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Packing Moving Tips
Planning a move soon? Whether it’s just around the corner or across the country, moving can be a hassle. Packing everything you own is a task for sure! Here we’ve compiled some of the best tips and hacks out there to help protect your belongings and your sanity.
First thing first- choose a labeling system. Color coding and numbering boxes can help keep your things more secure and organized movers or helpers will be in and out of your home. Designate a color for each room or area, and then number the boxes and keep a key or list with you describing the contents, like a spreadsheet or list on your phone or tablet. For example, your box may have a green dot and number 3 on the label instead of a scribbled word like “electronics.” Start over on the numbering for each room or color-coded area and make note of the total number of boxes per room before everything is loaded up. In the new home, you can simply put a sticker on each door and tell the movers to match the color on the box’s label with the sticker on the door to determine where it goes. Numbering boxes and keeping a key not only reduces temptation to steal your more valuable belongings, it will also help you quickly determine if any boxes to missing. Colored dot or star stickers can be used for this purpose, or you can order “inventory stickers.” This type of system can be especially helpful if you’re re-using boxes from a previous move or getting them 2nd hand, since your labeling system will probably stand out from previous labels.
Start early! If you know you’re going to be moving in a few months, or even within the next year, begin slowly packing things that you won’t use until you’re in the new place. After each season change or holiday take some time to pare down your decorations and clothing. Do you really want to keep those 8 strings of lights with a dozen burned-out bulbs? That acid-wash jean jacket with the neon patches? What about that dollar store garland that fills an entire box? Get rid of anything that’s no longer serving its purpose or won’t realistically be used again, and then securely pack the rest. At the end of each season spend some time washing, paring down, and packing seasonal clothing as well.
Minimize your stuff! Like really minimize it. Moving truck, container, and storage space all costs money, as does the labor to physically move it if you hire help. Even if you don’t, that’s your time and effort being spent! Go through closets, attic space, garages, anywhere that accumulates stuff in your home and be brutally honest with yourself about what you’ll use it again and what will continue to sit in storage. Don’t waste time and money transporting things that you don’t need or want. Sell it or donate it and enjoy a tax deduction instead. Also consider things like curtains. Even if they match your current décor, the next house might not have windows the same size or shape. You may even be inspired to give your new home a whole new look after the move!
Keep the important available. Set aside a plastic bin for the items you’ll need during your transition. Things like a screwdriver and hammer, scissors, chargers, cleaning wipes, etc. are things you’ll need up to the last minute in the old home and again on the first day in the new one. Other items to include would be bed sheets, a set of towels, toilet paper, paper towels, dishes, soap, and let’s face it, you’ll probably want a flyswatter in there, too. You’ll also need your financial documents, if you’re planning to apply for a loan or a rental. To make things easier, scan all the documents you think you might need (bank statements, paycheck stubs, tax returns, previous surveys and appraisals, etc.) and save them on a flash drive or CD in your bin. Better still, upload them to a secure online document storage site that you can access from anywhere. Keep this bin with you in the car, if possible, or at least ensure that is easily accessible from the moving truck. Identification documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, passports, and any other official forms of identification should be kept in a locked safe and transported with you, as well any regular medication and emergency medications (like epi-pens). Throw in some muscle pain cream, too. You’ll probably need that after all the physical labors of packing and carrying things.
Use your existing things in different ways to save on packing supplies. Bulkier soft items like household linens, clothing, and toys can be used to pad and protect breakables! Instead of folding your towels and placing them in a single “linen closet” box, use them to wrap around lamps, vases, picture frames, etc. Use stuffed animals in place of packing peanuts or newspaper to fill the space around larger items. Plastic grocery bags can be crumpled and used for filling as well. Socks and dish rags make great padding for dishes and glassware, or stack Styrofoam dishes in between plates and bowls. Recycle egg cartons and toilet empty toilet paper rolls to organize smaller items and wires. Thread necklaces through straws or toilet paper rolls to keep them from tangling. You might not be planning to keep your old pool noodles, so cut them in half and use as bumpers to prevent scratches on your furniture. Rubber bands make great bumpers for smaller items and can help hold the padding in place. Use a rubber band to hold your door latch as well, so that you can push the door open without turning the handle when your hands are full.
Bag it up. When taking apart furniture pieces, place the screws, bolts, washers, etc. in a snack sized storage bag and tape it to a large piece of the item with masking tape. If you think the tape is likely to damage the finish, tape the bag to a piece of ribbon or twine and tie it on instead. Be sure to label each bag in case any come loose in the move. This way you won’t have to search through a box of screws when it’s time to put everything together again! You can use trash bags to pack hanging clothing in your closet as well. Separate the clothes and slide a bag over them, bottom to top, and tie around the base of the hanger hooks before hanging them in a wardrobe box. Not only will the bag help keep things dry, it also keeps clothing on their hangers and catches anything that falls off. With the wide variety of plastic storage bags, shrink wrap, and press wrap products, just about anything can be protected from moisture, dust, and bugs during a move.
Enlist your smart phone. If you don’t have the assembly instructions for an item anymore, take pictures of the hardware and connectors before you remove them to have as a reference when it’s time to put it back together. Snap a pic of the wiring behind your TV and other electronics before disconnecting anything as well. If you’re renting your new place, take photos of each room before you bring anything in. This way if you find yourself trying to convince your landlord that the spot in the carpet was there before you moved in, you’ve got a photo to prove it! Take photos of brand names and serial numbers for all of your electronics and appliance, in case you need to file an insurance claim (if one is broken or misplaced by movers), or for quick reference when you need to look up manuals online. You can even photograph boxes before you close them to use as your box key. Pre-program phone numbers, email addresses and physical addresses in your contacts for your movers, hotels, new pharmacy, new landlord or mortgage company, etc. that you might need on the road or your first few days in the new place. Keep other important details saved in your notes app. Be sure to back everything up, ideally using a cloud storage, before your move.
Leave no space empty. Since square footage costs you during a move, use every available inch wisely! Place your small tchotchkes inside of shoes, fill posts and pans with smaller kitchen gadgets or spices, fill your decorative baskets and containers, and place smaller boxes inside of drawer spaces or shelves on the truck. Inside the truck, stack long items like couches and headboards vertically to maximize the floor space. Laundry baskets are great for carrying bulky items wrapped in plastic, or those awkwardly shaped things like small kitchen appliances.
Mix and match weights. It’s tempting to keep like items together, but even a smaller box full of books can break your back! Rather than pack 100 small boxes with all of your heavy things, mix heavy items with lighter-weight bulky items. Clothing and linens that weren’t used for padding are great to mix with books. Also consider things like curtains and throw pillows. If you’re not going to be traveling in between for long, use duffel bags for your clothing and fill the wheeled suitcases with books and other heavy items. Even if you’re hiring movers, you may need to shift boxes around in the new home as you unpack, so they’ll need to be manageable to handle. Speaking of handles, if your boxes don’t come with any pre-imprinted, use a box cutter to cut out a triangle with the point down to serve as a handle. But cut the triangle before filling the box, so you don’t damage the contents. If you’re concerned about moisture and bugs, cover the inside of the triangle with tape or press wrap before filling the box.
Control the liquids. Try to use up as many cleaning products and food items as you can before moving. In a perfect world, the only liquids you’ll need to bring will be travel sized toiletries (see above note about ). But if there are liquids that will be making the trip, you’ll want to prevent spills. Remove the caps and cover the opening with a piece of plastic or press wrap and put the cap back on. If the bottle or container isn’t hard, wrap it with a paper towel and secure with tape or a rubber band. Place the bottles inside of a plastic storage or grocery bag and seal before placing in a box or storage container.
We hope that some of these hacks will help make your move a little easier! See our previous blogs for more tips on moving with children and pets as well.
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With a background in marketing and journalism, Lisa Ellard is well-equipped to offer each of her clients savvy business advice, while always keeping their lifestyle needs a priority. She is a detail-....