Asking a friend to help you move is a big deal. Moving takes time and effort, and in the end, it's all for you. Modern Manners Guy has 3 tips for how to properly treat friends who help you relocate to a new home.
Between my apartment in college and my home now, there were probably a dozen different areas of residence along the way. And to get to each of those, I had to ask a friend or two to help me move.
When you ask someone for their help in moving, remember it’s a very big deal. Think about it: You’re asking someone to take out an entire day, lift, carry, push, drive, all for free and all for you.
But helping a friend move is just one of those things that comes with the friendship territory. It’s like the unwritten oath you take. I believe it goes, “Thy friendship shall last through the good and the bad…and by the way, you gotta help me move when I need it. Amen.”
So when you ask for moving help, you have to make sure that you show appreciation for your friends’ time and effort. After all, you will most likely be called upon to return the favor and your friends will remember how well (or how badly) you treated them during your move.
So, before you lift on the count of three, check out my top 3 quick and dirty tips for how to properly ask a friend to help you move:
Tip #1: Measure the task first
Be it a couch, a TV, or an entire house, helping someone move is a daunting task. On more than one occasion I’ve received a call from a friend asking to help move one item that they called “easy” – only to be floored when I arrived to find that they were referring to an entire bedroom set. "Oh, when you said a side table, I didn’t realize it was made out of solid marble…We may need some more help.” Then, the friend says, “Nah, we can handle it.” Really? Because last time I checked, two less-than-average-sized guys moving a 600 pound table doesn’t go well. This is an example of improperly measuring the task at hand and not understanding what you are truly asking of your friend.
Asking someone to help you move is a favor. Your friend does not have to say yes. They’re doing so because they are nice enough to help you out.
Asking someone to help you move is a favor. Your friend does not have to say yes. They’re doing so because they are nice enough to help you out. However, if you do not realistically assess the item(s) that need moving, and don’t prepare a sufficient team to handle the load, no one will want to help you out again. And they will probably be disgruntled during the process.
People tend to downplay whatever needs moving because they’re afraid of not getting the help. So they say, “Oh, it’s no biggie, just a chair” and the next thing you know, that chair is huge and lives on the 8th floor of an apartment building with a broken elevator.
If you do not realistically assess the item(s) that need moving, and don’t prepare a sufficient team to handle the load, no one will want to help you out again.
So if you need 5 people to complete the task, or know that it will take time, you have to be up front from the get-go. Anything less is just being a poor friend. Honesty is the backbone of any good friendship, so don’t be afraid to lay out exactly what they should expect when they arrive.
Tip #2: Schedule properly
As I said in Tip #1, it’s proper to assess the actual move prior to calling a team to help out. Two friends can’t help you move a 4-bedroom house to another 4-bedroom house in a day. It just can't be done (and shouldn't, really). Also, moving multiple items that need to be loaded up and driven to another destination will in fact take a lot of time. So when you plan for a move, the first step is (say it with me)...PLAN! Don’t wait until your friends arrive to start boxing up your items. Don’t leave everyone to go get the moving truck. These are simple things that fall under you role as the ringleader. If you need someone’s help but when they arrive you’re not ready to start, you are wasting their time. It may be your move but it’s their time.
If you need someone’s help but when they arrive you’re not ready to start, you are wasting their time.
Think of a move like planning a party. I’d schedule a party for a time when I know all my guests could make it. I'd send out an invitation weeks ahead of time and I’d make it for a day/time that worked for everyone before assuming they were free. I wouldn’t tell people that a party would take place tomorrow at 11am. No one would come and I’d be all alone in my party hat. Same thing goes for a move. Timing is key, and making sure you pick a time that works for your friends is essential in getting proper assistance with the move.
When you ask for help, you should first ask when they are available. If you prefer to move on a Saturday but they can’t until Sunday, well, that’s the day. But let's play Devil’s advocate and say that Saturday is the only day that works for you. So then you have to give them plenty of notice about that day and why it has to be that day. Moves don’t happen on the fly (for the most part), so when you know you have to be out on a certain date, start to gather the troops immediately. It’s never too early to plan, ever.
Tip #3: Reward the team
When I was a sophomore in college, my older brother started grad school and recruited me to help him and his roommate move into their new apartment. Since this was years before I became Modern Manners Guy, I was used to "moving" meaning filling up trash bags with clothes and being squished into whatever car was available to borrow for the day.
However, when I pulled up for my brother's moving day, he had a team of eager friends ready to go and a well-planned list of tasks and items. Everything was boxed and labeled. It was easy (not to mention considerate). And in the end, my brother and roommate showed their gratitude to all of us who helped with drinks and food. They had a stocked cooler filled with waters and sports drinks to refresh us while we worked, and when the job was done, they ordered a few large pizzas and some refreshing beers to cheers a job well done.
This experience made me totally rethink the entire concept of moving. I remembered this lesson for the future when it was my turn to do the asking. As I said in the beginning, between college and my home now, I’ve had numerous moves (of all shapes and sizes) and each time I made sure to show my appreciation to the friends who selflessly spent their time carrying boxes and lifting couches.
Take it as a given that you should provide ample food and drinks throughout the process. And if you are using other people's vehicles to transport your stuff, you should reimburse them for the gas that was used, Helping someone move is karmic – if you do good for others, they’ll do good for you. But if you don't....beware. Karma has a long memory.