13 Tips for a Successful Cold-Weather Move


Wintertime and early springtime moves in northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula Michigan certainly have their challenges. Cold temperatures and slick roads and pathways can add complexities to even straightforward moves right down the road. However, sometimes crucial timing, discounted costs, and other considerations necessitate a cold-weather move, and planning ahead can help to prevent and alleviate the potential headaches that arise when moving during this time of year. Here are 13 tips to ease the stresses of cold-weather moves.

1. Make sure everyone is clear on the schedule.

Confirm dates and times with your movers in advance. Gain clarity on what happens if there is a heavy snowstorm on moving day. In what situations will you keep the moving schedule intact? In what situations will you need to reschedule? You won’t be able to keep your moving date if there is a state of emergency and roads are closed to nonessential traffic, so be prepared with a Plan B. Anticipate that there will be delays in the schedule, and plan extra time to complete every step. Start the move as early in the day as possible. Even though days are lengthening with the approach of spring, they are still short, and it’s best to avoid moving in the dark.

2. Clear the way.

Make sure your driveway, walkways, steps, and any routes the movers may take to move your belongings—both where you’re moving from and where you’re moving to—are clear. Keep in mind that the movers may need to take a sofa or other large furniture out your back door or even out a window if your front door is too narrow to fit it. So, if possible, clear a path from all doors and windows that the movers may need to use. Do not pack away your salt, sand, and shovels! Have those items on hand so you can clear a path if a snowstorm crops up mid-move. When possible and relevant, notify your landscaping/plowing company when you are moving out and moving in so the presence of the moving truck does not prevent the road or driveway from being cleared. Make sure there is adequate space for the moving truck to park and load/unload, both at your old home and your new home.

3. Let there be light—and heat.

Call your utility company, and confirm that your heat and electricity will be turned on at your new home before you arrive. However, in order to prevent your heat (and money) from going right out the door, turn the heat way down at both the home you’re leaving and your new home. You’ll be moving around so much that you will barely notice the cold. But keep a bathroom or another small room heated with a space heater so you’ll have someplace warm to go if you need to take a little break.

4. Keep the essentials with you.

Even if the plan is for your belongings to arrive at the new home on the same day as they are leaving your old home, things don’t always go as planned. Wear an appropriate coat and lots of layers. And don’t forget waterproof and slip-proof footwear, multiple pairs of gloves (in case the ones you’re wearing get soaked), hats, and warm socks, too. Other items to make sure you have on hand: an additional coat, hand warmers, lots of blankets and towels, a winter emergency kit for your car, a list of contact information for the moving company and emergency personnel, and an ample supply of trash bags and paper towels.

5. Be extra careful with fragile items.

When packing, keep in mind that cold temperatures make fragile items more rigid and brittle, so double-pack those items in bubble wrap. When possible, do not pack any item that will be damaged by extended exposure to the cold—this includes electronics—on the moving truck. Take these items with you in your own vehicle. Even better, place all small electronics and their cords in a sealed waterproof plastic bag before packing them in a box. Have professionals wrap and pack larger electronics (including TVs and even toaster ovens).

6. Avoid a breakdown.

Get your car serviced and properly winterized, with all fluids topped off, before making the move. Breaking down on moving day is a thing to be avoided at all costs.

7. Waterproof when possible.

Pack as much as possible (especially documents, books, photographs, pillows, tapestries, and other items that are ruined by moisture) in waterproof plastic bins, rather than cardboard boxes. Prevent water and weather damage to wooden furniture, artwork, and mirrors by wrapping them in durable plastic wrap or heavy towels and blankets before they are taken outside. Have extra moving blankets and heavy towels on hand in case it begins to rain or snow mid-move. When possible, delay moving furniture and valuables until the wet weather lets up a little bit.

8. Protect your floors.

Protect floors (of both your old home and new home) with tarps and/or cardboard. The last thing you want to think about on moving day is dragging in snow, salt, sand, and mud and ruining your floors.

9. Do not store damp items.

Avoid storing (whether short-term on the moving truck or longer-term in a storage unit, attic, or basement) anything when it is damp. If it starts snowing or raining while you’re moving, be careful to wipe off everything before shutting in the truck or storage space. Similarly, unpack any boxes that have gotten wet or damp as soon as possible once they are at your new home, and move those wet boxes to the recycling bin, to prevent the boxes from damaging your floors and to prevent the boxes’ contents from being ruined from moisture.

10. Unwrap ASAP.

Unpack wrapped items as soon as possible, too, and give them some time to breathe.

11. Document everything.

When hiring movers, document the condition of all items pre- and post-move with photos and notes. This is always a good practice, but it’s especially important during inclement weather.

12. Warm your hands and ease your mind.

Prepare some hot beverages—coffee, tea, cocoa, cider—to create a warm, cheerful atmosphere. Moving day certainly has its stresses, but it is also an exciting time! Take a coffee break to relieve some stress, and offer a mug to your hard-working movers, too.

13. Tip well.

Be prepared with generous tips for the movers. You may have gotten a discounted rate for moving outside of peak season, but moving during the winter and early spring in northern Wisconsin and UP Michigan is especially challenging. Let your movers know you are grateful for their help in keeping your possessions safe and making your move as smooth as possible

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