Moving from one home to another is always a daunting experience. But moving in the dead of winter presents its own sets of problems, with the major headache being the unpredictability of the weather.
Winter storms of all ilks -- from driving ice storms to downright blizzards -- can play havoc with moving. Fortunately, moving companies aren’t as busy as they are in spring and summer, so they can more easily switch days if the weather makes it necessary.
But if you want to move on the appointed day no matter what, most professional drivers and vehicles are up to the task. “We can get the job done regardless of the weather,” says Lior Rachmany of New York’s Dumbo Moving and Storage, one the largest household goods movers in the area. His advice is to stay positive, even in dire weather. “It may be freezing outside, but remain cool,” he says. “We’re always going to get the job done.”
Not all moving companies are that adventurous, though. Allied Van Lines, for one, says that if the roads are impassible, it won’t send out its trucks.
If you postpone at least 48 hours before your scheduled move, the mover probably won’t assess a penalty. But just in case, ask the company about its weather-setback policy before you sign a contract or hand over a down payment.
If you decide to go ahead as planned, it may take somewhat longer than expected because the mover may have to change routes due to road conditions. For example, in periods of high winds, trucks may not be permitted to cross certain bridges. So keep your eyes and ears tuned to your local traffic reports, advises Niccole Schreck, a rental expert with rent.com.
To help the process along, it is your responsibility to make sure your sidewalks, steps and driveways are clear. Shovel them or have the plowed, and throw down some salt so they don’t freeze over. Do the same at your new place. You might also want to consider erecting some kind of tent as a shelter over exposed pathways. Your movers must have safe access to both houses. If either place is inaccessible, the move will be delayed or canceled.
Also at both houses, put down cardboard or plastic sheeting to protect your floors, and have plenty of towels available to wipe down whatever gets wet. Plastic can also be used to protect your electronics, wooden furniture and plants.
Packing-wise, you can use boxes, but consider plastic bins instead. They ward off the elements so much better. Since it might not be financially feasible to buy enough tubs, inquire about the possibility of renting what you need from your mover. It may ratchet up the cost of your move a bit, but it will protect your goods much better than cardboard.
Even if you stick with boxes, as an added layer of protection, the guys on your particular job should cover them with moving pads or some kind of tarp as they are taken from the old house to the truck and then from the truck into the new house. The crew should also put plastic wrap around your furniture, appliances, electronics and other items than don’t fit neatly into a rectangular container.
Obviously, you and your family won’t be going in the van with your stuff, so service your car ahead of time, and make sure you pack a shovel, ice scrapers, salt, a warm change of clothes, rain or snow gear and blankets. And make sure you take some extra cash along, if only for some nice tips for the frozen crew in the truck at the end of the day.
At the new place, make sure the utilities are on, and have cleaning supplies on hand. The same goes for the old house; you’ll want to be able to clean up in both places.
A few other tips: Help warm up your family and the crew by keeping a pot of hot coffee or hot chocolate at the ready. The movers’ gloves may get soaked, so buy some extra warm gloves at the dollar store and keep them handy.
Most of what you just read also applies to folks who are moving themselves, rather than hiring professional movers. But to avoid the additional issues winter moves present, do-it-yourselfers might want to consider renting a big shipping container that they can load and unload themselves.
When you’re finished loading the container, the company will pick it up and deliver it to your new residence. And when you are done unloading, they’ll come back and take it away.