DOs and DON’Ts For Moving During a Texas Summer

Since I got divorced three years ago — hey, no hands to chest; it was for the best and my ex and I are good friends — and became a tumbling tumbleweed, I have moved three times. As it happens, all three moves have occurred during the summer. Why? Because even though I’m a lapsed Catholic, I still like to deny myself of things — comfort, dry clothes, proper hydration, the will to live, and so on. Mostly it’s just because you sign one lease in the summer, you’re pretty much on that treadmill forever. I thought it would be helpful to guide those of who going through a similar situation. Not a divorce. No way I’m giving you advice on that, and no way should you take it. I’m the night foreman at the mistake factory. Anyway.

First, DON’T move in summer.

Seriously, sweet merciful heavens, DON’T. Oh, you really have to? OK, then …

DO start first thing in the morning. You may panic the night before, looking ahead to a day spent machete-chopping your way through a jungle of humidity, and decide you need a few cocktails to steel yourself. Well …

DON’T drink the night before. For one thing, you’ll almost certainly get a slow start in the morning, and that just means more time giving the sun a full-body, deep-eye-contact hug. For another, you’ll start off the day dehydrated. Don’t rush it. You’ll be plenty dehydrated soon enough.

DO pack everything you possibly can in the truck. The key is making the fewest amount of trips possible. Obviously, that’s smart advice for any move. But more trips during a summer move means more time in the truck in traffic, which means more chances to get hot/want to drive straight into an embankment. This shouldn’t be too difficult. If you’re moving yourself, that means an apartment most likely. If you just bought a house, you can probably budget a little extra to have someone come over and completely emasculate you (or your boyfriend or husband, if applicable) by how much they can carry. And, honestly, if you can’t fit all your stuff in a large moving truck, you probably have too much. So …

DO use this opportunity to get rid of as much stuff as possible. I sort of break this rule as I have a ton of books. Mostly for show. And even less smart, I have them stored on a fairly handsome but unbelievably cumbersome modern-ish bookshelf I built myself. It’s crazy heavy. Also, I built it inside my first place, never measuring the doorway, and so getting it in and out is like trying to move an extremely sleepy Yao Ming. But next time I move — yes, most likely during the summer, given the constraints of my lease — that thing will be staying there.

DON’T drink anything other than water, and drink lots of it. If you’re like me, you pick the biggest,most unwieldy boxes possible, then you cram everything you can into each one, so you’re going to be pretty sweaty just loading up a dolly.

DON’T invite me to come over and help you break down boxes. I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it — I mean, we’re friends, right? — but I am terrible with knives. Anything sharp, really. My hands look like I tried to face off against Liam Neeson at the end of The Grey. That’s not summer-centric. Just good policy.

DO make sure the electricity stays on at your old place an extra day. I thought I had done it the easy way, and just let my power company know about the move and transferring the account to the new address. But they shut the electricity down at, like, 8 a.m. So I had to pack up everything with no A/C. By the time the truck was filled, I looked like I had just taken a three-hour CrossFit class at the bottom of the ocean.

And, again, most important DON’T.


  • Alice F.

    “I’m the night foreman at the mistake factory.” Love this. 😀

  • RAB

    DO hire a moving company to do it for you.

    DO have them do EVERYTHING, including packing all your boxes and unpacking on the other end.

    DO be on vacation when they move you.

    DO drink plentiful cocktails on the hotel’s terrace while the sun sets over the Pacific.

    DON’T be a loser.

    • Zac Crain

      It’s easier moving in and out of ivory towers. Or so I’m told.

      Dictated but not read,


  • Wes Mantooth

    A couple more tips:

    DO rent the truck the evening before. If you want to get an early start — and you do, as Zac outlined — then you need the truck sitting there waiting to be loaded first thing in the morning. Few things are more frustrating than showing up at U-Haul right at starting time on Saturday morning to find that they are only half-staffed on the busiest day of the week, there are 6 idiots in line in front of you, half of whom don’t have their driver’s license with them and/or don’t have a reservation, and the guy working the counter is so hung over that he can’t see straight. You will want to go on a homicidal jaunt, but that is not going to get your stuff moved any faster, and it puts you in a really crappy attitude for the rest of what’s going to be a challenging day already.

    DO box up everything that can possibly go in a box. Sure, your gigantic mahogany and onyx bookshelf isn’t going to go in a box. Everything else should, especially the odd-shaped stuff that doesn’t fit into a box nicely. It’s easy to fall into the trap of just-this-one-more-thing can go in the car without a box. The platypus-shaped cookie jar that Aunt Nicia got you because you just can’t get enough of Phineas and Ferb. The extension cord. The coffee maker. All of that should go in a box. Not only because half of that kind of stuff will fall out of the car and break when you get to your destination — and if that’s the result, then pre-break it before leaving and dump it — but also because by the time you arrive at your new abode, you will be so whipped already that you need to not have to think about how to carry something up the steps in the heat while you are doing it. You will be the functional equivalent of a box-carrying zombie by that point, so think ahead and eliminate the amount of decision-making and careful-carrying you will have to do later in the day.

    DON’T cheap out and refuse to crank the A/C down to uber-chilly on the move-in. If you can get in the day before and make that place akin to a meat locker, do it. It’s worth the extra $15 in electricity you’ll use that day.

    DON’T cheap out and get the smaller size truck. The difference in price is menial compared to the hassle (and extra expense if you’re getting chipped on a per-mile rate) of making multiple trips. One trip is all you want to make. One.

    DO wrap precious items up, including furniture in moving blankets, if you don’t want them to get chipped up. Even when you’re careful moving furniture, it’s not difficult to chip or ding a corner of a table or other furniture, especially if you’re moving into or out of a place that requires the use of stairs for the moving. Lots of corners to navigate = dinged furniture. Moving blankets are cheap (check U-Line online) compared to dinged furniture.

    • Borborygmus

      DON’T be like my brother-in-law. Assume anything, even, say, a mattress, will become airborn when thrown in the back of a pickup if not tied down. Which can, at time, lead to an accident on the tollway, and perhaps, an innocent BMW burning to death.

  • Dubious Brother

    There is a local moving company, Element Moving and Storage in Carrollton, that has fiberglass or heavy plastic containers to pack in. I don’t know the dimensions but maybe 3′ x 2′ x 2′ and they are stackable. They delivered them to my old place about a week before the move. I loaded them with my stuff, labeled them with the room to go into at the new place and stacked them up. On moving day, they loaded the stacks on the truck with the large furniture and unloaded them at the new place. They gave me a few days to unpack and stack the empties which they came and picked up. You can put anything in the containers from kids stuffed animals to books to table lamps and not worry about them breaking or getting crushed. No boxes to worry about and all packing and unpacking was done in air conditioning. They were included in the price of my move which was lower than the other estimates that I had without the containers. The man that gave me the estimate had the exact correct amount of containers delivered. If you have to move, truly the best way by far.
    On the other hand, you may want to extend your lease for six months so your future moves will be at Christmas time or just stay put for more than a year.

  • jmckee

    They have this new thing called “movers”, you put your stuff in boxes and they almost magically appear in your new place. For an extra fee you don’t even have to put your stuff in boxes.

    There is also these things called apartment review sites and apartment locators so you can find a place that you want to stay at more than one year. Oh and another thing called a month to month lease which means you can pay more every month and move at a more convenient time.

    Moving is the worst, I’ve moved three times in the past decade, once to a larger apartment across the hall and then down the block to a condo over a month in a half because if lease/closing overlaps, the moves were hell, I can’t understand why you would do it two extra times, are you just a sucker for “look and lease” specials?

  • Zac Crain

    2) I moved the first time because I got divorced. I moved the second time because my landlord’s brother broke into my house. I moved the third time because my building was sold. Month to month and apartment review sites do nothing for that. At all.

  • Michael J. Mooney

    Tim doesn’t like The Grey? Really?

  • Zac Crain

    I KNOW. He just kind of thinks it’s “eh.”

  • Michael J. Mooney

    This changes everything.

  • Marcus

    We moved into our house the first week of August in 2011. I believe that summer we had 300+ days in a row over 100 degrees, it was horrid. The hottest of which was the July day we got married, but I digress. I am alive today thanks to my hard work that allowed me to pay 2 men and a truck whatever it was for them to move my stuff out of storage and my wife’s stuff out of her 3 story condo. They were there at 8 and done by 1.

    With that said, you need to add 2 rules:

    DO create a kickstarter fund a month before the move to see if you can fund movers.

    DO come up with some half brained bet (ex: summer tuxedo) where Tim will lose and the payoff is he has to move you.

  • allison

    I wouldn’t recommend moving during the winter either. Imagine having to move during the Superbowl ice storm debacle and it was your birthday weekend. The worst.

  • Mavdog

    your piece reminded me of a recent story on Montreal’s Moving Day in the WSJ. Can you imagine if almost every renter in Dallas moved on the same day?

  • A. B.

    DO go month-to-month on your lease until the fall/winter. Yes, this is generally allowed.

    • Zac Crain

      Yes, smart advice, but not applicable to me, unfortunately, in any of these situations. But yes, recommended.

  • crys41

    I got on that summer moving treadmill by signing my first lease after I graduated college in June. I got off it by signing a 15 month lease for the same price. You could do the month to month after your 12 months are up, but one place I lived wanted $500 more per month!

  • Heather Clay

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