Moving In Winter: Tips From the Pros

In most cases, the prospect of moving from one house to another is more overwhelming than it is exciting. And I’d be willing to bet that an informal poll would show that very few people would say that there’s ever a truly ideal time of year to move.

Nonetheless, the majority of moves happen in the summer. Kids are out of school, newly minted college graduates are relocating for their first grownup jobs, and the heat tends to make everyone a little restless. The main problem with a summer move? It’s hot. And there’s really nothing anyone can do about that.

On top of the heat, summer moves aren’t cheap. With so many people needing the services of a professional moving company, there’s no incentive for a mover to lower their prices to fill an opening—there will virtually always be someone next in line.

So, why not move in the winter? It’s cold, sure, but you’ll likely save some money. Concerned about the possibility of inclement weather? Try not to get too hung up on that. Professional movers have plenty of experience and know when to push through some less-than-ideal conditions and when to call it off.

That being said, there are some things you can do to make a winter move a little easier on everyone involved. And to find out exactly what those things are, I talked to Ron Hefez, director of sales at Isaac’s Moving & Storage, an American Moving & Storage Association ProMover-certified member that is headquartered in Boston, Mass.

Tips for Moving In Winter

1. Don’t be afraid to schedule a winter move.

First things first: know that moving in the winter is not a terrible idea. “It’s a great time to move,” says Ron. “The reason for that is that [most companies] have winter rates and summer rates, and you benefit from a simple supply and demand situation. Everybody is moving in the summer, so there are few discounts available. In the wintertime, it’s a lot more competitive.” When you schedule a winter move, you’ll likely get a better deal and have your pick of dates.

2. Plan for delays.

When it comes to moving, one advantage that the summer holds over the winter is the extra hours of daylight. “In the winter, it gets dark at 4:30, so that’s something that you have to take into consideration,” Ron notes. “You shouldn’t plan a move that’s going to last ten hours and end at seven in the evening—that’s not an ideal situation for the movers.” With fewer daylight hours, a move that you would normally expect to take one day may take two. Be sure to keep your expectations realistic. As much as possible, try to stay flexible in the event that the move needs to be rescheduled altogether because of inclement weather.

3. Be organized.

This is good advice for any move, regardless of the scope or the time of year. “If [you’re] organized, the move is so much more efficient,” Ron says. “And you’ll save money!” Make use of handy moving checklists available online, and follow these basic recommendations:

  • Start paring down and sorting your belongings as far in advance of moving day as possible
  • Make sure all boxes are clearly labeled
  • Have a plan for where everything should go in your new home

Separate and label everything that you intend to take with you in your personal vehicle. At the very least, this should include:

  • Important medications for yourself and everyone in your family
  • A couple of changes of clothes
  • Priceless or irreplaceable items
  • Computers and sensitive electronics
  • Any paperwork associated with the move and your new home

Know what your movers can and cannot move. Most movers cannot move cleaning supplies, paint and other hazardous materials, so have a plan for these items if you intend to take them from one house to another.

Regardless of whether you’re moving one street over or halfway across the country, moving is a lot of work. Do as much as you can in advance to make the process easier on everyone.

4. Make sure both job sites are safe.

During a winter move, the most pressing safety threats are snow and ice. Clearing snow and salting or treating sidewalks, walkways and driveways are your responsibility. “Snow and ice can delay the movers—all sidewalks, walkways and driveways should be clear prior to our arrival,” Ron says.

Make sure that all pathways—at your old house and your new house—are wide and fully cleared so that the movers have enough room to do their job safely and efficiently.

5. Keep your floors protected.

Moving in the snow and ice can get really messy really quickly. Melting ice and snow mixed with dirt and mud will do a number on your new floors, so be sure that either you or your moving crew put down floor protection to prevent stains and damage. Laying down floor protection is standard practice for Isaac’s and many other professional moving companies, Ron notes. If your movers don’t offer to do this, insist that they do.

6. Make sure you’re working with a professional moving company.

In dicey conditions, experience makes all the difference. And that’s where Isaac’s Moving & Storage (and other ProMovers) set themselves apart from the crowd. “We provide our movers with extensive training,” Ron says. “At our headquarters, we have a movers’ training center that includes a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment that we use solely to teach our movers how to do their job safely and efficiently.”

Moving isn’t cheap, but hiring a professional company with reliable, experienced crews is not where you should try to cut costs. Trained movers with plenty of experience will know how to navigate a winter move safely for the best possible outcome.

The Bottom Line

Moving is hard work, regardless of whether you move in the summer or the winter. And while summer might be the typical moving season, a winter move allows you to take advantage of lower rates and easier scheduling. As long as you stay organized, make sure all the snow and ice is cleared away, and hire a professional moving company, your move will be a success.

Julia Clem is a staff writer at Best Pick Reports. Serving 10 markets across the U.S., Best Pick Reports is a total home care resource that connects quality-minded homeowners with top local companies.