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A man and woman are sitting on the floor of their house, eating pizza while they take a break from moving. The furniture around them is covered with moving blankets, and there are several packed moving boxes nearby. Through the window, a PODS moving container can be seen sitting in the driveway.

How to Leave Moving Stress Behind

Moving Tips and Hacks

by Shannon Jacobs Posted on January 16, 2024
Ask anybody who’s been through a recent move how everything went and, chances are, you’ll get an earful. From to-be-expected hassles — a broken glass, maybe? — to bigger annoyances — like a last-minute construction delay — moving is challenging. But it doesn’t have to be traumatizing. With proper planning, you can minimize moving stress and make your move, dare we say, a positive experience.

But without the right preparation, the most stressful part of moving can be … literally every single thing.

What Is the Most Stressful Part of Moving?

As anyone who’s done it knows, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all aspects of the moving process. But instead of focusing on the potential for catastrophe, let’s take a look at how to deal with moving stress and prepare in a way that helps you avoid it in the first place. 

Q: What are the 3 most stressful things in life? 
The death of a loved one, divorce, and — you guessed it — moving are generally agreed to be the three most stressful life events. So if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your upcoming move, know you’re not alone — it’s totally normal to feel stressed out. Luckily, there are things you can do to avoid moving stress, and there are even things you can do to relieve moving stress when it rears its ugly little head. Read on for more tips.

Why Is Moving So Emotionally Stressful?

Any kind of life change can spark anxiety and other difficult emotions. But when the change is something as disruptive as moving to a whole new place, there’s definitely the potential for a ride on an emotional rollercoaster. After all, for most people, the home is a sanctuary, a place where you retreat from the world, feel safe and secure, and spend most of your time. The idea of ditching what’s familiar and creating a brand-new place — particularly if you’ve lived in your home for a long while — can be daunting. Add to that a new state or even a new city, and you could be in for not just a rollercoaster but an entire theme park of emotion. But there are ways to ease all that moving stress. Just keep reading. 

Is It Normal To Have Anxiety About Moving?

Absolutely. Again, moving is among the top three most stressful life events. But while anxiety about a new neighborhood and unfamiliar streets is normal, do pay attention to your emotions. If you find yourself slipping into depression, reach out to a friend, family member, or doctor for support. It can be hard to make friends and find your way in a new environment — and there’s never any shame in asking for help.  

A young woman is leaning on a moving box with her head in her hand and a stressed expression on her face. There are several more moving boxes in the background.

You can avoid undue stress during your move with good planning and the right moving help. 

How Do You Avoid Moving Stress?

 We can’t promise completely stress-free moving — or that you’ll have a completely stress-free moving company experience, for that matter — but here are a few tips for tamping down the anxiety: 

1. Hire the Right Moving Company.

We can’t stress this enough (pun intended): Research moving companies. Get referrals from friends and family and check online reviews. When you do find a company that’s highly recommended and has a good reputation, book them early and get everything in writing. Every. Thing. Dates, prices, extra fees, policies. You need to know the details — and you need a written record. 

2. Going DIY? Get Covered. 

If you’re doing it all on your own with a moving truck rental, flexible dates are key — so make sure you ask all the questions and get all the details in writing. And opt for the insurance. That way, if you happen to run over a parking lot fence returning a mid-size rental truck (of which we may or may not have first-hand knowledge), you’ll pay nothing (or very minimal) out of pocket. Plus, you might encounter an unexpected change with your move-in or move-out dates; knowing you’re covered will preempt potential challenges and get you closer to stress-free moving. 

3. Pack Your Belongings Early. 

By “early” we mean well in advance of the moving company arriving to pick up your things. The moving day itself will be stressful enough, particularly if you’re leaving a long-time home. Don’t compound that stress by spending the final hours stuffing last bits and pieces into boxes. Instead, get everything packed early, so you have the time and energy to say your goodbyes and (if necessary) do a quick clean-up before pulling out of the driveway. 

4. Get a Variety of Box Sizes. 

Heavy items like books, for instance, should go in small boxes, so you don’t injure your movers — and you don’t have a big pile of books to pick up when an oversized box inevitably breaks because of the weight. Clothing and other lightweight belongings can fill up the large boxes, and all the medium things can go in the medium boxes. It may seem like a waste to use so much packing material around your breakables in the boxes, but what’s more important: saving space in your boxes or ensuring your items make it to their next destination unscathed?

A close-up view of two people wrapping fragile dishes in brown paper before packing them away in cardboard moving boxes.

Protect your belongings with plenty of packing materials, like packing paper and bubble cushioning roll. 
(Source: Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels)

5. Don’t Skimp on Packing Materials. 

Think boxes and tape are all you need? Think again. Depending on what you’re moving, you may want to add other essential moving supplies to the mix. Got some mattresses? Get some mattress bags (to avoid getting them dirty en route to your new digs). Lots of breakable knick-knacks? Then you’ll need lots of bubble cushioning roll or packing paper. You get the point. 

Insider Tip: You can find moving packing supplies (and more!) at PODS Boxes, our specialized moving supply store for all your moving needs. The best part? We also save you the hassle of trying to figure out how much of each thing you need with our PODS Container Kits!

6. Be a Label Maker. 

Pick up a couple of markers and go to town on your boxes! Use big, clear labels that tell your movers which rooms are the right destinations — and tell your future self what’s in each box. When the unpacking starts, you’ll be thankful you took time for this small but critical task. No hunting for that box of silverware when it’s time for your first dinner, and no foraging for the coffeemaker when you wake up on day one — they’re right there, clearly labeled and stacked in your kitchen corner.

7. Turn On Utilities in Advance.

It’s impossible to overstate the joy of fully functioning A/C and WiFi when you arrive at the new house. Get as many utilities as possible set up in advance, so you can focus on unpacking and getting settled — not on hassling with cable guys and endless voicemail menus.

How Can I Help My Kids (and Pets) Manage Moving Stress? 

Relocating with kids and pets adds a whole new layer of potential moving stress to an already tricky equation. (Ever been on a cross-country move and forced to endure unprepared cat moving stress? We have. And it wasn’t pretty.) But again, with planning and preparation, there are ways to mitigate the anxiety and even make it a fantastic adventure for your little ones. 

The most important tip for parents moving with kids: Involve them in the move. Put them to work sorting clothes, toys, and games — and let them help with packing and unpacking. If it’s feasible, take a trip to the new home pre-move, so they have a realistic picture in their minds. 

On moving day, make sure you’ve got a “game box” labeled and within easy reach. During the first couple of nights in the new space, when a few (properly labeled) boxes are still stacked unpacked around the house, it will be a pleasure to have some family faves at your fingertips. The potential for moving stress doesn’t stop until everything is unpacked and organized, so an evening of Scrabble or coloring books and pizza delivery may be just what you need to help ease into the new digs. 

And as for those furbabies, keep them as comfortable as possible. Don’t forget a water bowl, even if you’re traveling by car, and be liberal with treats. And just like with the kids’ game box of favorites, make sure you have your animal’s toys with you — not in a moving truck. Familiar loveys will go a long way toward helping your dog or cat endure the move and adjust to a new environment.

A hand is circling the 10th day of the month on a calendar. There is a note on the same day that says “Moving Day!.”

PODS has flexible moving solutions — so you won’t have to stress if your plans change.

What Do You Do When Your Moving Plans Change?

Is moving high stress? Obviously it can be. But how high-stress? One in eight respondents in a survey of 2,000 Americans said moving is more stressful than spending a week in jail. More than a quarter said it’s worse than a job interview. Whoa! Americans definitely need stress and anxiety tips for moving.

If you have a complex move coming up — for instance, your new house won’t be ready until a few weeks after the closing on your current home and you need a place to store your belongings — PODS is the way to go. Keep your things safe and secure in a storage container until you’re ready to move in. No one understands complicated moves and home renovation projects like PODS. In fact, Move.org recognized PODS as 2024’s best moving containers company. From pay-as-you-go pricing to changing your dates with ease, our flexible moving and storage services were designed to keep your moving stress to a minimum.

How Do You Relieve Stress From Moving?

Okay, so the old house is empty, your belongings are tucked in the truck and on the road to your new home, and you’re on your way, too. But what if the stress is still getting the best of you? To make the transition a little easier, try these three easy hacks:

1. Make a List.

If the thought of all you still have to accomplish — or worse, what lies ahead of you — has become a chaotic mess of “to-dos” floating around your head, it’s time to make a list. Grab a piece of bona fide paper and write down (in simple terms) what needs to be done. Figure out what should be handled first and focus solely on that. Not only does writing these steps down allow you to remove your attention from them (if only for a moment), but it also allows you to focus on just one step at a time, making you more effective during each part of your move.

2. Take Care of Yourself.

If you find yourself stressing out over the big move, it may be time for some self-care. Take a moment to figure out what you need right now. Have you been drinking enough water? Did you have breakfast before you started packing like a madman? Have you been sleeping enough? Once you’ve sorted that out, give yourself permission to take what you need, whether that’s a nap, a snack, a walk, or a visit with a good friend. Taking care of yourself during your move will help you avoid an overload of moving stress. You may find that — after a little “me time” — you’re much more efficient than before.

3. Slow Down.

This is the No. 1 thing to keep in mind. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your new home isn’t going anywhere, either. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, give yourself permission to slow down and take your time unpacking and getting settled. Besides lowering your moving stress level by removing any self-imposed get-unpacked deadline, you may also find yourself feeling more in tune with the new space — discovering its perks and quirks, becoming more comfortable, and figuring out where exactly to place your furniture, artwork, and those carefully wrapped treasures that made it, unbothered and intact, to your new home.

And when everything is in its place, and the boxes are all gone, don’t forget to check out more tips and tricks on the PODS Blog for the post-move decorating and beyond!

Shannon Jacobs is a Tampa-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. She has lived in Atlanta, the Berkshires, and Nashville, but always returns to the warmth of Florida’s Gulf Coast.

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