Moving To a New Home? Tips for Packing Efficiently

You have your new place all lined up. It’s bigger than the home you’re in now, and the location can’t be beat. Things are looking up for you and your family as you prepare to quite literally move into a new phase of life.


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There’s only one obstacle in your way: packing. You have a lot of it ahead of you, and unless you can find yourself a real-life Mary Poppins, who I’m sure could make even hard labor fun, it’s probably not something you’re looking forward to. But while there’s really no way to make packing enjoyable, there are more than enough ways to streamline the process and keep it as pain free as possible. Here are our top 10 tips for doing just that.

1. Do a Spring Cleaning

Hold up. Before you even think about putting anything in boxes, it’s time to do a big spring cleaning (yes, even if it’s winter). The less stuff you have to worry about moving, the faster the move will go, and there’s no better way to do that than to cut your household inventory down to all but the most essential items. Here’s a rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn it/used it/fit into it within the last 3 years, give it away. There’s no use in schlepping it to another closet where it’ll just gather dust.

Word of the Wise: As tempting as it may be, it’s best to let each member of the family decide what should come along for the ride. Gentle nudging is fine, but moves are stressful enough without dealing with a lot of drama, so if you encounter resistance (even though your daughter hasn’t played with that toy in about five years!), just let it go.

Also, keep in mind that the furniture you have now won’t necessarily fit in your new digs, and you may want to sell it ahead of time. According to Nate Tarin from Staples Industrial, this is something that often gets lost among other more seemingly pressing tasks. Measuring spaces ahead of time can help prevent unnecessary hassles and costs.

2. Gather Packing Materials

I’m just going to come out and say it here: Get packing materials. Now. As in, the moment you know you’re moving. Doing so will help you start preparing for your move at a much more leisurely pace, rather than scrambling to do such a huge task at the last minute.

If you’re looking to go the super inexpensive (free) route, most grocery and department stores will have old boxes hiding in the back if you just ask an employee. The same thing goes for any friends who have recently moved as well.

That said, for your important items, “It’s important to buy sturdy and tested materials,” says Tarin. “Especially if your moving company or insurance stipulates that you do so as a part of their reimbursement policy for items damaged during the move.”

For example, you’ll definitely want a sturdy corrugated box for books, while a backpack will be fine for clothing. These days you can even buy or rent reusable packing crates, which will help lower the eco-cost of your move. For heavy and fragile items alike, it’s important buy good packing tape, bubble wrap and peanuts. And don’t forget your labels and a thick permanent marker!

3. Pack a Suitcase of Essentials First

Both packing and unpacking can take a while, so make sure to pack at least one suitcase as if you were going on vacation. Toiletries, workout clothes, PJs, every day clothes and shoes are all items you might want to keep handy, as well as anything else that will give you comfort during this stressful time. You also might want to set aside a few pieces of silverware, plates and pots so that you can cook up until your move out date.

Along similar lines, before you start your wider sweep of the house, make sure to pack your most valuable and private documents in a separate box so that you can transport them on your own.

4. Make Your Game Plan

Alright, we’ve danced around it for long enough. Now it’s time to tackle the full scope of your house. Before you dive in, it’s best to develop a strategy. A few good ideas to include:
Going Room by Room. While you may not be able to keep everything ordered in one spot, the more you can cluster your items into similar boxes, the easier it will be to undo them on the other end.
Starting With the Heaviest Items. Heavy items can form the base of your moving pallet.
Packing Similar Items Together. It’s never a good idea to pack a frying pan with glassware, even if it does keep kitchenware together.

As you can see, you’ll probably combine a few of these strategies to construct your overall game plan.

5. Carefully Pack Fragile Items

Fragile items of course deserve special care. Make sure to remove lightbulbs from lamps. Cushion items like glass with bubble wrap and plenty of tape, and keep them to a single layer or placed on top of other soft items, like pillows. Line the bottoms of boxes with brown paper rather than newspaper, which has a tendency to rub off on china.

As you’re packing these items, make sure to snap a quick photo or two so you have them for the insurance should anything happen along the way. And keep in mind that you can always…

6. Use Softer Household Items as Padding

Yes, I know I said to group like things together. But you’ll save yourself a lot of money on packing materials and save space if you wrap fragile items in blankets. Sheets and pillows are also great for padding boxes.

7. Use Miscellaneous Items as Filler

Inevitably, you’ll find yourself stuck with a lot of miscellaneous items you won’t know how to categorize. Put them aside and use them in the later stage of packing as filler, especially if they’re small items, like toys and office supplies.

8. Label Boxes

Of course, labeling your boxes carefully is an absolute must, though there are about as many ways to label as there are people in the world to brainstorm labeling strategies. The simplest method is to label the side and top of a box with a term like, “Kitchen items” and then list the contents off. You can also use a labeler or store-bought labels, but beware that all but the most adhesive labels can be knocked off or damaged during transit, so make sure to go for the highest quality.

Some people like to color code their boxes with stickers, with each color corresponding to a room, while others achieve the same end with numbers. This can make things simpler as you can keep a separate list of items for, say, Purple Box 3, rather than having to write out detailed descriptions on the sides.

9. Make the Most of Mobile Apps

One of the great benefits of moving in the modern age is that you can take full advantage of mobile apps throughout every stage of the move. Apps like One Simple Move will help you stay on top of details and dates, while any of these mobile inventory tools will help you track all of your items on both ends of the move. For the extra savvy, QR codes can be an elegant replacement for a lot of writing on your labels. Just create a code using a QR code generator, print it onto a label, and link that code to a list of items.

10. Break the Task Up

Last but not least, one of the most efficient strategies for packing can actually be breaking the task up. Otherwise, you’re likely to get overwhelmed. For example, putting “Pack Living Room” on your calendar for a Monday a month before the move can be more effective than scheduling, “Pack everything” for the day or even week before the move. Take it one step at a time, and you’re much more likely to actually do it efficiently.

In Short

Packing for a big move can be an intimidating affair, but it doesn’t have to be inefficient and unoragnized. Determine your strategy ahead of time, start making preparations early, and you’ll speed right through that move.

Adria Saracino is a fashion blogger and obsessive home décor pinner. You can check out her Pinterest profile for more interior design inspiration.