When is the Best Time to Move?
We all want our moves to be as convenient and cost-effective as possible. The right movers, supplies, and preparation help the process run smoothly, but so does choosing the right time of year. In fact, deciding when is the best time to move is one of the first and most important decisions you’ll make before settling in a new home.
While some seasons are more popular than others, there is no time perfectly suited to everyone. Each one comes with its own advantages and trade-offs. Make sure you know what they are so you can plan ahead and select a date that fits your needs, budget, and preferences.
Moving in Winter
Fewer people move in winter than any other time of year, mostly due to poor weather. Rain and snow are a serious logistical obstacle, but there are benefits to relocating at this time of year.
- Savings. Moving in winter is less expensive. Business is slower, so companies typically offer generous discounts to attract customers. In some instances, homeowners can save up to 30 percent!
- Flexibility. Moving companies are more free to work around your schedule during winter. As a result, most customers have their choice of times and dates.
- Storage. Sometimes you have to move out before your new place is ready. Renting a storage unit keeps your belongings safe until you need them. Demand for storage space falls significantly during winter, which makes it easier to negotiate a discount.
- Real Estate. Rents and housing prices are at their lowest from December-February, which means better deals on homes and apartments.
Despite this, moving in winter poses significant obstacles. Most can be overcome with careful planning, but they make moving more complicated than any other time of year, often due to elements outside your control.
- Road Conditions. Snow and ice are not only dangerous, they can sometimes lead to closed roads and highways. Even carrying objects to and from the van can be more difficult. Sidewalks have to be gritted to prevent slips and falls.
- Temperatures. Heating your home during a winter move is almost impossible. Doors have to remain open so people can carry objects in and out of your home, leaving you exposed to the cold.
- Short Days. The sun rises late and sets early during winter. In some places, it’s dark by four in the afternoon! Wherever you live, winter leaves you with a more narrow window to load or unload your belongings.
- Water Damage. Rain and snow can wreck your belongings if you’re not careful. You not only have to worry about water falling on your boxes and furniture, but people tracking it into your home as well. The best solution is to lay down tarps and pack sensitive items in plastic bags. Your movers can also help cover furniture in plastic wrap.
- Kids are in School. Starting a new school in the middle of the year can be jarring. Kids not only have to adjust to a new environment, but they’ll likely have missed a sizable chunk of classes. If you have to move during winter, try and time it around the start of a new quarter or semester or during a winter or spring break. This way, all of the students will be starting fresh on a new set of lessons, so your children won’t have to work hard to catch up.
- Holidays. Moving in winter can seriously disrupt Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. Besides missing out on family, you may not have time to put up decorations or participate in your favorite activities and traditions.
- Slow Real Estate Market. Most homeowners sell their homes when they move, which can be difficult as the market slows. Moving during winter means you’ll likely get a low price on your new house, but may have to offer a low price on your old one.
Moving in Spring
Moves increase significantly during spring compared to winter. March and April are relatively slow, but there is a huge uptick in May ‒ the start of moving season. Because of this, spring moves offer many of the same advantages as winter moves, but with fewer drawbacks.
- Savings. Moving companies offer great deals in early spring, but you have to act fast to take advantage of them. Prices start to rise again in May.
- Flexibility. Though movers have fewer free dates available in spring than they do in winter, most days and weekends are still open. However, schedules tighten towards the end of the season. By the end of May, it’s unlikely you’ll have your choice of dates.
- Mild Weather. Spring isn’t warm in most parts of the country, but it isn’t freezing either. Moving is hard work, so cool temperatures are ideal. They keep you from overheating even after running around all day. Roads and sidewalks are also usually clear, so transportation is safer and faster.
- Days are Longer. Daylight savings starts in early March. That means crews can start earlier and work later. Moves don’t have to be rushed like they were in April. And whereas winter moves had to start first thing in the morning, in spring it’s possible to schedule moves in the afternoon instead.
- Affordable Real Estate. While housing costs start to climb during spring, they’re still relatively low, which makes it easy to get a good deal on a house or apartment. Don’t expect it to last long, however. By May, prices will be near their peak.
While spring moves are generally easier than winter moves, there are still a few challenges to keep in mind.
- Storms. Spring weather can be unpredictable. Rain storms can swoop in unexpectedly. Some places even get snow! Fortunately, most storms happen early in the season. Expect better weather in April and May.
- Kids in School. Most students wrap up their academic year in spring. This makes moves particularly challenging for parents this time of year. You’ll have to work closely with teachers and administrators to ensure your children are able to complete their academic workload and get their grades transferred to their new school.
- Home Prices Start Rising. Spring is still a buyer’s market, which means if you’re selling your home, you may not get the price you’d hoped for. However, putting your home onto the market later in the season normally increases the amount you get for it.
- Allergies. Spring is famous for its flowers. Everything is in bloom. It may look beautiful, but the excessive pollen released into the air can lead to headaches, sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and rashes. Pollen can even get into your boxes and furniture! If you’re prone to allergies, stock up on your prescribed medication and make sure your boxes are taped shut or wrapped in plastic.
Moving in Summer
Around 80 percent of moves happen during summer, not surprisingly. Planning and executing a move is easier in summer than at any other time of year.
- Great Weather. Weather is the main reason people move in summer. Roads are clear. Weather is warm. Skies are bright and sunny. Moving in summer offers fewer logistical hurdles than winter, spring, or fall.
- Days are Long. Long days means more time to load and unload belongings. Homeowners also have more freedom when it comes to scheduling, with appointments available in both the morning and afternoon.
- Kids are Out of School. Moving over the summer lets kids adjust to their new home before starting school in the fall. There’s no risk of them falling behind in their studies or missing out on extracurricular activities. They’re also free to help pack and set up your new house.
- Easier to Take Time Off. Summer is vacation season. With fewer people in the office, the pace of business normally slows, making it easier to schedule time off.
- Real Estate Market Peaks. Home prices are highest during summer. Anyone looking to sell their house before or after moving will get more for it now than at any other time.
Moving season runs from May-September. While summer moves are generally less complicated, there are a few negative aspects that have to be taken into account.
- Cost. Summer moves are convenient, but expensive. Demand for moving services is incredibly high, which often means high rates and zero discounts.
- Scheduling. Most movers are booked solid from May-September, so don’t expect much flexibility. If you’re planning a move, book early. As soon as you know you’re going to be moving, the first thing you should do is call a mover and book a date. Be prepared to be flexible, however. Even though movers will do their best to accommodate you, help might not be available on the day you want.
- Storage Prices. Movers aren’t the only ones who raise their rates during summer. Storage companies also charge more and storage space is harder to find.
- Extreme Heat. In certain parts of the country, temperatures soar over 100°F during summer, which makes working outside potentially hazardous. This limits the hours when movers can safely load and unload your belongings. Generally, heavy objects have to be on the truck before 10 a.m. and can’t be taken off until 4 p.m. High temperatures can also damage sensitive electronics. As a rule, moving trucks aren’t air conditioned, so special accommodation has to be made for anyone shipping computers, laptops, smartphones, and similar devices.
- More Competition for Homes and Apartments. More houses are bought in summer than any other time. Potential buyers will most likely have to place bids on multiple properties before finding one who will accept their offer. Most apartments will have multiple applicants as well, which drives up rental costs.
Moving in Autumn
Autumn is the tail end of moving season. The number of moves are initially quite high, but taper off quickly after mid-September. Similar to spring, moving in autumn provides many of the same advantages of moving in summer, but with fewer potential snags.
- Cost. Autumn moves are considerably less expensive than summer ones. Rates fall drastically as the season wears on. And while it’s unlikely homeowners will save as much as they would during a winter move, movers are usually still willing to offer substantial discounts.
- Scheduling. Dates open up as the season progresses. The longer you wait, the more likely it is you’ll be able to book your preferred day and time.
- Storage Prices. Movers aren’t the only ones who drop their rates this time of year. As demand for space dries up, customers are in a better position to negotiate, especially towards the end of fall.
- Mild Temperatures. Autumn isn’t particularly hot or cool in most parts of the country. Though days get chillier in October and November, it’s unlikely you’ll encounter any extremely cold weather.
- Better Deals on Real Estate. The real estate market slows down in fall. Fewer people are buying homes, which helps bring prices down. Landlords are anxious to fill vacancies, which makes it easier to find a good deal on an apartment.
- Avoid Disrupting the Holidays. Moving in the fall lets you get settled in your new home before Thanksgiving and Christmas. Celebrating the holidays brings a sense of normalcy, helping to bridge the gap between your old place and your new one, which is especially helpful if you have children.
Autumn moves are typically smooth and inexpensive, However, there are a few potential problems you'll need to consider.
- Deteriorating Weather. Weather worsens as you get closer to winter. Rain and snow become more frequent, which can present serious logistical challenges in certain parts of the country.
- Kids Starting School. With schools starting earlier than ever, some as early as mid-August, autumn moves can be hard on students. They not only miss a few weeks of classes, they may also miss out on sports and other extracurricular activities.
- Home Prices Drop. The real estate market is a double-edged sword. Prices fall in autumn, which makes it easier to buy a new home, but harder to get a good deal on your old one.
The Best Day and Time to Move
Regardless of which time of year you decide to move, certain days and times are busier than others. Surprisingly, Fridays are more popular than Saturdays. Moving on Fridays gives people the whole weekend to unpack and settle in. Saturdays are the second most popular, followed by Mondays.
Traditionally, moving mid-week is the best way to save money. Prices are lowest on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Sunday is also surprisingly affordable. Some years, moving on Sunday is even cheaper than a weekday.
Because daylight is a limiting factor, it’s always best to schedule your move early in the morning. In some cities, such as Atlanta, it’s actually illegal to transport household goods at night. However, the advantages of morning moves are clear to everyone and morning slots fill up quickly. If you’re planning a move, the best advice is to schedule the movers at least two weeks ahead of time ‒ earlier if you can manage. The sooner you book your movers, the more likely it is you’ll be able to move when it’s most convenient for you.
Help Moving At Any Time of Year
North American Van Lines is a full service moving company, with the resources to transport your belongings safely to your new home, regardless of whether it's winter, spring, summer, or fall. Our agents work with you every step of the way, to help navigate challenges and ensure your move runs smoothly. We empower our customers, designing plans that meet their needs, budget, and schedule. Contact us today for a free quote!