6 Common Moving Day Mistakes to Watch Out For

A bit of planning and preparation will help avoid these moving day disasters.

Peter Butler Senior Editor
Peter is a writer and editor for the CNET How-To team. He has been covering technology, software, finance, sports and video games since working for @Home Network and Excite in the 1990s. Peter managed reviews and listings for Download.com during the 2000s, and is passionate about software and no-nonsense advice for creators, consumers and investors.
Expertise 18 years of editorial experience with a current focus on personal finance and moving
Peter Butler
5 min read
a person lies on a wooden floor covered by a tower of cardboard moving boxes that has collapsed

Don't let little mistakes get you down when you move.

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So much of a successful relocation happens long before moving day. Booking your movers or renting a truck; acquiring all of your boxes (or plastic crates); safely packing all of your belongings; and cleaning your new home are only some of the critical pre-move tasks that can help make moving day easier.

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While you can't expect everything to go perfectly on moving day, you can avoid some catastrophes that are big enough to ruin the whole experience.

Read on to learn about six of the most common moving day mistakes and how to prevent them from ruining your move. For more, get tips for moving on a budget and learn how to find free moving boxes.

1. Your hired movers don't show up

You've packed all your boxes, prepared your furniture and even gotten friends or family to help with your kids and pets, but when your scheduled time to move arrives, your movers are nowhere to be found, and repeated phone calls to the company go unanswered. 

In the case of a no-show by your movers, there's not much you can do except scramble to rent a truck or van and move yourself or reschedule for a future date.

Read more: How to Find a Trusted and Reliable Moving Company

To avoid this disaster, hire your moving company well in advance of your move, at least four weeks before a local move or eight weeks before a long-distance move. If you're planning to move during a busy time like summer or a holiday, book movers 12 weeks out.

Also be sure to vet your moving company before you hire it, watching for red flags like ridiculously low estimates or large deposits. Choose a moving company with a physical address, and if possible, visit their location to assess the condition of their trucks and warehouse.

Read more: Best Moving Companies of 2023

2. You can't park your moving truck on your street

If you live in a densely populated urban area like San Francisco, New York or Boston, it can be difficult to find a spot to park a moving truck, especially if you live on a one-way street. Imagine getting all of your boxes packed and ready to go, but the closest spot to park your truck is a block away.

Prepare for moving day by applying for a special parking permit well before your move, if your city offers them. If it doesn't provide permits for moving trucks, you may be able to apply for a "no parking" sign that leaves space for your truck on moving day. 

a small white moving truck being loaded while parked on a city street

Most cities offer a way for you to reserve street space for your moving truck.

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If neither of those solutions is available in your city, talk to your neighbors and regular car parkers on your street to see if you can come up with a plan to make space available for your truck.

3. Your stuff won't fit in your moving truck

You've got your boxes all packed and your furniture ready to go, but halfway through packing you realize that you've underestimated the size of your move and rented too small a truck. If you're moving a short distance, you can possibly make two trips, but it will make your moving day much longer. If you're moving a long distance, you could be in big trouble.

Avoid this moving day disaster by taking an adequate inventory of all of your belongings and selecting a truck big enough to move it all in one trip. Online calculators can help estimate a correct truck size as can a general rule of 150 to 200 cubic feet of truck space for each of your furnished rooms. If you're in between sizes, opt for the larger truck.

Read more: How to Determine the Right Size Rental Truck for Your Move

4. You accepted released value coverage and movers broke valuable items

When it comes to insuring your belongings and valuables with professional movers, you generally have three options. The first, called "released value protection," usually comes for free at most trusted moving companies. It agrees to compensate you at a base rate for all of your stuff -- usually 60 cents a pound -- in the case of any damage by professional movers.

That means if movers break your laptop and it weighs 3 pounds, they'll give you $1.80. If you own anything of value, strongly consider your other options before accepting released value coverage.

Most moving companies also offer "full value protection," meaning that movers will reimburse you 100% of the value of damaged items, but you'll need to pay for the coverage, usually 1% of the total value of your possessions. You'll also need to make a careful inventory that includes the value of all your stuff.

Both forms of moving company protections only protect against damage from the movers themselves. If you want additional protection against weather, theft or other catastrophes, you'll need to buy moving insurance from a separate insurance company.

Read more: What is Moving Insurance and Do You Need It?

5. Your furniture won't fit into your new home

You loaded all your boxes and furniture onto your truck and had an easy drive to your new place, only to find that your favorite couch won't fit up a spiral staircase or your bed frame won't even make it through the front door.

Measure all of your large furniture before you start packing, and then if possible measure the stairways and doorways in your new home to make sure everything fits. If you're moving a long distance, see if your property manager or real estate agent can get the measurements for you. For heavier items and furniture, make a plan for how you'll carry the item through your old space and your new space.

Augmented reality software like Magicplan can help you figure out where the tight spots in your new home might be and how you can navigate through or around them.

Read more: How to Lift Heavy Boxes and Furniture

6. You forgot to set up utilities at your new home

You've got the keys to your new place and dropped off the first boxes when you suddenly realize that the lights don't work. Even worse, neither do the sinks or toilets. Without electricity and water, you might find yourself spending your first night at a hotel instead of your new home.

Set up utilities in your new home at least three weeks before moving in to make sure everything will be working when you arrive. That includes gas and electricity, but be sure to check on water as well, in case your landlord doesn't provide it. And don't forget to choose an internet provider and set up internet before moving day.

Read more: Take the Stress Out of Moving Into Your First Rental

For more moving tips, learn how to properly pack a moving box and how to deep clean your new house or apartment.