- Start early- Almost everyone has more stuff than they think they do, and almost no one leaves enough time to pack it.
- Room Lists- Start by forming two room lists, one for your current place and one for your future place. This will help you manage what has to go where.
- Room Inventory- Go to each room and write down the types of things that need to be packed: furniture items, length of shelving, closets, etc.
- Time Allotment- Make sure to leave enough time. The most common timeframe reported by people moving is that it takes a month to pack. One study reported that it takes 4-5 hours to pack an average dorm room, so that should give you an idea of what’s involved.
- Calendar- Pull out a calendar and plan by day when each room will be completed.
- Delegation- If you’re moving with family members, agree with them exactly while tasks they will be doing and the date they will be finished.
- Track your progress- at least once per week track where you are against the date on the calendar. Revise your plan if you’re falling behind.
- Only hire the best- If you choose to hire professional movers, do your research and hire good ones. Poor quality movers really can be worse than none at all.
- Referrals- Get referrals from local real estate agents and friends who have moved recently.
- Licensing- Only consider movers that are licensed, bonded and insured.
- Research- Investigate your potential movers through the U.S. Department of Transportation, MovingScam-dot-com and the Better Business Bureau.
- In-home estimates- Evaluate a minimum of 3 movers based on in-home estimates of goods to be moved.
- Price- Price isn't the only factor- extremely low bids indicate a desperate mover.
- "Binding Not-To-Exceed"- Ask for a written "Binding Price", estimates always change but a binding price does not.
- Avoid "rogue movers"- if you feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts! Never agree to move your possessions with anyone you don’t trust.
- Pack a suitcase- For each member of the family moving, pack a suitcase as if you’re all going on a 3-day vacation, including changes of clothes, medications, eyeglasses, toiletries, etc. Keep the suitcases separated from all the other items to be moved, such as in your car, at your new workplace, etc. so you’ll have everything you need for the first few days without searching through boxes.
- Create “Open Me First” boxes- Pick one or two boxes per room as "Open Me First" boxes. Put in them the things you'll need first at your new location. Then mark the sides of the boxes so you'll know which ones are which.
- One at a time- Wherever possible, work on packing just one room at a time (instead of several all at once) to keep things focused and organized.
- Less is more- Use packing as a way to clean out belongings for donations, a yard sale, and/or the recycling center. Aim to eliminate 1/3 of your belongings. You'll save time and expense.
- Off the floor- Instead of the floor, use a completely cleared-off table top or counter in each room for packing boxes. You'll find you get much more accomplished.
- Tracking small parts- When taking apart items to be moved, such as tables, securely tape screws and other small parts securely to the underside of the item. You'll always know where to look and save time putting things back together.
- Save space- Use towels, pillows and t-shirts you’re packing as extra padding around fragile items. It will save room in your boxes.
- Criss-cross tape- Tape boxes along the seams where the flaps meet together. Then tape perpendicularly at the center of the first tape, forming a cross.
- Stacking- Stack boxes with the heaviest on the bottom, lightest on top to prevent crushing.
- The 30-pound rule- Keep each box below 50 pounds absolute maximum and below 30 pounds wherever possible. Heavier boxes lead to injuries, are much more likely to burst their tape or seams and tend to get dropped.
- Scale- Keep a bathroom scale in the room you're packing so you can keep the boxes below the weight limits.
- A picture is worth 1000 words- Use a digital or cell phone camera to take pictures of how complicated wiring (computer cords, speaker wires) is hooked up. Be sure to use plenty of light and careful focus so the pictures will be clear. Print each picture and put it in the top of the box holding the item. This will make hooking up the items in your new place much easier.
- Original is best- Always use the original packaging when available. (I realize that most of us don’t have the original packaging for much of anything, but I thought I would bring it up anyway).
- Double boxing- For especially fragile electronics, pack them first in a box with an excessive amount of biodegradable packing peanuts. Then pack that box in a larger box filled with biodegradable packing peanuts. This two-box system seems like a pain but seems to do a better job isolating items from jarring impacts.
- No loose ends- Wrap each cord carefully with cable organizers, heavy twist ties or heavy rubber bands. Never throw unwrapped cords into boxes- they get tangled and caught on other items.
- Cord labels- Consider getting a label maker and labeling the end of each. Then you'll know exactly which cord you're seeing and where each end connects when you put things back together.
- The two-inch rule- Use at least 2" of biodegradable packing peanuts around each side of fragile items.
- “Fat” is in- Use the thickest, darkest marker you can find for labeling boxes. Pencils, pens, tin or light markers are almost impossible to see even just a few feet away.
- Two sides- Label each box on the two broadest sides, opposite one another. That way if a box gets turned, you can still identify its contents.
- Abbreviate room names- Start box labels with the abbreviated name of the room followed by a box number, such as “BTH2-6” for "second bathroom, 6th box." You can then track each box to make sure everything arrived safely.
- Label "Open Me First" on boxes where it applies.
- Mark "Fragile" where appropriate.
- Identify contents- Identify the major contents and where they came from, such as "Medicine Cabinet" or "Linen Closet- Towels and Wash Cloths."
- Box Inventory- Keep a clipboard and write down each box's room, box number and contents (graph paper is great for keeping things recorded neatly).
- Verifying delivery- When unloading, check off each box as it gets unloaded at your new place. Then you'll know everything arrived safely.
- Labels out- Ask movers to stack boxes in your new place with the labels facing out so that you can easily spot a specific box.
Get a children's book on moving for smaller kids. Consider “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day.” If appropriate, let children pick their room. If possible, let kids pick a decoration (poster, light switch, name banner, etc.) for their new room. Pack a kid's sized suitcase and let each child pick out a special toy to keep with them and a special outfit to wear on "new home day." If the child has a special dish or cup, include it in the kitchen "Open Me First" box so familiar items await them at their new place. Consider unpacking the kids' rooms first, or at least their "Open Me First" boxes to help them settle in.
Get a children's book on moving for smaller kids. Consider “The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day.”
If appropriate, let children pick their room.
If possible, let kids pick a decoration (poster, light switch, name banner, etc.) for their new room.
Pack a kid's sized suitcase and let each child pick out a special toy to keep with them and a special outfit to wear on "new home day."
If the child has a special dish or cup, include it in the kitchen "Open Me First" box so familiar items await them at their new place.
Consider unpacking the kids' rooms first, or at least their "Open Me First" boxes to help them settle in.
- Aluminum foil or plastic wrap
- Break-proof or disposable flatware, cups, and plates
- Coffee maker and coffee (don’t forget the filters!)
- Dish detergent
- Frying pan and spatula
- Pet food and bowels
- Tea kettle