There’s not much that’s fun about the actual act of moving, but these last-minute tips and tricks can make packing up and transporting your belongings a lot easier.
Buy All of the Packing Essentials Before You Start
You’re going to need boxes, packing paper (newspaper leaves a residue), bubble wrap/tissue paper, colored painters tape, packing tape, broad-tipped markers, scissors, and a notebook and pen. Even if you’re hiring a professional mover to do most of the heavy lifting, you’ll still want to get organized and track what goes where.
Get Free Boxes
Check the Craigslist free section, or go the grocery or liquor store. If you strike out there, consider renting reusable plastic moving boxes, which don’t require assembly or tape and are much better for the environment.
Repack Old Boxes
If the boxes that have been living in your garage, attic, or basement (usually holding things like holiday decorations, old photographs, etc.) are torn, appear weak, or won’t close, then you’ll need to repack them so they don’t fall apart in transit.
Fill Boxes Up All of the Way
If you can hear things rattling, the box needs to be filled either with clothing, linens, or packing paper. Boxes that aren’t full will get crushed and the items inside can get damaged—and because of that most movers actually won’t move them.
Label Boxes on the Top and on Three Sides
That way if the boxes are stacked, you’ll still be able to figure out what’s inside the box without having to move any other boxes. Don’t forget to also mark “fragile” or “this side up” if applicable.
Give Every Box a Number
Then create a list that says what’s inside of it. It’ll help you stay organized, you’ll know right away if a box is missing, and you won’t be advertising what’s inside the box.
Color Code Your Boxes
Assign each room a color and then use different color PVC tape or sharpies to label the top of the box (and three sides), so that it’s easy for you and the movers to know which boxes go where.
Use the Correct Size Boxes
Books are heavy, so they need to go in small boxes. Lighter items, like linens and towels go in bigger boxes.
Use Suitcases, Baskets, Trunks, Etc.
If it is an item designed to hold things, then put it to work and fill it up.
Use Suitcases for the Heaviest Items
The handles wheels will make transporting those items so much easier.
Pack Similar Items Together
You may be tempted to fill a half-full kitchen box with winter sweaters, but it will only make unpacking that much more of a chore.
Pack Plates Vertically
Plates and bowls should individually wrapped and then loaded on their side, so they don’t break.
Put Sharp Knives Inside Oven Mitts
That way when you stick your hand inside a box when you’re unpacking, you won’t cut yourself.
Build Up Layers
The heaviest stuff goes at the bottom of the box and the lightest on top.
Pack Lamps and Lampshades Separately
Lamps should be packed in “dish” boxes. Remove the light bulb and the harp and pack those separately. In addition, lampshades should be nested separated by packing paper (not newspaper), but don’t use too much as they dent easily.
Put Clothing Inside a Trash Bag
Even if you’re using a wardrobe box, sliding a trash bag over your clothing while it’s still hanging in the closet is a great way to keep everything together and making unpack easier.
Take Photos of All of Your Furniture
It’s the only way to prove if something was damaged during the move.
Tape an “X” on Mirrors
That will keep them from shattering if dropped and could save the frame. Also make sure when mirrors go on the moving truck, they’re placed on their side with nothing stacked on top.
Use Plastic Wrap to Keep Toiletries from Leaking
Put plastic wrap over the opening and then screw the cap back on.
Use Sandwich Bags to Keep Parts Together
Put screws and parts in a sandwich bag, label it, and then tape it to the corresponding item.
Wind and Fasten Electrical Cords
If the cord can be removed from the device, do so, but then wind it up and tape it to the electronic device, so that you aren’t searching for it later.
Take Photos of Electronics
…Before you disassemble them.
Hire a Pet/Babysitter for the Day of the Move
A house with open doors and lots of people moving heavy objects isn’t a very safe environment for animals or kids.
Pack the Toolbox Last
You’ll probably need it up until the very end of getting the truck loaded and will likely need it right away in your new home.
Pack an “Open First” Box
It’s a great idea to make this a clear plastic bin, so that you can truly keep an eye on it and make sure it’s the last box on the truck and the first box off. This box should contain everything you’ll need your first night in your new home, including sheets, pillows, shower liner/hooks, and a few plates, cups, and utensils.
Pack an Overnight Bag
This should include a change of clothes, pajamas, toiletries, prescriptions, chargers, and anything else you’re going to need before you can start unpacking. It should also include any valuables or important documents, even if you won’t need them that first day/night.
Create a “Doesn’t Go on the Truck” Zone
Anything you’ll be taking to your new home yourself or need while you’re loading up the moving truck should go in this zone. That includes your overnight bag, pet food and bowls, snacks, water bottles, etc.
Clean Your New Home Before You Move In
You don’t want to move boxes into a dirty house. Scrub and dust everything ahead of time, if you can, and also hang your shower curtains, and stock toilet paper, garbage bags, and paper towels. Need help? Hire a move-in cleaner to handle it.
Fill Out a Change of Address
Do this two weeks before you actually move. You need to do this with USPS, but also your credit cards, online shopping sites, bank, magazine subscriptions, and anyone else who needs your address.
Don’t try to cook or even go out to eat your first night in your new place. You’ll be too exhausted. Order pizza and just relax! (But don’t forget to ask for paper plates and lots of napkins.)