Moving in one day is not an ideal situation. However, it can be done, especially with the proper planning and help. Consider your current situation. Are you a single apartment dweller or a homeowner with several kids? The latter will be much more challenging to accomplish but can still happen if you enlist help and use the following hacks.

If you’re genuinely running out of time to move before your lease ends or your house closes, hire a reputable moving company to pack, move, and unpack your belongings. This will be the quickest and easiest way to get your belongings from point A to point B.

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Make a Plan

Planning often falls by the wayside when we feel we have no time. However, planning can save you massive amounts of time, making it a must-do item on this list.

Start by creating a plan and a moving checklist. If you have help arriving, whether it’s friends, family, or professional movers, make a timetable for when they’re coming and what needs to be done before they arrive. If you have a due date for returning the U-Haul or rental truck, note that as well.

Create a moving checklist of all the areas of your home, household items that need to be packed by category, and what you can do ahead of time. Writing up a home inventory list can be the first step to calming your panic and giving you a game plan to start packing.

Gather Supplies

After creating a moving inventory list, estimate how many cardboard boxes you’ll need along with other packing materials, like wrapping paper, bubble wrap, packing paper, and packing tape. Make a trip to your local store and purchase these items ahead of time or order them online to have them delivered to your home.

If you’re short on time, use heavy-duty garbage bags to pack non-breakable items like clothing, blankets, and more. Don’t forget to label your boxes and garbage bags so that you’re not left with countless unlabeled garbage bags in your new home with no direction as to where the items go.

Enlist Help

If you’re moving your belongings last-minute, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll need some help to pull this off. Consider the following options to make the moving process more stress-free.

Full-service professional movers are an excellent option for those who are truly strapped for time. A full-service moving company can pack your belongings, move them to your new house, and unpack them when you arrive. Their professional experience will also help them to work faster, without damaging your furniture and items.

Another great option is a moving container company. With this option, you won’t have to worry about renting or driving a bulky moving truck. You will have to pack, load, and unload the container. However, it’s delivered right to your door, making the move more seamless. You will want to plan for a delay in delivery, though, as most container moving companies won’t deliver the container on the same day to your new home.

Lastly, there is always the DIY move option. However, this should probably be limited to people with small homes or apartments, rather than large families, if you’re planning on moving in a single day. We recommend renting two rental trucks if time is your biggest concern so that you don’t run out of space packing the rental. Making two trips will undoubtedly make you miss the rental return time and may frustrate friends or family helping you out.

If you have small children that can’t help with the move, hire a babysitter or ask a family member or friend to watch them on your move day. The last thing you want to worry about is injuries or watching your baby during an intense move.

Don’t Rush Packing

This tip may seem counterintuitive when you have a tight moving deadline. However, if you pack your valuables hurriedly, you may break them and have bigger problems down the road.

Think fast while you’re packing and follow a specific schedule. We recommend packing room-by-room, starting with items in the kitchen that are often breakable and unwieldy, like kitchen appliances and dishes.

Pack your moving boxes correctly, ensuring that your appliances and delicates are properly wrapped. Small boxes are great for fragile or heavy items, while large boxes should be reserved for bulky but light items. Always place heavy items at the bottom of the box so they’re not crushing fragile pieces.

Above all else, don’t forget to label your boxes as you go. This step only takes a few extra seconds but will save you lots of time and frustration when you’re unloading boxes into different rooms of your house.


Declutter your belongings as you go. This is an excellent time to declutter and donate items that you no longer need, use, or don’t fit. Be honest with yourself and remember that packing fewer items means you’ll save more time.

Create clear piles of what you’re decluttering, tossing, and giving away to friends and family so that you or a helper don’t accidentally pack these items up to be moved.

Take Advantage of Bags, Suitcases, & Hangers

Packing supplies are great, but using items you already have on hand, like bags, linens, and suitcases, is a great way to get more bang for your buck and save space on the moving truck.

Use towels and linens to wrap fragile items. Stuff small towels or blankets in moving boxes to pad items, so they don’t shift during transit.

Use bags, suitcases, and totes to stuff items in. These can save you from needing to purchase more moving boxes.

Instead of removing your clothes from their hangers, keep shirts, dresses, coats, and pants on their hangers rather than placing them in bulky wardrobe boxes. Use a trash bag around a bunch of clothing on hangers, exposing the hanger hooks.

Other items you may be able to repurpose as moving items include plastic bins, duffle bags, wicker baskets, and hampers.

Create a First-Day Bag

Nothing is worse than finishing an exhausting move and realizing that you have no idea where your pajamas, pillow, blanket, or toothbrush and toothpaste are located.

Prevent this by packing a small tote or bag with needed essentials for a couple of days.

Things to include in your first-day bag:

  • Medications
  • Pajamas
  • A pillow and blanket
  • Toiletries
  • One or two days worth of clothing
  • A night-light or favorite toy for your children
  • Your pet’s food, bowls, a toy, and blanket to sleep on

Make Arrangements for Items You Can’t Move on Moving Day

There are likely several types of items that you won’t be moving or able to move on your move date. Plan ahead and make arrangements for these, so you’re not stuck leaving things in your rental past your lease.

Consider the following arrangements:

  • Donations: Schedule a donation pickup or plan a day to drop off donations ahead of time. Remember, for big items, like rugs or furniture, you may need a donation pickup, so call as early as possible to set a date for this. Habitat for Humanity and The Salvation Army are two charities that offer free furniture or large item pickups.
  • Short-term storage: If you cannot move everything in one day, consider storing some of your household items in short-term storage so you can go through everything more thoroughly.
  • Hire a junk removal service: Junk removal companies can go through your home, especially in attics, basements, and garages, where clutter accumulates. These services can throw items away, clean up the space, and donate items to charities for you, saving you a great deal of time.
  • Perishables: As you approach your move, work on eating any perishable food items. If you’re moving a great distance, you won’t be able to transfer these safely to your new home, so eat as many as you can and give them away to local food banks. Look into Move for Hunger as an option for donating food if you’re working with one of their relocation partners. They will pack up unwanted food and donate it for you.

Closing Thoughts

Last-minute moves will be stressful. However, you can do it with the right amount of planning, help, and a winning strategy. We hope our guide on how to move in one day gives you plenty of ideas for minimizing stress and pulling off your tight move.

Editorial Contributors
Lora Novak

Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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Andrew Dunn

Senior Editor

Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than 15 years of experience reporting and editing for local and national publications, including The Charlotte Observer and Business North Carolina magazine. His work has been recognized numerous times by the N.C. Press Association and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers. He is also a former general contractor with experience with cabinetry, finish carpentry and general home improvement and repair. Andrew earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as a certificate in business journalism. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.

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