Every year, about 35 million people move in the U.S. Some relocate to better housing or to accept a job offer, while others move for family-related reasons. Whatever the motivation, relocating can be one of the most stressful events we endure—even more stressful than a breakup for some. If you’re planning a move, it’s worth taking some time to do it right.
An efficient move all comes down to planning. “The biggest mistake someone can make leading up to their move is failing to be prepared,” said Erik Sargent of Two Men and a Truck based in Lansing, Mich. Here are packing and moving tips that can help make your next move more efficient and less stressful:
Packing and moving tips
The way you pack the house sets the tone for the entire move. Throwing odds and ends into random boxes last minute is something you’ll regret when it’s time to unpack. Instead, follow these tips the next time you move:
Packing tips for moving
- Schedule the movers or rental truck sooner than later. Once you’re clear on the moving date, schedule movers or a truck right away. Scheduling well in advance makes it easier to reserve the time that works best for you. Shop around with multiple movers to compare costs, and watch out for moving scams. Look for reputable companies, ask them to come out for an estimate and be wary of anyone who asks you for cash upfront before the move.
- Declutter your home. Before putting anything into a box, decide what you will and won’t need at the new place. Movers often charge by weight so packing less will save you money. Ben Soreff, a professional organizer based in Fairfield, Conn., recommends splitting your belongings into two main categories—items difficult to replace and items easy to replace. Plan to pack irreplaceable items such as sentimental pieces, family heirlooms and high-quality furniture. Consider discarding, selling or donating unwanted clothes, old furniture, books or outdated electronics.
- Swap big boxes for medium-sized ones. Remember that a person (possibly you) has to carry each box. Items can get thrown around and crushed in a large box. Medium boxes, particularly banker boxes, are lighter and can be carried up stairs and stacked one on top of another, said Soreff. The more efficiently you pack, the easier it will be for you or the movers to load the truck and move boxes into your new home.
- Pack unused rooms early. First, focus on packing rooms and items you’re not currently using so you can start packing sooner. The guest room and holiday decorations are a good place to start. Put packed boxes in one room, ideally one that has an exit way such as the garage or a walkout basement.
- Plan how you’ll move the awkward items. Remember to consider the decor when organizing your packing “to do” list. Items like hanging art, plants, rugs and lamps can get overlooked and then haphazardly thrown into the truck leading to property damage.
- Label boxes on the side. Label each box according to the room it belongs in so it’s clear where the box needs to go when it’s delivered to the new house. Write the label on the side of the box so it’s visible when boxes are stacked together.
- Plan to keep the momentum. Often people pack with a lot of energy in the beginning, but the momentum wanes and boxes get thrown together at the end, said Soreff. Start packing early so you can keep up a steady pace until moving day.
Tips for moving out
- Load the truck room by room. Put boxes going to the same room in the same area of the truck if possible. If you’re moving with a rental truck, consider investing in a dolly or furniture moving strap to help you with the heavier pieces. You may be able to get these moving supplies from your truck rental company.
- Enlist help when you need it. Don’t try to do all of it on your own. If you need help lifting items into the truck, call friends to help or hire an extra hand. Otherwise, you could hurt yourself.
- Stack the truck by weight. Stack boxes by appropriate weight with the heaviest items on the bottom, said Sargent. This way you can avoid having your favorite vase crushed under the weight of your encyclopedia collection. Pack the truck floor to ceiling from back to front to maximize space.
- Use moving pads for furniture. Moving pads help protect your furniture. The moving company should provide these if you hire professional movers. If you’re doing the move on your own, you can find moving pads on Amazon, Home Depot or Walmart.
- Tie everything down tight. Secure everything with moving straps and bungee cords. Strapping your items down will limit movement during the ride. Again, professional movers will take care of strapping down items if you hire them. If you’re doing a DIY move, you can find straps and bungee cords at most big box stores.
- Keep your essentials with you. Pack a bag with your phone, tablet, medications and other important items to keep with you in the car. You don’t want to lose things you need in a truck full of boxes.
What to do now that you’ve moved
You’ve arrived at the new place—what next?
The best way to attack a house full of boxes is with a plan. Don’t start unpacking until you know exactly where everything belongs. Don’t pull out your fine china until you’ve set up your china cabinet, for example. Instead, make sure you’ve chosen a home for pots, pans, glassware and dinnerware so they don’t end up gathering dust on every kitchen surface.
Figure out what you’ll do with the boxes before too many pile up. Some moving companies will take the boxes with them. If not, think about where you can recycle them or choose a cool, dry place in the house to store them. Boxes kept in a damp area can turn into a moldy mess.
Lastly, stay committed until you finish the job. It’s not uncommon, said Soreff, to help clients with home organization who have unpacked boxes from many moves ago. Unpacked boxes cause clutter and can make you feel unsettled in the home. The time you invest upfront to set up the new place will pay off when you’re able to enjoy the space.
Moving to live close to family or to accept a job offer is exciting. Planning out the logistics is less enticing and could make you question the decision to move entirely. Use these tips for moving out to help things go smoothly.
Start packing early using evenings and weekends to get the job done little by little. Stay organized and resist the urge to throw random items into boxes because it can lead to chaos at the new house. Packing and moving is stressful no matter what, but with proper planning it can be managed.