Moving Time: 7 Tips for Packing, Moving, and Unpacking Again Without Losing Your Mind

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7 Tips for Packing, Moving, and Unpacking Again Without Losing Your Mind

Jeff and I have moved 8 times in the last 12 years. And I don’t know if that makes us completely crazy, spontaneous, or a little of both? But I’m pretty sure all those moves have made us some kind of experts on the subject.

AND since we just moved into our new place over the weekend, it’s still fresh in my mind. So I put together a checklist of things I’ve learned along the way. Tales from beyond the (moving) boxes…and land of incessant packing, driving carfuls of stuff from A to B, and unpacking at a new place without losing your shit. 🙂

Here are my top 7 tips for packing, moving, and unpacking again without losing your mind…

1. Get help. The number one thing I could recommend for moving is to hire help, if you can swing it. This will cut down on your stress tenfold and often times is a lot cheaper than you may think. Not to mention, movers offer insurance (always get the insurance), so if they damaged anything you’re covered. Which takes away A LOT of stress! Unlike the very last time Jeff and I moved all of our stuff completely on our own. Which involved some less than stellar packing up of the truck, which led to damage to a couple of our favorite furniture pieces. Papa bear chair, I’m talking to you. 🙁

If you can’t afford to hire movers, you can do the next best thing…look for free help (aka friends that are happy to be paid in pizza).OR do what we did for this most recent move – move everything you can yourself (I think we did like 12 carloads on our own?) and save the big furniture pieces for the professionals. If they’re paid by the hour you’ll save A LOT of money this way. Kind of the best of both worlds.

2. Don’t wait. This one is tricky because almost everyone I know waits until the last minute to pack. BUT it will really cut down on the stress of packing, moving, and unpacking to do a little bit each night, starting in  the least crucial rooms in your house (guest bedroom, guest bathroom, any other rooms you don’t use very much, etc) and working your way through the rest of the house.

3. Boxed in. This time around Jeff and I rented reusable containers instead of cardboard boxes, to pack all of our smaller items up in, and it was the fastest we’ve ever packed AND unpacked. They’re super durable and can be stacked on a dolly and rolled all at once to save time when moving them from the car to the house, etc. Ours are from Taggabox if you’re in Atlanta and need a good rec. Just make sure you spring for a couple of dollies.

If reusable containers aren’t your thing, cardboard boxes work too. And store broken down boxes at the end of each move, for the next time to save money and cut down on waste if you can. Jeff and I have always done that (before we tried the reusable containers) and it’s always been really helpful. I like to store extra packing blankets, packing paper, and tape in the same spot too, so it’s all in one place when you need it.

4. Label it. Either way, add labels to each bin or box, as you are packing, to specify what room it goes into (meaning the room it will be going into at the new place).

5. So fresh and so clean, clean. If possible, clean the new place prior to moving everything in (bathrooms, kitchen, drawers, flooring, etc), if necessary. That way, when you do unpack, everything is clean and ready to be used. If it’s not possible to clean ahead of moving items in, just be sure to clean down surfaces, etc before taking everything out of boxes and bins.

6. Get a room. When you get to your new place, take the boxes or bins directly to the room they are labeled for when you arrive. This one almost sounds too easy to mention, but it really does help cut down on time when you can unpack things and put them away without having to leave a room.

7. Have a quickie. The final piece to this puzzle is unpacking everything again as quickly as possible when you get to your new place. There’s nothing more annoying than still searching for XYZ that you’re pretty sure is in the box at the very bottom of the pile two weeks after you’ve moved in.

Those are my tips! What did I miss? Let me know what moving tips you have in the comments below.

22 comments | Click here to reply

We’ll be moving in a couple months so this is super helpful! Our previous moves have always just been across two (a 30 min drive or less) which made doing multiple trips easy. This time we’ll be moving a bit further (just over 1 hr away) so I’m already dreading the moving process – I feel like I’ll have to be so much more efficient to eliminate all the back and forth. I like the idea of renting plastic boxes – I am going to look into that one for sure!!

Kathleen | March 1st, 2017 at 10:42 am

I highly recommend the plastic containers rental if you can find one near you, Kathleen. It was kind of a game changer for us. Everything went so smoothly. Good luck with your move!

Brittni | March 1st, 2017 at 11:00 am

I just moved 45 minutes away. I had the luxury of being able to “slow move” everything as I was paying on my apartment for two months after I actually switched residences. I moved everything in my car that would fit – once or twice a week since I was still commuting back and forth to work everyday. I saved the furniture for last. As it’s near impossible to find help moving furniture over a longer distance via friends, we hired a truck. It took 2 1/2 hours to move it including drive time for just the furniture and cost $325. BUT it would have been a lot more had I not moved boxes, etc. previously. I moved 3 x in 2 1/2 years. Pretty sure I never want to move again.
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Rebecca D Dillon | March 1st, 2017 at 11:23 am

A great way to save money, for sure, Rebecca, with the slow moving. But I also hear you on not wanting to move again. It can be tough…but it’s also kind of fun moving into a new place, don’t you think? I always like decorating a new place and dreaming up ideas, arranging furniture, etc.

Brittni | March 1st, 2017 at 11:30 am

This is so helpful, thank you for sharing! I moved a year ago and it was so great to have so much help, nonetheless I would love to wait at least ten years until I move again haha
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Michelle | March 1st, 2017 at 11:35 am

Haha. I hear ya Michelle. The longer between moves the better, if you can wait. But if not, there’s always this list. 🙂

Brittni | March 1st, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Thanks for sharing these tips, I’m about to move this weekend and the only thing I haven’t thought through was the labeling haha As you said, one of my priorities is to clean up the place as soon as I get there, that way it can feel like home 🙂 Following you via Bloglovin’!!

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Brenda Brooks | March 1st, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Hope your move goes well, Brenda. Glad I could remind you about the labeling thing. That’s always been super helpful for us!

Brittni | March 1st, 2017 at 3:22 pm

This is really helpful! We are moving (again! 8 times in 9years..), but to another country! We will try to sell as much as possible, which is hard on one side, nice on the other.. as I feel we will start fresh in this new place! But these tips will come in really handy!

Anke | March 1st, 2017 at 4:16 pm

Dang! You’ve moved even more than I have, Anke. Good luck with your move. I think selling as much as you can is a great idea, for a fresh start and just general ease of the actual move, since moving to another country is far more complex. Wishing you the best!

Brittni | March 1st, 2017 at 4:24 pm

I’ve moved more than 20 times in my lifetime, which should mean i know what i’m doing, ha! I have been in my current place for 5 1/2 years and from the last experience i’ve given myself a month cross over with my new house and the old one, it has been much less stressful.
Another tip is putting up anything you know you’re not taking online to sell or give away early to get it our of your way.

Ashleah | March 1st, 2017 at 7:55 pm

That’s a great tip Ashleah. Thanks for sharing!

Brittni | March 1st, 2017 at 10:09 pm

Can’t even imagine how it’s like to move for 8 times in a year! You’re definitely a pro already 🙂 thanks for sharing this post, bookmarking it for our final move in a couple of years from now!
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Corina Nika | March 2nd, 2017 at 4:15 am

I have moved up to 50 times in my short 20 years of being alive, and something that helps me is focusing on the excitement and the new possibilities, rather than the chores and the things you’re leaving behind. It IS sad to leave a place that you’ve had wonderful times in, but it’s also exciting to think about all the things that you’ll get to experience in your new place – especially if it’s in a new town, there’ll be so many new things to discover! Just looking at life in general as one big adventurer has improved my overall positivity immensely.

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Indya | TheSmallAdventurer | March 2nd, 2017 at 6:59 am

We are moving next month and plan to do a first and second round in each room – start by packing down everything we don’t use very often, and then do a second round where we pack the rest. Our guest room will be the storage where we put all the finished boxes so we don’t have to look at them all the time 😊 Oh, and we made a huge portion of Bolognese for the freezer so we don’t have to cook during the moving days!

Marie | March 2nd, 2017 at 7:01 am

Here are a few tips if you have to cope with children while moving if they’re too young to help (under 10 or 12 — this may seam old, but from personal experience I can tell you they’ll be bored with a couple of hours, and then they’re worse than 3 year olds!)

Before moving day, let them pack a small (reusable grocery sack size) with a favorite seasonally appropriate outfit, a favorite toy or two (NOT one they can’t live without), a book and if there’s room left, a coloring book and crayons or another activity they like. Put the bag in a special place until moving day. First thing on the day, put them in the car or where ever you’re keeping the things you will carry personally. Give the kids their bags as a kind of welcome home gift as soon as they enter the new place

If you can, send them to a favorite relative or friend (one who lives too far away to come visit on moving day) before the move.

If that’not an option, then try this. If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who will watch them, send the kids to the new place in their pj’s with their bags and let them start life there, by dressing, eating breakfast, exploring, and playing while waiting for the rest of the old house to appear. Your friend will hopefully keep them busy while you unload.

If you’re moving too far to send the kids ahead, see about a sleep-over at a friend’s place, if the parents are willing to keep watch until everything is packed and loaded, and save the bags for the first night in the new place.

One more thing–take the batteries out of anything that buzzes, dings, sings, etc, especially on a longer move. Because if you don’t, something will slip and turn on the singing teddy, which will be close enough that you can hear it, but packed too deep to dig it out to turn it off and you will spend 10 hours listening to the same 3 nursery songs while you drive and will be ready to tear teddy’s head off when you find him. Don’t ask me how I know this.

Nancy | March 2nd, 2017 at 8:18 am

Before I start packing, I go through my entire house and eliminate things I don’t plan to take with me. I also put like things together (my room or type) as much as possible. So, once I start packing it goes fast.
No stopping to decide whether I’ll keep something or not. I do keep a bin nearby in case I decide to eliminate something else as I go.

Linda | March 2nd, 2017 at 2:29 pm

Loving reading through everyone else’s moving tips. Thanks for sharing you guys!

Brittni | March 2nd, 2017 at 2:32 pm

We have moved a lot too! One tip our movers gave us last time was to use a color coded system along with a numbering system! Use yellow tape or pieces of yellow paper on one “dominate” side of our boxes and label “1 of 6” for that room. For example, yellow=kitchen; red=master bedroom and blue=main bathroom. In your new place, replicate the same colors with paper on the doors of corresponding rooms, for example yellow=kitchen/1 of 7 boxes and the movers fly through unloading your possessions! Cuts WAY down on their time & yours. Just look around and double check: 5 boxes for master bedroom ( 5 of 5 all red labels) 12 boxes for kitchen ( 12 of 12 yellow boxes) & you are all moved in!! Nothing missing, nothing in the wrong room🙌🏼

Marie | March 2nd, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I love the idea of a color coded system for labeling, along with the numbering, Marie. Great idea!

Brittni | March 2nd, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Love all these tips! We’ve moved around a lot, too. Nothing has helped more than intensely labeling our boxes. We put what room to put it, if it’s fragile or not, and the general contents. And it makes a big difference for unpacking quickly!

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Sofia | March 3rd, 2017 at 5:44 pm

The most thoughtful and helpful tips I’ve found so far. This post is golden and by sharing it you help a lot of people. When I moved the first time I wish I had this article as my guide. This is why I’m bookmarking it now and sharing it on my fb wall. Thanks for existing and being awesome!

Aashi | September 16th, 2017 at 2:36 am
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