. Really watch where you’re going.

Safety is Number One

Throughout this process, remember to be safe. Lift boxes correctly, strap dressers and the like against the side of the truck, and really pay attention when driving. Your solo move will be a challenge, but you can do it.