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Your Guide to Navigating the Complexities of Small Moves

By Jamie Richardson | December 20, 2023

Are you getting ready to move to a small apartment down the street? Maybe you or a loved one is getting ready for dorm living. 

Whether you’re just moving down the street or only taking the necessities, you don’t need a full-size moving truck or a team of workers. You may even be able to skip the movers and send your belongings by mail.

Navigating the world of compact moving solutions can be challenging. You’ll probably have questions, like is it better to pay for shipping and delivery or hire a small moving van? To help your small move go smoothly and with minimal stress, we’ve compiled some helpful tips.

What is a Small Move?

A small or compact move can mean a couple of different things. If you ask a moving company, they’ll probably define a compact move as any job transporting items under 2,000 lbs. 

This may seem like a lot of stuff, but think about the weight of your favorite chair or the clothes in your closets. Add in some pairs of boots and shoes, and your belongings can easily top out at around 2,000 lbs.

To help better inform you, here’s a look at some examples of small moves:

  • Moving into a dorm room: Since most college dorm rooms come furnished with the basics, like a desk, chair, and bed, you’re only packing a few personal items. Chances are, all you’ll need is a compact rental truck or a large SUV. You should even be able to forego hiring professional movers. After all, you shouldn’t have any problems carrying a few boxes into your dorm room.
  • Relocating down the street: You may be planning on bringing everything except the built-in appliances to your new house. However, since you’re only moving a few doors down or a couple of blocks away, this is considered a compact move. While you may exceed 2,000 lbs, it’s still a small move. You might be able to save money on moving costs by hiring a small van or truck. You can easily make multiple trips up and down the street.
  • Moving to a one-bedroom or studio apartment: You’ll be limited on what you can fit in a small apartment. This type of small move is similar to taking your belongings to a college dorm room. Since you’re limited on what will fit in the new apartment, you may be able to get by with a smaller rental moving truck.

A small move can also involve shipping only one or two items. Think of a pool table, piano, or a piece of artwork you don’t want to load on a moving truck. Most moving companies are well-equipped to handle these types of compact moves. You may also want to go with a specialty shipping service.

Do Moving Companies Have Minimums

So, what is the minimum in the world of moving? The answer depends on the moving company. Some have a minimum weight requirement, and others refer to the least amount they charge for a job.

Moving companies typically charge by the hour, meaning their minimum rate makes the job profitable for them. Moving companies pay their staff by the hour or job, and they also factor in gas costs, along with wear and tear on the company’s vehicles.

Chances are, moving companies in your area will have anywhere from a one to a four-hour minimum. If you’re only moving a few boxes down the street, it’s best to find a moving company with a minimum requirement of one hour. This way, you’re not paying more than the move is worth.

Are you planning on shipping one or two items to another state? If so, there are minimum requirements to make it worth the shipper’s time and effort. On average, the minimum requirement is 2,000 lbs. However, this can vary, so it’s best to check with the moving company beforehand.

What to Consider in a Small Move

So you’ve decided to go with professional movers, which is a good option to go with and take advantage of. After all, you don’t need to worry about renting a vehicle if yours isn’t large enough to hold your belongings. You also don’t have to beg and bribe friends and family to help with the move.

However, before hiring a company for your small move, there are a few things to consider.

Pay Attention to the Condition of Your Belongings

Most moving services take pride in delivering their customers’ belongings without any damage. However, accidents can and do occur, so it’s best to know your items' condition before loading your belongings on a truck. This is especially true if you’re moving fragile or breakable items like large mirrors and TVs.

You may even want to take pictures of the items before packing them up; this way, if something does go wrong, you have proof to back up your damage claims.

Think About Getting Insurance

You can insure your belongings before a move, which is a good tip if you’re moving fragile and expensive items. 

Insurance policies can cover items including artwork, appliances, and entertainment components; your insurance provider can provide you with additional details. Some moving companies also offer insurance as part of a package, and sometimes, it’s actually less expensive to insure your belongings through the moving company.

If you already have insurance, make sure your policy covers damage during moving. Some policies include this type of coverage automatically, and others require you to pay extra to add the protection to your current plan.

Consider Your Timeline

Guess what! You’re probably not the only person planning a small move in your community, so you probably don’t want to wait until the last minute to hire professional movers. You may find out they’re already booked, and this can disrupt your moving schedule. With this in mind, try to hire a mover at least a week in advance of your planned moving date.

Small Moves Don’t Need to Be Stressful

With a little planning and some basic forethought, your small move can easily go off without a hitch. Remember: make sure you book your moving service well before your moving date so you can lock in your preferred date. 

On top of this, you may also want to consider insuring your belongings during the move. This way, if something happens to your stuff you’re finically covered.

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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