Moving in winter is a different ball game than moving during any other season. Especially when we’re talking about a Denver winter. In addition to the regular winter challenges of snow, ice, wind, and cold, you’ll be dealing with Denver’s notoriously changeable weather. Planning out your move-in day can be a challenge when you’re never entirely sure the weather you’re experiencing right now will be the same weather you’ll be dealing with 10 minutes from now! But that doesn’t mean you have to sit tight till spring. Whether you’re moving within the city or coming in from out of town, these tips will help your winter move run smoothly.

Take Extra Packing Precautions

Many common household items, even those that aren’t normally considered “delicate,” can become very fragile in cold temperatures. When moving in winter, you’ll need to use extra padding around dishes and similar items, wooden furniture, electronics, musical instruments, and anything you consider irreplaceable (even if you wouldn’t typically consider it fragile). Bubble wrap is the best packing material for a winter move, since it provides the most insulation. Whatever packing material you choose, use more than you normally would. Don’t transport liquids or house plants in the back of your moving truck. Your plants might not survive the cold, and if your liquids freeze, you risk having them burst and ruining other belongings.

Make Your Peace With Throwing Things Out

There’s nothing like packing for a move to convince you that most of the stuff in your house is, in fact, junk. At any other time of year, you’d likely hold a garage sale to get rid of the unwanted stuff while making a little cash to help offset the cost of moving. But when you’re moving in winter this simply isn’t an option. Many people find it difficult to justify throwing out “perfectly good” stuff, but let’s face it, most of it isn’t fit to be donated, much less sold. List any big stuff, like furniture, that’s still in good condition on Craigslist, and rent a roll off dumpster to quickly cart away the rest. You’ll thank us when this saves you from making multiple trips out in the snow to get rid of the junk yourself!

Get an Early Start

Keep in mind that when you move in winter, you’ll be racing against an early sunset. While you might be tempted to get a later start to allow snow to melt, moving after sunset means not only dealing with the challenges of maneuvering furniture in the dark, but also working in colder temperatures—which your helpers probably won’t appreciate. Instead, your best bet is to keep sunlight and warmer temperatures on your side to make the work easier.

Create a Clear Path

On moving day, you’ll obviously be keeping your own porch, steps, sidewalks, and driveway clear and salted to prevent accidents, but many people forget to do the same at their new residence. If distance permits, it is absolutely worth it for safety’s sake to drive out to your new home first thing in the morning to clear and salt the driveway. Especially if friends are helping out, you don’t want to risk being responsible for anyone’s injuries if they slip and fall.

Dress for “Active Warmth”

Obviously, moving in winter means dressing warmly, but when you’re going to be spending the better part of your day lugging heavy boxes around, “warmly” shouldn’t mean “bulky” or “like I’m heading out with Ernest Shackleton.” If you’re a Denver native you already know how to dress for cold-weather activities without overheating or impairing your movements, but for those new to the Mile High City, we’ve got some tips:

  • Layers are key: Wear multiple lightweight layers (think some combination of things like thermal underwear, Under Armour, vests, lightweight sweatshirts/hoodies ) so that you can easily pair down your outfit as you heat up from exertion or the day becomes warmer.
  • Protect your extremities: the best way to stay warm without resorting to bulky clothing is to keep your hands, head, and feet toasty. Wear warm socks inside winter boots, waterproof gloves, and a warm cap or ear muffs.
  • Use Sun Protection: Even in the dead of winter, Denver gets a lot of sun. Be sure to use sunscreen on any exposed skin and to have sunglasses on hand for dealing with the glare of sun on snow.

Board Your Pets

Having pets underfoot while you’re moving can be chaotic and even unsafe under the best of conditions, but this is doubly true in winter. If forecasts predict that temperatures will be too cold on moving day to let your pets run around outside while you finish the job, consider boarding them for the day or asking a friend to keep them at their place. You’ll be able to get the work done faster and have the peace of mind of knowing your pets are safe and comfortable in the meantime.

Make Extra Sure Utilities Are Working

A miscommunication with your utility companies about when to start service to your new home could mean a few days of inconvenience in the summer. When you’re moving in winter, though, it could mean a few days of wasting money on a hotel room to avoid freezing. Make sure to schedule utility hook ups at least a few days before move-in. On the scheduled day, call to confirm that the work was done. If distance permits, a day or two before move-in, visit the new house and turn the heat on to a comfortable level. If not, turn the heat on first thing when you arrive on move-in day so that the house can warm up while you work.

Prep for a Clean Operation

Nobody wants to track slush and salt through their fresh new house before they’ve even had a chance to enjoy it. To keep things clean:

  • Lay drop cloths, old sheets, or cardboard over floors, especially if they’re carpeted.
  • Don’t pack your winter supplies. Keep ice scrapers, snow shovels, and salt accessible so you can touch up the driveway/walkways as needed.
  • Keep rags or paper towels near the door to wipe down wet boxes and dolly wheels before they enter the house.

Now, some tips specific to people moving to Denver from out-of-state:

Winterize Your Car

Make sure your tires are suitable for harsh road conditions and properly inflated. Get an oil change and ensure that all fluids are full. Have your breaks and battery checked and ensure that your heater is working properly. If there are any other repairs you’ve been putting off, get them done now before they crop up to wreak havoc during your move.

Have a Back-Up Plan (Or Several)

If your winter move will take you across multiple state lines, you risk being delayed for hours or even days by inclement weather at any point on your journey. This being the case, it’s important to build wiggle room into your moving schedule to account for possible setbacks.

If you’re working with a moving company, know their policy on schedule changes so you can plan ahead. If you’re moving on your own with friends or family to help out, make sure that everyone’s schedule will allow for possible delays. Also be sure to build some wiggle room into your budget for things like additional days on your moving truck or renting a motel room for the night while the weather clears.

If you’re moving because of a job offer, you should plan to move well in advance of your start date, especially if you’ll be traveling through blizzard-prone areas. If you get seriously delayed, alert your employer immediately. They’ll appreciate the heads up—and the fact that you can keep your cool in such a stressful situation—and you won’t have to worry about trying to unsafely speed through the remainder of the move.

Be Prepared For a Breakdown

No matter which direction you’re coming from, there are many areas on the way to Colorado where winter temperatures dip into “unbelievably cold” territory, especially at night. Make sure to have blankets, cold weather clothing, matches, hand warmers, flashlights, water, and snacks stored in the cab of the moving truck (if you stow it in the back, your clothes and blankets will be ice cold!) or in your car. Additional precautions to take:

  • Carry at least one full gas can with you in case you find yourself running low with no exit in sight. Also carry jumper cables in case your battery dies.
  • Keep de-icing fluid, extra windshield washer fluid, and scrapers handy.
  • Keep your cell phone fully charged at all times.
  • Make sure someone back home knows the route you’ll be taking, and be sure to update them if your route changes. They’ll be able to send help your way if anything goes wrong.

Upside to a Winter Move

Although moving in winter comes with challenges you won’t encounter at other times of the year, there are some advantages. Winter is the “off” season for most moving companies, so prices will be the lowest they’ll offer all year. If you enjoy bargaining, you’ll also have unprecedented leverage for negotiating better rates, freebies, or more favorable rental periods. Many businesses are so dead at this time of year that they’re very open to bending some rules in order to win your business. Even if hiring movers would normally be out of your price range, you might have opened up the possibility for yourself simply by moving in winter.

We hope these tips help your winter move transition smoothly from hauling boxes through the wind and snow to sipping hot cocoa in your brand new home. Welcome to Denver!

Whatever the season, Budget Dumpster is here to help anytime you have junk you need to get rid of quickly and efficiently. Dumpster rentals in Denver have never been this easy!