Moving to a new home can mean a lot of stress, even when the move is planned months in advance. As the day approaches, you can find dozens of things creeping onto your to-do list. From shutting off the utilities at your old address to turning them on at your new one, you can spend a lot of time on the phone and even more time getting organized. But moving doesn’t have to consume your days. By implementing some great organizational tips and hiring the right professionals, moving can be nearly seamless, and unpacking can be a pleasure, not a pain. Here’s how to take the stress out of your next move:


Key Points

  • 1Start planning your move as early as possible. More time means less rushing.
  • 2Label everything with a room delivery location and a contents inventory.
  • 3Pack travel bags for every family member. Plan as if you were going on a vacation, and make sure every necessity is within easy reach.
  • 4Hire a well-regarded moving company to avoid scheduling mishaps and damaged belongings.

1. Start Early and Budget Your Time

When you know you’re moving and have an idea of your move date, sit down and create a timeline. Making a list of everything you need to accomplish can help avoid a last-minute rush. Here are a few points that should go on your calendar as early as possible.

  • If you’re renting, notify your landlord as soon as possible. Many places require significant advance notice at the end of a lease if you don’t intend to renew it.
  • Packing is a big part of the moving process, so you should put some target dates on your calendar. Estimate the amount of time it will take to pack up each room and add each room to your timeline. Try to hit each self-imposed deadline, and you’ll be in good shape once moving day arrives.
  • Contact utility companies to schedule your service switches.
  • Visit the post office to fill out a change of address card.
  • Contact your insurance companies to make sure you have the right coverage for the move. Coverage may or may not travel with you.

2. Take the Opportunity to Clear Out

Moving offers you the opportunity to review all your possessions and get rid of excess items. Stuff tends to accumulate in basements, attics and closets, but when you’re moving, you don’t need to take everything with you. You can create a donate pile for items you don’t use and won’t need. For example, if you’re moving from a house with a big yard to a condo, you certainly won’t need your landscaping equipment. Take the opportunity to give away or sell the excess items. The less stuff you have on moving day, the less expensive it will be to move, and the easier it will be to unpack when you arrive at your new place.

3. Pack Your Daily Use Items Last

The objects you use every day should be left unpacked until the last possible moment. Phones, tablets, portable electronics, expensive jewelry, medications, keys and other necessities are things you’ll want to keep accessible. These items should travel with you, so don’t leave them for the movers. Each family member should pack a small suitcase with a few changes of clothes and personal items, along with a larger box of the things needed to get through the first couple of days of the move. If you have everything you’d need to get through a week of vacation, you’ll be able to weather the move without too much difficulty as you unpack.

4. Inventory Each Box

As you put things into boxes, record what is going into each one. Unpacking takes time, so you won’t want to search through dozens of boxes to find the one thing you’re looking for. An inventory list makes it easy to prioritize the unpacking and organizing. Avoid writing the inventory directly on the box; markers don’t lend themselves to easy reading or writing in small print. Instead, write your inventory on sheets of paper, insert the pages into plastic sheet covers and tape the covers to the box. If you need to, you can easily slip the inventory sheets in and out to edit them and you’ll be able to see the list of contents with a glance.

5. Label Boxes by Room and Color Code Them

As you pack up each room, write the destination room on the box. This will allow the movers to drop off the appropriate boxes in the coinciding rooms, and you won’t need to shuffle things around or search for too long to find what you are looking for. Color-coded tape or labels are a great way to sort boxes at a glance. If all the boxes with pink tape go in the living room, you can easily find that misplaced box of DVDs.

6. Watch the Weight

When packing boxes, avoid filling them with heavy items such as books or paper. While your movers might be able to lift those boxes, you will probably struggle to move them around once they are unloaded and in your new home. Plus, too much weight could lead the bottom of the box to break, leaving you with a mess to clean up. Don’t make any box too heavy, but be sure to pack each one full. Try to mix in lighter weight materials to cushion the contents.

7. Document Furniture and Item Disassembly

Before you start taking the crib apart or disconnecting the Wi-Fi, take a moment to take a picture. For furniture, check to see if there is an online assembly video for your specific pieces. If not, create your own video-log of the disassembly process and label all the pieces. Having a record of the process makes it much easier to reassemble in your new home. A snapshot of electronic setups can be a boon when trying to hook up a video game system to entertain the kids (or yourself) after a day spent moving.

8. Seal Liquid Containers and Cushion Cosmetics

There’s no need to throw away open containers of dish soap or shampoo. Unscrew the tops, cover the opening with plastic wrap and screw the top back on the bottle. The plastic wrap creates a brand new seal, preventing leaks. A cotton pad on the tops of pressed cosmetics like eye shadow, face powder or blush can prevent the compact contents from breaking up during shipping. Tape the container shut after inserting the cotton to prevent an unexpected opening during shipping.

9. Some Things Are Already Packed

When breaking down the bedroom to start packing, you should take the drawers out of your dresser. But you don’t need to take the clothes out of each drawer. A drawer is like a box that is just missing the top. If you wrap each drawer with plastic wrap or pallet wrap, everything will stay inside. Once the movers arrive with your furniture, you won’t need to worry about having fresh, clean clothing readily available.

10. Hire a Vetted Moving Company

If you have a short move within the same city and nothing too heavy, valuable or breakable, you might prefer to do your own moving. But when you have expensive furniture, art or heavy pieces, it’s probably best to hire a moving company. Before you settle on one, be sure to look at reviews and ask about insurance options. A company with a good reputation and the option to add full-value replacement coverage is a good idea. If something does break during shipping, the insurance pays to replace it, not just repair it.

11. Be Flexible on Dates

While weekend moves can seem like a good idea to avoid taking time off from work, these dates often come with premium price tags from the moving company. Weekdays are in lower demand, so it may be more affordable to plan a Friday moving day and unpack over the weekend. Also, the beginning or middle of the month might be less expensive, since many lease agreements terminate at the end of the month, which means moving company schedules may be busier.

12. Defrost the Fridge

If you’re bringing your appliances along for the ride, plan to eat up as much food as possible before the move date and then call your neighbors and friends to give them whatever is left over. Clear out the fridge of all food at least one day before the move date and unplug it. On the morning of the move, wipe out the interior of the fridge to get rid of any excess moisture.

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