Moving is typically a double-edged sword. It’s exciting to start a new chapter in your life, but packing up all your stuff — not to mention unpacking everything at your new place — is typically a stressful process. Before you start emptying out rooms, you may want to take to the time to create a good packing system. This will make the move easier from start to finish.
Gather Your Boxes and Packing Tools
Whether you’re getting your boxes from local grocery and retail stores or from an actual hardware store or moving company, you’ll want to be sure to get a variety of sizes. Big boxes are good for lightweight items, but heavier things make the boxes difficult to move and increase the risk of the bottoms falling out, so remember to pack the heaviest items in the smallest possible boxes. Get many more boxes than you think you’ll need, and check for retailers’ return policies every time you purchase boxes. Carve handles into the sides of medium and large-sized boxes with a utility knife to make carrying them much easier.
Buy a lot of tape and a tape gun to speed up the packing process. Have plenty of newspaper on hand for packing, as well as bubble wrap for the most fragile items. Different color tapes make it easy to identify what goes in each room, but you should also write the name of the destination room on the ends and sides of each box for extra clarity.
Put one person in charge of logging each box and its contents on a clipboard. If you or a member of your moving party is tech-savvy, skip the clipboard and create a spreadsheet on a tablet to keep track of your belongings and easily locate specific items with a quick search.
1. Instead of packing your towels, washcloths, bed linens, pillows, and socks in their own big boxes, use them as extra cushioning. Towels are especially good for wrapping casserole dishes, bowls, and cups. Gently stuff tube-style and other long, heavy socks with glasses and stemware for extra protection before wrapping them in bubble wrap. Pillows make good protective packing material for lamps and other fragile items.
2. When possible, use clean trash bins, large decorative baskets, suitcases, and laundry baskets in lieu of traditional cardboard boxes. Not only will you be using space wisely, but these items are also much easier to carry than conventional angular boxes.
3. Instead of merely stacking your pots and pans inside a box, consider filling them with small items such as spices and canned foods, protecting the fragile items with clean dish towels, and using rubber bands to secure the lids on the pots. Inverting the pot lids before securing them makes stacking easier and keeps the contents from moving around during transport.
4. Always stack plates and saucers vertically in boxes. Using a dish rack makes this simpler, and placing styrofoam plates between each piece adds extra protection against breaks, cracks, and chips.
5. Avoid extra packing and unpacking when possible. For example, leave your silverware in the plastic drawer organizer and simply cover it with plastic wrap. It’s ready to rest in its new location as-is, after all. Leave pantry items and dry goods in canisters and jars and secure their lids with tapes and rubber bands. Pack knives in oven mitts to protect them and avoid accidents.
6. Pack bulky items like coats, formal wear, comforters, blankets, large bath towels, and throws in jumbo vacuum-sealed space bags to take full advantage of storage space and cut down the number of boxes you’ll need. Cover clothes on hangers with large garbage bags (10 or 20 items per bag) and secure them with twist closures for protection and easy carrying.
7. Pack necklaces, bracelets, rings, and small hair accessories in egg cartons to keep them from getting tangled during transport.
8. Before packing TVs and electronic devices in boxes, take pictures of their back wire setups to make reconnecting them later on a total breeze. String the wires through paper towel rolls to prevent tangling.
9. When you take apart furniture and decorative accessories, place all their hardware, screws, and nuts in ziplock plastic bags, label them, and attach them to their corresponding items. Alternatively, you can store all the individually packaged hardware in one small, well-marked box.
10. Finish all packing before moving day, including wall hangings and framed photos. Try to keep your wall art divided by room for easier distribution and fewer trips to different parts of your new place when unpacking gets underway.
Like many of the necessary chores in life, moving is all in the planning and execution. And let’s not for get the biggest benefit of moving: you’ll probably decide to get rid of a lot of stuff you once thought you couldn’t live without. Donate, sell, or trash the leftovers of your old life to make room for new memorabilia.