Moving is the worst. I mean, moving into a new place is exciting, don’t get me wrong, but the actual process of packing and preparations and service transfers and being cut off from most of your belongings for a period of time is the worst. Naturally, there are always a few things I forget, and there’s always that one box of miscellaneous things from a bunch of different rooms that I’d forgotten about, and of course, there’s that one box that I end up having to unpack and redistribute into 3 boxes because it’s too heavy to get off the ground. To that end, these are a few moving tips I am learning and have learned the hard way.
Tackle services and utilities at least 2 weeks prior to move-in day
Separate books into genres or colors or SOMETHING – just don’t pack all of them together
Pack KonMari style.
Color code your boxes by room
Set aside the things you’ll need over the next 3-5 days
A lot of companies schedule out their service appointments a good 2 weeks out (cable, amiright?), so make sure you’re not waiting ’til the last minute to get your services turned on. I don’t want to think about life without WiFi, so this is one of the few things I have ON LOCK.
I screw the pooch on this every time and I never remember and I end up with a huge tub of books that has to be moved like a frickin’ couch. The point is, books are heavy. Actually, no, they’re dense. And when you put a lot of them together, they get heavy. Really heavy.
I separate my books on my shelves by genre, but I know some people alphabetize and some people color coordinate their shelves. However you organize, USE THAT! Just separate your books into chunks, then pack them into small boxes that will make them easier to unpack again. Yeah, it’s more boxes, but it’s better than breaking your back (or bottoming out a box and having to repack the damn thing).
Remember how I decluttered my whole home? This has basically streamlined my whole packing technique, too. The whole thing about each family member’s belongings having a place in their own rooms has basically saved me, not to mention that it’s been easier to separate by item categories: clothing, books, paper, miscellany, and mementos.
See, I’ve gone room by room and packed by these categories, but in the order of daily necessity. I know, it seems complicated, but just follow me here. Art, pictures, mementos, and pretty much anything that’s strictly decorative went into boxes first, because as nice as things look, I have to spackle nail holes and scrub some walls. Following that, I packed books, except for the 2 I have on my list for this month (not as prescribed above at first, of course, because I’m a hands-on learner). I also packed miscellaneous items I don’t use every day – jewelry, extra linens, handbags, stationery, whatever I could live without for a week-ish. I also started packing off-season clothes and formalwear, but I kept them in the closet so things don’t get separated.
I have to say, one thing that’s been really nice about the whole KonMari thing is that most of my stuff now is pretty well self-contained. I’ve had access to most of my clothing because most of it gets put away in my dresser. My nail polish towers can be wrapped up with a large roll of plastic wrap to keep the drawers from sliding out or doors from popping open, but otherwise, there’s really not much true packing to do as far as those pieces are concerned.
Anyway, back to your packing order: take a look around you and consider what you need and when. I know I estimated for about a week to 2 weeks, but you might want to estimate that for more, depending on how completely you have your shit together. You might even be an organized enough person to list out what you can do without by the week. My countdown has been something like this:
4 weeks: Do another decluttering sweep, and donate or yard sale items that aren’t coming with you.
3 weeks: Pack mementos, decorative items and books.
2 weeks: Pack off-season clothes and non-daily miscellany (maybe this for you is extra handbags & kitchen appliances you don’t use frequently).
1 week: Get ruthless. Pack anything else and start pretending you’re living in a hotel for the week. Finish off anything in the pantry that’s been opened, knock out anything that’s in the fridge, shop minimally if you have to shop at all.
This advice has been GOLDEN, and there are lots of ways to execute here. The idea is to assign a color or design to each room, then label each box accordingly. I’ve used neon colored post-it notes, so blue is Bug’s room, purple is my room, pink is my office, etc. and so on. I’ve seen a lot of people use patterned or colored duct tape for this, which is a LOT more visible than post-its, I’ll admit, but I’m cheap soooooo…
Color-coding will help you and your movers figure out what needs to go where so unpacking and settling in isn’t chaotic and frustrating. There are basically no downsides here. Just do it.
Remember that countdown above? Anything you pack 1 week prior to moving should be among the last things you put on the moving van. If this means you stage these things in a different room so they’re not taken accidentally and put into the truck first, do it. Seriously, one of my friends had this happen to him: he’d staged everything for the movers, labeled the boxes that needed to go last, but since those boxes were easiest to access, they were the first to get on the truck. So SET THOSE THINGS ASIDE. Even if you have to put them in the trunk of your car, don’t leave yourself without toilet paper and clothes and a toothbrush.
Importantly, pack yourself a suitcase of the clothes and toiletries you’d need to get by for up to a week. Pack a box of silverware and flatware, set it aside. Pack a box with the 3 pots & pans you use the most, as well as the 5-8 cooking/serving utensils you use the most. Pack a backpack for each family member with entertainment items (books, coloring books & crayons/markers/colored pencils, a favorite toy or 2, any lovies, etc.).
Also don’t forget to set aside any important documents: I’ve set up a whole-life planner in a basic binder that holds all of my family’s important information, including a section of sheet holders to stash our birth certificates, passports, social security cards, copies of our insurance cards, all that good stuff. Smarter families put these things in a safe or a lockbox, but however you manage these documents, DON’T FORGET TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE ACCESSIBLE TO YOU. This should be among the last things you pack, and you should probably pack it in the luggage with the rest of the things you’ll need for the next 3 days.
I know, there’s a lot more to moving than this, and this list is anything but comprehensive. However, these are my hard-learned tips. What are your best moving tips?