The real estate hunt for a new apartment or house is typically pretty exciting. You imagine finally having your own office in the study, or a playroom for the kids, how you’ll arrange your art, which wall the TV will go on, or the kind of area rug you’ll use. These things run through your mind each time you consider a new place.

Then moving day arrives. Suddenly, that wonderful new gem of a living space you found for a pretty good deal is much more of a horrible, tedious, back-breaking chore. And holy cow, you have a lot of stuff to move!

Renting a U-Haul

Moving can seem like an insurmountable task, especially when moving from one house to another. An entire house of stuff – couches and lazy-boys and patio furniture, kitchenware, dishes and stemware and silverware, toys, game systems, power tools, all your wall hangings and mantle decor, beds, bathroom supplies, clothes and all the albums and collectibles in the attic that you inherited from grandma — all of it has to be packed up in boxes and containers. Then, when all that hard work has been done, comes the real work: actually moving it.

The first moving-related hassle you’ll face is the question of how exactly you can get all that stuff from your old house to your new one. Sure, you could enlist a fleet of friends or make a million trips from one house to another with your tiny Ford Fiesta packed to the rafters with boxes – or you could just do the smart thing and rent a U-Haul.

Here are a few tips for renting a U-Haul without wasting money or time:

Make sure to reserve the right size.

Don’t underestimate how large a rental truck you may need. While it’s reasonable to make a few trips if its the same town, you don’t want to rent the smallest option possible to save money, and then spend it all in gas, time and energy making twenty trips. It’s better to have a little extra space than not enough.

Give yourself plenty of time to reserve it.

You don’t want to get stuck without a moving truck because you waited too long to reserve a vehicle. Make sure to reserve it several weeks in advance if you live in a suburban area, and at least a month in advance if you live in a metropolitan area.

Know ahead of time what you’ll load first and last.

For instance, usually beds and large furniture go at the back or on the bottom, and fragile items on top and/ or at the front. Organization is crucial at all points of moving if you don’t want to end up replacing a bunch of broken stuff once you get to your destination.

Time, Labor and Organization Tips for DIY Moving

Once you’ve booked your U-Haul, it’s time to think about how to stay motivated and organized so moving day goes off without a hitch. Here are some ideas to help make it happen:

Motivate friends to help you move with food, alcohol, and first pick of anything you’re selling or donating.

If you can’t pay them with money, pay them with pizza and beer and the coffee-colored leather loveseat that you were going to sell on Yardsale.com. Also, don’t be inconsiderate by calling friends and family over to help you move before you are totally ready. Be sure everything is boxed up and ready to be carried out.

They are already donating their time and muscle. Don’t force them to wait an hour and a half for you to finish boxing up your dining room china.

For anything that you want to sell or get rid of, start doing so two months ahead of moving day.

If you want to use Craigslist, eBay or yard sales to sell anything you don’t want to just throw out, it can take some time to organize, sell and ship your stuff. Get it out of the way and give yourself less to move. Again, though, make sure anyone helping you move gets first pick.

Use creative and smart ways to organize.

  • Use color coded tape on boxes for each room. Mark clearly on the boxes what room its contents belong to.
  • Use supersize garbage bags to simply gather your clothes — while still on the hangers – and put them inside. It also makes unpacking easier.
  • Use any laundry hampers, baskets, suitcases and anything else you might have to pack up. This saves on boxes and helps organize. For example, put all your detergents, bath towels, cleaning supplies and so on, in the laundry hamper for easier unpacking in your new laundry room.
  • Keep small plastic baggies handy for screws and nuts and bolts and anything you have to take apart, such as flatscreen TVs, wall hangings or curtain rods. You can tape the plastic baggies to the item they belong to.
  • Get some stretch wrap. This can help organize, bulk things together, seal and protect things like furniture, and so on. On a smaller scale, you can use plastic wrap or press’n’seal wrap for dresser drawers – just seal the top, and they are their own built-in moving containers. True DIY moving.

Put overnight essentials in an overnight bag, and everything you’ll need right away into an easily accessible, transparent container.

You’ll be able to tell immediately what’s inside without opening it up – make sure you put the container somewhere you can easily get to it – in other words, not in the far back of the U-haul rental. Stuff you might want right away would be your router/modem for the internet, paper plates and plasticware, toilet paper, trash bags, chargers and power cords/strips – and you might want to add coffee and coffee cups for the next morning, since you’ll be spending the entire day unpacking.

Take photos of EVERYTHING.

Not only should you take photos of your empty, clean and undamaged apartment, in order to ensure you get your deposit back from the landlord, but also photos of things that may help with moving. Game systems, cable and internet cords, your alarm system, etc. — photos can be a visual guide when you’re confused about where the red, white, yellow or blue TV cords go.

With DIY moving, organization and space-saving practices are definitely key. Putting things in pairs of socks and using your clothes as padding can save money on bubble wrap and save space. Moving drawers as is – meaning, leaving everything in them — when you can, also helps save time and space.

If you do hire movers to help you, make sure you know all their terms of service. For instance, items often must be boxed and packaged properly. If they have to box something up themselves – especially something fragile, you’ll end up paying very inflated prices for boxes, bubble wrap, labor, and so on. The upside of hiring professional movers is that they’re typically insured. If something does break in the process, you’ll be reimbursed for it – but only if it is safely and reasonably boxed up. You’ll make it easier on everyone helping you move, including yourself, if everything is well-contained, organized and ready to pack and move upon their arrival. It will also make moving into your new place less tedious, horrible and back-breaking.

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com