There is a reason that mental health experts say moving is one of life’s most stressful experiences, even when the move is prompted by positive circumstances such as a career opportunity or the purchase of a new home. We are here to help!
Follow our 28 tips for ways to make your move a bit easier so you can feel at home sooner.
Prepare for Your Move
The best tip for reducing the stress of a move is to begin preparation early, preferably at least one month in advance.
Begin by decluttering your home of items you no longer use or need and arrange for a donation to your favorite charity. In this COVID era, certain charities will no longer pick up items at your home, so if you wish to donate large furniture items, you will need to make arrangements to drop them off.
Many charities have tightened up their acceptance criteria and reduced their hours, so be certain to check before loading up your items!
Organize packing supplies
Boxes can be purchased at storage facilities, U-Haul rental stores and big box stores like Wal-Mart and Home Depot. These quality boxes can be reused multiple times for storage or for future moves (break them down and store on your garage rafters). Having everything handy will help you use your time wisely when it comes to the actual packing.
Decide on your moving plan
One of the biggest decisions you will need to make is whether you will use professional movers or handle everything yourself. There is also the option of using a self-drive moving truck rental and hiring moving assistance manpower to load and unload the truck.
Professional movers can also handle packing belongings, and if time is short or your manpower is limited, this can be an option to consider. Each option has its pros and cons, and for many, the decision comes down to budget. Work out each option in terms of price and time saved (or spent) to make the best decision for you.
Make a schedule
Make a packing schedule so that you can map out the time required to get your household ready to move. Spend serious time in areas like your laundry room, basement, garage and attic since these can be difficult areas to pack.
Clear out your pantry
Limit the number of new groceries you are bringing into the house as you plan to move. It’s best to try and eat what’s in inventory in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry rather than have food to transport or worse, throw away due to the move.
Set up utilities
Set up your utilities to be on in advance of your move. In that case, most municipalities allow the account to be transferred over into your name as of a certain date, without having to schedule a meter read or any type of onsite visit.
If possible, get your internet service and cable TV providers in place before move-in day.
Measure, measure, measure
An often-overlooked preparation tip is to check your furniture measurements. Make sure that what you choose to take to your new place will not only fit in the room as you’ve planned but also fit through the various doorways.
Finding out that something is not going to fit on moving day can be very disruptive and eat up a lot of valuable (and expensive) time.
Now that you are prepared, it is time to get organized.
Make sure you pack a bin of essentials for your move. Depending on your family, you might want to include paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, paper plates and plastic utensils, or any of the things that you might want to access right away.
Think about your first couple of days and nights in your new home: if you’re cooking a frozen pizza, pack a hot pad to take it out of the oven, pack towels so you can shower, pack your coffee maker, mugs and your coffee condiments.
Gather those things that will help you feel at home and function at your best.
As you pack your moving boxes, you will want to write what’s inside each one. However, when your boxes are being unloaded off the truck, it is too time-consuming to read each one and direct movers where to put the boxes. Besides, they will most likely pile up your cardboard boxes on a dolly, and you won’t even be able to read what you wrote! Instead, invest in colored tape and assign a color to each room.
You don’t have to seal the box with that tape; just put it on the box perpendicular to a corner, so it’s easily visible. Before the movers unload, put a piece of the corresponding colored tape on the doorway to each room. That way, the movers can self-direct the boxes to the correct place.
DO NOT overload
It's tempting when packing to overload boxes. If you do that, you risk your items breaking through the bottom and injuring yourself when you need to move them.
The best way to avoid this is to use smaller boxes and place them on a counter or table when packing. If you pack when they are on the floor, it is easy to make them too heavy. When using larger boxes, put your heavier items in first, and fill space with towels, dishcloths, or other lighter weight items.
Do not put heavy items on top of breakable items.
Use moving boxes with cut-out handles. Even if you are using movers who will load and unload using a dolly, you will need to maneuver around your boxes as you pack and as you settle in. Having boxes with handles will make it easier for you to get the job done.
Packing paper is your friend
Use lots of packing paper for your breakable items. Put your paper on a flat surface as you lay each item on top and wrap tightly. Position breakable items in the box in a way so that there is not any room for them to move around.
Remember, they are going on a bumpy ride in that moving truck!
Stack dish plates vertically, like you would in a dish rack, to prevent breakage. Items such as big bowls and large vases should have paper crumpled up and put inside to prevent stress breaks.
Bubble wrap is also your friend
A large roll of bubble wrap can also be used for items such as glassware and china. If you don’t want to invest in a lot of moving supplies, think creatively about using washcloths, socks, hot pads and dish towels as packing materials to protect your breakables.
Use what you have
If you still have original boxes for small appliances and electronics, these are perfect for moving. Even if you don’t have all the original packaging material, you have a perfect sized box to transport your item. Just use paper or bubble wrap to keep the item from rattling around.
Snap some photos
Speaking of electronics, it’s a good idea to take a photo of your connections before dismantling your TV, game system, computer or any other multi-component item you are planning to move. Put the cables in a zip-lock bag, label what it’s for and either transport separately or use packing tape to secure it to the item before moving it.
Label your hardware
Hardware for furniture that needs to be dismantled such as beds, dressers with mirrors, multi-part pieces like china cabinets, media consoles and bookcase configurations, should be placed in baggies and labeled.
Put the bag in the furniture drawer or carry separately.
Empty your drawers
Most movers prefer that you completely empty furniture that is to be moved; however, certain lightweight items might work out to be left in the drawers.
If you choose to do this, consult with your moving company in advance, and secure the items with plastic wrap by taking the drawer out and wrapping plastic wrap completely over and around the contents before replacing the drawers back in the furniture.
Keep clothes on hangers
Hanging clothes from your closet can be handled several ways, depending on the length of your move and the amount of preparation time you have available. If you routinely pack away your off-season clothes, consider packing those items in clear bins. You can then keep them packed in the bins at your new location until it’s time to wear that type of clothing. If you are using movers, consider purchasing wardrobe boxes that allow you to hang your clothes straight from the closet into the box.
Unpacking these boxes is a breeze, but moving them yourself can be difficult since they are an awkward size and often heavy. A simple alternative for moving your hanging clothes is to use kitchen size garbage bags. Insert 10 or more clothing items on hangers into the bottom of the bag, then pull and tie the bag’s drawstring closure around the top of the hangers. This gives you a nice stackable, protected packet of clothes to transport to your new house.
Utilize your suitcases
Don’t forget to make use of your suitcases, bins and baskets for packing. Not everything has to go into a box! For large items such as comforters, pillows and blankets, it is helpful to use vacuum seal space-saver bags for packing.
Wrap up your art
Artwork and wall-mounted photos will benefit from bubble wrap. For especially valuable art pieces, purchase special heavy-duty padded wrapping paper and be careful not to allow any tape onto the art itself.
Take more photos
Use your phone camera as your moving helper by taking photos of your furniture pieces, contents of boxes, notes that you’ve written about what is packed where and any other details you wish to remember.
If you notice damage to an item after moving, having a photo will be most helpful if you need to file an insurance claim.
Before your Moving Day
If your move is local, consider transporting your essential bin, your valuables and breakables in your own vehicle. Make a couple of advance trips, if possible, including transporting refrigerator/freezer items in coolers.
Even for long distance moves, it is not recommended that valuables such as jewelry and coin collections be given to the movers for transport.
Plan for movers
Don’t forget to figure out where your moving van will park for both loading and unloading. Some communities require a special parking permit; many elevator buildings require reservations for the service elevator, so be sure to identify all of those possible barriers a couple of weeks in advance of your moving day to make proper arrangements.
Enlist a friend
Moving day is hard on everyone, and it can be especially stressful if you are concerned about your children and pets' safety.
If possible, hire someone to help on the day of the move or enlist a sympathetic friend's help. It’s easy to get distracted on moving day and feel pulled in many different directions. A little help with the kids and your fur babies can go a long way.
Prop the doors
Movers will need to prop open the door to the house to make loading and unloading faster. Check to see if your storm door has a functioning mechanism to keep it open. Adjust it, if needed so that it’s ready to function on moving day.
Bring a door stopper to keep doors open as needed.
Finally, it’s your scheduled moving day. Here are a few things to do to make your day go better:
- Have a snack cooler with bottled water, soft drinks and high energy snacks available for both your family and the movers
- Clearly indicate where items are to be placed; use the colored tape method and know your furniture placement plans
- Arrange to order lunch for your movers and have it delivered to your home
- Set up a command center so that the movers know where to find you if you’re not within sight
- Plan to tip your movers with cash
- Don’t get discouraged at how long it is taking. Loading is always much slower than unloading.
Once the movers have left, the idea of making this jumble of boxes and bins a home can feel overwhelming. There are a few things that you can do to ease the adjustment.
Prioritize the bathroom
First, prioritize the bathroom. Moving is a sweaty, dusty business and being able to take a shower and feel like yourself again is a big plus. So, put out your soap and toiletries, put your makeup in the vanity drawer, hang up some towels and put a bath rug on the floor. That way, you can feel refreshed and better prepared to tackle the work that’s left to do.
Enjoy your sleep
Everything seems better after a good night’s sleep, so make the beds as your second step to settling in. Make sure you know where you packed the bedding, pillows and quilts so that everyone is comfortable on your first night in your new home.
It can wait
The rest of the house can be prioritized according to your family’s needs. Many people tackle the kitchen items first because it is usually the source of the most boxes and getting those out of the way goes a long way to making your house feel like a home.
If your kids feel particularly unsettled by the move, you may want to prioritize their rooms so that they are soon surrounded by familiar toys and objects. If taking a break and hanging out together as a family is a goal, consider connecting your TV and settling into your family room space as soon as possible.
The important thing is to realize that it won’t get done overnight, tackling a little bit at a time and investing in a quality box cutter is a good strategy.
Finally, now that you’ve completed the move, you probably have noted things that worked well for your family, and things you wished had been done differently. Make a note of them while it’s still fresh on your mind and be ready for the next opportunity to create a smoother moving process for your family.
As you can see, preparation is the key to a smooth move. Follow our 28 tips to reduce stress, protect your belongings, come in on budget and feel at home in your new place quickly.
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