So you’ve finally found your dream home, and you can’t contain your excitement: a new city, a new house and the start of a new chapter. But one thing stands in your way — well, every single thing that you own, actually.
Between the rooms to clean, the clothes to fold and the boxes to pack, you have quite a bit of chaos to sort through. But with the right priorities on your to-do list (and the right tips for moving), you can be organized, packed and loaded on that moving truck in no time.
Have a Plan of Action
How many days do you have until you move out of your home? When will you hold a garage sale to get rid of some of your belongings? What about moving some of your things to a nearby storage unit? And changing the address for your mail, credit cards and utilities? Plan an organized move with a moving checklist:
Two months before: Sort and purge through your belongings, investigate moving companies and create a moving binder. This will allow you to keep track of everything – your estimates, receipts and inventory. If you’re having a garage sale, plan three to four weeks in advance.
Six weeks before: Order your moving supplies (boxes, bubble wrap, etc.) and take measurements of your new home (if possible) to make sure larger pieces of furniture will fit through the door.
One month before: At this stage, go to your local post office to fill out a change-of-address form or fill one out online. Begin packing the things you use most infrequently and note items that may require additional insurance. Clearly label boxes with their contents and rooms they’re destined for.
One week before: Take your car to a mechanic for a tune up in case you’ll need special services before moving. Remove the contents of your safe-deposit box and contact the moving company to reconfirm arrangements. Pack your suitcases with enough clothes to wear for a few days.
Moving day: Clean and defrost the freezer before leaving. Verify the time the moving truck will arrive. Take a final inventory of your belongings and pack your moving truck and vehicle.
Have less than two months to plan your move? Take into consideration how long you have, and plan accordingly. Make lists, schedule important dates in your calendar and save yourself the hassle of waiting until the last minute.
Sort it Out: Keep, Sell or Toss Your Belongings
Sound familiar? Remember: the key to a successful move is bringing only what you absolutely need – not those boots you never wear, those board games collecting dust in your closet or that bike that’s been sitting in your garage ever since you can remember.
“Getting rid of the clutter is the first thing the real estate agents will ask you to do before listing your current property,” notes Kate Altieri, professional organizer and client services manager for Organizing Boston. “Schedule pickups from charities well ahead of time and notify friends and family if there is any furniture you are giving up. You can also use a furniture consignment shop for pieces that are not making the move.”
Take a look at your furniture, clothes, appliances and recreational belongings and decide what you can realistically afford to keep versus what needs to go. Will you keep, sell or toss it? Here are a few ideas to simplify what comes with you on the big move:
Share the love. Give some of your belongings away to family and friends who will appreciate (and use!) what you no longer need.
Donate. Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Check with some local charities and see what products or belongings you have that just might help someone in need.
Toss it out. Consider this move as a fresh start: a start to a simple, clean and organized home. In order to get there, you need to take advantage of the ultimate decluttering opportunity. And the plus side? The less you bring, the less you need to unpack.
Sell it. Why not earn some cash for items you no longer need? Sell your furniture and larger items you won’t be taking with you on Craigslist. Gazelle is also a great option for selling your old electronics. If you’re looking for a time-saver, a service called Fulfilled by Amazon will even let you drop ship your stuff to Amazon, who then lists it on their product pages and ships out the items for you.
Store it. If you find that you don’t have all of the necessary space for your belongings in your new home, don’t settle for clutter. Rent a self storage unit for the things you don’t use too often — or don’t need at all. Free up that spare bedroom and hall closet by storing out-of season clothes and jackets.
Invest in (Lots of) Boxes and Packing Supplies
If there’s one thing you need to plan for, it’s moving boxes — and you’re going to need a ton of them.
“Get boxes in assorted sizes,” suggests Maria Gracia, professional organizer, founder of Get Organized Now™ and author of Finally Organized, Finally Free for the Home. “Be sure they’re clean, in good condition and have covers so they can be closed and sealed.”
Wardrobe boxes are ideal for bulky, lightweight items like comforters, blankets and clothes that you don’t want to fold. Remember: avoid using boxes from the grocery or liquor store that may have been exposed to open food or beverage. The last thing you want is odor, wear and tear, or critters in your moving boxes.
You should obtain these essential supplies before you start packing:
- Small, large and medium-sized moving boxes
- Bubble wrap
- Permanent markers and labels
- Box sealing tape
- Foam and inflatable bags
- Box cutters
To make sure you have everything you need when you arrive, keep an inventory list of each box and its contents. This will be especially necessary if a box goes missing and you need to make a claim. When packing items into boxes, make sure you have a method to the madness:
Use the right size boxes. Place heavy items like books, in small boxes, and lighter items in larger boxers (this makes it easy for movers to organize and pack boxes into the moving truck). Be sure to pack heavier items on the bottom and lighter items on the top to avoid damaging breakables.
Don’t leave empty spaces in boxes. Fill in any gaps with packing paper, clothing or foam peanuts to prevent items shifting around during the move.
Tape boxes well. Use tape to close the bottom and top seams and around the edges where stress is concentrated.
Bundle the breakables. For any fragile item you pack, use plenty of bunched-up paper and padding. Never place these items in boxes freely without some extra cushion.
Space-saving tip:Think about how you can repurpose things you have — like hampers, suitcases and laundry bins for storing some of your clothes and household items. To help take up as little space as possible, use vacuum sealing for your clothes.
“For items that take up a lot of room, such as bedding and clothes, vacuum storage bags are the perfect solution for fitting more into a tight space,” notes Diane Schmidt, moving expert and published author. “They’re fairly inexpensive and can shrink bulky items down to a small size that will fit into cubby holes and between boxes in the back of your car or overhead carrier.”
As you begin to organize and pack your things, clearly label your moving boxes with the contents of the box. This will help you and your movers know where every box belongs in your new place. Numbering each box and keeping an inventory list in a small notebook is a good way to keep track of what you’ve packed―and to make sure you still have everything when you unpack.
Plan out how – and where – you’ll unpack your belongings. Place the labels on both sides of the boxes so you can see what’s inside no matter how you stack them.
Buy tape and markers, custom labels or blank stickers to designate color and room. The extra steps now will save you time and hassle later.
Consider Items That May Need Special Treatment
Some of your products need some special attention during the packing stage.
Liquid products: Unscrew the tops off of shampoos, gels and hairsprays and place plastic wrap between the bottle and the cap to prevent leaks and spills on your potentially bumpy ride.
Fragile furniture:When possible, dismantle furniture (remove legs from tables and couches and take bed frames apart). This will make furniture easier to move and help prevent damage caused by brushing up against walls or door frames. Wrap blankets around corners and edges of furniture to avoid scratches and marks.
Jewelry:Avoid knotted, tangled and broken jewelry by taking extra care of these items. Place your necklaces through straws to keep the chain from tangling, or place in a small towel and roll it up. Use a plastic pill case to organize and transport your extra small jewelry like rings and earrings.
Breakables: As you pack dishes, put packing paper around each one and wrap bundles of five together with more paper. As you place these into a box, place them on their sides (never flat). Cups and bowls can be placed inside one another with paper in between. Look into dish-barrel boxes to take extra care of these fragile items. Looking to save room? Wrap dishware on shirts or other clothing to save on bubble wrap (and pack multiple items at once).
Load the Moving Truck Like a Pro
As you load the moving truck, be strategic in everything you do.
As you’re packing your moving truck, you have three goals: to maximize the space given to you, to protect your valuable items and to restrict the movement of items in the vehicle as much as possible:
- Load large items first to ensure that you have enough space to move around while loading.
- Distribute weight evenly so the truck is easy to control while driving. For example, do not load all of your heavy furniture on the left side of the moving truck.
- Use packing straps throughout the process to keep items (and breakables) safe and secure.
- For the inside of boxes, use newspaper and foam peanuts to fill space and protect fragile item. Outside of boxes, use towels and comforters to offer some extra cushion and prevent items from sliding around.