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Whether you’re moving to a new home across town or relocating cross-county, it’s crucial to plan ahead and stay organized. We’ve researched dozens of top moving companies, spoken to industry experts, and surveyed homeowners about their moving experiences. Here are our tips to ensure a stress-free move.
1. Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is key to a successful move. Three concrete steps you should take during the planning stage are developing a timeline, determining your budget, and researching your moving options.
Develop a Timeline
Creating a timeline will help you stay on track during the moving process. Start by determining your move date, then work backwards to identify important tasks and when they should be completed. Give yourself ample time to do each task, building in some buffer time in case unexpected issues arise.
Determine Your Budget
Moving costs can add up quickly, so it’s important to determine your budget early on. Consider all the costs associated with your move, including local or long-distance moving services, packing materials, and storage unit fees. Set aside a little extra for emergencies and unanticipated expenses.
Research Moving Options
Renters and homeowners have several moving options:
- Hiring a full-service moving company
- Renting a moving truck for a do-it-yourself (DIY) move
- Using a portable moving container
- Hiring labor-only movers to help with loading and unloading
- Renting a trailer to tow your belongings behind your vehicle
- Using a freight trailer service to transport your belongings
Research the pros and cons of each option to determine which one is best for your specific needs and budget. If you’re hiring a moving company, read reviews, check their credentials, and get quotes from multiple providers to ensure you get the best deal.
2. Establish a Moving Checklist
Creating a moving checklist is a great way to stay organized and keep track of tasks. Start by listing everything you need to do before, during, and after your move. Here are some examples of what you might put on the list:
- Hire a reputable moving company or rent a truck.
- Submit a change of address form.
- Gather packing supplies.
- Transfer or disconnect your utilities.
- Notify important contacts.
- Research schools and doctors in your new area.
- Make arrangements for pets and plants.
- Label all moving boxes.
- Disassemble furniture and large items.
- Stock up on staples, such as toilet paper and paper towels.
- Pack a separate bag with essentials.
- Clean your old home before you leave.
- Unpack and organize your new home.
Refer to the list frequently to avoid forgetting important tasks.
3. Purge Unnecessary Items
Getting rid of unnecessary items before your move can save money, time, and hassle. Use moving as an opportunity to declutter your home. Here are some tips to guide you:
- Start early: Begin purging items as soon as you know you’re moving. This will give you time to sort through everything gradually and decide what to keep, donate, sell, or toss.
- Sort items by category: Go through each room, and sort items into piles based on categories, such as clothes, books, or kitchenware. This will make it easier to see what you have and decide what to keep.
- Consider your new space: Think about the layout and size of your new home when deciding what to keep. Consider whether certain items will fit in your new space and whether you really need them.
- Get rid of duplicates: If you have multiple items that serve the same purpose, consider keeping only the one you use the most and eliminating the rest.
- Sell or donate items: If you have items in good condition that you no longer need, consider selling them online or donating them to a local charity.
- Dispose of items responsibly: If you have items that can’t be sold, donated, or given away, dispose of them responsibly. Find a hazardous waste facility or recycling center.
4. Get Organized and Gather Supplies
Create an inventory of everything you plan to pack, then list all the supplies you’ll need. Determine the type, size, and quantity of moving boxes you need.
Once you have a list, buy your supplies well before your move to avoid any last-minute scrambling. Invest in high-quality supplies to ensure your belongings are protected during the move. This includes strong packing tape, bubble wrap, and sturdy cardboard boxes. You may also need mattress bags, plastic wrap for furniture and rugs, wardrobe boxes for hanging clothes, and other specialty boxes.
5. Pack Smart and Label All Boxes
Here are the best packing tips to ensure your belongings arrive at your new home safely:
- Use the right boxes: Choose the right type of box for each item you’re packing. For example, use small boxes for heavy items to make them easier to pick up and carry. Use large boxes for light items, such as stuffed animals and linens.
- Pack securely: Use packing paper or bubble wrap to fill empty space in boxes. This will prevent items from shifting during transit.
- Label all boxes: Use a permanent marker to label each box clearly with its contents and the room it belongs in. This will make it easier to unpack and organize your new home.
- Use color-coded labels: Consider using color-coded labels to indicate the priority or location of each box, such as “open first” or “donate/sell.”
- Pack fragile items carefully: Use bubble wrap or packing paper to wrap breakables, and label those boxes with the word “fragile” in large letters.
- Keep important items separate: Pack a separate bag with essentials, such as toiletries, a change of clothes, and important documents. Keep it with you during the move.
- Don’t pack boxes too full: Avoid over-packing boxes, which will make them difficult to move.
6. Disassemble Furniture and Other Large Items
Disassembling large items before your cross-country move can make them easier to transport and help protect them from damage. Start by taking apart items such as bed frames, desks, bookshelves, and other furniture. Use plastic bags to keep screws and bolts organized and label them for easy reassembly later. If you’re unsure how to disassemble certain items, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or consider hiring a professional to do it for you.
7. Have a Plan for Unpacking and Setting Up
Having a plan for unpacking and setting up your new home can help you feel more organized and settled in. Here are some tips:
- Create a floor plan: Sketch a floor plan of your new home, noting where you want to place furniture and other large items. This will make it easier to direct movers and ensure everything fits.
- Unpack essentials first: Start by unpacking the essentials, such as bedding, toiletries, and kitchen items, to help yourself settle in.
- Prioritize by room: Unpack one room at a time, starting with the most important or frequently used rooms.
- Break down boxes as you go: Break down and recycle boxes as you unpack to avoid cluttering your new space.
- Take your time: Unpacking and setting up your new home can be a slow process. Take your time and enjoy making your new space your own.
8. Update Your Contact Information
Visit your local post office or the USPS website to submit a change of address form and set up mail forwarding. Then, list important contacts who will need your updated contact information. This may include the following:
- Banks and credit card companies
- Government agencies (DMV, IRS, etc.)
- Utility companies
- Other service providers
- Subscription services
- Your employer
Updating your contact information ensures you’ll continue to receive important correspondence and avoid missing any important deadlines or bills.
9. Make Sure All Necessary Documents Are Transported
Use file folders to organize all important documents. This includes birth certificates, passports, insurance policies, and financial records. Store these folders in a fireproof box for extra protection.
Make physical or digital copies of all important documents and store them separately. That way, you’ll have a backup if the originals are lost or damaged. Keep the documents with you throughout the move rather than packing them in a moving truck or shipping them.
Moving can be stressful, but following these tips will make the process smoother and more efficient. Create a moving checklist, declutter, and gather the right supplies. Then, follow our tips to pack smart, develop an unpacking plan, and update your contact information. Remember to take your time, stay organized, and enlist professional help when necessary.
Moving Tips FAQ
What is the most efficient way to pack when moving?
The most efficient way to pack when moving is to start early, have a plan, and pack strategically. Here are some steps to follow:Purge before packing.Pack least-used items first.Disassemble furniture and large items.Label boxes clearly on the top and sides.Create an inventory and color-coded labels for each room.Focus on one room at a time.Pack an overnight bag with essentials.
What are the most important items to bring when moving?
The most important items to bring when moving are essential personal items, such as important documents, medications, toiletries, and a change of clothes. You’ll also need bedding and basic kitchen supplies for your first night and morning in your new home. Consider keeping any fragile or valuable items with you instead of packing them in a moving truck.
What are some tips for moving heavy furniture?
Here are some tips for moving heavy furniture:Disassemble as much as possible for easier carrying.Use furniture slides or moving blankets to protect floors.Ask family and friends for help.Use a dolly, hand truck, or lifting straps.Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.Take breaks as needed.Consider hiring professional movers.