This week we moved for the second time in eight months. That’s right — I had just finished unpacking when it was time to pack up my entire house again. And as practice (and OCD organizational tendencies) makes perfect, I did everything I could to make my second move in less than a year stress-free and painless. All my hard work paid off when I overheard the movers (people who do this for a living y’all!) complimenting my process and organization. And thus this list was born. Here are my top 14 tips for an organized move:
1. Don’t start too early
Listen, all you’re going to do is be living in chaos with boxes everywhere and not being able to find anything if you start three months before your move date. Plus, as SOON as you pack up that waffle iron that you never use, the kids will beg for waffles and you’ll be diving back into sealed boxes on the hunt for waffle perfection. You don’t need that stress in your life.
2. Don’t start too late
If you start packing the weekend before your Monday move date, it’s not going to get done and you’re going to go into panic mode and lose/break things. Only you can decide what’s early enough based on the time you have to spend packing and the amount of junk going in your trunk. Start early enough to finish the night before without anything to do the next day but zip up the overnight bags and last minute box.
3. Buy mover’s packing tape
I wish someone had told me this in college when we moved all the time. Professional movers use this brown packing tape and it is SO much easier to both apply and remove. You don’t have to use scissors to cut it and when the time comes to open your boxes, you usually can peel it right back without using a box cutter or scissors. It is MUCH better and easier to work with than the packing tape you buy at a drugstore and ship packages with.
4. Buy Smart Move tape
The movers from 8 months ago used this tape to organize and I thought it was so brilliant. I even bought more this move because I thought it made the unloading process so much easier for both the movers and me — no one had to ask me where anything went! Best invention ever and worth every penny.
I was inspired by the Smart Move tape to make color-coded labels for all of the boxes. I used the colors of the tape to coincide with a package of Post-It flags I had bought and was able to stick to each of the labels. It worked really well and insured that I could just label one side of the box, Smart Move tape the top, and be able to know which room the box went into just by seeing any side of it. The labels are just mailing labels that I designed with the name of the room and three lines for contents. I used the Post-It flags to mark the furniture so it was color-coded by room as well.
6. Have a ‘Last Minute’ Box
There are going to be things that are not packed, but also don’t technically belong in your overnight bag – extension cords, nightlights, tape, household cleaners, paper towels, etc. All of these things need a home and having an empty box or tote ready on the morning of your move will help you not have anxiety about where to cram all the “extras.”
7. Have a system
Now, this is a “whatever works for you” situation… but my system includes this small screwdriver tool – I use it to keep from losing the end of the tape, and also use it to “cut” the tape after I have it stretched across the box. I basically just stab the center of the tape with the screwdriver. It breaks the tape pretty evenly, I don’t lose the end, and I don’t have to fuss with scissors. It is very efficient. Nothing makes you want to stab yourself in the eye with the scissors you keep misplacing more than losing the end of the tape every time you seal a box.
8. Carry a packing basket
I used a basket to carry everything I need to pack with from room to room. You can pretty much see what was in mine, but it included: Tape, Screwdriver tool, scissors, labels, sharpie, Post-It flags, pen, gallon Ziplock bags, quart Ziplock bags.
9. Have a ‘First Open’ Box
The First Open box features all of the things you might immediately need at your new home. It is useful to have all of these things in one place as soon as you arrive so you can start settling in with the essentials – toilet paper, trash bags, toiletries, power strips, tape, Sharpie, pen/paper, scissors.
10. Saran Wrap
I bought a roll of cheap Saran Wrap and wrapped anything we owned with drawers, with whatever was in the drawers still inside. I wouldn’t do this with your collection of paperweights, but it worked especially well for these plastic drawers (with my scarves, hats and gloves in them) as well as my crafting cabinets. Saran Wrap is much easier to cut off than tape, and it doesn’t leave behind any sticky residue.
11. Trash Bags
Packing in trash bags is never classy, but sometimes it’s just necessary for the bulkier items. I wrapped the bottoms of our Shark mop/brooms/Swiffer in a trash bag and used painter’s tape to wrap the handles together. I also separated our hanging clothes with trash bags to both protect them and organize them.
12. Ziplock Bags
I used these for everything. I bought gallon and quart sizes and used them to wrangle my junk drawer, makeup, utensils, spices, measuring spoons/cups, liquid cleaning products, desk trays of office supplies, etc. I only used a box of each and it was the best $5 I ever spent.
13. Foam Plates
I used foam plates to help pack and protect my real plates and am happy to report it worked like a charm! I stacked a foam plate in between each real plate, did four at a time, and then wrapped all four in paper. All of my plates survived and I didn’t have to use a ton of paper. Plus, the leftover foam plates went into my ‘First Open’ box, which was very useful for having something to eat off of at the new house.
14. Designate rooms with signs
Because I had been so organized with packing (color coded, labeled), I was able to put signs on the door to each room so that the movers didn’t have to ask me which box or piece of furniture went where. The movers were able to call out “Green!” to each other and know that “green” meant whatever they were holding went into the Guest Bedroom, blue to Master, etc. This greatly expedited their process and they were very appreciative of the ease in which they unloaded the truck. And I was appreciative of not having to run around and shout orders as to where each bookshelf went.
Alright, there’s my list of moving tips that I think may help you to a stress-free move – Feel free to pin or post this list so that others can benefit from my numerous moves – someone ought to! Any moving tips or tricks you can add to my arsenal for the next move?