Okay, maybe not everything, but the more unused and unnecessary items you eliminate from your home, the less stuff you’ll have to pack up, haul across town, unload, and organize. Be ruthless with your stuff. That coat you think is cute but haven’t worn in four months? Donate it. The very first coffee maker you ever bought that flavors your morning brew with little pieces of rust? Trash it. Doing a massive preliminary purge will have the single biggest impact on the efficiency and ease of your entire packing process.Get Details
organize your belongings by category, not by room (note that the category part only applies to the organization process, not the unpacking — that’s a whole separate ordeal).
Instead of spending a day cleaning out your entire bedroom, spend an afternoon sorting through every article of clothing you own. Scour every coat closet, dirty clothes hamper, and laundry room until you’ve got all your clothes in one place. Then sort. Do the same thing for books, shoes, important papers, and the like.
Save yourself a trip to your local Goodwill
You probably have a few items you no longer want, but would love to get a little money for. If that’s the case, set these items aside and determine where you can sell them.
Hire your movers at least a month out so you can plan accordingly. If you have a flexible schedule, play around with potential moving dates and try to find the cheapest time of month to make an appointment. Moving companies are busiest on weekends, so if you can skip the Saturday chaos and schedule your move for a Tuesday, you might get a significant discount.
Figure out the easiest, most efficient way to get where you’re going. Look up potential highway construction schedules ahead of time. And take traffic, detours, and necessary stops into account when you’re making your plan.
When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind. Write them down somewhere. Put them in the Notes app on your phone, in the to-do list app. No detail is too insignificant. You just remembered the name of the little bookstore in town that will accept your used novels? Write it down. You have to return your cable box to your provider at least one day before you leave? Jot it down.
Take your organization a step further and spend an evening mapping out everything you have to do. Get an oversized calendar and mark the empty white boxes with important daily tasks to prepare for your move. Tuesday: Call moving company. Wednesday: Sort through toiletries. Thursday: Buy new sheets. An added bonus to using the calendar method is that breaking up your tasks by day makes them seem more manageable. Also, don’t forget to add “celebrate with wine” somewhere in there to give you something to look forward to.
Pay a visit to your local liquor store (that’s where you can buy the aforementioned wine) to see if they recycle their used boxes. If so, ask if you can grab a handful so you’re saving a little paper in your moving journey. Just make sure the boxes are very gently worn and that you only use them to hold lightweight items like linens and towels. You don’t want to deal with ripped boxes and broken valuables on the big day.
You might think your flat screen TV could withstand a 30-minute drive across town in a cardboard box, but alas, it’s a fragile piece of technology. The best way to transport your electronics is in the original boxes they arrived in when you purchased them. Check to see if you stashed these boxes somewhere — attic? Garage? If you don’t have them, make a list of what you’ll need to buy or borrow to properly cushion your stuff. Quilted blankets, bubble wrap, and sturdy tape all work well to protect TVs and similarly delicate items. Don’t forget the “just in case” items when you’re making your master hardware store list. Stock up now on extra supplies like light bulbs (check your lamps to verify the type you need), extension cords, and power strips so you’ll be set to go when you start moving things in.
Call your cable, internet, electricity, and gas providers at least a week ahead of your move to figure out when you need to shut everything off. Make sure you leave enough time in your schedule to gather any necessary items — like cords, remotes, or cable boxes — you may need to return.
If you’re relying on friends and family to help with your move, be courteous and give them a month’s notice. Do the same with babysitters for your children.
Packing little by little is far less stressful than trying to tackle it all in one day. As early as a couple months out, start packing the stuff you know you won’t be using. This can be anything from off-season clothing to books you’ve already read to mementos, pictures (here’s how to store and preserve old photographs), and keepsakes.
Pack up all your art and decorative items several weeks before you move. These pieces can be some of the trickiest to store because they’re fragile and often oddly shaped, so having a bit of extra time to figure out how to properly cushion them is crucial. Sure, your walls and mantels will look a bit stark, but when you’re running around the house a week before the move feeling like you’re about to lose your mind, you’ll be so glad your grandma’s landscape painting is already nestled in its precious bubble wrap.
This is one of those things everyone forgets to do until they’re two weeks into life in a new home and they realize their Amazon Prime shipment still hasn’t arrived. Change your address ahead of time so your bills, credit card statements, and packages can arrive on time and without hassle.
The key to finding your stuff easily is labeling all your packed boxes accurately and clearly. When you’re stacking boxes in a van or car you won’t be able to see their tops, so make sure you label the sides as well. But don’t stop there. Label the boxes by category and by room (for example, Books, Library and Books, Bedroom) to speed up the unloading process.
As you pack up a box, take note of every single item inside of it. Write the list in a Google doc, or use a handy organizing app likeSortly, and then give the box a number. This genius strategy has two major benefits: 1. You can go straight to box #16 with the plunger instead of digging through every “Bathroom” box just to find it. 2. You’ll know the total number of boxes you’re transporting so you can check to see if one goes missing or is stolen.
It sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever known the struggle that is carrying a large cardboard box stuffed full of college textbooks across a parking lot, then you also know this advice cannot be overstated. Fill your small boxes with heavier items and use large boxes for light things like decorative pillows, towels, and linens
Not to be confused with duct tape, packing tape is the heavy-duty, insanely sticky clear tape you see at the post office. Always make sure your boxes have tops, but don’t do the interlocking fold method with the flaps of your box tops — just tape them closed. It’s much more secure this way.
Remember that packing paper you put on your master list when you stocked up on supplies at the hardware store? Use it to pad all your fragile dishware and decorative items. Stuff it inside glasses, wrap it around vases and bowls, and shove it between your dishes and the side of your boxes. Make sure you wrap each of your fragile items separately, so they’re fully cushioned. If you don’t have packing paper, opt for bubble wrap or a quilted blanket.
Don’t stack your dishes horizontally inside a box. Instead, wrap your plates and bowls in packing paper, gently place them into a box on their sides like records, and then fill the empty spaces with bubble wrap to prevent cracking and breaking.
To prevent potential leaking and spilling (and crying and cursing), take an extra two minutes as you pack to secure your toiletry bottles. Unscrew the cap of your shampoo bottle, wrap a piece of Saran Wrap (or a Ziploc bag) over the top, and screw the cap back on. Simple and surprisingly effective.
This can include toilet paper, a shower curtain, hand soap, towels, sheets, snacks, or whatever else you think you’ll need for the first day or night in your new home. Having a few essential items on hand will make you feel more comfortable and prepared to tackle unpacking everything else.
Chances are you won’t get everything unpacked in the first day, so bring whatever you need to feel relaxed and settled on your first night. A change of clothes, your toiletries, a water bottle, and your laptop can go a long way in making your new place feel more like home.
To save you the guilt of throwing away perfectly decent food, stop buying groceries a week or two before you’re scheduled to move. Try to make meals at home to use all the food you have left. If you don’t finish everything, invite a friend or two over to see if they need some half-finished spices or boxes of pasta.
Before you take them apart and pack them up, take a few pictures of the back of your electronic devices — the cord situations, if you will.Having these pictures will make it that much easier to set up your TV or monitor as soon as you move in — no fretting necessary.
Instead of trying to figure out how to pack up all your woven seagrass baskets, linen bins, and carry-on suitcases, store stuff inside them. Think clothes and shoes for sturdy suitcases, and hand towels and pillowcases for lightweight, open-top bins and baskets.
Pack a separate box or briefcase with copies of all your important documents in case of an emergency. Though it might be a tedious project to scan or copy every birth certificate, passport, social security card, proof of insurance paper, and tax claim, you don’t want to risk damaging the only version of your papers in transit. They’re too precious.
Build a mini cleanup kit so you can do one final sweep through your home on moving day. Set aside a broom, mop, dustpan, duster, sponge, cleaning products, paper towels, and old rags for wiping the grimy, hidden surfaces you could never get to when all your stuff was in the way. If you’re more the DIY type, try these five easy cleaning hacks that are ridiculously effective.
Who wants to wake up to a grungy, mildewy fridge in their new home? No one. No one at all. Take time to thoroughly clean your fridge and wipe away all the liquid before you haul it to your new home.
Have the person with the highest Tetris score be in charge of figuring out how to fit everything in the back of the moving truck in the most efficient way possible. Load your heavy furniture first, like sofas and sectionals. Then finish with lighter items, like your DIY nightstand and folding chairs that double as clothes hangers. Be gentle with everything, as most seemingly wooden items are not actually made from wood, but particle board. Don’t be afraid to flip things over, either — couches actually transport well on their sides and save a ton of space in the process.
This moving tip really only applies if you’re renting your new home: Before your friends and family start stacking boxes in the entryway, or scuffing the doorway trying to shove your couch through, snap a few shots of your space so you can note any existing damage. It’ll be more difficult to prove you didn’t cause that damage after you’ve moved in all your furniture. Pro Tip: Nothing puts a dent in your moving happiness like putting a dent in the wall. So pick up one of these space-saving sofas and couches that will actually fit in your apartment.
Figure out ahead of time who will be the chief of moving day. Whoever feels comfortable taking charge of the unloading and organization process (and inevitably answering 400 different questions) should assume this position. Delegate every little task so no one is wasting time or sitting around with nothing to do. With all hands on deck, your unpacking process will fly by.
Keep a stash of Ziploc bags in your purse or backpack for the big moving day. You can use the bags to store doorknobs, tiny screws and brackets, luggage keys, or other small, easily forgettable items.
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