4 Essential Moving Hacks To Save Money and Avoid Chaos

I’m fond of saying that moving isn’t for the faint of heart.  Remember back to a move you’ve made and chances are your stomach will start to knot. We feel anxious just thinking about the work.

There’s so much to think about and do when you're moving.  It’s a lot more than just turning off the utilities at one home and turning them on at another. You know you have to get all of your stuff from point A to point B. You know things have to be packed. But I have new information for you today.  I’m going to tell you about four essential moving hacks to save money and avoid chaos.  

 I developed these moving hacks while working with my clients as an interior designer. A great majority of the time,  people hire a designer after they’ve moved and they’ve entered what I call crisis mode.  A lot of times their stuff in storage because they wanted to remodel or update the kitchen and bathrooms before moving in or they wanted to change out the flooring or lighting. Most want to paint before moving in so that everything is fresh and new before their furniture arrives. 

Somewhere in the process of our working together they start voicing concerns about the furniture that’s sitting in storage and whether it will fit in the new rooms. They realize they are craving a new look, new colors, and new styles for their new lifestyle. 

 When I moved myself from our larger suburban home into a smaller place at the beach I had a definite advantage over those clients because I was able to design my new space long before my move. That completely eliminated a bunch of chaos around the move and saved us a bunch of money.  

These moving hacks are especially relevant if you’re designing your second half and are moving at this stage of your life after accumulating lots and lots of stuff over the years.

It’s especially relevant if you’re moving from a larger home into a smaller space. Some people call this downsizing but I like to call it right sizing since you’re moving into the right size space for your current needs and the lifestyle you’re craving.

In the episode with Shawna O’Connor from the full service online estate sales company called Everything But The House, we talked about the nightmare she experienced trying to move her parents before she started working for Everything But The House. What I’m going to talk about today complements that episode so if you didn’t get to listen to it, you may want to stop and listen to it now.

Most of the people I’ve worked with hire a moving company that picks up all the contents of their home and then they have everything stored until their new home is ready for move-in.  When they’re ready, all that stuff is delivered. It goes into the rooms it was labeled as coming from and the overflow goes into the garage. 

The move-in is overwhelming and the reality that things don’t fit hits them like a bunch of bricks.  They can barely walk around all the furniture and boxes. It’s clear immediately that there’s no room for all this stuff. They knew it all along but wanted to hide from this new reality.

They spent money to pack their stuff, move their stuff from the old home, store their stuff until the new home was ready, and deliver their stuff.  All that money was put toward things that just don’t work in the new space. They didn’t think about all the money they could have saved by only packing and storing things that would work perfectly in their new home.

They might have actually made money by selling some things before the movers arrived or they could have made a charitable donation with a possible tax advantage not to mention the feel-good aspect of donating to charity. 

By doing these things they could have maybe made some money.  They certainly would have saved money. They would have eliminated a lot of hassle and chaos that happens when you move stuff that simple won’t work in your new home.

Once you’ve moved from a big house to a smaller space, it’s extra hard to have a traditional estate sale. Now your options are more limited in terms of getting things moved off your property quickly.

So let’s talk about my 4 essential moving hacks that will save you money and help you avoid chaos. 

The first essential is about cataloging your possessions.Taking an inventory of what you have is a foundational starting point for any move. You need to know dimensions if you’re deciding where things will fit in  your new rooms. 

This is a good time to assess the condition things are in to determine if you need repairs or reupholstery and you should think about the quality of each piece. You don’t want to spend a fortune refinishing something that isn’t great quality to begin with but if something is very high quality, it may make sense to refinish or recover it.

I also like to figure out the emotional attachment that you have to something so those special things can be worked into your new plan.

I don’t think you should limit yourself by labeling a piece of furniture by the room you have it in. I’ve used small hallway chests as nightstands in a bedroom and as side tables next to a sofa in a great room. It’s better to consider the dimensions and get creative about usage when you’re trying to incorporate your old furniture into a new home.

I also don’t think matching stuff should be your first concern. You can decide to recover, refinish, and repaint things as needed.  Matchy-matchy is a look most designers avoid like the plague. We think a curated room with different pieces is much more interesting. 

I’ve created a freebie tool to help you document what you currently own and determine whether to use each item in your next home. It’s a really cool tool because it helps you figure out what you have, its condition, what needs to be fixed or refinished or painted, and your emotional attachments. Click here to download it.

This worksheet takes it a step further because you can use  it to document where things will go on the new floor plan and then you can decide what you are going to do with the items that aren’t on the new floor plan.  Imagine having this worksheet with you when you’re deciding how you will work with an estate sale company or when you are getting bids from moving companies.

The second essential moving hack is about creating a photo collage capturing the new lifestyle and new look you imagine in a best case scenario. 

I think this is the fun part of moving. I actually do this with clients before they even think about moving and I’ll talk about this in another episode. 

What I’m recommending here is for you to collect a bunch of photo images of things that capture what you’d like your new home to be like. You might find an image of a group of friends around a large dining table or a beautiful garden or a spa bathroom.  Select photos that speak to you and make your heart sing.  After you capture those types of images, fill in with some pictures of furniture that capture the look and feel you’re drawn to for this space. This is your chance to refresh the style you’re used to or to refresh some of the colors you’ve been living with for so long. 

You can create a photo collage on your computer with any number of photo programs. I use a website called Canva but a quick google search will turn up many options.  You could also do this the old fashion way by ripping pages from magazines and writing on each page what you like in the photo. You could put these pictures in plastic protector sheets in a 3 ring binder that goes with you anywhere or you could paste them onto a foam board to study at home.

I like being able to add things whenever I see them.  I’ll usually just start a file and I don’t edit any of the contents until much later in the process. I start with accumulating images of what I like. When it’s time to make some decisions,  I edit my file down so that I’m left with a grouping that goes together really nicely.  I figure out all of this way before I spend money.

The third essential moving hack is creating a floor plan that incorporates how you will use each space. You want your new home to function really well for you so that you can do all the things you want. A lot of times we need spaces to be multi-functional.

In your old house you might have had different rooms and a completely different layout that what you’ll have in your new home. Maybe you had a breakfast room and a dining room and a family room and an office. 

If you’re moving to a smaller, open floor plan, you might want a large table where you entertain but you’ll also use that table at tax time to prepare your taxes or on game night for the game board and pieces.

To make a space function ideally and look visually appealing you may want to hire a professional. This is what we interior designers do. We know balance, color, and scale. We know how to pull together these things for a fabulous space. It all starts with a great furniture floor plan and that’s where we can incorporate what you have that will work in  your new home. 

I work remotely with clients and if you’d like to know more about the process because you have a need, I would encourage you to book a 15 minute phone consultation with me.  The purpose of the call is to help you clarify the kind of help you need right now and some steps that will get you going in the right direction. If this sounds interesting to you, click here to get started.

Now I want to talk about how I outsourced some activities for my own move and why it was so helpful to me. This is the fourth essential moving hack.

When you’re moving, emotions run high. You have so many things to do. There’s a lot of timing involved in making a move. On top of that, selling or donating things you’ve had for a long time is hard to do, even when you know it’s the right thing to do.

I highly recommend outsourcing this process to an estate sales company that can get you top dollar for their efforts. Another option is to put highly valuable art, furniture, and collectibles on consignment with a dealer who specializes in the era and quality of the pieces you can’t use.

We talked with Shawna O’Connor a few weeks ago about the easier estate sale full service, online company called Everything But The House. The online marketplace sells to a worldwide audience. They  catalog and process all the items in your home including all donations. This is a huge time saver for you and you get a check at the end which can help pay for your move.

Traditional estate sales companies market to a more local audience and sell things from your home. A dealer will usually take your things into his or her store front or warehouse to sell them. You won’t get any money until the sale is made and there’s a chance this can take a long time.

One of these options will help you if you have things to sell and you’re open to letting others use their expertise to facilitate your move. You deserve to lighten your load and there will be plenty of other things for you to do.

So let’s review the four essential moving hacks to save money and avoid chaos. Most people don’t use these strategies and they end up moving and storing a bunch of things they can’t use in the new space. 

Moving hack  #1 is taking an inventory of what you have. I’ve created a wonderful worksheet just for my podcast listeners that’s completely free. You can find it at askDECOR.com  under the freebies page.

Moving hack #2  is creating a photo collage to capture the lifestyle and look you’re craving in this exciting new stage of your life, living in a new home. You can do this on your computer or the old fashion way with magazine images.

Moving hack #3 is creating a new floor plan which combines form and function so that you end up with multi-functional spaces that make you smile when you look at them.  It’s important to consider balance, color, and scale for a pulled together look. You may want to work with a professional to get this right and yes, I am a professional interior designer.

Moving hack # 4 is to insulate your emotions and lighten your to-do list with the help of an estate sales company that will take care of selling or donating things you won’t be taking with you to the next property.  Another idea is to work with a specialized dealer for high value art, furniture, and collectibles that you can’t use in your new space.


"Most people don’t use these strategies and they end up moving things they can’t use in their new space." ~ Design Your Second Half, the podcast
Wishing you a lifestyle you love,

 ~ Nancy
To be inspired by past podcast posts, click here.