It kind of defies logic; although summer is the least convenient time of year for a move, a majority of consumers inexplicably choose those sweaty and sweltering months to relocate anyway.
So, the Moveline team has put together a helpful list of ways to minimize the stress and potential damage you could accrue by changing addresses during the hottest season of the year. And luckily, if you just can’t heed #1 -- the smartest advice we can give -- never fear; we’ve got nine more tips for backup.
1. Don’t move in the summer.
If it’s at all possible, don’t schedule a move for the summer. From May 1 to Labor Day (the moving industry’s definition of summer), things go crazy. That’s when parents with school-age kids move, and that’s when the military does their personnel moves.
“When I drove a moving truck, over 60 percent of our moves were military and were in the summertime, the same time that a lot of civilians want to make a move.” says Erik Christensen, a Moveline Move Captain. According to US Census data, almost 50 percent of all moves take place from June to September. If you include May, it jumps to 65 percent.
Moving in the summer is like trying to fly over Thanksgiving; because it's the busiest time of year, the prices are higher, schedules are squeezed, and the industry just doesn't have enough driver capacity to meet the consumer demand for moving services. This causes blackout dates, long delivery spreads, and overall, fewer choices for you as a customer. With a summer move, you may not get the best packers and drivers -- companies have to hire on extra help in the busiest months, so you may not get the most experienced professionals. For a fall, winter or spring move, on the other hand, you may be able to negotiate a 10 to 15 percent price reduction with the moving company while enjoying the benefits of more seasoned service.
2. If a summer move is unavoidable, start planning as far ahead as possible.
Moving in July? Start your research early and begin planning in May. At the very least, book six weeks ahead of time. As Christensen explains, “When I was booking moves for a long distance moving company last summer, people would call me five weeks ahead to book a summer move, and my hands were tied -- there was no way I could fit them in.“
3. Arrange to move on the least busy days of the week.
Try to move on a weekday in the middle of the month. Whatever you do, avoid Memorial Day weekend and the last weekend in July -- they’re the 1st and 2nd busiest moving days of the year.
4. Be realistic about packing.
Do you really think you can pack yourself? If you’re certain, fine. Just remember that if, right before a summer move, you decide you can’t and need help from the moving company, they may not be able to provide it. No matter how much you’re willing to pay, the moving company you hire might not have the crew to spare. Most people want to save money by packing themselves -- they figure they’ll do it slowly, collect boxes, pack a few a day... but often, that doesn’t happen. Work obligations or illness get in the way. Life intervenes.
5. Build in flex time when planning the move.
Even if you’re moving within the same city, allow yourself time for something to delay the move. The possibilities are endless. There can be truck breakdowns, unforeseen personal circumstances can arise, and movers can call in sick on your scheduled day. Above all else, plan to take an extra day off from work.
Most movers offer a guaranteed delivery date compensation plan if they miss the promised date, but the amount you will receive will not be enough to entirely pay for extra nights in a hotel/motel if you’re taking a road trip to your new home. A mini-vacation that you may have planned around your move may not be quite as “mini” as you thought, so pack accordingly. Have a Plan B and be mentally prepared to use it. Don’t lock yourself into a housewarming party for the day or two after your estimated arrival date. Warn the relatives that you may be staying a bit longer than anticipated. Make sure you can extend your car rental.
6. Be aware of what things should not be put into the moving van in the summertime.
Candles in a van driving through the desert in the summer will melt all over your other stuff; carry them with you instead. Leather upholstered furniture will “sweat” if wrapped in plastic; use a pad instead. CD’s, videos and cassette tapes can warp in a hot truck. Plan ahead to keep vulnerable items out of the heat if you want to keep them intact.
7. Be kind to the movers -- they’re hot too.
Julie Steed is a military spouse who has relocated her family 10 times in the last 14 years, always during the summer (she blogs about relocation at juliesteed.com). Here’s what she advises: “Have cold water available for the packing crew. Respect their needs to take reasonable breaks, especially if it’s uncomfortably hot. My family always offers to give the crew lunch. If it’s financially feasible for you to do the same, it’s a gesture of goodwill that goes a long way.”
Christensen agrees: “Your moving guys have probably been working 14 days straight through in the summer -- they really appreciate, water, lunch and bathroom breaks.”
8. Plan carefully for your kids on moving day.
Your children will need a safe, climate-controlled place to play, nap and stay out of the way of the moving crew. It’s probably best to find someone to babysit for them at both ends of the move.
Steed recommends that you hand carry transcripts, vaccination records and other documents you might need to register your child at a new school. Avoid having to search through packed boxes for documents you’ll need; call ahead to find out exactly what paperwork is required.
And to help the kids meet other kids their age in the new neighborhood before school starts, check out local camps, sports leagues and special kid-friendly events to ease their transition into their new community.
9. Think about air-conditioning at both ends of the move.
Steed reminds anyone moving in summer that “the doors to your home will be open for extended periods of time and the temperature inside will reflect the temperature outside. Prepare accordingly, remembering that you will literally pay the price if your air conditioners run for hours on end.”
And be sure that the electricity is turned on in the new home if it’s going to be hot there too.
10. Plan for your pets.
Make arrangements for your pets, particularly dogs and cats. Work out a way to keep them away from the movers.
“They’ll need unhindered access to your home and yard,” says Steed
“so it’s best to put your pets in a kennel or have a friend take care of them. The yard is not a good choice for animals on a summer moving day because of the heat. It’s also unreasonable to expect the moving crew to keep yard gates closed.”
For more detailed tips on keeping Fluffy and Fido safe, healthy and happy during a move, check out our post on how to move with a pet.