Let’s be honest, the subject of neighbors is always an emotive one. That’s because for every one good neighbor, there is another not-so-very-good one, and a third even worse.
Unfortunately, those are the ways of the world that we have no control over.
Of course, it’s possible to luck out on a good neighborhood where everyone is nice (almost everyone) and there seems to be a deep sense of community ingrained, as probably witnessed from the random acts of kindness they share with each.
Welcoming a new neighbor with a housewarming gift basket and sweet note, for instance, or helping out the new mom in the neighborhood at a time when she might feel overwhelmed after she’s had a baby.
There are also those very good ones who are happy to mow our lawns even without our asking, others are okay helping us shovel our driveways after a snowstorm, etc.
If you find yourself in such a neighborhood, you need to count your blessings every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Just ask anyone who’s had a bad experience with neighbors.
When it comes to moving house, lending a helping hand to a neighbor is something they are bound to appreciate greatly. Moving is no Sunday picnic, and it’s little wonder it is considered one of the most stressful life events.
We all could use an extra pair of hands when preparing for a move, and your neighbor is no different.
Sure, hiring a professional moving company to do everything for you helps. But full-service moving, as it is known, can be expensive and some people may opt to handle aspects like packing and sourcing moving supplies by themselves to help keep moving costs in check.
And this is where you come in.
Helping a Neighbor Move House
Of course, even in friendly neighborhoods where everyone seems to get along well with each other, moving house is a personal affair so sometimes you’ll find people you’re closer with more inclined to accept your proposals to help out.
Thus, the assumption here is that you have that neighbor friend you’re more comfortable with and your help is something they would be open to.
Even when hiring a mover, there are many bits and pieces involved in a house move that need to be coordinated and monitored.
There are several ways you can step in to help your friend that do not involve hauling heavy furniture down the stairs, although we’re sure they wouldn’t object to any extra muscle if they plan to do the heavy lifting themselves without enlisting the help of a mover.
Still, if you don’t think you are equipped to do the more labor-intensive parts of the job but would love to help a neighborhood friend move, there are many ways you can assist.
Here are a couple of ideas that should make your neighbor’s house move a less stressful experience.
1. Help with the packing
Besides lifting heavy items like furniture and large household appliances, packing is one of the most draining and time-consuming aspects of moving.
If you have been involved in a move yourself, which you most likely have, you would admit this is one component of relocation you definitely could have used some help with.
So, offer to help your friend with the packing, which ideally needs to start a few weeks before moving day, particularly in the case of families.
Waiting until the last minute to start the packing only serves to add to the stress of moving. It would make everyone’s life easier if the packing was stretched out over a couple of weeks.
If you’re helping with the packing, you don’t have to divide the work in half, but you can agree on the areas your help would be needed and then drop by briefly to do what needs to be done – whether it’s something as engaging as helping pack the kitchen or as trifling as packing the coat closet in the front hall.
When you have an entire home that needs to be packed, it can be a huge relief when you have one less area to worry about.
2. Bring over extra supplies
Helping a neighbor prepare for relocation doesn’t always have to involve the hard work.
Providing them with the packing supplies they might need would be a good thing on its own, considering especially that moving boxes and packing materials like packing paper are never enough.
If you have some items you think could be handy, great. If you probably know some place you can easily source say, large boxes from, that would be a dream.
If you’re not sure what items your neighbor might need, ask them if they are running low on anything. Then let them know you’d be happy to pick up some of those items and drop them off.
3. Help them with the purge
Moving is usually an excellent period to edit down your household possessions. Unless your neighbor is a staunch disciple of Marie Kondo, chances are there are items in their house that could do with some clearing out.
Obviously, if your neighbor is a sworn hoarder, they might have a hard time letting go of some things. But you need to be their objective presence when deciding on the items that no longer serve them. They’re your friend, you should do know.
You can help them create a list that organizes the items into three categories, for example – items that should remain, items that need to go, and “maybe” items that need consideration before bundling them into either the “retain” or “discard” pile.
Purging doesn’t involve clothing alone. Anything goes really – kitchen utensils, old CDs, furniture, you name it.
If you feel like going one further, offer to drop these items at a donation center like Goodwill or any other organization that has no issue accepting clothes and household stuff.
4. Watch their pets
As with humans, moving house can be stressful on our animal friends. Usually, it is advisable to designate a quiet room to keep the pet in, especially on moving day when it’s chaotic.
If your neighbor has a dog or cat, volunteer to keep the animal at your place temporarily when the moving crew arrives to do the loading. If it’s a friendly dog, you can even take him or her for a long walk in your neck of the woods.
Anxious animals can greatly benefit from some time away from the scene, but even the easy ones could be getting in the way so it’s more ideal when they are not around.
5. Bring them a meal
When you have a horde of moving boxes waiting to be stuffed and your floors are littered with rolls of packing tape, it’s easy to forget to carve out some time to eat and take a breather.
But a clear head and high energy levels are needed during a move, so sustenance is important.
That said, sometimes helping a neighbor with their move could be as simple as bringing them a good home cooked meal.
While they won’t turn you away, it’s best to avoid anything that needs putting in the oven or will leave behind a kitchen-full of dirty dishes, especially on the eve of moving day or during moving week when a good section of the kitchen has probably been packed already.
Instead, opt for simple treats that won’t need much work, or even carry a ready warm meal in your serveware that you can collect later.
Consider leaving them some snacks as well to keep them going later, especially if there are kids around. Pretzels, fruit, sliced veggies, or sandwiches should work a treat, as can tacos or even pizza.
The idea is to minimize food-related chores for your neighbor while ensuring they’re enjoying a good home cooked meal that is not the usual, albeit convenient, takeout.
6. Let them borrow your car
If your neighbor does not have their own vehicle, having them borrow yours as they run moving-related errands would be a nice little gesture.
It’s less hassle-free when, for instance, they need to dash out to pick up some packing supplies that are inconvenient to walk around with or take on the subway.
If you can afford to do without the car for a few hours, this small sacrifice can make a big difference for your good neighbor.
7. Keep them company
Being there for your neighbor friend when they are preparing for a house move sometimes doesn’t have to take a lot on your part.
Simply being present is sometimes enough when someone is dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions associated with moving, more so if they have lived at the current place for a while.
While they may have everything sorted out and may not need much of a helping hand in the way of packing, it does not mean they wouldn’t appreciate having a good friend over while they go about it.
If your neighbor doesn’t mind some bit of distraction, ask them if they are okay with you swinging by and just sit and talk as they try to get things done.
Packing can be monotonous, so your company might be a welcome distraction that also makes time go faster. Ideally, if you can, carry some food with you as we mentioned in our previous point, or even some packing supplies they might need.
Helping your neighbor during the relocation process does not have to be an all or nothing affair.
Everyone is busy, we get it, but making the effort to help out in small ways that may even seem insignificant is an act of goodwill that shows how much you care. If the roles were reversed, it’s a gesture you would appreciate too.
It doesn’t take much, nor does it involve bending over backwards. Just a little can go a long way, especially when it comes to a house move.