Managing an Emergency or Crisis Move

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At United Van Lines, we’re always telling our customers to plan their moves ahead as much as they can. But sometimes circumstances can put people into a reactive mode — and they’re compelled to get through a life-altering event such as a move as best they can.  

For this article we’re not talking about getting out of the direct path of a hurricane, forest fire or other life-threatening emergency (or as we refer to them in the moving business, “Acts of God”). Instead, these are moves made by people who are experiencing personal or work-related hurdles or the aftermath of a natural disaster and need to relocate on a moment’s notice.  

If you find yourself in such a situation, here’s what to do.  

Take Care of the Big Three Priorities 

Between the chaos of uprooting your life unexpectedly and the pressure of securing new housing on a tight timeline, it’s easy to get into a panic mode, or even worse a deer-in-the-headlights freeze- up. At this juncture, you essentially have three priorities to take care of: housing, moving and change-of-address details. Let’s take a deep breath and look at them one by one. 


If time or circumstances don’t allow you to house hunt, secure a mortgage or even think about what would make an ideal home, you still need to make sure there’s a place where you and your loved ones can stay, at least temporarily. This could be with a family member or friends who are living in your new town, or even a local hotel, bed and breakfast or motel. If you’re staying in someone else’s home, it’s important to have an exit strategy — and schedule — in place. The last thing anyone wants to be – or host – is a long-term couch surfer. Here are a few tips for making a short stay as stress-free as possible

This is where a full-service mover like United can come in handy. Our nationwide, in-transit storage services can give you the flexibility to keep your belongings safe and secure until you finalize your move date and long-term plans. Hint: You may find there’s more flexibility with a short-term rental lease, especially as it will allow you to get a feel for the local area before committing to anything more permanent. 


A lot of the challenge here will depend upon the size of the household you’ll be relocating. Our advice: Don’t try to handle an emergency move alone. With a simple, one-bedroom apartment-size move, you may get by with a rental truck and a few helpful, supportive friends and family members both on the move out and destination ends. However, if you’re trying to quickly move out of a larger place, the more services and support you can bring into play, the better. No matter what the situation, collect essential documents like IDs, passports, insurance papers, bank statements, and medical records. Have these ready to grab at a moment’s notice. One thing everyone can benefit from is a good Moving Checklist. We have one of the best right here

If you’re heading to another state and your move involves more than a couple of rooms, we suggest using a reputable long-distance mover like United, choosing the tasks you feel comfortable taking on and leaving the rest to them. In addition to storage services, full-service movers can pack and unpack your things, deal with debris pickup and even arrange the break down and set up TVs and similar items at both locations. Now, take a deep breath—the hard part is over. For some help, here are a few unpacking tips and tricks you may find useful. 

Change of Address Details 

Just getting through a spur-of-the-moment move can leave you a bit breathless and it’s all too easy to bypass some very critical must-dos in the rush to get out. Among these are getting essential services such as cable and internet turned off at your current home and getting them set up at your new space. Also, if you’re moving out of state you’ll need to arrange for a new driver’s license and update your car insurance. And don’t forget to have change of address information and a forwarding address sent to your current post office.  

Remember, the challenges of an emergency or crisis move will quickly deescalate and you’ll be settled into your new normal sooner than you think. 

Wherever you’re considering a move — and for whatever reason — United Van Lines can help relocate just about anywhere nationwide. As America’s #1 Mover®, we have movers located across the country. For long-distance, cross-country moves, our movers can also help not only transport your items, but also assist with packing and storage.   

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