How to Limit your Stress While Moving

Moving can be an incredibly stressful time in anyone’s life. There are so many things to consider and plan that it can become overwhelming—even for people that have moved several times.

So, how does one reduce their stress level when moving? We talked with experts and recent movers to get their advice on how to do just this.


Plan Ahead

Sometimes the need for a move comes out to the blue and you have to act fast. But more often than not, a move will be something that you can plan for in advance. The key word here is “plan.”

When we say plan, what we’re really saying is create a task list that contains everything that you’ll need to do along with due dates with each task. Some experts recommend grouping tasks according to when you need them accomplished. For instance, Ali Wenzke, author of the blog The Art of Happy Moving, has created a moving checklist that breaks up the tasks you need to accomplish by the number of weeks out from your move. At the top of that list 8 weeks out from your move, is setting a moving date, followed by creating a filing system for all your moving papers including estimates, receipts, and health and school records. The checklist runs all the way to things you should do on your moving day.

If you’re more of a technophile, you can put your tasks into a tool such as Outlook. You can either use its Calendar function or its Tasks function. Both have the ability to give you reminders either via pop-up notification or via email. The Tasks tab allows you to notate the point you’re at with each task, whether that’s not started, in progress, waiting on someone else, deferred, or complete. You can also share the task list with other family members or involved parties so that everyone’s one the same page.



Part of moving stress comes from having to pack up every single thing you own. This has to happen even if you’re just moving across town. To decrease the amount of stuff you have to move, it’s important to declutter and divest yourself of unnecessary items. Before starting, create a bin system with 5 bins, boxes, or bags, one marked “Donate”, another marked “Giveaway”, and others marked, “Sell”, “Recycle” and “Unsure.”

Pick a room and start small. For instance, if you’re in the bedroom, pick the nightstand. By starting small you can make decisions on relatively minor things. Before you know it, you’ll be done decluttering the drawers and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment that will aid you when you tackle big declutter areas such as your master closet.

Kelly Hayes-Raitt, has been a professional house-sitter for the past 9 years all over the world. One of her tips is to start early on getting your old photos, videos, and cassettes digitized. Depending on the volumes of photo albums and stacks of tapes you have, this may end up saving you a lot of space in your moving truck and at your new home. Plus, you can save these files both locally and in the cloud so that if you have any natural disaster (like Hurricane Michael), you won’t have to worry about trying to save memorabilia when you should be saving yourself.


Create a Moving Budget

coins and a calculator

As with everything else, moving comes at a cost—not only emotionally, but in the pocketbook as well. So, it’s important to get a handle on what everything will cost. To manage this better, create a detailed moving budget with line items for everything you expect to spend money on. Things you may pay for include:

  • Hiring movers or renting a moving truck
  • Boxes and packing supplies like bubble wrap, packing tape, etc.
  • Gasoline for your car or moving truck
  • Food while in route or as payment for friends’ help
  • Incidental costs that always crop up

By knowing the bottom line costs you may encounter, you can prepare for these expenditures and reduce any anxiety over how to pay for them.


Pad Your Schedule

calendar with date circled

One common comment we heard over and over was that moving took a lot longer than they expected.

Joanne Cummings, a flight attendant and certified wedding planner, recently moved from Brooklyn to East Hartford, Connecticut. She said that even more stressful than the actual move was the packing of the household items, which took her quite a long time. She recommended wrapping and stacking any breakable items you have well in advance of your move. Joanne also recommended hiring movers if you can afford it. She said it took she and her children 2 days to pack a 10ft. U-Haul.

Heidi McBain, a marriage and family therapist from Texas, commented that the time of the year was important. She recommended moving over the summer so that you don’t have to work around kids’ school schedules.


Need a Little Help from my Friends

women carrying boxes and laughing

Part of moving that can seem stressful is the feeling that you have to do this all by yourself. You don’t. Ask friends and family to help you with sorting through your stuff, wrapping items, or doing heavy lifting during the move. Chances are, they’ve been where you are, so they understand how daunting moving can be. An added bonus is that you’ll find out who your true friends are!


Make Sure You Get your Zzzs

toes sticking out from underneath sheetsWith everything you have to accomplish prior to your move, you may have a tendency to burn the midnight oil and not get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has a significant effect on your body. In addition to making you moody, emotional, and quick-tempered, lack of sleep affects your ability to concentrate and think clearly. During a move, this is not the time to short-change yourself in the sleep department. Make a promise with yourself that any move-related issues or research you’re doing ends at a reasonable hour so that you can get to bed and get a good night’s sleep.


Plan Time to Say Your Goodbyes

Another stressor during a move is the knowledge that you may have to say goodbye to close friends or family. To ease your loss, budget some time to spend with your loved ones. Not only will this ease the transition, but it will also give you a chance to make plans with them for the next time you see them. If one of your friends suggests planning a going-away party, take them up on their offer. It’s a great way to see everyone—even folks that you may not have had time to say goodbye to individually. Just make sure you’re not involved with the planning other than to suggest who to invite. You don’t need another stressor to deal with at a time like this.


You Deserve a Reward

For many, moving, in and of itself, is a reward. But if your family is having trouble looking at it that way, consider figuring out a reward for them as a way to remunerate everyone for the hard work that just went into the move. This could be a nice dinner or a concert. Or perhaps a big purchase like a hot tub or big-screen television for the new house. Whatever works in your budget.

Moreover, it’s important to realize that moving is going to be stressful. Once you make your peace with that, you can give yourself a break when things feel out of control. After your move, you’ll be able to look back on the event and realize that you made it through relatively unscathed.

About the Author: Derek Hines

About the Author: Derek Hines

Digital Marketing Specialist

Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Digital Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.