10 smart packing tips to make moving a breeze

Thursday, August 03, 2017

I was going to post a little bit about unpacking but realized if you pack well, it makes unpacking a lot easier! Maybe I'll write more on unpacking tomorrow.

Don't bring anything into your new home that you don't want, need or use. 

I wrote about decluttering last week on the blog – here are 5 things you can throw out right now – and I encourage anyone going through a move to take the time to declutter every area of their life. Some people swear by the konmarie method, and I like some of the techniques: Throw out everything that doesn't bring you joy. Turn decluttering into a one-day event, not an activity you take a little bite out of every day. 

Basically, you need to leave your apartment/home/dorm with the same amount of stuff or less stuff than you came with (unless you came with absolutely nothing), and don't bring something with you to a new home with the thought, "Oh, I'll just get rid of it when I get there." No, you won't. You'll stuff it in a closet and forget to deal with it until the next time you move.

Be clear with the members of your household on who will "get" what room and whose things will go where.
I think Pat was going to kill me, but it is really important to decide where things will go before you move. Don't start arguing about who gets what room when you get there – decide now! I asked every apartment complex we looked at for a floorplan, and then when we decided on our current complex, I sat down with Patrick and decided whose dresser would go where (my dresser and clothes go in the master bedroom and master closet, which has more hanging space, and the gentleman's chest and Patrick's clothes go in the guest bedroom and guest closet, which has more shelving). 

I also decided whose decor would go where – Pat's sports things will go in the dining room, the living room and bedroom will be neutral, and my decor will go in the guest room, which is my office. 

I don't know how Pat hasn't killed me yet.

Pack by room and item.

It's really easy to start packing up anything you aren't using into one box, but I recommend organizing your items by room and item, always, always, always. And when I say room, I mean room that the items will go in when you get to your new home, not where they were located when you packed them. It was superbly frustrating for me this time around when I realized that I had (stupidly) packed the books that I kept in the living room in the same box as Pat's XBox games and my office supplies. It was really impractical, and I had to carry things all across the apartment to get them where they needed to go. That makes me less likely to unpack!

We had a lot of big boxes and containers, so I combined more things together than I usually would, but I prefer medium-sized Uhaul boxes so that you can keep separate things separate.

Use reusable storage containers whenever possible.

I was hoping to use as few cardboard boxes as possible. We ended up using more than I'd like, but that's OK. They're sturdier, easier to carry and keep things a little safer if you have to keep things in storage for a while before or after you move in.

If you end up using cardboard boxes, store them if they're in OK shape. I know grabbing used boxes from a grocery store is free and easy, but Uhaul or Lowe's or Home Depot packing boxes will hold up for a couple of moves, while the boxes you get for free likely will not. Store them if you have the space for the next move, if you see yourself having another move, or list them on the Facebook Marketplace – someone else who is moving will appreciate it, and the boxes will get used again before they're tossed out.

Label everything clearly, and number your boxes, too. 

I labeled everything with a pink sticky note (that I taped onto the box). That sticky note had three things on it: 1) the room where the box should go, 2) a general summary of what was in the box and 3) a number. 

I number every single box, bag, suitcase, etc. so that I know if anything has gone missing. When I make larger scale moves, I also make a spreadsheet with a detailed description of everything in each box, by the number. That way, if I get to my new home and I desperately need Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, for whatever reason, I know where it is. This last move, I didn't need to do that, but I didn't want to lose any boxes in the shuffle.

Pack your clothes on hangers, if space permits.

If you have the space and the boxes, this just saves you five thousand hours of re-hanging clothes when you get to your new home. When we unpacked, the clothes were the easiest – I could reach in, grab the hangers and hang them right up. Uhaul even makes hanging boxes now that are total game-changers. We used them for Pat's dress clothes – no wrinkles, no damaged clothes and no hours on hours on hours of hanging everything back up.

To make this even easier for you, organize the clothes you pack by who they belong to, season and style, and then label the boxes accordingly. That way, when you need a shirt for work, you aren't digging through winter coats to find one. 

A friend of mine, Samantha, wrapped her clothes on the hangers in garbage bags – she was moving just across town – and when she unpacked them, she could reuse the garbage bags for the thousands of pounds of moving trash. Smart and thrifty! 

Have a "go box" of things you'll need right away in your new home.

This should include a set of clothes or two, first aid kit, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, towels and washcloths for the shower, toiletries, pet supplies, medicines, etc. What can you not live without on your first night in your new home, if you are totally not in the mood to unpack? I also recommend throwing some snacks in there! What if you're too tired to grab food and you have no groceries?! 

We were foolish. We did not grab toilet paper! I got to the apartment about 8 hours before everyone else and spent those 8 hours without toilet paper! 

Avoid buying new things and bringing them with you to the new place. 

Unpack what you have and then decide what new things you need or want. The most frustrating thing is to buy something new for your new apartment and not have a place to put it or decide that it doesn't work with the room. We bought the larger furniture before we moved in, but smaller things like frames for the walls, a desk and a chair for the guest room, etc. I waited on. I'm also adamant that you shouldn't buy storage and organizational tools until you're moved in and unpack – that's how you end up with more storage than you have belongings.

Instead of figuring out how to pack baskets, suitcases, duffle bags, use them for packing.

Why pack a suitcase in a box when you can fill the suitcase with things that need packing? We have several suitcases and duffle bags that we use regularly, and I filled them all up with clothes, socks, underwear, etc. One of my carryon suitcases was full of office supplies and other things I would need in my office. If you have an item whose purpose is to carry things, use it for that. Not everything needs to be in a box! 

Load boxes from the same room together onto the truck.

When you're packing boxes, keep boxes from the same room together and make sure your movers or your boyfriend (let's be honest, you're probably not carrying many boxes yourself, because you're too busy organizing the process!) know to keep them together. If it's helpful, color code boxes so you can ensure they stay together. 

This way, when they come off the truck, it will be easier to make sure they make it to the right room and it will make the process far easier for you and the movers. 


What did I miss? I am a master packer, if I do say so myself, and packed almost everything from our Charlotte apartment while Patrick was working during our last week. I almost enjoy it! Almost. Now, unpacking... that's a different story.

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