While it’s exciting to move into a new home, moving itself is disruptive and inconvenient. Moving during the winter time compounds the feelings of disruption with cold temperatures while inclement and severe winter weather can freeze your whole move to a standstill. In fact, conditions in parts of the US are bad enough during January and February that if it weren’t for the lack of mammoths and other Pleistocene megafauna, you’d swear you were back in the Ice Age.
While winter weather can be harsh and unpredictable at times, the best way to prepare for a move is to plan it all out in advance and allow for delays and problems to occur. Not sure where to start planning? Never fear! We’ve assembled 7 tips for cold weather moving to help get your and your family on the road to your new home.
1. Allow extra time during your move.
The plain fact about winter weather is that it is way bigger than anyone and no one controls it. The way to cope is to stay on top of the weather forecasts and allow extra travel time during your move — even if it’s just across town. Remember to dress for cold weather and make sure your vehicles are ready for the move. Icy roads can send even the most careful drivers into the ditch, stranding them for hours. In addition to packing, keep extra blankets, a shovel, a cell phone, and snacks in your car with you.
2. Shovel and use ice melt to clear your walkway and drive way.
An icy or snow-blanketed sidewalk and driveway might be the last thing on your mind. But when the moving truck pulls up to your house and the moving crew start putting on ice skates or snowshoes, you suddenly realize how much a slipping hazard it can be for people carrying your furniture. You also realize how much time it will take to clear it. What’s the fix? Clear your walks and driveway the day before. If there’s ice and snow at your new home, hire a service to take care of it there before you move in. Remember to put down large mats or even flattened cardboard boxes to allow movers to stomp ice, snow, and mud from their boots to keep your floors clean.
3. Protect your houseplants from the cold.
Many people happily part with houseplants (especially large ones) when they move. But, if you’re really attached to them, moving your green buddies with you can be a dangerous winter adventure. If you plan to ship your plants in the moving van, the trick is to keep them warm enough so that they aren’t damaged by freezing. While moving van trailers are not heated and can get pretty darn cold, things inside of them are out of the wind and will retain a little heat for a day or two. Even so, most movers will not insure against their damage or survival. Most plants can be shipped by wrapping their pots in bubble wrap (as insulation) and then placed into a snug-fitting box.Larger house plants, such as ficus trees, can have their bushy tops wrapped in newspaper and then covered with plastic all the way down to the bubble-wrapped insulated pot (poke some holes in the top to allow for respiration). An alternative to all of this with better survival odds is to leave your houseplants with a friend or relative to care for until warmer weather arrives in the spring. You can collect them then.
4. Remember your pets’ needs.
Pets, espcially dogs and cats, can get in the way when you’re moving. They’re excited because they know something is happening from all the activity but they’re confused and frightened. One option is to kennel them at veterinarians in your current city (and pick them up after the move is over) or kennel them at a location near your new home.
Granted, this might not be feasible for long distance moves. In this case, you need to make sure your pets are warm, have food and water, and maintain control over them. Keep them in a kennel-cage or pet taxi and be sure to give them ample time for bathroom breaks, especially if you are moving cross-country.
5. Keep furniture and other belongings out of the weather.
During wet, humid, or misty weather, wooden furniture can easily get damaged with water stains while it waits outside to be loaded into the truck. Keep valuable items protected from the weather by covering them with blankets and towels. Remember to keep a roll of paper towels stashed in the truck to wipe off any water from furniture.
Cardboard boxes can also soak up moisture and leave the packed contents smelling musty and feel damp. A great alternative is to rent reusable plastic packing bins from a company like Greenway Crates, BungoBox, or Rent-A-Green Box. Not only do you not need to worry about what to do with any cardboard boxes, this green alternative makes stacking and loading faster and efficient because the bins are all a uniform shape and size.
6. When unloading electronics, let them warm up for 24 hours BEFORE plugging them in and turning them on.
Electronic circuit boards have become smaller and more delicate than ever before and are even more sensitive to moisture. And you’ve probably noticed that when you bring something cold inside during the winter, moisture will condense on it. This is deadly to many electronics as moisture could short out circuit boards. So, make sure you let your TV’s, Blu-ray players, home theatre systems, computers, monitors, peripherals, radios, and everything in between warm up and dry out for 24 hours before turning them on. After all, there’s no fun in discovering your expensive 60 inch Ultra HD flat-screen TV wouldn’t have turned into a big, flat-glass brick if only you had just let it sit unplugged overnight.
7. Set up utilities two weeks in advance and have them turned on one day in advance of your move.
Make sure that the heat in your new home is on and working and that it will stay on in your old house until the new resident takes over (unless you are renting). While transferring utilities usually isn’t a problem if you are just moving across town, it can be complicated, inconvenient, and expensive to juggle two utility bills when you’re moving cross-country.
One way around this is to install a smart thermostat into your new home when you set up your new utilities. A smart thermostat will allow you to control it remotely via an internet connection and your smart phone. You’ll be able to monitor your new home’s temperature and set it to warm up your new home before you arrive.
These 7 tips will help you better organize your wintertime move and plan for a those typical problems and delays that come with cold weather. Above all, remember that winter weather is bigger than you are and beyond anyone’s control. Keep your move-plans flexible by allowing extra time for loading, unloading, and traveling. This will save you headaches and aggravation and deliver your family warm and safely to your new home.