“I just love that glorious feeling when you’re moving into a new house and everything is going smoothly, and you have plenty of boxes and packing materials, and you can’t believe your luck because you haven’t hit a single snag!”
Said nobody, ever.
I haven’t moved a ton, but I’ve moved enough times to know that things never go as smoothly as you hope they will, and it always takes longer than you expect it will. BUT. I’ve also moved enough times to pick up a few neat tricks to make the process slightly less torturous!
#1: Know where to find boxes.
Before you go spend a bunch of money, take advantage of your surroundings. Tons of places give away free packing boxes, including liquor stores, bookstores, and grocery stores. These boxes typically have thick bottoms and are great for supporting heavy loads. They also tend to be the best size for dishes and cookware – big enough to pack a decent load, but small enough that the box isn’t too heavy to pick up. And don’t be afraid to ask smaller local businesses if they have boxes too! A much-deserved shout-out goes to Bliss Boutique, a downtown clothing boutique that filled up my car with 15 huge boxes!
#2: Organize packing supplies.
Gather up everything you’ll need and keep it together in a basket so you don’t have to go looking for a new marker every fifteen minutes. My go-to packing items include: boxes (duh), scissors, heavy duty packing tape, Sharpies, oversized labels, and any useful packing materials like newspaper, towels, tablecloths, foam peanuts, and bubble wrap.
#3: Label absolutely everything.
Self-explanatory. It helps SO MUCH. Don’t leave a single box unlabeled. You might be able to look at a box and know where to put it, but if other people are helping you move, they won’t. When you write a label, include both the contents of the box and the room the box should be taken to in the new house.
#4: Pack non-essentials first.
I have to be honest…I didn’t really follow this rule this time. We had a little over a month between the day our offer was accepted and our closing date when we got the keys, and because I didn’t want to sit in an empty house for a month, I refused to take down any wall decorations until this week (much to Daniel’s chagrin). However! I did pretty well paring down the rest of our stuff and packed away most of the things we don’t use as often. Don’t play the “what if I need it?” game with yourself. Look at the remaining amount of time you’ll be in your current house and make reasonable decisions about what meals you’ll fix, what clothes you’ll wear, and what household items you’ll actually need to use before you move out (like cleaning supplies, clean sheets, etc.) – then pack the rest.
#5: Get rid of stuff.
What’s the point of boxing up and unloading a bunch of stuff that you don’t like or don’t need? Take advantage of the fact that you’re already going through literally everything in your house and get rid of some of the mess. Purge every room; nowhere is off limits. Go through your dishes, your small appliances, your clothes and shoes, your books, your office supplies, your games, your decorations – seriously, everything! Toss something if it’s broken, dirty or stained, or even if you just don’t like it anymore. And don’t forget to allocate a big box for “give away or sell” items.
#6: Make a million lists.
Make a list of bills you pay, mail you receive, services you use, and subscriptions you have so you can change your address for each of them. Make a list of things you’ll need to have readily accessible when you move in so you can pack them separately (toiletries, phone chargers, medications, etc). Make a list of people who have helped you move so you can take them to lunch to say thank you. Make a list of things you’ve already done so you can cross them off and feel better about your life in general.
#7: Pack a suitcase.
Regardless of how short or long your moving process is, you eventually reach the day when you move your bed out and finally spend that first night in your new home. To make the transition easier, pack a separate suitcase with things you’ll need easy access to while you’re unpacking boxes, including shower stuff and a few changes of clothes. Pretend like you’re staying at a friend’s house for a few days – what would you need to pack? Along with your suitcase, pack a bag with clean sheets, pillows, and blankets so you can make your bed as soon as it is assembled in the new house.
#8: Leave room for grace.
I stole this lovely phrase from my friends over at The Unedited Movement, and it’s worth repeating over and over again. If you run out of boxes or bubble wrap, it’ll be okay. If something breaks, it’ll be okay. If you have to keep a giant refrigerator in your laundry room for a month before you move, it’ll be okay. Leave room for grace. Our lives aren’t perfect, but God can handle all the messy details, including the chaos that is moving. Take a deep breath, and then let it out and keep moving forward.
In addition to my own ideas, I got some fantastic suggestions from a few readers that deserve to be shared too:
From Christina (Life With C-Bev): “Don’t take your clothes off hangers…just put a slit in the top of a trash bag and pull the bag over 20ish clothes at a time. Then when you get to unpacking…all you have to do is rip the trash bag off and hang up the clothes already on the hangers.”
From Susan: “Pack one box (or laundry basket) with things you will need first, or may even need while you are moving: toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, a shower curtain, cleaning supplies, hand soap, trash bags, a small first aid kit. Also, pack an overnight bag with sleepwear, two changes of clothes, and basic toiletries. That will save you rummaging around trying to find your clothes when you are tired and haven’t unpacked yet. And, don’t forget a couple of bath towels!”
From Dianna: “Label,label,label. Try to have an idea of where you want things to go before moving in. Breakables= over wrapping. Make sure you and Daniel are on the same page of the moving plan. Unpacking bathroom and bedroom and then kitchen. My kitchen is almost always last since I like bathroom and bedroom essentials first. You have toiletries and bedding. I don’t know if you are moving with lots of help or no help, however, I would still do it the same way. My heirloom pieces I do myself. If something breaks then your helpers aren’t devastated they broke something that can’t be replaced. Dolly’s are an important tool(if you have one). Extra blankets or towels for protecting furniture. I could write you a book. hope this helps.”
From Jacklyn: “Dollar stores tend to always have a rack outside of their broken down, sturdy boxes, with a variety of sizes. Since they are broken down, it makes it easier to get home with & place some in each room to be packed w/out taking up a lot of space. You could also have an ice chest packed with water & sandwiches/snacks etc.. That way no one has to stop to take food or drink orders & have to leave or come up w $$ for a delivery. This way everyone can eat & have something to drink whenever they need to. This would be especially good for any diabetics helping out.”
From Nicole: “The best places to get boxes are liquor stores. The boxes are sturdy and have removable dividers inside. And they always have an abundance. Second, grocery stores on their load days. Find out when those are and ask them ahead of time to save them for you and pick them up before noon. Also, local newspaper printing places have their leftover ends of roles of printing paper for sale for cheap. It’s the best way to go for packing paper! Oh, and always remember what box you packed your silverware and salt and pepper in. And buy new toilet seats.“
From Jessica: “Don’t bother packing up clothes from your dresser. Just remove the drawers and load the dressers in the truck, then out the drawers back in. You may want something to cover your intimates drawer though. :) Make sure you bring a grocery bag with hand towels, hand soap, toilet paper and a plunger. You will need all of these. It’s a good idea to make this the first thing you add to your new house. My big job is always making sure I know where the bedsheets, covers and pillows are. We usually agree on a bed frame placement before we move things, so it’s the first thing that gets out together. When you’re exhausted and know that you have to unpack the kitchen tomorrow, nothing beats flopping into your already-made bed. We move a lot.”
From Hannah: “Label everything!! The room and what is in the box. It will make it easier to find the essentials when unpacking. Also, when unloading try to put the boxes in the rooms that the stuff will be unpacked and put away/displayed in.“
From KyLeigh: “I would suggest taking the time to go through and get rid of stuff while packing up! This ensures less clutter and time spent doing it in your new home! I would also suggest loading the kitchen stuff last and unloading it first.If you have enough help when unloading I always suggest to start unpacking the kitchen while people continue to unload boxes and bring them in. That’s less bodies in the way and the easiest place to know where you want to put things! You can usually be about done unboxing the kitchen by the time everything else is in and you’re already 1 room down and it tends to be a good amount of your boxes that are out of your way! Lastly, I also suggest labeling every box on at least 2 sides and the top with what’s in it and what room it goes in at the new house! That way whoever is helping doesn’t have to ask a million times “Where do you want this box to go?” Good luck! Moving isn’t easy, but a little bit of organization goes a long way!”
From Rebekah: “IPOD -have techno or energetic music going even if on low…I believe it magically gets everything moving quicker.”
From Christi (Christi Gulley Custom Floral): “Wardrobe boxes and lots of them…they are the best. Also, use that cellophane on a roll stuff to bind up drawers and doors on armores etc…you literally do not have to box all of your stuff in your drawers…just remove drawers and wrap them with the plastic wrap and load up the drawers…make sense? We even left our silverware right in the caddy…just wrapped it up and stuck it in a box. also, i did purge and organize our office supplies (which were already in little organizer caddies, but then we just wrapped them right up too…so much easy.”
From Cindy: “Pack clean sheets, towels, bath soap in your dirty clothes hamper or laundry basket…that way no matter how tired you are at the end of the day you can take a shower, make the bed, and go to sleep. Everything is better in the morning. Label boxes with the room and 1,2,3. 1 needs to open first to be able to function, 2 would be nice to open this week, 3 is decorative or just needs to be stored.”
I also love this 8-week comprehensive list from Good Housekeeping – wish I had found it 8 weeks ago!
I’m so ready to be done with the whole moving/cleaning part – but I’ve been a BIG fan of the unpacking part. I love starting fresh in a new place. And I’m so thankful that we’ll be moved in just in time for the holidays.
Have a happy day – I’m off to unpack more boxes!