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18 Time and Sanity-Saving Moving Tips

Let’s be honest here. Can we all agree that moving is the absolute worst? The truth is, I really couldn’t tell you exactly how many times I’ve moved in my life, but it’s definitely a lot. For one, I’m from a military family and averaged a new school a year. Plus, in both graduate school and undergrad I moved every year (so that’s another 7 moves). Finally, Zach and I have averaged one move every other year since we were married (extended flip life I guess). SO, all of that to say, I’ve packed more than a few times. I’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years...I haven't really hd a choice! Here are some of the best tips I've found that have kept us sane through the multiple moves over the years.

1. First things first, declutter BEFORE you pack. Spend time to go through your belongings before you officially start the packing process. Get rid of things you don’t use or don’t serve you anymore before you have to spend time packing it up and toting it somewhere new. We actually had boxes that we never opened from the previous move and guess what…all of that stuff was donated so we didn’t have to deal with dragging it to our new house. Be ruthless. The less you have the less you have to pack. Donate or sell items you don’t intend to keep or haven’t touched in months or years. It’s not worth dragging it to your new home only for it to sit unused in a box for another few years.

2. Make a Plan and a Moving Timeline. Once you've decluttered, create a plan to minimize stress and get you to moving day in one piece. The farther ahead you start the process, the less rushed you’ll be. Knowing how much time you have to pack is essential to figure out how much you need to do on a daily basis. You can set goals like packing x number of boxes per day and make checklists for all small details that might be forgotten about in the move (i.e. setting up utilities and completing change of address forms)

3. Gather boxes. Boxes are expensive. Depending on size, they will range in price from $4-10 usually and you will probably need more than you think. Ask friends and family if they have moving boxes you can use. You can also stop by local stores that regularly get larger shipments of items (U haul has a program that allows customers to recycle moving boxes and let other customers reuse them. Plus, places liquor stores usually have perfect boxes because they have to ship such heavy and fragile items). You can also check online on places like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist to get free or cheap boxes. One more thing, this may sound counterintuitive, but lean towards smaller boxes when you can. Yes, you will need large boxes to fit certain items, but for the most part, large boxes are really awkward to carry and may require two people to lift. It’s much easier (and actually more efficient) to have small or medium sized boxes because they can usually be managed by one person.

4. Pack décor and frames first. These are the things that are mostly non-essential and you can typically live without the longest. Take all décor and art down and pack them all together. These things tend to be lower priority when you unpack too so if it is all together you can deal with it when you’re ready. Plus, when all of it is pooled together you have the opportunity to get creative, re-arrange and redecorate by placing different pieces in different spaces.

5. Create an open first box. High up on the list of things you DON’T want to do immediately after move-in is open just about every box in your new home to find essentials like toilet paper, your toothbrush and something to sleep in. Trust me, you will be exhausted and super annoyed at yourself for not planning for this. Think about what you may need on that first night in your new home and plan accordingly. Keep these things with you and do not put them on the truck. This might vary widely depending on family size and needs but ours included the following:

  • Toilet paper and paper towels

  • Cleaning supplies (Clorox wipes, cleaning spray, sponge, gloves, hand soap, etc.)

  • Disposable plates, cups and silverware

  • Coffee making supplies (for that first morning because, lets face it, coffee is essential)

  • Toiletries (i.e. toothbrush and toothpaste, shower supplies, deodorant and other personal items)

  • Towels and one set of linens for each bed

  • Clothes for at least the first night and following day for every person in the family (if you’re doing a longer move then you’d probably want more than one day/night)

  • Any other high priority personal items (i.e. medications)

6. Create a Moving Kit. It helps to have all of your moving supplies in one place for both the packing and unpacking process. That way, you know where to find things and they are easy to access when you need them. We kept this kit with us as well, so we could jump right into unpacking once we arrived. Our moving kit included the following: packing tape, trash bags, packing paper, bubble wrap, scissors, box cutter, stretch wrap, packing labels, marker or pen and a basic tool kit (to assemble/disassemble furniture).

7. Consider Investing in Quality Moving Supplies. If you are DIYing your move, consider purchasing or renting the following items. It will make the process SO much smoother and easier:

  • Furniture Movers – Furniture dollies, hand trucks, moving cards and furniture sliders can be a life (and back) saver if you’re DIYing your move. You can usually rent many of these things from the place you rent your moving truck. We actually purchased them because they’re handy to have around the house, even after moving day.

  • Moving Blankets – to prevent your furniture from getting scratched or damaged in the move. You can also typically rent these from where you get your truck

  • Tie Down Straps – to hold items in place on the truck and prevent them from getting damaged

8. Label boxes on their sides. First of all, labelling boxes in general is crucial so that your items get to the correct room upon unloading (and also so you know what’s in them!). But you won’t be able to see labels on top of the boxes when they are stacked so make sure you label them on at least two sides. I also use label stickers because I’ve been burned more than once by not crossing out an old label on a box, and, if I’m being completely honest, I’m a little bit of an organization freak. I may or may not have also color coded the labels, but you don’t have to go quite that far.

9. When moving in, make your bed first. Sounds counterintuitive right? Generally, the first thing you unpack is not your bedroom. But after a long day of moving when you’re about to collapse into bed, the very last thing you’re going to want to do is make it. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it when you’re exhausted at the end of the day. This rule also includes any kid beds too. Sleeping in a new place can be difficult enough for younger kiddos, you don’t want to be scrounging for sheets and scrambling to put their beds together long past bed time.

10. Tape screws and bolts to the back of furniture. If you have to deconstruct furniture to move it, you want to be sure you don’t lose the pieces for it. Place them in a plastic bag, label them (in case they fall off) and tape them securely to the back of the furniture piece. That way, when you are assembling the furniture in your new place you won’t be digging through boxes or trying to figure out the difference between 50 different screws to find the correct one.

11. Use small kitchen appliances to store smaller kitchen items to save space. Fill your slow cooker with spices or your toaster oven with other smaller kitchen supplies. It will save you a lot of space and help consolidate boxes.

12. Use plastic bags to consolidate small items or drawers. Packing small items from drawers together in Ziploc bags makes unpacking a breeze and the clear plastic will allow you to see exactly what’s in it.

13. Wrap organizing bins before packing. Already have like items (toys, silverware, small kitchen or bathroom supplies, etc.) in storage containers? Just wrap them with plastic wrap and pack. That way, you don’t have to re-organize them when you unpack and they are essentially ready to go.

14. Tape off all items that could spill. There is nothing worse than opening a box to find a random household item has leaked over all of your other belongings. Tape off the lid or place a layer of plastic wrap under the cap to prevent this from happening.

15. Use a trash bag to pack hanging clothes. Buy oversized trash bags and cover your hanging clothes with them to group them together. There is no use taking items off of the hanger, only to have to put them right back on when you arrive at your new home. Safe yourself the time and effort. It will make unpacking a breeze.

16. Use rolling suitcases to pack heavy items. Boxes will tear if the items in them are too heavy. Place things like books in rolling suitcases to make them easier to maneuver for packing and unpacking.

17. Take pictures of the back of your electronics before disassembling. It will make it easier to put them back together at your new home if you don’t have to guess which cord goes where.

18. Keep track of your moving expenses. Some expenses may actually be tax deductible but you have to have the receipts to claim them!

Just moved or have another packing hack that was a lifesaver during your move? I would love to know about it. Leave a comment below!

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My name is Lindsay Walston.

I'm a healthcare provider turned real estate agent with an eye for luxurious details. Let me show you how to create (or find!) a beautiful and functional home, no matter your budget.  Want to learn more?

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