Last updated October 13, 2017
Congrats on your new home! Now you just have to figure out how you’re going to pack and move everything without breaking the bank, your fragile lamp, or your back. Good thing we put together this list of 41 easy moving and packing tips that will make your move dead simple.
How do we know these tips will make your move dead simple?
We asked expert movers, packers, and professional organizers to share their best tips.
So sit back, grab a snack, and dive in!
1. Get rid of everything.
Okay, maybe not everything, but the more unused and unnecessary items you eliminate from your home, the less stuff you’ll have to pack up, haul across town, unload, and organize.
Be ruthless with your stuff. That coat you think is cute but haven’t worn in four months? Donate it.
The very first coffee maker you ever bought that flavors your morning brew with little pieces of rust? Trash it.
Doing a massive preliminary purge will have the single biggest impact on the efficiency and ease of your entire packing process.
2. Sort things by category.
Take a cue from Marie Kondo and organize your belongings by category, not by room (note that the category part only applies to the organization process, not the unpacking — that’s a whole separate ordeal).
Instead of spending a day cleaning out your entire bedroom, spend an afternoon sorting through every article of clothing you own.
Scour every coat closet, dirty clothes hamper, and laundry room until you’ve got all your clothes in one place. Then sort.
Do the same thing for books, shoes, important papers, and the like.
Free Bonus: Download our step-by-step KonMari Cheat Sheet so you can easily organize everything in your home just like Marie Kondo.
3. Schedule a free donation pickup.
Save yourself a trip to your local Goodwill and schedule a MakeSpace pickup. In addition to picking up and storing practically anything (including furniture), we’ll also pick up your donation and drop it off to Goodwill — at no extra charge.
Pro Tip: If you’d like to donate to a different charity, check out our guide on where to donate your old clothes, books, furniture, toys, and more.
All you have to do is put your giveaway items in boxes and leave them on your doorstep.
The good men and women of Donation Town will then pick up your stuff and deliver it to a local charity of your choice.
4. Set aside stuff to sell.
You probably have a few items you no longer want, but would love to get a little money for. If that’s the case, set these items aside and determine where you can sell them.
For specialty items like a gently used Coach purse or your collection of 90’s Beanie Babies, get on eBay.
Once you have everything sorted, set a date on your calendar to visit the nearest Buffalo Exchange or craft descriptions of the items you plan to sell online.
5. Research professional moving companies.
Research is never fun. Yelp and Google will overwhelm you with the sheer volume of choices for household moving companies to hire, but don’t give in to the pressure and pick the first four-star rating you see.
A moving company can often make or break your entire moving experience, so it’s important to get it right. The more effort you put into finding a reputable company with excellent customer service ahead of time, the less hassle you’ll have on moving day.
Lift NYC recommends double-checking that the moving company you want to hire is licensed with the state you’re in.
“There are tens of thousands of people claiming to be a ‘moving company’ when in actuality it’s just some guy with a van trying to make some extra money,” says Mike Sulkowska of Lift NYC.
Make sure to read the company’s list of services, fine print, and refund or damage policies, too. For example, some companies don’t lift items that aren’t in boxes (so your stuffed-to-the-brim duffel bags won’t make the cut), while others ask for full payment several weeks early.
Find out the specifics so there are no unwelcome surprises come moving day.
Pro Tip: Use Unpakt to find trustworthy moving companies, compare prices, and book your move online in minutes.
6. Pick the right moving day.
Hire your movers at least a month out so you can plan accordingly. If you have a flexible schedule, play around with potential moving dates and try to find the cheapest time of month to make an appointment.
Moving companies are busiest on weekends, so if you can skip the Saturday chaos and schedule your move for a Tuesday, you might get a significant discount.
7. Map out the best way to get to your new home.
Whether you’re moving to NYC, across the country, across state lines, or just to a neighboring town, you’re going to need an efficient travel route so you don’t waste your move-in day sitting in gridlock traffic or pulling over three different times to type an address into your GPS.
Figure out the easiest, most efficient way to get where you’re going. Look up potential highway construction schedules ahead of time. And take traffic, detours, and necessary stops into account when you’re making your plan.
8. Create a master moving to-do list
When you move homes, you inevitably end up having 600 different things to do and remember. Don’t let all these tasks and important reminders, no matter how seemingly obvious, slip your mind.
No detail is too insignificant. You just remembered the name of the little bookstore in town that will accept your used novels? Write it down.
Not sure which novels to donate? Here’s how to decide what books to keep or get rid of.
You stuck that extra screw from the broken drawer next to the sink? Take note.
You have to return your cable box to your provider at least one day before you leave? Jot it down.
9. Put moving tasks on your calendar.
Take your organization a step further and spend an evening mapping out everything you have to do. Get an oversized calendar and mark the empty white boxes with important daily tasks to prepare for your move.
Tuesday: Call moving company.
Wednesday: Sort through toiletries.
Thursday: Buy new sheets.
An added bonus to using the calendar method is that breaking up your tasks by day makes them seem more manageable. Also, don’t forget to add “celebrate with wine” somewhere in there to give you something to look forward to.
10. Get moving boxes from your local liquor store.
Pay a visit to your local liquor store (that’s where you can buy the aforementioned wine) to see if they recycle their used boxes. If so, ask if you can grab a handful so you’re saving a little paper in your moving journey.
Just make sure the boxes are very gently worn and that you only use them to hold lightweight items like linens and towels. You don’t want to deal with ripped boxes and broken valuables on the big day.
11. Check to see if you have original boxes for your electronics.
You might think your flat screen TV could withstand a 30-minute drive across town in a cardboard box, but alas, it’s a fragile piece of technology. The best way to transport your electronics is in the original boxes they arrived in when you purchased them.
Check to see if you stashed these boxes somewhere — attic? Garage? If you don’t have them, make a list of what you’ll need to buy or borrow to properly cushion your stuff.
Quilted blankets, bubble wrap, and sturdy tape all work well to protect TVs and similarly delicate items.
Free Bonus: We asked the best moving companies to share their top packing tips. Learn all of them here.
12. Go to the hardware store.
How, you might ask, is one trip to the hardware store even possible?
Here’s how: lists.
Make one and make it really thorough and detailed. Sit down with your family, partner, or roommates and brainstorm every possible item you will need to help you get through the moving process.
Again, nothing is too insignificant. Packing tape, cardboard boxes, packing paper, extra screws, putty, a measuring tape, a new industrial-size broom, you name it. Buy it all in one big haul.
13. Grab extra packing and moving supplies.
Don’t forget the “just in case” items when you’re making your master hardware store list. Stock up now on extra supplies like light bulbs (check your lamps to verify the type you need), extension cords, and power strips so you’ll be set to go when you start moving things in.
14. Schedule disconnect times.
Call your cable, internet, electricity, and gas providers at least a week ahead of your move to figure out when you need to shut everything off. Make sure you leave enough time in your schedule to gather any necessary items — like cords, remotes, or cable boxes — you may need to return.
15. Call in favors early.
If you’re relying on friends and family to help with your move, be courteous and give them a month’s notice. Do the same with babysitters for your children.
Send out an email with the details of where to meet, what time, what to bring, and what to wear (read: no sundresses or uncomfortable shoes) so everyone is on the same page.
16. Pack ahead.
Packing little by little is far less stressful than trying to tackle it all in one day. As early as a couple months out, start packing the stuff you know you won’t be using.
This can be anything from off-season clothing to books you’ve already read to mementos, pictures (here’s how to store and preserve old photographs), and keepsakes.
17. Pack decorative items a few weeks out.
Pack up all your art and decorative items several weeks before you move. These pieces can be some of the trickiest to store because they’re fragile and often oddly shaped, so having a bit of extra time to figure out how to properly cushion them is crucial.
Sure, your walls and mantels will look a bit stark, but when you’re running around the house a week before the move feeling like you’re about to lose your mind, you’ll be so glad your grandma’s landscape painting is already nestled in its precious bubble wrap.
18. Change your address a week before you move.
This is one of those things everyone forgets to do until they’re two weeks into life in a new home and they realize their Amazon Prime shipment still hasn’t arrived. Change your address ahead of time so your bills, credit card statements, and packages can arrive on time and without hassle.
19. Label moving boxes like a boss.
The key to finding your stuff easily is labeling all your packed boxes accurately and clearly. When you’re stacking boxes in a van or car you won’t be able to see their tops, so make sure you label the sides as well. But don’t stop there.
Label the boxes by category and by room (for example, Books, Library and Books, Bedroom) to speed up the unloading process.
If you’re more of a visual learner, use color-coded electrical tape to label your boxes.
20. Create a number system.
If you want to take your box labeling a step further, create a number system.
As you pack up a box, take note of every single item inside of it. Write the list in a Google doc, or use a handy organizing app like Sortly, and then give the box a number.
This genius strategy has two major benefits:
- You can go straight to box #16 with the plunger instead of digging through every “Bathroom” box just to find it.
- You’ll know the total number of boxes you’re transporting so you can check to see if one goes missing or is stolen.
21. Use small boxes for heavy items.
It sounds obvious, but if you’ve ever known the struggle that is carrying a large cardboard box stuffed full of college textbooks across a parking lot, then you also know this advice cannot be overstated.
Fill your small boxes with heavier items and use large boxes for light things like decorative pillows, towels, and linens (here’s how to properly clean and store your bedding).
22. Use packing tape.
Not to be confused with duct tape, packing tape is the heavy-duty, insanely sticky clear tape you see at the post office.
Always make sure your boxes have tops, but don’t do the interlocking fold method with the flaps of your box tops — just tape them closed. It’s much more secure this way.
23. Protect fragile items with packing paper, bubble wrap, or blankets.
Remember that packing paper you put on your master list when you stocked up on supplies at the hardware store?
Use it to pad all your fragile dishware and decorative items. Stuff it inside glasses, wrap it around vases and bowls, and shove it between your dishes and the side of your boxes.
Make sure you wrap each of your fragile items separately, so they’re fully cushioned. If you don’t have packing paper, opt for bubble wrap or a quilted blanket.
24. Pack dishes vertically.
Don’t stack your dishes horizontally inside a box. Instead, wrap your plates and bowls in packing paper, gently place them into a box on their sides like records, and then fill the empty spaces with bubble wrap to prevent cracking and breaking.
25. Cover the tops of toiletry bottles with Saran Wrap.
To prevent potential leaking and spilling (and crying and cursing), take an extra two minutes as you pack to secure your toiletry bottles.
Unscrew the cap of your shampoo bottle, wrap a piece of Saran Wrap (or a Ziploc bag) over the top, and screw the cap back on. Simple and surprisingly effective.
26. Pack a clear plastic box with things you’ll need right away.
This can include toilet paper, a shower curtain, hand soap, towels, sheets, snacks, or whatever else you think you’ll need for the first day or night in your new home.
Having a few essential items on hand will make you feel more comfortable and prepared to tackle unpacking everything else.
27. Pack a personal overnight bag.
Chances are you won’t get everything unpacked in the first day, so bring whatever you need to feel relaxed and settled on your first night.
A change of clothes, your toiletries, a water bottle, and your laptop can go a long way in making your new place feel more like home.
28. Stop buying groceries a week before you leave.
To save you the guilt of throwing away perfectly decent food, stop buying groceries a week or two before you’re scheduled to move. Try to make meals at home to use all the food you have left.
If you don’t finish everything, invite a friend or two over to see if they need some half-finished spices or boxes of pasta.
For anything you can’t get rid of, toss it and don’t look back.
For anything you decide to hold onto, store it in any of our 48 kitchen storage hacks that will keep everything in your kitchen incredibly organized.
29. Take pictures of your electronics.
Before you take them apart and pack them up, take a few pictures of the back of your electronic devices — the cord situations, if you will.
Having these pictures will make it that much easier to set up your TV or monitor as soon as you move in — no fretting necessary.
30. Put your storage bins and luggage to use.
Instead of trying to figure out how to pack up all your woven seagrass baskets, linen bins, and carry-on suitcases, store stuff inside them.
Think clothes and shoes for sturdy suitcases, and hand towels and pillowcases for lightweight, open-top bins and baskets.
31. Make copies of important papers.
Pack a separate box or briefcase with copies of all your important documents in case of an emergency.
Though it might be a tedious project to scan or copy every birth certificate, passport, social security card, proof of insurance paper, and tax claim, you don’t want to risk damaging the only version of your papers in transit. They’re too precious.
32. Set aside cleaning supplies for moving day.
Build a mini cleanup kit so you can do one final sweep through your home on moving day.
Set aside a broom, mop, dustpan, duster, sponge, cleaning products, paper towels, and old rags for wiping the grimy, hidden surfaces you could never get to when all your stuff was in the way.
If you’re more the DIY type, try these five easy cleaning hacks that are ridiculously effective.
33. Defrost your fridge at least one day before you move.
Who wants to wake up to a grungy, mildewy fridge in their new home?
No one. No one at all.
Take time to thoroughly clean your fridge and wipe away all the liquid before you haul it to your new home.
34. Load boxes from the same rooms together.
Stack and load boxes in groups according to the rooms indicated on the labels. Put all the kitchen stuff together, all the bedroom stuff together, and all the living room stuff together.
That way, you can unload all the boxes from the same rooms at the same time, which makes unpacking everything a cinch.
35. Load heavy furniture into the moving truck first.
Have the person with the highest Tetris score be in charge of figuring out how to fit everything in the back of the moving truck in the most efficient way possible.
Be gentle with everything, as most seemingly wooden items are not actually made from wood, but particle board.
Don’t be afraid to flip things over, either — couches actually transport well on their sides and save a ton of space in the process.
36. Take pictures of your new home before you move anything in.
This moving tip really only applies if you’re renting your new home:
Before your friends and family start stacking boxes in the entryway, or scuffing the doorway trying to shove your couch through, snap a few shots of your space so you can note any existing damage.
It’ll be more difficult to prove you didn’t cause that damage after you’ve moved in all your furniture.
Pro Tip: Nothing puts a dent in your moving happiness like putting a dent in the wall. So pick up one of these space-saving sofas and couches that will actually fit in your apartment.
37. Delegate tasks when you’re unloading the moving truck.
Figure out ahead of time who will be the chief of moving day. Whoever feels comfortable taking charge of the unloading and organization process (and inevitably answering 400 different questions) should assume this position.
Delegate every little task so no one is wasting time or sitting around with nothing to do. With all hands on deck, your unpacking process will fly by.
38. Keep Ziploc bags handy.
Keep a stash of Ziploc bags in your purse or backpack for the big moving day. You can use the bags to store doorknobs, tiny screws and brackets, luggage keys, or other small, easily forgettable items.
39. Make the beds first.
Certified professional organizer and productivity consultant Jennifer Lava recommends making your beds as soon as you move in. That way, instead of worry about tucking in your dust ruffle, or finding the right set of sheets at the end of a long night, you can just crash out right away.
40. Be a good host.
Make sure you take care of the people who help you move, regardless of whether or not they’re being paid to do it.
Provide beverages and snacks for everyone, break for pizza, or pay for everyone’s dinner and get it delivered using a food ordering app like Seamless.
Pro Tip: Say your friends want food delivered from a restaurant that doesn’t actually deliver. Do you give up and settle for a different restaurant that does deliver?
Use an errand-outsourcing service like TaskRabbit to pick up food everyone really wants and deliver it to you.
For everything you don’t want to take with you but can’t say goodbye to yet, schedule a MakeSpace pickup.
We’ll pick up all your stuff (yep, even your heavy furniture, bike, AC unit, and luggage), store it in our secure and temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog so you can see everything without having to visit a self-storage unit.
The best part: Whenever you need an item back, all you have to do is select its photo and we’ll deliver it to you.
Choose your city to learn more about MakeSpace in your area:
This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.