Are you considering a move in the winter? It’s not as challenging as it might seem. In fact, moving in the winter can be a good idea. It’s an off-season for moving companies, so they have more staff available and can possibly give you a deal, too. You will also have more flexibility when it comes to scheduling your move, as opposed to being squeezed between jobs.
Every season has its moving advantages and disadvantages, and winter is no exception. The weather might present a challenge. School might also still be in session. Or, you simply might not be thrilled about having to move when the holiday season is nearby. However, if you prepare and plan for a successful, stress-free winter move, you should make it out just fine.
Here’s our guide to moving in the winter, which includes the pros and cons, as well as what to consider when you move, how to protect your home on moving day, and more.
When Is the Best Time of the Year to Move?
It depends on your moving needs and preferences, budget, location, work flexibility, and family circumstances. In terms of your budget, you are more likely to save on a move during the late September to April window because the demand for movers is lower and so are the rates.
The peak moving season is considered to stretch from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Families with school-age children prefer to move when school is out, and depending on your location, spring and summer might offer better weather.
9 Reasons Why You Should Consider Moving in the Winter
There are plenty of reasons why moving in the winter has its advantages. Here are 9 of them.
It’s less expensive to move in the off-season.
Moving during the winter months is considerably cheaper than moving during the warmer seasons. With kids in school and winter weather disincentivizing many from moving, there will be less demand for moving companies; and therefore, less expensive moving rates for customers.
Storage costs less, too.
If you need to store your belongings in between moves, you’ll typically find storage unit rental is also cheaper during the winter months. You might even get better move-in deals, in addition to lower monthly rental fees.
There is more scheduling flexibility.
Given that moving companies won’t be as busy, they’ll also be more likely to meet your scheduling needs and accommodate your special requests. This flexibility allows you to move on your ideal schedule and timeline.
Limited inventory means less competition.
The housing market tends to be slower during the winter months, making it a less-than-ideal time to sell a house in most parts of the country. However, not everyone has the luxury of waiting until springtime to move. This is good news for you since your home is sure to get more attention from potential buyers, especially with less competition.
Real estate agents are more motivated to help you sell your home.
With fewer homes to sell in the winter, real estate agents want your business and will give more attention to your listing. It’s a plus for you as a seller because your agent will be more motivated to sell your house, and you can move on to the next big thing more quickly.
The rents are typically lower.
Because many people aren’t interested in moving during the winter, the competition is limited. When the competition is sparse, you can anticipate finding reasonable rates for rent and great move-in specials during this time of the year.
You can use vacation time to move.
Since there are so many winter holidays, you can often line up your work schedule with your move. In some instances, you might be able to get away with an entire move without having to take any days off work.
You are less likely to break a sweat.
Moving in the summer and even the fall — depending on where you live — can mean you’ll be hauling your belongings on a hot day. It’s exhausting and unpleasant. When you move in the winter, you can dress in layers, shed them as you work up a sweat, and feel overall more comfortable.
You can highlight a home’s energy efficiency when selling it.
Every homebuyer is looking for ways to save money on energy bills. A winterized home that already has desirable energy-efficient features will certainly make a good impression on potential homebuyers (read our winterizing tips below).
Energy-efficient features to highlight include smart thermostats, solar panels, quality window treatments, energy-efficient dual-pane windows, new attic insulation, a newer HVAC system, and a tankless water heater.
6 Reasons to Reconsider Moving in the Winter
Winter moves can have disadvantages, too. But if you’re aware of the risks, you can plan for them.
There will be the risk of inclement weather.
Frigid temps, ice, snow, and rain are deterrents for many when it comes to moving in the winter. They come with extra steps in the process, like waterproofing your belongings and salting the walkways, and can create dangerous driving conditions. Injuries, resulting from slips and falls, are also likely. Weather conditions can be quite unpredictable — throwing another wrench into moving during the winter.
You may miss out on the holidays.
Depending on when you move in the winter, you may miss spending time with your family and friends and won’t have time to decorate for the holidays or enjoy them in full. Worried you might miss all the fun? Read our guide on how to streamline your move during the holiday season and get the best of both worlds.
Fewer daylight hours make it tougher.
Daylight savings time happens during the first week of November when we “fall back” and wind the clock back one hour. It starts getting dark as early as 5 PM in most areas. This means, you’ll have to plan to start the move early if you want to avoid loading the truck in the dark — and trust us, it gets pretty dark depending on where you are.
Extreme temps can damage belongings.
Electronics, dishware, musical instruments, plants, and other fragile or delicate items are all susceptible to cold weather. So, you’ll have to take extra precautions while moving and make sure you don’t leave them in the truck or storage unit without a heat source for extended periods of time. (Below, we’ll tell you more about how to protect them.)
It might be harder to make your home appealing to buyers.
Curb appeal is typically lacking during the winter months. You can remedy some of that by removing dead plants and branches from your property, shoveling the driveway, and salting the slippery walkways. As for staging, you might want to hold off decking the halls as not everyone celebrates similar holidays, and it might be distracting. Remember, the point of staging is to have the potential buyer imagine living in the home.
Your kids are currently in school.
Moving to a new home with school-age children in the middle of a busy school year isn’t necessarily ideal. It might be stressful and challenging for your kids to change schools and adjust to such a sudden transition. They might miss days or even weeks of school during the moving process.
6 Tips for Moving in the Winter
To ensure you’re properly prepared for a winter move, check out these tips for relocating in the winter.
Hire a professional moving company.
For those living in a frigid climate, we recommend leaving the move to the pros. This will help prevent any weather-related accidents from happening. Be sure to also discuss a backup moving date with the movers, in case of inclement weather on your preferred moving date.
Make sure you have the utilities set up in the new home.
No one wants to move into a cold and dark home, so set up electricity, water, and heat by the time you move in. We recommend that you call your utility providers three weeks before the move and have your utilities up and running at least two days before moving in. Not sure how to deal with this? Read our guides on how to transfer utilities when moving and how to set them up in your new home.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast.
While it may not be possible to accurately predict winter weather, keep an eye on the weather forecasts projected for both parts of your move. With this information, you can take precautions, like setting up a rescheduled date if unfavorable conditions take place.
Stock up on winter supplies.
Whether you’re showing your house or hauling boxes, it’s important to keep the walkways safe in icy or snowy conditions. Keep salt and sand available at both homes and buy a shovel. Also, consider investing in a snowblower if the area where you live gets a lot of snow.
Try not to move during the holidays, if possible.
Enjoy celebrating the holidays? We know that balancing the move and holiday prep could get stressful or be downright impossible. For those who need to fly, it can get expensive, too. We suggest moving well before the holiday season arrives, and if that’s not possible, to wait until the New Year.
Get at least three moving quotes in advance.
In the winter, you can enjoy more flexibility with your prospective movers, as well as lower rates. For these reasons, you have some additional wiggle room to compare costs and negotiate moving estimates. No matter how you approach the scheduling, though, we recommend that you get at least three moving quotes from three different companies before making a final decision.
5 Tips for Packing in the Winter
If it’s snowy, icy, or slushy outside, weatherproof as much of your move as possible by using these suggestions. Weatherproof packing is key for protecting your belongings from freezing temperatures and precipitation.
Pack for the season.
Pack seasonal clothes and cold-weather items together. Think jackets, scarves, boots, and snow removal equipment. Then, label everything accordingly. You’ll want to make sure that the most essential items for the season are easy to locate once you arrive at your new destination. The same goes for your holiday decorations and seasonal dishware.
Use water-protective packing supplies.
Take extra precautions with water-protective packing supplies, like plastic bins, mattress bags, plastic bags, plastic wrap, waterproof moving labels, and bubble wrap. Put small electronics, cords, and cables in sealed plastic bags before packing them in boxes, too. A moving company can pack larger electronics, such as a TV, for you.
Use plastic wrap, towels, or blankets for larger items.
Wrap wooden furniture, artwork, and mirrors in heavy plastic wrap, thick towels, or large blankets. For more tips on moving in the winter and during other times of the calendar year, check out our guide on how to protect your furniture when you move.
Shrink wrap clothing before packing it.
Sure, you might shrink wrap clothing before packing it for vacation, but have you ever done it before moving? Not only will this protect your belongings from water damage, but it will also help to save space in your suitcase and other luggage.
Double box fragile items.
Fragile items can become more brittle in the winter with cold weather. So, double box fragile items if you’re moving during the wintertime. Double boxing will help prevent the breaking of delicate and fragile items and ensure they get to their final destination safely.
8 Tips for Cross-Country Moving in the Winter
Carefully planning a cross-country move is especially important to those moving during the winter months. Here are a few pieces of advice before you hit the road on moving day.
Service your car ahead of time.
Avoid having your car overheat or break down in bad weather conditions by servicing it ahead of time. There could be a chance that you’ll be driving on icy roads that day, so check to make sure the car’s tires are in great shape and prepared for snowy conditions, as well.
Plan your preferred route and an alternative route.
Plan a route for the best-case scenario weather and another for the worst-case scenario weather. While taking back roads may be a smart way to save time on a typical moving day, they will only slow you down in treacherous driving conditions. Instead, stick to main roads and highways, which are typically cleared of snow and ice first.
Buy or rent snow chains.
Even if you are moving from an area that doesn’t normally get snow, you might encounter snow along the way or even in your new area. And yes, it’s more likely if you’re driving cross country. Have snow chains handy and learn how to properly put them on your tires before you need them.
Try to plan for road closures.
Of course, you won’t be able to predict all of the traffic delays while driving cross country, but you can research which areas on your route are likely to have road closures due to snowy or icy conditions well ahead of time. With some added effort, you can be more intentional in the routes that you decide to take before you get started.
Pack extra blankets and/or winter clothes.
Besides your moving essentials bag, pack some extra blankets and/or warm clothing for the road. You never know when you might need some added layers to fight off the cold, even if your car heater is working sufficiently. So, it’s always good to be prepared in advance.
Give yourself extra time for delays.
Blizzards, snowstorms, and icy roads can all slow down or even delay your winter move, whether you’re moving to a nearby neighborhood or across the country. Stay flexible and patient as possible. Nothing can be done about the weather, and stressing about it won’t do any good.
Pack a winterized emergency kit.
An emergency kit is always a moving must-have, but it’s especially important if you’re moving in winter. Your emergency kit should include items such as:
- A first-aid kit
- Non-perishable snacks
- Bottled water
- Jumper cables
- A shovel
- Ice scraper
- Plenty of blankets
Have an emergency contact list with you.
Whenever you’re in the midst of a move, you should keep all essential phone numbers handy, whether they’re written down in a designated contact book or in your phone contact list. You should also include roadside assistance, your insurance provider, and any other important contacts pertaining to your vehicle.
How to Protect Your House and Stay Safe on Moving Day
There are specific precautions that you should take while moving in the winter. Here’s some actionable advice on how to stay safe and protect your homes, both the former and the new.
- Schedule your move early in the day. Days are considerably shorter during the winter months, especially for those living in northern climates. It’s important to start early, so that you have as much daylight as possible while moving.
- Dress for the weather. Wear warm hats, gloves, coats, scarves, and practical snow boots. Dressing in layers will allow you to stay warm but shed them as you work up a sweat.
- Provide hot beverages. For everyone involved, including your movers, provide hot beverages like coffee, tea, cocoa, or non-alcoholic cider. Have plenty of water available, as well. It’s crucial to stay warm and hydrated.
- Be sure to shovel and salt. We recommend shoveling any sidewalks, stairs, driveways, or parking spaces covered with snow and ice. Salt slippery pathways and doorsteps to protect yourself and others.
- Protect your floors and entryways. Use plastic, tarp, towels, blankets, or flattened cardboard boxes to keep your home free of mud, salt, and snow slush dragged in from the outside. Pay special attention to the doorways, doorsteps, entryways, and hallways. Think about providing a mat or an old towel for the movers to wipe off shoes and boots before entering the house, too. We especially recommend protecting your floors if they are wood, as water can cause floors to warp, swell, and crack.
- Unpack and get rid of wet cardboard boxes right away. If any of your cardboard boxes end up getting wet, unpack them as soon as you can and recycle them if they’re no longer salvageable.
- Make sure the children and the pets are safe and warm. Older kids can get involved in the moving process, but it can be easy for little ones and pets to get underfoot and get hurt or wander off completely. Can’t get a babysitter or pet sitter on moving day? Then, section off a well-heated part of the house where they can be contained.
- Put cold-sensitive items in your car. Electronics and other items sensitive to cold shouldn’t travel in a truck where they could be damaged by the freezing temps, especially if your move is a long-distance one. Consider safely transporting them yourself in your vehicle, instead.
- Slow down. Rushing the move in inclement weather is a bad idea if there is ice and snow involved. Go slow to prevent injuries and other accidents.
- Go with the flow. Even the best-planned moves can experience unexpected delays, travel hiccups, and various unpleasant surprises. Stay flexible and be patient! Being mentally prepared for things that might not go as planned will help you feel less stressed.
How to Winterize Your New Home
Once you’ve moved in, it’s time to start winterizing your new home. Not only will you save money on your utility bills and costly home repairs, but you’ll also help improve the condition and value of your new home. Here’s what you can do.
- Perform a home energy audit by hiring a pro to see what you can do to improve insulation, ductwork, and so forth.
- Take care of cold air leaks and place a sweep at the base of any doors leading outside. Also, apply caulk around your drafty windows.
- Address any air leaks in your air duct system. You can use these Energy Star suggestions.
- Seal your attic to avoid any heat loss. Again, you can try to do it yourself, or you can hire someone to do it for you.
- Place a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your house. Then, make sure to regularly change the batteries and test them. People are more at risk of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in the winter due to gas given off by furnaces, stoves, generators, and more.
- Replace batteries in smoke detectors. Home fires are also common during the wintertime because of potential electrical problems with heating equipment. Take precautions where necessary, and you’ll be happy that you did.
- Check your appliances to make sure they are in working order and don’t present any health risks or fire hazards. Pay special attention to your stove and space heaters.
- Change your furnace filters regularly during the winter months. It may be a good idea to have a professional come out to your home and inspect the furnace to check that it’s running properly, too.
- Insulate your pipes to avoid having them burst and flood your home during those cold months. Here’s how to do it.
- Get a pro to inspect your chimney before you fire up that fireplace.
- Keep your gutters clean. If your gutters are clogged up with debris and leaves, it can lead to a water buildup that can freeze and eventually cause leaks.
- Remove any potentially dangerous tree limbs that can fall on your home during a winter storm.
For more tips, read our guide on how to winterize your home.
The Bottom Line
Winter can be a great time to move. Though, it’s not without its unique set of challenges. But it’s off-season for moving companies, so you may get more flexibility and a better deal. Plus, school-age kids might be on a holiday break, and you can use your vacation time to move. Decisions on when (or even whether) to move in the winter come down to your own needs, budget, and preferences.
Tips for Moving in the Winter: The FAQs
Is it okay to move during winter?
Yes. Moving in the winter typically means less competition and lower moving costs. Of course, you have to be more mindful of the weather conditions.
Is it cheaper to move in the winter?
Yes, it is cheaper to move in the winter compared to moving during a high-demand season, like the summer. It is especially worth considering if your move is further in distance and costs more money.
Why is it harder to move in the winter?
One of the main reasons that it’s harder to move in the winter is inclement weather, including wet and snowy conditions, which increase the probability of slips and falls. But you can use our tips above to combat these very challenges.
What is the best week during the week/month to move?
Try to move in the middle of the month. The demand is lower, as most people move at the end of the month. As for the best day, most people prefer to move on weekends, so the demand, and in turn, the rates tend to be higher then. Schedule your move on days between Monday and Thursday to save some extra cash.
Ready to Move This Winter?
Moving during the winter is much easier when you have professionals to help with the heavy lifting. To find the best moving company to handle your winter move, check Moving.com’s extensive network of reputable and reliable movers. All relocation companies in our network are licensed and insured, so you can rest assured that your move — no matter the size, distance, or services needed — will be in good hands.
For those moving themselves this winter, we recommend looking into nearby truck rentals. Just make sure you choose the one that best fits your budget and needs. For more information or discounts on various rental truck companies, check out Moving.com’s truck rental center. Best of luck and happy moving!