Cardboard boxes on a wooden floor in an otherwise empty room.

A Guide for Moving in the Winter

If you’re moving or downsizing your home, you know what a big task it can be. You and your family will need to pack clothing, furniture, vehicles, and all other possessions and move them to an entirely new home, and often a new city. When that same move takes place during the winter, you’ll face a few additional challenges.

From icy roads to low temperatures, conditions during the winter are sometimes less than ideal. If you’re going to move during the cooler months, you’ll often need to find ways around a variety of temperature-related issues.

While it might be more difficult to move during this season, sometimes a wintertime move is simply unavoidable. If you need to move despite the cold outside, reference the below strategies that can help make your move safer and less stressful.

Start as Soon as Possible

If you know you’ll be moving during the winter, get started as soon as possible. Even if this means filling a few boxes per day, or packing clothing you no longer need, starting sooner leads to an easier move over time.

Moving isn’t meant to be a single-day process. Consider moving boxes over time, or packing a moving van over a few days. Particularly during cooler months — with slippery sidewalks and chilling temperatures — you’ll stay safer if you can take your move slowly.

Starting the moving process sooner also allows you to account for holidays and family gatherings that take place during this time of year. And if the roads are dangerous, you can wait until conditions improve. The more time you give yourself and your family during the move, the more you can replace any stress with peace of mind.

Winter Storage Options

Storage can make the moving process easier. If you know you won’t need certain items until after your move, consider placing them into storage during the moving process. If you’re downsizing your home — or if your new home won’t be available until a certain date — you can rent or purchase storage to keep belongings safe.

Whether you’re storing a classic car or a variety of household items, there’s a storage option that will suit your needs and budget preferences. Metal storage buildings keep materials of any size safe, and are built to suit your preferred design and dimensions. For even more protection from harsh winter weather, metal garages often feature walk-in pedestrian doors for easy access to any stored tools, utilities, or vehicles.

Clear a Moving Path

Transporting furniture can be one of the more difficult parts of the moving process. Objects like tables, chairs, desks, and bedframes are sometimes particularly difficult to move, because of their heavy weight or awkward size. To avoid complicating the moving process during the winter, make a clear path for any furniture before you begin carrying it toward a moving van or vehicle.

In minutes, you’ll likely be able to clear a moving path for furniture. Remove any smaller items — including shoes, boxes, and clothing — between your large furniture and the moving van. Check furniture dimensions to ensure it will fit smoothly through the front door, side door, garage, or other house openings. If you find that your furniture will not fit through your preferred door, you may need to disassemble it for easier movement.

Use Plastic Coverings

Moving can be a messy process. When you’re moving during the winter, you risk exposing packed boxes, furniture, and any other possessions to the elements. Fortunately, you can keep your belongings safe from snow and ice simply by wrapping them in protective plastic coverings. You can purchase this plastic wrap at a local home improvement store.

Plastic coverings can protect your items from dangerous winter elements, in addition to any scratches, dents, and scuff marks they might otherwise receive while in transit. Plastic wrap is ideal for many hard-to-pack items, from bedposts to large picture frames. It will even stick to itself, eliminating any need for tape or other messy adhesives.

Factor in Extra Travel Time

Traveling during a move is going to look and feel different than personal travel. There are several reasons why you might need to factor in extra time when traveling during a move.

You’ll be driving with a majority of your personal possessions, which will mean slower travel rates and more required stops for fuel. Traveling with moving vans can also mean more difficulty when looking for parking.

You may also be traveling with your family during a move, which can sometimes slow down the process. Children may need more frequent bathroom breaks, more entertainment, and more attention than you’d need during personal travel.

Some moving companies will loan you the use of a truck or trailer. If you have rented any vehicle, you’ll need to factor in time to return it after you have unloaded your possessions.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

During the winter, the weather can be cold, icy, and unforgiving. If you’re planning on moving in these conditions, pay close attention to the weather forecast. Since you’ll be moving items from your house into moving vans or other vehicles, make sure that the weather outside your current home is safe and non-threatening before this process begins.

Without other weather elements like snow or hail, it’s safe to be outside as long as the wind chill is above 32° Fahrenheit. If the wind chill drops between 31° and 13°, consider taking breaks from outdoor exposure every 20-30 minutes. And in cases where the wind chill drops below 13°, outdoor activity should be kept to a minimum to avoid frostbite.

It’s important to keep an eye not only on both local and national weather as you move, to avoid any nasty conditions as you travel through new locations. Reference regularly updated road conditions from the National Weather Service to identify the safest path toward your destination.

Wear Heavy Duty Gloves and Boots

Winter clothing is an absolute must if you’re moving in cold weather. In particular, both gloves and boots help provide your hands and feet with extra protection from the elements. Heavy-duty gloves and boots provide insulation from cold weather, harsh winds, and any snow or ice that may be present.

Heavy-duty gloves and boots can also help save your fingers and toes from direct exposure to any hazards you might experience while moving. If you’re moving objects with sharp corners, heavy handles, or other potentially hazardous features, gloves and boots help you establish a firm grip without the risk of injury.

Keep Warm Drinks on Hand

Drinking warm beverages can quickly increase your core body temperature. While you move, consider keeping warm drinks on hand — whether it’s hot chocolate or hot tea — to help keep you and your family members warm when you need to spend time outdoors.

Besides helping you warm your body, warm drinks can provide a variety of other helpful benefits. In the morning, warm coffee can help to awaken and motivate you, while hot tea can also offer amazing benefits, helping to improve metabolism, prevent cardiovascular disease, and even protect against cancer.