Friends and family are usually excited about helping you move into your first place — but by your third or fourth annual move, most of them will suddenly be busy that weekend. Why? Because moving your own apartment can be a drag, but moving a friend’s stuff can be even worse, especially after you’ve asked them to help three or four times already. One way to combat the “Sorry, I’m busy washing my cat.” or “I’m getting my tires rotated.” responses to requests for help moving is to be the master of moving etiquette. That means knowing how to treat your friends right when they do pitch in and help.
Face it: nothing motivates people like money, even if it’s just $20. Scrape together what you can and offer to pay your friends even a token amount for helping. Save enough to also order pizza and beer or sodas and to have a couple of coolers with drinks on ice during the move as well. Host a barbeque or dinner the following week or whenever you have your stuff unpacked and the place pulled together. Treat them to a meal, a tour and another round of heart-felt thanks. People like being appreciated — especially if they had to lug heavy boxes and furniture up and down stairs or for long distances.
Consider it money well spent. Without your friends you’d be forced to move it all yourself or to hire a moving company, right? Better to send a little money, love and appreciation your friend’s way instead. Don’t be cheap. If you absolutely, positively can’t afford to pay them anything, then at least keep them in sandwiches and drinks while they help. Give them each a handmade gift card offering your help next time they have to move, or tell them outright, “I owe you. Call me next time you move and I’m there.” Then be there.
Top Tips for Moving Day
Have everything packed and sealed in boxes and ready to go when they get there. There’s nothing more aggravating that showing up to help someone move and having to wait around for them to start packing. Have a plan. Go to the new place the night before, or the morning of the move and put posters, signs or labels on each door telling movers what room is what. When you say “That goes in bedroom #1.” or “Put it in the den.” they’ll know what you’re talking about.
Clean the apartment before you move in and stock the refrigerator with bottle water, other drinks, sandwich fixings and snacks so your crew can take a break and eat or grab a drink in between trips.
Have toilet paper, paper towels and hand cleaner or soap available. Moving can get dirty and people will want to clean up. If it’s raining, have a stack of clean, dry towels people can use when they come in soaked from the move — though it would be better to reschedule a rainy move, if possible.
If you borrow someone’s truck or other vehicle to move, return it with a full tank of gas and washed. Even if you only use it for a couple of hours and don’t get it dirty, return it in better shape than you got it. Do this because you want to let your friend know their loan of the vehicle was much appreciated. Even if the tank was on dead empty when you got it and you had to put gas in just to move, fill it up. They saved you the cost of a rental and insurance with their generosity. You want to leave them feeling good about the fact they loaned you their car.
If you get in an accident, break the side mirror off squeezing past it with a box, or dent, ding or scratch the vehicle in any way, it’s your responsibility to fix it, or pay for having it fixed. If you have a flat tire, or something happens that is not related to the age, engine maintenance, etc., fix it. I borrowed a friend’s car to run to the post office one evening. The next day the car died on the side of the road. It was a timing chain that snapped. I felt a huge sigh of relief that I hadn’t been the one driving when that happened. The entire engine had to be replaced to the tune of $5,000! It wouldn’t have been my fault, and it wouldn’t have been up to me to fix it since she admitted she ignored the “check engine” light for a month prior to that and her mechanic said that was the cause. But I would have been responsible for towing it to a dealer since I was driving it.
Friends are friends because they like you, respect you and feel appreciated. So show them your appreciation when they take their day(s) off to help you schlep your stuff from one place to another. If they come in from out of town for several days, treat them like honored guests. Give them a room and a bed, or rent a room at a local hotel. Their time is valuable. Let them know you realize that and respect them, and chances are good that the next time you need to move, they’ll be there to make it happen.