How to Move During a Chicagoland Winter

Here in Chicagoland, we’re known for our legendary winters. With lots of snow and frigid temperatures, winter is the season for snuggling up at home, preferably with a warm cup of tea and a cozy show on TV. 

But with people continuing to buy and sell real estate during the fall and winter, the reality is that many people need to move during the coldest weeks of the year — which may mean facing the winter weather head on.

For some people, a winter relocation may be necessary based on their work schedules or family commitments. Moving in the winter can also offer certain advantages. Since most people do tend to move during the spring and summer, moving companies, storage facilities, truck rental companies, and other helpful relocation services may have more availability and flexibility in the “off-season” — and may even offer discounted rates.

Still, it’s easy to see why the idea of moving in the winter might send a chill down your spine. Fortunately, there are lots of steps you can take to make your cold weather move easier, at every step of the way. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind as you schedule a big move during the frostiest months of the year: 

Keep an Eye on the Forecast and Be Flexible

In the weeks ahead of your moving date, try to keep an eye on the weather. If it’s possible, try to schedule big events for days that seem warm or clear. However, it’s also important to be flexible. Discuss a backup date or a cancellation policy with your movers, and dress for the weather if it does happen to be chilly, overcast, or snowy. On the day of the move, look for sunrise and sunset times. Generally, it’s best to start a winter move as early in the day as possible, to maximize the amount of daylight you’ll get while you work.

Make Sure Both Spaces Are Winter-Ready

Directly ahead of the move, make sure you can take some time to get your old home and new home ready for the big day. Be ready to clear away snow and ice from the driveway, clear off a space for street parking, and shovel clear and direct paths up your walkways. Lay down tarps, cut up boxes, towels, or plastic tarps to protect your new floors from mud, salt, and water, which can all damage carpets and hardwoods. 

Meanwhile, make sure that the utilities are turned on and active at your new home before you move in. You don’t want to get caught without lights, heat, and hot water during the coldest weeks of the year! As you get settled after the move, you might want to take some additional steps to weatherproof your home and make sure you’re being as energy efficient as possible. Check out our winter home maintenance guide for ideas and inspiration you can use to winterize your new space for a safe, comfortable transition.

Prepare Your Car for Winter Roads

Before you head out on this new adventure, schedule a time to service and winterize your main vehicle. Have a professional give it a once-over, and make sure that it’s well-equipped with a healthy battery, functioning brakes, and plenty of wiper fluid. If you change out your tires or add tire chains or other seasonal features during the winter, it’s also important to get that done before the date of your move. 

On the big day, have a route planned out. You don’t want to get lost, especially when it’s cold and gray out. Keep in mind that major roads tend to be the first to get cleared before and after winter storms. Make sure your vehicle is well-stocked with essential winter safety supplies, such as a first aid kit, ice scrapers, warm blankets, hand warmers, a miniature shovel, road salt, flashlights, phone chargers, bottled water and snacks, and a change of warm clothes. 

Have a Plan for Your Kids, Your Pets, and Yourself

Making a big move is almost always a hectic and busy event — and it’s important to plan ahead for the care of your children, your pets, and yourself. Make sure your little ones are bundled up for the weather, and be sure to pack snacks and games to keep them occupied while you’re dealing with movers. If it’s possible, you may also want to consider dropping off your kids with a nearby relative or a trusted sitter, to keep them safe and out of the way during the bulk of the moving effort. Similarly, many people find it helps to board pets or leave them with a trusted neighbor on the day of the move, to prevent them from slipping out during all the hustle and bustle. 

Finally, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Leading up to the move, get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and eat nourishing meals. Recognize that this day may be stressful, breathe, and go easy on yourself. Dress for the weather with supportive footwear and a few layers of waterproof clothing. 

Be Mindful of How You Pack Your Belongings

Packing up your things is one of the most important pieces of any move — and it takes on even more significance during a winter relocation. Get organized ahead of time. In the days leading up to your move, make sure all boxes and bins are clearly labeled for easy access. Lead a decluttering mission to get rid of items you don’t want to carry with you from home to home. Set up a plan for how you want to unpack and set up in your new space.

On the day of the move, remember that winter weather can cause some serious challenges. A slip on a slushy sidewalk could result in permanent water damage to some of your favorite clothes. Meanwhile, freezing temperatures inside and outside the moving van could cause delicate items to crack or warp. 

To avoid water damage, try to waterproof as many items as possible. Consider packing delicate items into waterproof bins rather than cardboard, and wrap up your moving boxes with old blankets, plastic wrap, garbage bags, bubble wrap, or other protective, water-resistant coverings. Take particular care with your electronics and delicate furniture, appliances, and artwork. Consider wrapping these important pieces in heavy plastic or cloth. Think about what you want to keep in the climate-controlled car with you — such as personal electronics, important paperwork, and priceless or irreplaceable family items. When in doubt, don’t be afraid to consult with a professional mover or relocation expert for advice and guidance.

Ready to Make Your Move? We’re Here for You

Looking for expert local guidance on how to make it through a Chicagoland winter? Feeling ready to start your search for a new home? Whatever you’re looking for, one of Baird & Warner’s hyperlocal neighborhood experts can help you move forward with confidence and peace of mind. 

Interested in making your move this winter? Whether you’re new to Chicagoland or moving overseas, we have solutions to make the transition easier. Our relocation services team is made up of experienced and respected leaders in the industry. We’re also proud to be a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, which can open the doors to thousands of real estate professionals in 70 countries around the globe.