Moving can be an exhausting experience. But with some time, a some dedicated spaces, thorough organization, and the right tools/supplies, you can handle it more easily.
No packing on moving day!!
It’s called Moving Day for a reason, not Packing Day. There will be so many demands on your time and attention on Moving Day that the last thing you want to worry about is packing the last boxes. So let’s get started with lists and tips that will take you from the months before to the night after.
Before Packing, Plan your way to a successful Moving Day
This is the easier part where you get to use your head more than your body. Although you won’t be sore when you are doing it, it is the most important part of making sure Moving Day isn’t a chaos of confusion.
- Book a hotel for the night before or after move if needed.
- Find a Sitter for pets and children.
- Make a layout of the new house
- Notify Banks and insurance companies, change of address
- Set up new gas, electric, internet accounts
- Update online accounts that deliver things to your house, Driver’s license
- Buy a dedicated notebook for all the details, information, to do lists.
- Buy an accordion folder for all the documents, receipts, user manuals.
- Scheduling the movers. Picking the right day makes a big difference. If you can move in the middle of the week or middle of the month, you should be able to get a better rate.
- Renting the truck. Much like scheduling movers, it will be easier if you can do it in the middle of the week or month. If not, make a reservation as far out as possible.
- Enlisting friends and family. Give everyone who will be helping you a long lead time on when you will need their help.
Buy more than you need (boxes, tools, supplies, tape, etc.) One trip back at the end of the move to return them is easy. Three trips in the middle of a move for essential items is much harder. Get many small boxes, you are likely to run out of those first.
Shopping list of essentials for moving made easy:
- Accordion File (for all important papers related to the move, and receipts)
- Notebook (for all information, room layouts, etc.)
- Box cutter (to break down boxes and cut hole handles into boxes)
- Rubber bands (pot lids, keep doors open by wrapping around the door knobs)
- Plastic stretch wrap (refrigerator/freezer doors, utensils in their drawers)
- Colored tape or stickers
- Colored sharpies
- Packing tape and dispenser
- Packing paper
- Cardboard boxes in a variety of sizes
- Tool kit
- Box of extension cords, adapters, power strips
- Zip ties
- Vise grip
- Duct tape
- Clear “Day of” Bins
To Do in the Months Before: Purge, Sell, Donate, Pack
- Time is still on your side, if you designate a couple of hours a day you can have your home ready to go within a month or two.
- Use a coldly pragmatic attitude about what to keep, what to sell, what to donate, what to throw away. Think of it as a game of increasing minimalism, what are the less essential things you can start packing first?
- Then narrow the scope over the weeks until the house is as sparse as possible. This way the last day of packing (2-3 days before moving day) everything is manageable.
Now is the time to embrace your inner minimalist, the one that sometimes wonders how you ended up with so much stuff.
- How long has it been since you used it? If it is longer than 3 months and it is not a seasonal item, time to let it go.
- Do you really want to keep it?
- Does it have a place in your new home? If you don’t see how it fits into your new home, toss it instead of moving it.
- Does it need to be replaced? If so it doesn’t need to be moved.
- Will it fit? Measure everything, get some grid paper and plot out the rooms of your new home. If it can’t fit, get rid of it, the new house won’t get any bigger.
If you don’t love it, sell it! There are some many apps you can use to have people come by and pay for what you no longer want. It is a much more efficient and lucrative alternative to a garage sale. And the cash will come in handy on moving day. (links)
If you can’t sell it but somebody else can use it, then donate it. Have organizations start picking the items up 4 weeks before you move.
Time To Get Packing: Although the task seems daunting, we have some strategies that will make packing much easier.
- Clear out a staging area to put the boxes. If you have a garage, and can pack it first, use it as a staging area for packed boxes.
- Designate a “Maybe” box area if you are not sure if you are going to need the contents again before you move.
- Pack clothes you won’t wear (out of season, dressy, etc) a month ahead of time, to create space, space, space.
- Start packing decorative items first, they are the least essential.
- Have a layout of the new house so you can write on the box where it needs to go.
- Clean the room
- Movie items to the walls
- Set up a packing station in the middle of the room. It should be a stable flat surface with room for tape and markers.
- Have an uncluttered path to the door
The Boxes and Contents:
- Label/mark boxes on their sides to see when stacked
- Label each box with the Room and Contents on the side for easy viewing when stacked.
- For large book collections, number boxes sequentially
- Use Ziploc bags for all hardware from disassembled items (furniture, electronics, etc.) LABEL the bag immediately. Then either tape it to the item itself, or in a designated box.
- Use trash bags for your hanging clothes. While they are still on the rack, open a bag and pull it over a group of clothes from the bottom. Use the tie strings at the top to fasten the hangers together.
- Take a photo of how your electronics are connected so you can remember how and where all the wires go.
- Pack books with spine facing down, and in small boxes. Your friends/movers/family will thank you for the light loads!
- Use hampers, containers, and suitcases to pack items.
- Designate some cloth items (pillows, blankets, towels) in a separate box to use as box fillers for fragile items and incompletely filled boxes (to keep contents from shifting around).
- Use colored tape and sharpies to designate which room boxes go to.
- Heavy Items = Small Boxes. Ideally no box is heavier than 30 pounds. This not only saves your back, but prevents boxes from breaking and spilling contents everywhere.
- Socks make great protection for stemware and glasses.
- For toiletries, remove the lid and cover in plastic wrap to avoid spills.
- Place a cotton ball in powder cosmetics to prevent breaking.
- Use plastic wrap on a utensil tray to avoid packing silverware.
- Plates are less likely to break if you pack them vertically, like records. Put a layer of waded paper at the bottom of the box before putting plates in.
- If something is partially broken, either fix it or take it apart before moving to prevent further damage.
- Designate a recycling box old batteries and electronics (could link)
- Have a mattress carton, cover, or blankest and plastic wrap strategy to protect your mattresses.
What to Avoid When Packing
- Mix items from different rooms in a box
- Overpack boxes
- Leave empty spaces in boxes
- And finally, No Packing on Moving Day!
“Day of” Boxes
- Use your Clear Bins to pack these important boxes of things you will need for the day of the move.
- “Open First” Boxes: Cleaning supplies, tools, furniture hardware, Paper towels, trash bags, shower curtain
- “Essentials” Boxes: Laptop, charger cords, batteries, bed sheets, towels, change of clothes, toilet paper, toiletries, medications, first aid kit, pet food.
1-2 Weeks before
- Make sure you have a parking space for the truck at both locations.
- Plan your meals to use whatever food you have in the refrigerator. (food donation link)
- Arrange for a charity organization to come pick up the last items you don’t want at least a week before moving. (links)
- Donate cans of food to Move for Hunger (link)
2 Days before
- Get an ice chest for essentials then empty and clean your refrigerator before unplugging it. 24-48 hours should be enough time to defrost it and air it out. This will avoid unpleasant odors and a bigger cleanup job when you arrive so that you can plug it in and start using as soon as possible.
- Time to take the TV down. Plan on watching entertainment on phones and computers, or treat yourself to a movie. Having the time to slowly disassemble your entertainment system reduces stress and makes it a lot less likely you will have to replace a tv that was taken down quickly or packed in a hurry.
- Time to pack the bed. It always takes longer than you think, and again, no packing on moving day. Take the bed apart and sleep on the mattress in order to avoid packing on moving day.
- Get cash for all the incidentals of the big day (food, tips for movers, trips to the store). It’s much easier to give someone cash who is going to on a food or supply run so you can stay at the house and keep things moving.
- Absolutely NO packing on Moving day!
- Keep the children and pets occupied, and out of harms way. A dedicated pet transition person will reduce their discomfort in a new place. A hotel is another good option.
Loading the truck
- Remember First in, Last out, and Last in, First out. So if you will need it early in the day, either take it in a separate vehicle, or make sure it get put in the truck last.
- Load boxes from the same room together when possible.
- Designate a Boss. Have one person as a dedicated traffic cop for all boxes and furniture coming in the house. They should have the accordion file for all papers, cash, the notebook, and a layout of the house in hand.
- If you have friends helping, the Boss should have an organized task list to keep things moving and avoid confusion and wasted time (don’t forget to provide plenty of water, snacks, as well as pizza and beer at the end of the day).
- Color Time. Mark each room with the color tape that corresponds with the color system for you boxes.
- In the Room. Use post-it notes to designate where in the room you want boxes.
First Priorities: Places to Eat, Sleep, Wash
- Upon arrival there will be a flood of decisions and activity. To make things move more efficiently and avoid frayed nerves, here are your first priorities.
- Set up a bathroom first thing. All the people coming in and out will appreciate the ability to wash up when needed, and at the end of the day it will be ready for that much-needed shower.
- Install the washer and dryer as soon as possible. You can start running loads of laundry that you used to pack fragile pieces and fill empty spaces.
- Plug in the refrigerator and a microwave oven. The ability to heat quick meals and refrigerate food makes things much more convenient. And it will make it feel like home, rather than eating and drinking out of a cooler.
- Set up your bed as soon as possible. You never know when you will hit the wall and just need a shower and some sleep.
For Those Who Do The Heavy Lifting
- Get Lazy! No shame in moving one box at a time if it keeps you in the game longer.
- Lift with legs, avoid the backache tomorrow
- Wheels are a great invention, use them whenever you can.
- Don’t move it because you have sold/donated/tossed it in the first place!
As You are Moving In
- Flatten Boxes as soon as you unpack them to keep the space manageably clear everyone coming in and out.
- If you’re leaving it in the box to unpack later, it might have been better to get rid of it before moving. This is how we end up with unopened boxes cluttering up the garage.
And finally, if the former occupants have left items in the house, yard, or garage, get rid of it as soon as possible. Nothing will frustrate you more than creating your new space with someone else’s junk in your way.