Congratulations on your new home! Unless this is your first time moving, you already know the obstacles of packing. Determining the right amount of supplies, fighting procrastination, prematurely opening packed boxes to find an everyday necessity, accidentally leaving something behind — the list goes on.
Through years of experience packing and unpacking houses, we’ve gathered 10 helpful packing and planning strategies for moving that will make the process painless, giving you the courage to take these obstacles in stride.
1. Gather All of the Necessary Supplies
Your items deserve high-quality transportation to ensure the safe arrival of your new home. Faced with so many types of boxes and shipping supplies, choosing the right materials can be hard. We found a medium-sized family in a two- to three-bedroom home generally requires:
- Fifteen small book boxes
- Twenty medium moving boxes
- Six large moving boxes
- Four extra-large moving boxes
- Twenty-five pounds of packing paper
- One hundred fifty feet of bubble wrap
- Two rolls of tape
These materials may vary depending on your unique needs. You may also want to consider:
- Wardrobe boxes: If you have any clothes that require special care, you’ll want to purchase a wardrobe box to hang them and keep them safe.
- Mattress bags: This valuable moving aid shelters your mattress from bed bugs and water damage, preventing you from having to buy a new one if affected during transit.
- Fabric moving pads or blankets: This padded layer protects your flooring when moving furniture in and out of the house and protects the furniture itself during transportation.
Costs of moving supplies can add up quickly. If you plan to make a DIY move, you can generally expect to pay more in shipping supplies than sticking with the professionals, where relocation services include those costs.
2. Create a List and Plan by Category and Room
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed thinking about all of the rooms that need packing. Save yourself from this easily avoidable stress by developing a game plan. About six to eight weeks before your move date, break out a pen and paper to create a packing checklist for moving each room in your house.
Dedicate a day or two for each room so you don’t feel the pressure of procrastination. Choose boxes for items similar in size and weight, and label each box with the appropriate room. Doing this alerts you of any missing supplies you didn’t realize you needed and makes the unpacking process smoother.
3. Make Sure You Know What Items Movers Can Take
Relying on the professionals to transport your furniture, decor and other miscellaneous items will relieve some weight off your shoulders — and your back. While moving companies will relocate just about anything, there are some items that you will want to keep out of the loading truck.
- Potentially hazardous items: Professional moving companies won’t transport illegal items that can harm people or property. Common items include gasoline and propane, aerosol cans and paint thinners, fireworks or explosives, bleach, batteries and fire extinguishers.
- Valuable personal items: Most moving companies reimburse any broken or lost valuables, but its best to transport any irreplaceable or sentimental property with you. Valuables include laptops, documents and certificates, fine jewelry and medications.
- Perishable foods: In general, you will want to transfer any canned goods and other non-perishable pantry items with you, but some companies may permit these items in their loading truck. Avoid traveling with frozen or refrigerated foods, and familiarize yourself with the local grocery store after arriving at your new home.
- Household pets: Your furry or not-so-furry friends should travel with their family in your personal vehicle. Your movers will ensure that their toys, food bowls and other pet-related items make it to the new house for their reacquaintance.
Keep these non-allowable items in mind when packing, and make other arrangements for their disposal or transportation.
4. Start by Packing Your Least-Used Items
At a minimum of three weeks before your move date, start packing your items into boxes. You don’t want to start with your most-used items, like your shower products or favorite coffee mug, which will ultimately result in you prematurely diving into packed boxed to retrieve these everyday necessities.
Instead, start with the least-used items, like artwork or other miscellaneous decors. Tackle the basement, attic, garage or other storage places and pack what already isn’t in storage containers. Dedicate a space to keep this first group of boxes to make room for navigation when packing the necessities in the future.
5. Donate or Sell Any Unwanted Belongings
As you go through each room, dedicate one or two boxes for donations or reselling, especially when tackling your least-used items. If you aren’t using the belongings at this house, the odds of using them at the new one are slim.
To make your life easier while giving back to the community, these three charities will directly pick up your donation boxes from your home:
- Salvation Army: Items donated to the Salvation Army are distributed to people in need or sold at one of their stores. They accept almost anything in good condition, including clothes, common household items, mattresses, appliances and even used cars.
- Goodwill: An equally well-known organization, Goodwill supports job training and placement programs. They accept new or gently used clothing, furniture, miscellaneous household items, electronics and toys, and sell these donations at low prices to fund their programs.
- Habitat for Humanity: Through the selling of donated items, namely furniture, appliances and other household items, Habitat for Humanity funds and provides affordable houses to those in need.
For more valuable items, resell them to fund your moving expenses. Consider using one of the countless available online platforms. Future you will thank you for giving you less to unpack.
6. Pack a To-Go Bag of Essentials for Each Person Moving
When you get to your new home, unpacking will likely be the last thing on your mind, especially after a long road trip. Instead, you’ll be eager to hop in the shower, change into fresh clothes and acquaint yourself with the new surroundings.
Pack a suitcase for each member of the family, including everyday necessities like:
- An extra set of clothes
- Pet supplies
- Activities, such as a good book or board game
Include anything you use daily to avoid having to fish through a truckload of boxes to find what you need. For cross-country trips, consider packing snacks and drinks to keep in the car and have during your first night in your new home.
7. Maximize the Space in Each Box While Taking Great Care of Fragile Items
Deciding how to fit awkwardly shaped items, fragile knickknacks and other valuables into boxes can feel like a puzzle. Luckily, there are some friendly helpers to make this process easier:
- Biodegradable packing peanuts: Packing peanuts are extremely versatile and allow you to safely pack smaller items into bigger boxes, fill up extra space and protect any fragile items.
- White newsprint or packing paper: Using packing paper is an economical way to keep your fragile items safe and secure in their boxes. For small items, consider using colored paper to avoid accidentally throwing them out.
- Bubble wrap: This air-filled material, most commonly used for its effectiveness in securing fragile items, is designed to absorb any sudden shocks during the moving process.
Properly wrap a protective layer around all fragile and valuable pieces or items that you don’t want to get scratched during transit. There’s no right or wrong option — any of these packing materials will keep your items safe during the move.
When putting your belongings in the box, place the heavier items on the bottom and lighter ones on top. Pack as many things as you can into one container without overfilling it. The more items you place, the fewer boxes you need overall, saving you money in the long run.
8. Label Each Box and Seal Properly
As you pack, be sure to label and properly seal each box to make the arrival and unpacking of your new house painless. Learn how to pack moving boxes efficiently by following these steps:
- Use strong, durable packing tape.
- Wrap a long piece of tape across the flaps on the top of the box.
- Wrap another piece of tape perpendicular to the flaps, resulting in a plus-sign tape symbol.
- Repeat this step on the bottom side of the box, ensuring both sides are secure.
Following these steps prevents the box’s collapsing, keeping your belongings from exploding out of their container and breaking or becoming damaged. Make sure to keep your boxes in a well ventilated, dry space so the cardboard doesn’t get wet.
You may want to consider water-proof options for your delicate items and furniture covers. If it rains on moving day, check the truck for leaks before loading anything.
Stack your boxes after sealing, putting the heaviest boxes on the bottom and lightest on top to prevent any tipping. When stacking, avoid having multiple towers of boxes. Instead, stack them like you would a brick wall to increase stability.
It’s just as important to label each box with its contents and color-coordinate per room. Remember to add a label on more than one side. During transportation, boxes will shift and stack on top of one another, so you’ll want to make sure you know a box’s contents to avoid damaging anything inside. Also, consider numbering each box as an added measure of accountability.
9. Be Sure to Double-Check Every Room When You’re Done
Double-checking every room is one of your last, and arguably most important, steps. Assemble your moving team for extra pairs of eyes and slowly go from room to room, checking for anything you forgot to pack.
Keep a special eye for the most commonly left items, like:
- Chargers: Although chargers are easily replaceable, the last thing you want when arriving at your new home is a dead cellphone.
- Medical supplies: These items are often placed in medicine cabinets or hidden away from children, but you don’t want to forget these vital prescriptions. Have each member of the family pack their to-go bag with the medicine that belongs to them.
- Money: People can be very creative with where they stash their money. Whether your safe hiding place is under a loose floorboard, behind a radiator or in an old box in the garage, you don’t want to leave it behind.
- Cutlery: Don’t forget to double-check the dishwasher before leaving, where these utensils often hide.
- Clothing: One or two socks are bound to get left behind, but keep an eye out for those smaller articles of clothing, jackets hung up in coat closets, off-season clothes put in storage, rain boots in mudrooms, clothes in the washer and dryer or any other place they may be.
- Pets: Believe it or not, yes, people forget their pets. Have all pets, small or large, accounted for the night before your move. If you own multiple pets, assign each family member with a pet they’re accountable for. When in your vehicle, do a roll-call before starting your drive, and include your pets in that list.
Professional movers have a trained eye when it comes to checking every room for forgotten items. Consider using these professionals for peace of mind so you can focus on the excitement of moving.
10. Communicate With Your Moving Team
Communication is vital in any team, but especially when moving. Whether your team includes friends, family members or professional movers, you will want to set clear expectations for:
- Timeline: Moving is a process. Establish a timeline starting from planning to moving day. Communicate with your team members to learn their availabilities, and if you’re planning to include the professionals, set appointments for their services.
- Packing instructions: Your image of a properly packed box may be very different than your friends’ or family’s. Demonstrate how you plan on packing fragile or awkwardly-shaped items, labeling boxes and any other specifications.
- Travel: Avoid any unfortunate miscommunications by making sure every person knows the address and route to the new home.
Communicate with your team via email, text message, in writing or in-person meetings. The more communication, the higher the chance of a smoother, more enjoyable moving process.
Rely on David McCarthy Moving to Make Moving Easier
Whether you’re moving to an apartment across town or a house across the country, you can count on David McCarthy Moving for your short- or long-distance move. Fully licensed and insured since 1996, we will help you every step of the way.
Our team will pack and unpack your items with the high level of care they deserve. Our moving employees are well-trained with years of experience, unlike our competitors, who rely on temporary day labor to move your fragile and valuable items.
Above all, we value customer service. You have so many things to do and pack, and we understand if you forget a few materials. Let our movers know of any last-minute items you forgot to buy, and we’ll be happy to make any en-route stops to pick them up for you.
For a friendly, claim-free moving team that you can trust, contact us today for more information about our moving services or get a free quote.