Congratulations! Your house has sold. Now it’s time to get packing! Decide if you want help packing or perhaps packing is your strong suit. I always tell customers to get help for the part of the move that overwhelms them the most. Some people don’t mind packing up one bit and then when it comes to putting it all away in their new home, they are paralyzed to unpack the boxes. The opposite is also true so decide where you’d like to ask for help. Most movers can quote you for packing as well, or several organizing companies like my own will help you pack as well.
If you decide to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself, here’s where to start.
In the upcoming weeks, it’s time to start eating up everything in your pantry and refrigerator. Avoid packing food and perishables. In a moving truck, the perishables will spoil and melt on the way (unless it’s a very short local move) so it’s best to get rid of these things and buy new food items when you get to the new place.
Choose the right size boxes for the right stuff. Use small boxes for books and other heavy items. Use large boxes for lampshades and bulky bedding. Medium boxes are the best for the kitchen. Spend the extra money for extra heavy-duty boxes for tools. They will break through the regular boxes.
I usually ship boxes and packing material to the front door. Boxes are so awkward and bulky so it’s easier to have them delivered to your front door. Always overestimate instead of underestimate. You can always return what you don’t use. And don’t buy the cheapest packing tape. The higher quality will make it easier to put boxes together and you won’t spend half your day fighting with the tape dispenser.
Knowing how many boxes you have and what contents are in each will help you direct movers to place them in the appropriate rooms in your new home and enable you to unpack quickly. Be sure to label all boxes and label as “Fragile” when appropriate. It is super helpful for the moving company or professional organizers unpacking you. If you want a precise log or list of your stuff, number boxes and record the contents on one master list in a notebook or on your laptop. Not everyone does this step but at a minimum count or number boxes.
Always pack an entire space before moving onto the next space. Never fill a box in one room, take it another room and put a few more items from that second room. Mixing items triple the time on the other end to unpack. Pack like items with each other and pack one complete space or room so all your books for example from your library are packed together in all the boxes labeled library.
Start by packing the things you use the least and the things that are currently out of season. Spare bedrooms, linen closets, and bathrooms are an excellent place to start. Holiday and seasonal items are also great to get out of the way. You are done decorating and staging, so pack up the excess.
Next tackle the kids’ toy room and bedrooms. Pack everything but their absolute favorite toys. Takedown all the stuff all over their walls and get it packed up.
Always pack valuables separately and take them with you in your car rather than the moving truck. Although you would never expect it to happen, your valuables can get stolen by those you would least expect it. Make sure to keep your jewelry, electronics, stocks, collections, birth certificates, and social security cards nearby.
Avoid packing hazardous or dangerous materials. This would include aerosol cans, propane tanks, gasoline cans, ammunition, and flammables like charcoal, matches, and lighter fluid. Most moving companies won’t transport anything on this list. All of these items are too dangerous to move and should either be thrown away, used up before moving, or simply left behind.
Don’t forget about your plants. Carefully plan specific boxes for each plant. Don’t enclose and stifle the plant’s air supply. Leave the box tops open and secure the round pot bases at the bottom of the boxes with moving paper or bubble wrap. This will prevent tipping and shifting while in your vehicle. Yes, you must move them. Movers won’t. Water them before the moving journey and be sure to take them out of your car first thing when you arrive at your new home.
Mark three to five boxes as “open first”. This will save you a lot of time and your move will go much more smoothly. These boxes will generally include garbage bags, paper towels, cleaning products, batteries, light bulbs, medications, hand soap, a couple of rolls of toilet paper, pet food, etc. Anything you will need the first couple of hours or days in your new home should be stashed in these “open first” boxes.
Your travel bag will be packed last. Each family member should pack a suitcase with their favorites and essentials. Keeping your toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, spare clothes, pajamas, prescriptions, and the kids’ favorite blanket, toy or stuffed animal on hand is good just in case something happens. Don’t give those to the moving truck. Those pieces of luggage then will be easy to access for the family on the first night in the house or the hotel.