1. List & Label
Come up with a very specific organization system that will leave no guesswork when it comes to what’s been packed, where it’s been packed and what each box contains. Start off by writing a detailed checklist for each and every room in your home, including what needs to be packed, what you won’t be taking with you and what needs to be done to clean that particular room. When it comes to labeling, be concise: instead of “bathroom supplies” written on a box, instead say “toilet paper, towels and soap” so you know exactly where each item is. It’ll make things much easier when you move in, since you’ll need to have access right away to things like toilet paper, paper towels, and trash bags.
2. Don’t Delay Packing
Even if you won’t be moving for a couple of months, begin packing today and do it in small steps so you never feel like it’s a big job. Start by packing away things you know you won’t use before moving day and go from there. By the time moving day arrives, this should leave you with very little—if anything—to pack. Pack just a box or two a day and you’ll be surprised at how manageable packing up feels.
3. Get Rid of Some Stuff
There’s no doubt about it: over the years, you’ll probably have collected a lot of odds and ends around your home. From impulse kitchen gadget purchases (when was the last time you used that quesadilla maker?) to boxes upon boxes of holiday décor (hello, circa 1975 tinsel Santa), moving makes a great time to get rid of some of the clutter that can feel like it’s practically choking you. Make some extra cash by selling the items at a moving sale or on Craigslist, or get yourself a nice tax deduction by donating it to a local charity, such as a homeless shelter, Goodwill or The Salvation Army.
4. Hire a Mover
I know what you’re thinking—well, duh! Many people forego hiring a professional moving company due to the cost, but if you prepare for it ahead of time, it may very well be something you can afford. When we purchased our home a little over a year ago, we moved from a very modest three-bedroom bungalow to a less-modest four-bedroom split a few miles away. We packed our boxes and had a moving company come in to move the whole thing, and the whole transaction ran us just over $600. Even better, the entire moving process was done in about four hours flat—something we could have never claimed had we done it ourselves. Obviously that didn’t include unpacking, but my husband and I both agreed that hiring a mover was a very smart decision on our end, and that the convenience alone was worth twice what we’d paid. If cost is a consideration (and let’s be honest—of course it is), put a fund aside for just that—or use the proceeds from your moving sale to fund it. A professional mover was definitely worth the cost for us, and it could be for you as well.
5. Unpack at Once
Unpacking after a big move is a daunting task, but it’s one that’s best done relatively quickly. Plan to have your things unpacked—or at least, mostly unpacked—within three days after you move in, if possible. While this will lead you to a few days of aching bones, it makes moving feel a whole lot less stressful when it’s just one and done. Leaving boxes around for weeks or months can increase stress, leaving you to feel like you never have enough time to get everything done. Devoting an entire day or weekend to unpacking—and then sticking with it—will allow you to focus on other things, like your family—and hanging up those family pictures that are required to make your new house really feel like home.