Whether you’re in a situation where you’ve only lived somewhere for a short time and don’t have the deep connections to ask for help, or all of your friends and family are mysteriously sick or busy on moving day, moving by yourself is never ideal. But, moving by yourself is something many people have had to face at one time or another and it doesn’t mean you are totally devoid of options.
If a solo move is something you’re facing now, you will need to make a plan. Keep your physical limitations and timeline in mind so you don’t overdo it—preparation, organization, and a realistic attitude are key to moving by yourself.
Keep reading for our best tips on how to plan and execute a solo move.
There’s lots to do, especially when you have little to no help, so nothing will make moving by yourself easier than starting early and plugging away a little bit each day.
Start planning as soon as you know you’re moving by researching your moving options, collecting packing supplies, and creating a realistic schedule to keep yourself on track and make sure no important moving tasks slip through the cracks. Starting early also gives you an opportunity to hire residential shipping & packing services without incurring any last-minute booking charges.
TSI TIP: Check out our Ultimate Guide to Moving: Moving Timeline & Checklist for a printable week-by-week moving schedule you can stick to.
Hire help and choose the right moving vehicle
If you have a car of your own and not many belongings to move (such as a small one-bedroom apartment with little-to-no furniture), then you might be all set! If not, you’ll have to rent a cargo van, truck, trailer, or possibly hire someone to help you pack and/or pick up your belongings:
- Cargo van, truck, or trailer rental - As long as you have a license and are over the age of 25, you should be able to rent your own van, truck, or trailer. You will have to load the items on, get them to your new home, and unload them by yourself, or you can hire one or two people for an hour for a bit of extra help with the heavy things.
- Flat rate box shipping - Flat rate box shipping is ideal for a smaller move when you are shipping less than 15 boxes packed with household goods and no furniture. The boxes are delivered to your home, and you simply pack them up and call to arrange pick up. Flat rate box shipping from TSI is temporarily unavailable due to a supplier issue, but you can learn more about this service here.
- ReloCrate - If you have a friend or two that can help you for one day, this may be the perfect option. It is recommended that two people set up the ReloCrate Moving Crates because it’s a little unwieldy to do alone, but after that it’s easy to add most items by yourself. This should be set up in a secure location as it cannot be locked or moved once it’s been set up and filled.
- Economy Select & Economy Plus shipping - You can also opt to pack up your belongings and have them shipped to your new home instead of loading and unloading your own moving truck. For economy-level shipping, you just have to pack your boxes (or crates) and they will be picked up from and delivered to your curbside.
- White-Glove shipping - If packing up and moving furniture or boxes alone isn’t an option for you, White Glove Shipping also includes indoor pick up. So, all you have to do is pack your boxed items and have them ready for pickup inside your home. The moving team will come in to prepare and move your furniture, and carry your boxes out the truck for you. Upon arrival at your new home, the moving team will also unload your items into the rooms as outlined by you. If you want help packing boxes, TSI can do that too.
Don’t overpack your boxes
It can be tempting to cram everything into as few boxes as possible to limit the number of trips you’ll have to make to the car or truck, but don’t do it! Overpacking your boxes will only make them heavy and place your belongings and your body at risk. Nothing slows down a one- or two-person move like a back injury.
Instead, pack boxes light enough that you can still comfortably carry them (typically between 40-45 lbs, but may be more or less) between your home and your moving vehicle of choice. The easiest way to ensure you aren’t making boxes too heavy is to use smaller boxes for heavy items like books, shoes, and kitchenware, and large boxes for light-but-bulky items such as throw pillows, blankets, and duvets.
TSI TIP: Always lift with your legs, and if something is too heavy or bulky, do not be afraid to reach out to someone for help, whether that’s a neighbor, someone off of TaskRabbit, or a professional moving team. It’s better to ask for help or pay someone for their services than to risk injury, especially when it involves stairs.
Ensure you keep your belongings safe in our post on How to Pack Boxes Properly & Safely.
Learn more about box size, weight limit, and what to pack in each one in How Many Boxes Will I Need for my Move, and What Size Should I Get?
Get the right tools
When you are short of hands, look for tools that will make physically lifting and transporting your belongings easier. These moving tools will make it possible for you to carry things by yourself that would otherwise be difficult or even impossible to carry:
- Furniture sliders—hard plastic for carpet, and soft-padded for tile, wood, or laminate flooring
- Moving blankets—can be used to slide furniture, as well as protect it and your walls from damage
- Dollies and/or hand trucks—makes it easier to transport more than one box at a time, or pieces of furniture
- Furniture straps—ideal for lifting things like blanket chests
- Mattress sling—a series of straps that fit under a mattress to create a stronger grip and make it easier to move and carry
Learn more about how to move large, heavy, or bulky items using these tools.
Break down furniture and other large items
It’s always easier to move small pieces than it is to move something whole, so whenever possible, you should take furniture apart before you pack it or load it into your moving vehicle. Even if it can’t be completely disassembled, removing shelves, cabinet doors, cushions, drawers, chair backs, and anything that can be detached will make the furniture lighter and less cumbersome for you to move.
TSI TIP: If you have large furniture that can’t be disassembled or isn’t on the main floor and requires a trip down the stairs, you will have to hire or find at least one other person to help you. There is no way to easily and safely move large, heavy items down the stairs on your own.
Unloading & unpacking
You have to be just as careful unloading your stuff and unpacking it as you do when packing and loading it onto the truck. Take all of the same precautions when lifting and moving heavy items, and use the same tools to unload and move furniture and boxes as before. The good news is that you typically have more time when you’re unpacking and can take things a bit slower (for the unpacking portion at least), which reduces your chance of injury.
Moving long distance by yourself
When you’re moving alone to a new state, you may face issues like having help at one end of your move but not the other. This can make things like house hunting, arranging your move, and also the loading and packing or unloading and unpacking portion of your trip a bit tricky.
For situations like this, you should consider hiring a team that specializes in long-distance small moves to help you get your belongings safely transported. Then you can focus on other aspects of your move with less stress. Traveling with some of your belongings and shipping furniture and boxes packed with the rest of your household goods is a good way to reduce your moving costs when moving alone.
Moving by yourself may be more difficult than moving with the help of a large group of friends and family or hiring a full-service moving team, but it is possible if you:
- Start early
- Don’t overpack boxes
- Use the right tools
- Break down furniture and other large items
- Pick the right method of transportation
- Be just as careful unloading & unpacking your belongings
For more moving tips, visit our Ultimate Moving Guide.
TSI can help! We specialize in long distance small moves.