Moving and packing a house always sounds exciting initially.
The thrill of a new place, seeing the house empty out, getting to work on a new home; all those things SOUND like a fun challenge to me… until I get started.
And before the first day is over, I’m seriously considering if it would be worth it just to hire someone else to pack things up. Or if burning everything is easier.
Maybe the timing has something to do with the inconvenience. We always seem to move when I’m very pregnant or it’s the craziest week of our lives or some such nonsense.
We just can’t seem to do anything normal. Maybe this post should be what NOT to do when moving?
Our last move concreted in my mind that we are never moving again. Ever. lol
To be fair, it was probably our best move in the respect that we had a ton of help (and I had begun packing months earlier), but it was also the worst.
We had a lot of things to do in the new house before we could move in and my husband had just joined the SWAT team and was thrown into their yearly SWAT week which meant we both hit our limits of exhaustion every night.
When it was all said and done, the both of us felt like we’d just finished a marathon. But we learned a lot. Of what to do and what NOT to do.
Since we have no plans of ever moving again, I’ve compiled these for you; I hope they are a help!
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Table of Contents
- Get rid of everything
- Gather boxes
- Pack Early.
- Label everything
- Plastic wrap everything
- Throw blankets, pillows, etc. in trash bags
- Take photos of your cables and inside cabinets, closets, etc.
- Fill furniture, suitcases, etc. with belongings
- Use what you have
- Designate a room/garage for storage
- Set aside breakables
- Use moving straps
- Buy totes
- Plan meals
- Set up one room in the new house
- Use laundry baskets to transfer detergents/cleaning supplies, etc.
- Bag loose nuts, bolts, screws, etc.
- Keep a bin for your cords, remotes, etc.
- Wrap up jewelry
- Pack things equally
Oh wait, that’s what I WISH we had done. haha
Seriously, though, I was mortified that we filled our moving truck three times. Granted, we weren’t using their largest truck, but it was WAY more stuff than I ever dreamed we had in our little house.
It kinda felt like a clown car. More and more stuff kept coming out.
Seeing it all made me feel so materialistic. I thought I did an efficient job of getting rid of things; I had actually been proud of myself!
The only thing I could say to justify it was that we had been living in a starter home and I didn’t know what we would need in our new home, so I had kept a lot.
But to be honest, we doubled our living space but only used what we had been using in the old house. We just had a garage sale this past summer, and we got rid of all that stuff we had been holding onto and had moved 30 minutes away.
If I had realized sooner just how much we didn’t need, it would have been such a better move for us.
If you can go through all your things now, before you move, ask yourself if you will truly use this/that. If you are positive you have a use for it, keep it. If not, you’ll be much happier getting rid of it now before you pack it in a box, move it, store it and then get rid of it years later.
There is no need to pay for boxes if you can get them for free. The last thing you want to do is rack up lots of expenses during a move. Save that money for updates in your new home.
There are plenty of stores that have boxes emptied every day. If you talk to the managers, they can let you know when the best time is to pick theirs up. There are also people who still have boxes leftover from a move and would give them to you for free or a fraction of the cost of new ones.
Check with your friends to see if their workplaces have boxes you can take. Most of the boxes we used came from friends who brought them home from work. It saved us so much money and the boxes were in great shape and the perfect sizes.
3. Pack Early.
I know this won’t apply to every situation, but when you start looking for a new home, I recommend you start packing.
Not only is this awesome for showing a house (clutter is the enemy of selling a home) but it will give you a sense of accomplishment in the ever-growing list of to-do’s that come with trying to move/sell a home.
The more you can pack beforehand, the fewer things will get broken or stuffed hurriedly into boxes.
Packing everything but the essentials will help you keep things tidy so you aren’t panicking every time you have a showing.
You will not be the only person moving boxes (hopefully) and not everyone will know in what room you want your collection of ceramics. 😉
When I helped my in-laws move a few years back, I lovingly teased my mom-in-law about how detailed all her labels were. But after helping her move and unpack, I realized just how helpful her organizational skills were. (These labels double as tape!)
And I’m sure you can guess, I adopted her strategy when we moved. Having everything labeled sounds like a no-brainer but I’ve helped people move who just threw things in boxes and they ended up all in one room of their new house and it took forever for them to go through each box one at a time to decide where each one belonged. I may or may not know this from experience, too.
Add another label for the contents of the box. I cannot tell you how helpful this was since we could not unpack our boxes for nearly two months while our home was being remodeled. (Do not list valuables on the labels.)
This is the best moving tip I’ve come across!
My husband thought I was crazy when I started buying rolls upon rolls of plastic wrap before our move, but it wasn’t long into our main packing day and he was asking for one himself.
Plastic wrap is golden. You can use it to wrap your clothes, your silverware holder with silverware inside, anything that has smaller items you don’t want to pack separately. It keeps everything together so you aren’t losing things in the move.
(I bought regular rolls but these are for moving, which I would have purchased had I known they were available.)
Keeping your hanging clothes on hangers and wrapping in sections makes moving bedrooms SO much easier!
Using trash bags frees up precious boxes and acts as a buffer in the moving van when placed between breakable items/furniture. It will also keep things from getting dirty and needing to be rewashed after the move.
These are also great for stuffed animals, curtains, and dog beds.
Label these, too, or you’ll end up with a bunch of bags with holes as you tear into them trying to find things later.
My husband takes after his mother when it comes to organization, so this tip was a time-saver for him.
His cables are always organized and zip-tied, but we found it hard to replicate once we moved.
Having something to reference really comes in handy.
Even though you will arrange things differently in your new kitchen, it will still be helpful to have some pictures of each cabinet. When it was time to unload my boxes, I stood in the middle of my floor drawing a stupid blank at where my dishes should go. The pictures help get your bearings a little.
Especially if you are short on boxes, using what you have on hand not only frees up packing supplies but makes use of wasted space.
But keep logical pieces together. If you are going to fill suitcases, put folded clothes inside or items from the same room you would normally store your suitcases. This way you know what’s inside without having to add labels to suitcases or furniture.
Make sure you pack furniture with items that are light so you aren’t making it harder on the movers trying to move an already heavy piece.
Sheets, towels, plastic wrap; there are so many things in your home that you can use to pack valuables, cushion breakables and store tiny pieces of jewelry or crafts.
But if those things run out or you prefer store-bought supplies, check these out:
There are plenty of things you can borrow from friends that will help cut costs if you are short on items to use.
We started to pack our house as soon as we started looking for a new home. That was probably six months before moving.
Knowing that we would list our house soon, we didn’t want our boxes in the house. So we turned our garage into a storage unit.
It was so nice not living among boxes for months and made staging our home easy with a nearly empty house.
Have walkways between boxes in case you need to get to one.
Just know that no matter how diligent you might be or how carefully you pack things, something will get broken. But the goal is to minimize the risk.
I packed any items I was worried about and loaded them straight into my minivan. This took a lot of stress off not only myself but my friends afraid of damaging something special to me.
Keep valuables with you when you move. It’ll help prevent thefts or items misplaced.
We had some heavy things to move and there were a few times no one else was around to help but me. And I’ll be the first to admit my lifting power leaves much to be desired. These moving straps were a lifesaver!
Not only did they allow me to help my husband lift things I wouldn’t normally be able to lift, but they saved his back from getting strained. They were well worth the extra expense!
Make sure you are using them correctly, that really makes all the difference. I do not have a lot of upper body strength so moving the bands further back towards my elbows gave it the perfect leverage. Push against the object with your palms to steady it and use your legs to lift.
13. Buy totes.
Boxes are only so strong and good for a few moves and often buckle if stacked too high.
But totes are not only great for moving but they double for storage for the things you aren’t planning to unpack (decorations, photos, etc.).
If you are using them for storage, get totes of the same color for different groups. (For example: red totes=Christmas decorations, pink totes=girl’s items, yellow=crafts, etc.)
14. Plan meals.
Meals are the last thing you want to think about when you are exhausted from packing/moving, but they are the one thing you wish you had when mealtimes roll around.
My mom-in-law was so gracious to prepare meals for our family many times when we were working in the new house, packing and moving. It was probably the biggest blessing, right up there with the friends who came to help us move.
If you don’t have friends or family to help with this, you can come up with some easy meals to prepare ahead of time. Then pop them in the oven or crockpot so they’re ready when you need them. This way you aren’t trying to cook when it’s most inconvenient or spending a ton of money on takeout.
Have snacks on hand. When you are busy working all day, you need to keep up your strength. It is easy to overlook this, so having things within reach or easily accessible will be an enormous help.
This is something my husband recommended we do years ago when we bought our first home and it was a game changer. We did the same for our last move and will do so again if we ever have to move again.
This room has always been my kitchen. Before the initial move, we transferred all the items from the old kitchen to the new one and get it completely ready to go. That way I always had one room I could retreat to that wasn’t overrun with boxes.
This did wonders for my anxiety. When the rest of the house was chaotic, I had one room that was completely done. And it also kept me encouraged when unpacking rooms felt daunting.
Along with our fragile items, I also set aside things we would need right away when we moved. I didn’t want to have to dig anything out, and it was so nice to have everything handy.
The last thing I wanted to deal with was spilled liquids inside boxes and trying to deal with soggy cardboard. Since we were just moving a few towns over, it was easier to load them in baskets and straight into my van. Then when we got to the new house, I unloaded them right into their cabinets and I was done.
And if anything spilled, it was super easy to clean up.
If you are moving long distance, use plastic wrap to keep bottles from spilling before boxing up supplies.
When you are taking apart beds or other furniture, the last thing you want to do is lose the essential parts.
Placing all the small pieces into Ziploc bags will keep you from having to go out and buy more. Yes, I am talking from experience.
Label each bag and then tape the bag to a piece of the furniture or keep all the bags together in your tool bag or someplace similar.
Nothing is worse than trying to find something small in a sea of boxes. We still can’t find the remote to our Blu-Ray player that doesn’t work without one. (Who makes electronics that cannot work without a remote?)
Label these, as well.
You can just tape your remotes or cords to their devices.
19. Wrap up jewelry.
I have a jewelry stand that I thought would do fine if I just wrapped the entire thing in plastic wrap. It kept the doors intact, but my jewelry inside was a disaster. I wish I would have taken the time to wrap them better.
You can bag them individually, use plastic wrap or lay them out on a towel and roll it up.
If you pack your boxes too heavy, the weight can cause damage to other boxes or tear open. When you have a bunch of friends helping you move, you will end up with light boxes underneath heavy ones and it will frustrate when you find items destroyed inside. But if you distribute the weight, the boxes will hold up better and the movers will appreciate not having to move crazy heavy boxes.
If you’re worried about certain boxes getting crushed, place those underneath furniture you’ve already packed in the truck.
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About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.