How to Move Without Movers

Moving to a new address is a stressful enough disruption to your life that you shouldn't have to also worry about how you're going to pay for it or whether your valuables will get lost in transit. While a cross-country relocation will almost always require the services of a professional moving company (especially if you have major rooms of furniture and a plethora of possessions), in-town moves can be done at a fraction of the cost if you know how to plan in advance. Read on to learn how to move without movers.

Take inventory of your belongings. The best way to do this is to go room by room and list all major pieces of furniture, art, plants and accessories. Survey every closet, cupboard and shelf and make your best guess as to how many boxes it will take to contain these items. This is also a good time to review your insurance policy in the event that any of your property is damaged during the move.

Start collecting packing boxes and newspapers as soon as you know that you're going to be relocating and start a countdown calendar. What throws most people into a panic is that they wait until a week before to even get started. Supermarkets, liquor stores and bookstores are great places to acquire boxes. If you work in an office, ask fellow employees to save cartons from supply orders for you. Self-storage companies also have packing boxes you can purchase or rent. Save newspapers, too, for wrapping dishes, glassware, breakables and art.

Determine your moving date. Most people move on the weekend so that no one will have to take time off from work. For moves during the summer if you live in a toasty climate, you may want to consider an evening move. Provided there's enough light to see what you're doing, it's a relatively short distance and you don't have an astronomical amount of possessions, an evening move can actually be cool and pleasant and topped off with the reward of a meal when it's over. If you live in a climate where the weather is a bit iffy, always schedule a back-up date and let your prospective moving crew know both dates to be available.

Assemble your moving crew. The first people to call are any friends that you have helped move in the past. (They owe you one!) Recruit family members and co-workers. If no one in your immediate circle is available, consider hiring temporary help through an employment agency as opposed to taking out a classified ad.

Label each of your boxes according to what room they should be delivered to upon arrival at the new address. Use magic markers instead of stick-on labels as the latter may fall off in transit. Use heavy tape to seal your boxes so that your content doesn't go falling out in the middle of the driveway.

Compare prices at rental agencies if you find it necessary to rent a truck or van for your move. If someone other than you is going to be taking turns driving the vehicle, you'll both need to be present to pick it up since the rental agency needs to verify that your fellow driver(s) are licensed and insured.

Use towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, bedspreads and comforters to cushion objects in boxes or furniture items that will be sharing space in a truck or van. Use newspapers to wrap up dishware, glassware, household appliances and breakables.

Make as many mini moves of your belongings as you can prior to the official move date. This isn't always going to be possible, of course, if the distance is prohibitive or if the current tenants have not completely moved out. If you can start moving things in early, though, start with anything that can easily be transported in the backseat or trunk of your car. This includes clothing, art, plants, housewares and books.

Call your moving crew a few days in advance of the move just to remind them. (You'd be amazed how many people will manage to "forget" that the move is taking place if you first asked them a few weeks previous.)

Print out a list of how many boxes are going into each room. This list should also identify the furniture associated with each room. If you are assigning your movers to be responsible for certain rooms, make sure that they have copies of this as well.

Provide plenty of water, sodas and energy snacks for your movers during the day. At the end of the day, reward them with pizza, Chinese take-out, burgers or other tasty food. An alternative is to invite them all over for a barbecue or informal meal after you are officially settled in.


  • If you are going to be taking several trips back and forth over the course of the day, always leave at least one person at the destination address. The reason is that savvy snoops who see a neighborhood move taking place will bide their time until they see all of you leave and will simply let themselves in by picking a lock or breaking a window.


  • Many a household burglary has been facilitated by hiring help through the classifieds or through bulletin board flyiers at supermarkets. Not only do you run the risk of your helpers driving off with your possessions and never being seen again but you are also giving them the chance to survey the entire layout of the house, condo or apartment and figure out the easiest ways to pay a return visit when you are not home. Never put books in large boxes or they will be impossible for anyone to lift. Never go "prima donna" on your moving crew. If you expect to maintain a convivial atmosphere of teamwork, you're going to have to do just as much of the heavy lifting as they are unless you have a medical condition that precludes you from doing so.