9 moving mistakes you're making time and time again

Consider this essential reading so you don't take the L

A room full of packing boxes and a laptop
(Image credit: Getty / 10'000 Hours (#495164493))

Securing the keys to a new apartment = super exciting, as long as moving mistakes aren't made in the process. While I'm doing my best Meryl Streep impression to shout "Congrats girl," there's a lot to do 'til you're eating takeout on the floor.  

Self-care (mentally and physically) is a non-negotiable when you're trying to slay your moving checklist. It's important to remember that mild panic when moving into your new dorm or pad is pretty normal. Go easy on that coffee and let's work through the issues that pop up when you're packing up.

Signing that lease *can* be liberating but the logistics behind transferring your treasures between two places can be tricky. And while friends and fam can offer up all the help, only you really know what's inside the boxes, and how urgently you'll need certain things. You'll need to be strict with identifying important items and what you'll need in arm's reach when renting.

So, as much as I know you've got a hundred things on your Notes app to tick off, spare five minutes to read through these packing mistakes. 'Cause, I'm telling you, TFW you're eating pizza on the floor after it's all done is gonna be litttttt.

Moving mistakes to avoid

Not packing your property properly can be spendy and cause unnecessary moving day stress. Lifting heavy items incorrectly can damage your back, or if they're dropped can result in bruised tootsies. Time is money, so don't be a moving martyr, bb.

Plus, if you've got pets, you'll need to take Madame or Monsieur Floofy's needs and requirements into account. And no, that doesn't mean giving them a box to hide in or tear up.

From their own lived experiences, the Real Homes team members have plenty of moving hacks and have shared their packing mistakes when moving home, so that your process is swift, smooth, and stress-free.

1. Not leaving your essentials in an accessible place

Got yourself a first-night box? Turns out, it's the one moving box you're forgetting to pack, but really should. Luckily for you, we've learned the hard way, so you're not caught out when you switch spaces.

"Packing your home by room makes sense — until you realize you use items in the same room at different frequencies," says Lindsey Davis, editor-in-chief, homes ecommerce, Future. "Instead, make up a couple of boxes for that first day/week to make sure you aren't rummaging for the essentials."

Within it, she adds, you'll want to make sure you have an eating and drinking set per person or roommate, small kitchen appliances, a chopping board, non-toxic cookware, and a couple of good kitchen knives, as well as some bathroom must-haves.

Get your roomies to pack a weekend bag including a couple of outfits... oh, and some deodorant, too. All of that lifting and moving will have everyone breaking into a sweat, and if you're not able to use your friend's or family's bathroom in the interim to bathe or shower, it's going to smell a li'l funky!

Phone chargers tend to disappear during moves, so invest in a portable power bank instead (make sure to pre-charge it first). You'll be calling around for help, and reinstating contracts with energy suppliers and internet providers so a fully-juiced cell is essential.

And, speaking of energy, if the past owners or tenants moved out a while before you've moved in, the likelihood is that you'll have no lighting, so make sure you've got a plan of action so you can see at night time. You don't have to use your best candles, some cheap tea lights (along with a few matches or a utility lighter) will do.

2. Forgetting to use luggage to pack

You don't have to keep a stack of old boxes in the new apartment you're moving into or pay a storage company a small fortune for cardboard containers. Your ideal storage ideas might be right under your nose.

"It might be obvious to some to point out the benefits of using your suitcase for moving, but what about all of your backpacks, totes, and beach bags?" says Davis. "If you are boxing these up rather than using them to transport items, you're missing out."

Davis also notes that backpacks are another smart bag worth utilizing, especially for things like books or smaller items that get lost in the mix of bubble wrap and cardboard.

3. Not using appropriately-sized boxes and bags

If you've ever tried to cram your groceries into one bag at the store, you'll know the struggle is real when carrying that heavy load home. Even if you do have a car, if you take this risk, you're literally asking for the bag to split open. 

The same goes for packing bags and boxes when moving home. Get your ducks in a row well ahead of time by sourcing boxes of various sizes (small, medium, and large) so that you're adequately catered for and haven't got fragile items rattling around in empty space.

Amazon is a good place to start for boxes, but if you're using a self-storage facility, they might be able to help. Try Public Storage, Extra Space, U-Haul, CubeSmart, LifeStorage, or Simply Self Storage.

I personally swear by clearly-labeled Ziploc sandwich bags for keeping fixtures and fittings organized when it comes to reassembling large furniture, like your bed frame for example.

4. Packing away your tools

Trust us, tearing open a box with your hands, or opening packets with teeth is a health and safety risk that's not worth taking. Broken nails are annoying, and a trip to ER will slow down your settling into your new abode at the very least.

"You will almost certainly need a pair of scissors when you move," says Davis. "Keep them on hand along with a couple of screwdrivers, an Allen key set, and a small wrench for furniture building."

Once you're in and ready to decorate, having these five must-have DIY tools around will help you to begin redesigning your blank canvas.

5. Assigning too little (or too much) time to pack

We've all dealt with deadlines before. Be it that assignment or exam you had at high school or a work presentation you've had to prepare and deliver like a boss. But, weirdly, we might deal with social time constraints a little differently. Unfortunately, having too much time on your hands can be just as bad as procrastination. So, like Goldilocks, planning has to be just right, when moving.

You'll need to decide whether you're getting professional help, moving DIY, or asking a few pals to help out (in exchange for a few beers, of course). Yes, it sounds cliché but fail to prepare and you'll prepare to fail.

So, whichever route you take, have clear expectations and manage them accordingly. And that means communicating as transparently to your friends, family (or indeed yourself), as openly as you would a pro moving company. The last thing you want is for your buddies to double-book their diaries because your plans weren't set in stone.

And, if you're an experienced home leaser, you'll know to factor in time to clean your current pad too. Different landlords and letting agents have varying cleaning expectations, and this should be detailed in your contract/tenancy agreement.

Some will financially penalize you if you don't get a professional cleaner to make good of the carpets, so make sure you read the small print to see if you'll need to budget for this, or if you can get away with renting a carpet cleaner and doing the job DIY.

6. Not labeling boxes

And by labeling, we don't mean penning *insert room here* 'stuff' in permanent marker, or faintly scribbling with a biro that's on its way out. Organizing your possessions properly will make your life so much easier. Not only does this mean boxing up by room, but also color coding or labeling by date to unbox if you're unpacking bits and bobs in drips and drabs.

"If you're not moving to a place right away and are staying with family or in a short-term rental, make sure you've got the boxes you'll need immediately properly tagged with a colored sticker," says senior content editor Jenny McFarlane. You then tell the movers to take all the boxes without the stickers to storage and the rest to where you'll be staying."

7. Being heavy handed with houseplants

It's tough enough looking after your best indoor plants with adequate water and sunlight. But when you're moving, being a good plant parent can shift down the priority list. So make sure you protect, and care for your greenery in transit, so they reach the other side in one piece. Biodegradable packing peanuts (like these from Amazon) go a long way here.

Once they've been resettled, you'll really appreciate and reap the benefits of houseplants in your new home, as they can lift your mood after a stressful move, purify stale air or bad odors in rooms, soothe any anxiety as a result of the relocation, and help you to sleep better on your first night in the new house.

8. Not prepping pets for the move

Our furry friends live for routine to feel safe and comfortable in their surroundings. But it doesn't come as easy as bribing them with a new pet mattress and some edible treats. If you've lived in your old home for quite some time, the chances are they've become quite accustomed to a certain way of living, including a fondness for special homely scents and a particular place to pee or poop outside, or in a litter tray.

When our animal companions get stressed, they can display some unwanted behaviors. For example, they might chew at a new sofa, scratch the gorgeous wooden flooring that's installed, go on hunger strike, or unintentionally commit a dirty protest (doing their business outside of their normal toilet routine). Help them adapt by releasing stress-relieving chemicals.

No wizardry or degree in chemistry is required, you can get either a calming spray (spray some in their pet bed), plug-in pheromone diffusers, or a special collar for them to wear if you've got a scaredy cat (or dog).

You might also notice that they groom themselves more than usual, leading to the shedding of hair and fur all over your new house or apartment. In this case, make sure you've invested in the best vacuum for pet hair

If your budget doesn't permit (because moving can be expensive), a cheap handheld vac can be popped into your Amazon basket, along with the aforementioned anti-stress accessories. But, if you've got some spare cash, we seriously recommend you read our Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum WV200UK review, as it's 'purrfect' for picking up fluff.

9. You haven't measured doorways and hallways

If disassembling and reassembling large furniture seems like a pain, you could attempt to navigate it through the hallway and between doors to get to its final destination. But, rather than play out that famous pivot scene in Friends, make sure you know the dimensions of your space first.

If you've got the keys already, use a measuring tape to determine whether your wares will fit through any hallways or doorways without removing any legs, arms, or parts of your fixtures. If not, ask your landlord to provide this information for you.

Otherwise, going in blindly and trying to squeeze your stuff through small gaps could result in damaging your furniture, scuffing your walls, or injuring yourself.

Packing for the "new" apartment or rental based on the rooms and layout you'll be living in is better than figuring out how to pack articles and objects based on your old space. It's a moving hack we swear by!

What should you not do when moving?

According to the experts at LOVESPACE you shouldn't move unwanted items from one home to another. Instead, plan to declutter your existing home so that you only take possessions you like with you.

So if you've got a "doom box" (full of Didn't Organize Only Moved items), have a peek inside of it before moving day.

Christina Chrysostomou
Former acting head ecommerce editor

Hi, I'm the former acting head ecommerce editor at Real Homes. Prior to working for the Future plc family, I've worked on a number of consumer events including the Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live, and Good Homes Magazine. With a first class degree from Keele University, and a plethora of experience in digital marketing, editorial, and social media, I have an eye for what should be in your shopping basket and have gone through the internal customer advisor accreditation process.