Leave Town Fast: Essentials for Making a Last-Minute Move


A cousin of mine has had just a few weeks to plan a total relocation thanks to a job offer halfway across the country. I have also relocated out of state a time or three, so I understand the confusion and chaos that can ensue during a move, especially when it’s at the last minute. (See also: The ABC’s of DIY Moving)

Relocating to a new place can be extremely exciting but also stressful. There are the concerns of the unknown in addition to trying to pack up your life and haul it along with you. Here are seven tips to help keep you sane and safe, without going broke, during a last-minute relocation effort. 

1. Set Up Several Utility Tubs

Invest in several plastic tubs of varying sizes. While you are packing your belongings, designate a few tubs for the most important stuff you need during your move, like paperwork, relocation information, and the things you will continue to use until you physically leave. If you put these items in a designated tub as you go, you won’t have to go searching for them later.

Designate a notepad for your moving notes. If you start writing down important information on scraps of paper during a move, you’ll regret it very quickly. By keeping one notebook up to date with to-do lists, reminders, and move-related information, you’ll always have one go-to place rather than having to spend your time searching for details you’ve lost again. Always return the notebook to one of the tubs.

2. Seek Relocation Advice

If you are moving because of a new job, be sure to ask your new employer for any resources they have to help you relocate. They may be able to refer you to a landlord, provide you with contacts for utilities and other services, or even offer assistance with some of your relocation expenses. Even if they do not offer up the information, be sure to ask about it. Your contact at the new company likely lives in the area and can provide their own personal assistance to get you started.

3. Map It Out

Start with master list of all you have to do, and then sub-divide those tasks into daily to-do lists. By writing down all of the things you need to do and breaking it down, the tasks will be more organized and less overwhelming. You should note the things that you will need help in doing, so you can round up friends and family as soon as possible. Keep all of your to-do lists in your notebook, so you’ll know exactly where to find them.

4. Take Only What You Need

The cost of moving, no matter what methods you are using, can be very expensive.

Ideally, you should plan to pack up only what you need to survive until you get settled. Compare the cost of hauling your bedroom set versus buying a new one. You may find it more cost-effective to sell off what you have and start anew. You can get rid of a lot of stuff by hosting a moving sale, and the money you make can be put toward the new purchases or to help with the costs of moving.

Anything of importance that you can’t take with you can be put into storage until you can make further decisions. Remember that the less you store, the less the storage fee will be. Leave the key with a trusted friend or family member who can access things you may need down the road. Take an inventory of what is in your storage shed and take pictures. Take it from one who knows — even your closest relatives may find it hard to resist browsing, borrowing, or outright taking your stuff from storage.

5. Get Set Up Ahead of Time

Thanks to the advantages of technology, you may be able to set up most of the basic things you need for the new place without being there in person. If you are renting, speak to the landlord about getting services set up before you arrive. They may be willing to let service companies enter your apartment and hook up your utilities as a convenience to you. With a rush move, you can get settled in the new place a bit more quickly by having the necessities waiting for you.

6. Do as Much as You Can on Your Own

If you have a lot of things to haul with you, consider your options. You can rent a hauling truck if you plan to drive and can handle that load. If you plan to fly, you can enlist a moving service that is more reasonably priced when you pack your things yourself. ABF Freight System, Inc, for example, drops off a trailer for you to pack and will only charge you for the space you fill. Check out a few different companies, and compare quotes before making a decision.

7. Settle In One Step at a Time and On a Budget

You may not like living with just the bare necessities, but take your time as you settle in. Give yourself a chance to get to know the area and the people. If you rush out to the only mall you know about, you’ll end up spending way too much for things you probably don’t need. As soon as you start settling in, create a new budget. As money becomes available you can start adding to your new place. Be sure to save some of your money to attend to things you may have left behind such as your storage unit. Putting a few dollars away each week can help you cover the cost of having the storage items shipped to you when you are ready.

How did your most recent move go?

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Scour Craigslist for boxes and packing supplies. If you get lucky, you could save $100-$200.

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