The Dos and Don’ts of Asking Friends for Moving Help
There’s a bit of etiquette that goes into asking friends for moving help. After all, it’s not exactly a small ask. Packing and moving are up there with airport drop offs when it comes to favors—nobody really wants to do it, but your real friends will help you if they can. So how do you approach the situation in a way that finds a special balance between “I know you don’t want to do this” and “but can you do it anyway?”. Here are some tips to help you out.
Do acknowledge that it’s a big favor
A big part of graciously asking friends for moving help is recognizing that what you’re asking for isn’t a fun or easy task. Nobody likes to pack and move themselves, let alone someone else. Your true friends will roll up their sleeves and do it with a smile, but it’s still nice to nod to the fact that it’s a lot to ask. You don’t have to grovel, but do let your friends know just how much you would appreciate it.
Don’t take it personally if someone can’t or won’t help
In the hierarchy of friendship, some of your friends will gladly help you move and some won’t—it’s just the way things go. If your friend says “no” to your request or comes up with a transparently fake excuse for why they can’t help you out, don’t take it too personally. We’ve all come up with shaky reasons we can’t help a friend out without intending it to be malicious. Just accept that person’s place in the friendship hierarchy and move on to someone else.
Do give enough notice
You’re going to have a lot less success asking for help if you do it over text the night before you need it. Try to give your friends as much notice as possible (a week or more is ideal) so that they have time to work their schedule around it and not the other way around. This is true whether you’re borrowing their time or just their car or truck.
Don’t put anyone out too much
Your friends with young kids or super busy work schedules probably aren’t the best ones to reach out to. When asking friends for moving help, start with the people who would most easily be able to work out the time in their schedule. Of course, some people will rearrange their lives as needed to do a favor for someone they love (hi, mom!), but if possible, it’s better not to put anyone in that situation in the first place.
Do ask for weekend help
Weekends are the best time for friends to come help you move, and also the time they’re most likely to be able to dedicate a few hours to the task. While you may not be able to schedule the move itself for a Saturday or Sunday, try to get the help you need during that time, be it packing, unpacking, cleaning, or getting organized.
Don’t be vague about what you need
Be direct and specific in your moving help requests so that your friends know what to expect. Let them know if they’re coming to help pack, clean, or do some serious heavy lifting so that they can prepare accordingly. Some friends may be better at certain tasks than others, so play off of peoples’ strengths and ask for help with what they’re good at (or at least a best fit for).
Do provide refreshments
The last thing you probably want to be doing is feeling like a host when you’re just trying to get packed and moved, but making sure there’s water and snacks for everyone is a little gesture that goes a long way. Provide some healthy items like nuts or fruit to keep people going, as well as some sweet things to keep them happy—a brownie or cookie can magically make every situation a little bit better.
Don’t be bossy
Obviously you need to delegate tasks when you have friends over for moving help, but think in terms of leading a team, not commanding a task force. There’s a big difference between aggressively asking for help and assertively asking for help, and you always want to fall on the latter end. Be clear and respectful in your requests, and always remember that whoever is there helping you is doing it out of kindness.
Do let go of perfectionism
If you want everything done 100 percent to your own standards, you’ll have to do it yourself (or hire professionals). If you want everything just done, you’re in the right mindset for asking friends for moving help. Try not to get hung up on the details, and just focus on accomplishing the various tasks at hand.
Don’t be underprepared when they get there
Make the effort to be ready for whatever your friends are coming to help you with. If it’s packing, organize your items ahead of time so that the only things left are the things that are going to get packed, and have all your packing supplies ready. If it’s loading up the moving truck, have all of your boxes packed, sealed, and labeled before they get there.
Do show gratitude
A verbal “thank you” is definitely warranted, but for a favor this big, you should go a little bit further. Take a break during the move and pick up some pizza and beer for everybody, or set a date to take everyone out for drinks or a movie once you’re settled in. If you don’t have money to spend, a simple and personal handwritten thank you note mailed to their door will show how much you appreciate their efforts.
Don’t rely on friends when you really need the pros
There are some jobs that friends without moving experience just aren’t prepared to do, like safely wrapping up your family heirloom painting or carrying your 150 pound dresser up a four-story walk-up. Keep in mind your friends’ limitations when you ask for help, having them help you with the things they can and using professional movers for the rest.
Do plan on returning the favor
When it’s your friends turn to move, be the first one to volunteer to come help. The best way to show how much their help meant to you is to pay it forward when their time comes. Hey, you might even get some free pizza and beer out of it!