What are the Biggest Obstacles on Moves?

Obstacles on Moves: What are the Most Difficult Homes for Movers?

A recent New Yorker article highlights a new trend among the the super-rich of Manhattan and Silicon Valley: survivalism. In short, the piece showcases how some people are building high-security bunkers in which to live during possible social upheaval on an apocalyptic scale. In places like Colorado, Kansas, and Islands off the West Coast, wealthy “doomsday preppers” have built luxury condos in underground military-style bunkers, and converted remote silos into potentially self-sustaining high-end communities.

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The story is a fascinating look into the priorities of some of the country’s wealthiest people, but, as movers we were struck by another angle: how strange (and possibly difficult) it must be to move into such places. Most of the doomsday destinations in the article are already fully furnished, but that didn’t stop us from remembering some of the oddest obstacles we’ve faced in the moving struggle:

The Trap Door

This is always the first story that comes to mind when we’re talking about obstacles. We were moving live-in educators within a boarding school campus, so distance was never an issue. What was an issue, however, was the tight single staircase from the third to the fourth floor. It wasn’t much wider than an average adult. Boxes and other small items destined for the top floor posed no problem for us. But for larger items like bookcases and dressers, it was not a viable option:

Trap door on your move? Let the movers know!

The view from above.

The only other way to the top floor? A trap door. No joke — a Mister-Burns-style trap door. Not having been made aware of the obstacle ahead of time, we need to call in extra movers to the job so that we could perform the move safely. Naturally, this added unexpected time to the job — an outcome that neither movers nor their customers ever want.

The lesson? Always be thorough with your descriptions of potential moves. Even if only a single item needs to pass through an unorthodox passageway, that single maneuver can add over an hour to the job — even more so if extra movers are required. Don’t hide this precious information from your movers. We are here to help.

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A Light in the Attic

Do you want to put a couch in your attic? Is the only entrance to your attic a narrow pull-down ladder? Is the your attic also windowless? This might be an issue. When items don’t fit, they don’t fit. Movers are pretty impressive humans, but they cannot alter the shape and size of items or entrances. If you give your movers a heads up about the tight squeeze, they will most likely let you know that fitting large items through it could present problems. Any decent mover will give it a good-faith college try, but by communicating ahead of time you can avoid being disappointed in what you might have otherwise assumed was a sure thing.

The House of Banister

Got a tight staircase? Sometimes the only way to get larger items up or down or around the tight turns is to remove the banister or railings ahead of time. If you think this might be an issue, talk to your landlord or take the initiative to remove the railing yourself. Not all moving companies will do this for you, so if you feel unequipped yourself, ask ahead of time. Often, for liability reasons, the movers will simply tell you to consult your building or a contractor.

Moves on Hills

If you live on a big hill, make sure your movers know. We’ve planned some moves having been told that the home included only a single staircase. Then, when we show up, we find out that the staircase count is indeed accurate — but there’s a catch. The house is set back, high on a hill. So, yeah, it’s only one staircase, but it’s a climb of a hundred feet or more before that! This can obviously be a safety issue — even more so if rain or snow hits the hill, making the climb that much more slippery. Inclines and hills are definitely details on a need-to-know basis (meaning they definitely need to know) for your movers.

Elevator Issues

Elevators are pretty standard for luxury condos both above-ground and fortified within bomb-proof bunkers. But depending on how many other people live in your building, there may be competition to use it on moving day. Reserving the elevator ahead of time is a great way to avoid conflicts with your neighbors, reduce the time of your move, and ultimately save you some money.


Weather isn’t unique to any particular home, of course. But it’s certainly a major obstacle on moves during the winter, especially here in Boston. And it’s a particularly tricky one, too, since the workman’s compensation insurance policies that most moving companies have explicitly do not cover snow removal services. So if snow is a risk at your new or old location, make sure you have a plan to get rid of it before the movers arrive. A safe, clean path for your movers is the best way to ensure to the safety of your valuable possessions. (Check out our guide for winter moving for more information.)

As for social upheaval on an apocalyptic scale? Unfortunately, we do not have a plan for moves during that scenario. But if you know of a moving company that does, let us know!

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Featured Photo via Larry D. Moore [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons