Let’s be honest, no one likes moving! It’s a lot of work and stress. Even when you’re FINALLY done prepping, packing, and cleaning for a move, the stress doesn’t end there. You still have to clean, unpack, and get organized in your new home! After 7 years in our rental, we just moved into our new place and it’s been chaotic! But thanks to all of the awesome moving and packing tips and advice I received, it was nowhere near as bad as I expected. Based on what we experienced, I compiled my top moving and packing tips to take the stress out of moving!
Before You Start Packing
Purge, Purge, Purge
Seriously, make sure you go through and purge your belongings before you even start packing (and continue to purge during the packing process). I may not have fully bought into the Life-Changing Joy of Tidying Up, but I do know, that getting to a new house and opening boxes of random junk, would not bring me joy. Thankfully, I was ruthless and got rid of so much useless stuff we no longer needed, by sorting it into five piles:
- Pack now (things that can be packed up well before the move)
- Pack later (things you want to keep out until right before moving day)
- Throw Away
Forward Your Mail And Forget About It!
Moving is a stressful time, don’t make it more stressful than necessary, by dealing with a change of addresses just before you move. Depending on where in the world you are, most national postal carriers including USPS, Royal Mail, and An Post, offer a mail forwarding service, so as long as you organize to forward your mail, it will all make it to your new house. Once you’re settled you can deal with updating your new address everywhere.
Call Utility Companies And Service Providers Early
It’s best to call utility companies and other service providers, as soon as you know you’re moving. Note; our internet provider needed a minimum of 14 days to enable a connection at the new house and it would have been at least 30 days if the property had not had an existing connection. Luckily, we called them well in advance, so all we had to do was plug in our modem at the new property and immediately had internet! Trust me, being able to collapse in front of Netflix with a pizza that first night was VERY welcome.
Create A Checklist
Before you start, create a packing checklist (or spreadsheet in my case) with a list of the rooms at your new home along with any tasks which need to be done (e.g. draining oil from your lawnmower, disassembling furniture, minor repairs, etc.), who needs to do it, and any notes. Keeping track of everything allows you to easily assign things out if you’re lucky enough to have help.
Defrost, Clean, And Dry Your Fridge/ Freezer At Least One Day Before You Move
Placing towels on the floor around the bottom will help soak up any dripping water. To help minimize food waste, start using the odds and ends of your fridge in your meal planning a couple of weeks before moving.
Get More Boxes Than You Think You’ll Need
Either buy or get moving boxes in all shapes and sizes, even more than you think you’ll need. However, before you go out and buy them, ask around or check local Facebook groups to see if anyone has any they’re giving away. My sister had to pack up her home for a major renovation project, not long before we moved, so we were lucky enough to get all their boxes, as well as some other spare supplies like bubble wrap and tape!
Make A Packing Supplies Basket
Put together all of the things you need for packing in a basket! This way you can carry it around with you and have everything at your fingertips. You might want to include: packaging tape, labels, scissors, Sharpies, a screwdriver, baggies, bubble wrap, stretch wrap, a utility knife, and if you’re anything like me – a bottle of wine. 🙂
I recommend starting to pack as soon as you are able. This gives you more time to scale back your belongings and decide what you really want to pack and move with you. For reference – books, our good china, picture frames, vases, artwork, board games, extra linens, photo albums, and other miscellaneous decorative items were first on my list.
Do A Little At A Time
If possible, it’s easiest to do a little bit at a time. This way the packing process isn’t so overwhelming. We were lucky that we knew several months ahead of time that we were moving. So I was able to chip away at the “packing project” a little at a time (continually purging as I went) which made a big difference.
Plan For It To Take Longer Than You Think
Packing is exhausting and you’re going to want to take breaks, grab food, and really packing just takes a long time. Especially if you have a lot of dishes or breakables that need to be wrapped individually.
Pack A Personal Bag
It is a good idea for each member of the family to pack a small bag that contains about one week of personal belongings – a week’s worth of clothing, toiletries, and personal items like contact lenses or a hairdryer, a few toys for kids, etc. Just pack as if you’re going on a short trip! This way you can each live out of that bag for a few days. It means everyone has a change of clothes and anything else they might need in the last couple of days at your old property and the first couple of days at the new place.
Securely Tape All Of Your Boxes
I know it’s tempting to simply close box lids, but for your sanity and the sanity of all of those helping you move, please reinforce the bottom of your boxes with tape and tape the tops securely shut! Trust me, I skipped this step for a number of boxes and we regretted it. Stuff moved and opened in vehicles, bottoms fell out of boxes in the street and in one particularly memorable moment, my Mom and I had to chase a bunch of loose papers down the street. There are many shortcuts you can take in moving and packing, but taping your boxes should not be one of them!
Color Code With Tape
When packing up moving boxes, assign a different color duct tape to each room at your new home so boxes are easier to identify. I put a strip of colored duct tape around the opposing corners of each box and a piece on the top, this way regardless of the angle, I could quickly tell what room it was intended for.
Mark Boxes With Breakables As Fragile
If there are fragile items in the box, be sure to mark the box as FRAGILE. You may think you’ll be able to identify the boxes you need to be careful with, but you will reach a point where you are surrounded by boxes that all look the same. I got a roll of red & white “Fragile” packing tape and put a strip around any boxes with breakables which really came in handy when I was looking at a wall of boxes for the same room and trying to figure out where my candles were 😉
Use Wine Cases For Your Glassware
Visit your local pub, restaurant, winery or off-licence, and you’re bound to come home with several empty wine box cases! The inserts in these boxes are perfect for protecting glass cups, wine glasses, and vases.
Use Paper Bags & Newspaper
Paper bags are perfect for protecting glass cups and small bowls in the moving process. Larger paper bags such as paper carrier bags and balled up newspaper, are also great as protective packing material inside boxes or between irregular items. Weeks before starting to pack in earnest, we started holding on to our paper bags and newspapers, and it meant we didn’t need to purchase nearly as much protective such as bubble wrap.
Use Foam/ Paper Plates
Because foam/ paper plates are already in the shape of a plate, it makes perfect sense to use them to protect your delicate glass and ceramic plates. Place one in-between each plate to prevent them from chipping or breaking. You can also use these disposable plates as dividers within boxes.
Use Soft Items As Padding
Use stuffed animals, pillows, sheets, blankets, towels and other soft items as padding for fragile items. It also helps fill up irregular empty space in boxes!
Use Masking Tape On Mirrors & Glass
Use masking tape to place age X on your mirrors and glass frames. It won’t prevent it from breaking, but it will absorb shock and keep the glass in the frame in case it is dropped or moves in transit.
Use Rolling Suitcases For Heavy Items
If you’ve got them, use your rolling bags for really heavy items like books. Now you can avoid the heavy lifting and simply roll the bags onto your moving van!
Use Plastic Wrap To Keep Items In Their Place!
There is no sense in emptying your drawers or cutlery/ silverware tray when you can use plastic wrap/ cling film to keep drawers shut, or to keep smaller items in their intended container.
Seal Spillable Items With Plastic Wrap & Tape
There’s nothing worse than a random household item spilling or leaking. Taking the time to tape everything shut is so worth it! This strategy works well for packing food items, bathroom toiletries and cleaning products to avoid spills inside moving boxes.
Use Large Ziplock Bags to Keep Drawers Together
It’s so much easier to unpack kitchen & bathroom drawers when all the small items are together – plus using clear bags allows you to see everything inside immediately.
Take A Picture Of The Back Of Electronics Before You Disconnect
This will make it easier to put together your media system or games console when you arrive at your new location.
If Possible Keep Clothes In Drawers When Moving
If you have to take out dresser drawers to get it in the moving van, do that, and then put the drawers back inside the once on the truck. A good way to keep the doors closed and protected is to wrap the entire piece of furniture in stretch wrap.
Cover Hanging Clothes With Swing Bin Liners
Keep your clothes on the hangers while still protected in swing bin liners! This saves the hassle of taking them on and off of the hangers. It also keeps your clothes all together in the order you had them hung, less wrinkled, and ready to hang up when you get to your new home.
Keep Furniture Hardware Together
When packing and preparing for a move, it usually involves taking furniture apart, and trust me, it’s really easy to lose those small screws, bolts, and nuts if you’re not careful. Simply use packing tape to tape them to the underside of the furniture you’re disassembling. For larger parts or for several pieces, you can also place them in a ziploc baggie before taping them to their corresponding piece of furniture. Now it will be a breeze to put them back together at your new place!
Wrap Organizing Bins Before Packing
If you already have items organized in bins (like toys, office supplies or kitchen accessories), just use plastic wrap to secure them before packing. Then you don’t have to re-organize when you unpack.
Use Storage Bins For Seasonal Items
If you don’t already have your seasonal items stored in plastic bins, invest in them now! Pack all of that stuff up that you only use once a year in bins, and you’ll be able to easily identify what needs to be stored in the attic or garage come moving day.
Double Up On Fitted Sheets
If you’re anything like me, you have a cupboard somewhere in your house with old sheets and blankets. Use those fitted sheets to protect your mattresses on moving day! Put one on just like normal, and then place another on the bottom for complete coverage. This will keep dirt and debris off of your mattresses in the moving process.
Connect Necklaces Through Toilet/ Kitchen Paper Rolls
Connect your necklaces through a kitchen/ toilet paper roll or straw to prevent them from knotting. This is great for a short trip or packing up for a move.
Use Egg Cartons To Store & Protect Jewelry
Use egg cartons to store and protect small pieces of jewelry like earrings, rings, and bracelets.
Utilize Every Bit Of Space!
For any larger items like crockpots, baskets, trash cans, etc make sure you use the interior space. Our spice jars went into in our crockpot, our cleaning supplies went in a laundry basket, our desktop fan went into our laundry hamper and so on. Fill up any empty space with smaller items!
Moving Day Tips
Have Drinks & Snacks Ready
Pick up or order cold drinks, snacks, and/ or food for your helpers. People are much happier when fed, and it’s a really easy way to show your gratitude for their help. Donuts, bottled water, a case of soda, and some pizza went over well with our crew!
Put A Rubber Band Around Your Doorknob
Put a rubber band around the doorknob as this will prevent it from latching every time you carry a box out the door. If you live in a shared building, it can also be useful to prop open internal fire doors and the external door while you’re loading things onto the truck. Note: these are intended to be left closed for safety so make sure you’re only propping them open while you’re moving in and out with boxes. We invested in a cheap packet of doorstop wedges at our local dollar store/ pound shop and they were REALLY worth the €2!
Pack the Moving Van/ Truck Tight
Once you’ve got all of your boxes, furniture and household items on the truck, you’d think you were safe, but all of those items are at risk of being moved around on the bumpy road and this is where things will get damaged. The tighter you pack, the better! Try to fill every nook and cranny, almost like a Tetris game. This way the items are less likely to move around.
Unload Boxes Into Their Assigned Rooms
If you recall colour-coding boxes earlier, this is where it pays off! I would recommend sticking a post it or piece of paper with a scrap of the relevant coloured tape on it on each door at the new house – that way anyone helping unload, knows which boxes go into what rooms. Bonus: by dividing the boxes up by room, you’ll hopefully be left with smaller manageable piles of boxes to unpack and the task won’t seem as daunting.
Designate One Space for Miscellaneous Boxes
No matter how organized you are when packing, you will inevitably end up with boxes that don’t have a designated “spot” at your new home. Also, as you unpack, you will inevitably end up with individual miscellaneous items that don’t yet have a place in your new home. I highly recommend allocating one place for these boxes or items, so you don’t end up with a pile of boxes just inside your door. This also means you aren’t delayed in unpacking trying to figure out where to put things. We used a corner of our smallest bedroom for this. Then when we had unpacked everything else, we worked to find final homes for these items.
Set Up Your Bed First
On moving day, you will reach a point where you just can’t bring yourself to do anything more, but you don’t want to realize you’ve nowhere to sleep when this happens. This is why I really feel like making up your bed should be the first thing that you do. Also, this is a really easy job for anyone helping to complete for you. So while you’re trying to figure out which kitchen cabinets you want to use for dishes vs food, someone else can put some sheets on your bed. It’s also good to put your sheets in your first night box or bag that travels with you, as you really don’t want to be digging through boxes, searching for sheets after spending all day moving!
Keep Cleaning Supplies Handy
I don’t know about you, but I never trust how well someone else cleans. At a minimum, I want to give at least the bathroom and kitchen a once-over before I start unpacking. If you feel the same, best keep some basic cleaning supplies to hand, to allow you to give them a “once-over”, as you will definitely want a shower after a long day moving. Also, putting a shower curtain, shower curtain rings, and towels in your first night box would be a priority as well. Trust me, this will be a lifesaver!
Keep A Toolbox Handy
Make sure you keep a toolbox handy in your car/ truck to assemble any furniture or complete any tasks needed at the new house (we had to take a door off its hinges in order to get a bed frame through a door so having our tools handy was great).
Unpack One Room At A Time
Once you’ve unpacked the bare essentials to get you through the first day or two, I’d suggest fully unpacking one room at a time, so that you don’t end up with boxes everywhere. We started with the kitchen as it had the most boxes, but was fairly straightforward to unpack. Then we went by order of the rooms we used most, so after the kitchen, we did the living room and bathroom, then our bedroom, then the dining room and so on but it depends what makes sense for your family. While it’s good to try and unpack as quickly as possible, it is also important to try and ensure you’re making the best possible use of the space. For example, when unpacking your clothes take a look at my Closet Organization Hacks To Make The Most Of A Small Closet in order to ensure you’re optimizing your space.
Don’t Be Afraid To Continue To Purge Belongings
Even though we purged massive amounts as we packed up our old place, when we started unpacking we discovered we still had lots of extras of things we didn’t actually need. When things have been in boxes for a couple of weeks, your perception of how essential they are can change. So I really would encourage you to continue to purge as it will allow you to better organize your new home.
It took me much longer than I expected to finish writing this post, as first I was distracted with unpacking, and then honestly – I kept remembering additional tips and tricks. But hopefully, despite its length, some of these tips to take the stress out of your move will be helpful! Don’t forget once you’re finally finished unpacking to sit back relax and enjoy your new home. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve any other great moving and packing tips to take the stress out of moving