The prospect of moving is exciting for many. We love the idea of starting fresh and creating a new life for ourselves. However, the actual details surrounding a move can be daunting, and there is so much that’s beyond our control. And while many moves are by choice, it’s still a disruption in the routine, and any disruption cause stress that affects the entire family.
Planning ahead and staying organized as you plan your move can help lower your stress and ease the transition so that it’s as smooth as possible. We asked some of the most organized people we know––professional organizers––for tips on how to stay calm, cool, and collected during a move, and have collected their best tips here.
“Make sure to schedule movers or schedule a truck rental as soon as you know what the move date will be. You definitely don’t want to end up without the necessities for the move,” says Robyn Reynolds of Organize2Harmonize.
“Use a calendar to plan each step of your move. Include when to start packing, when to schedule movers, when to finalize payments and paperwork. This is the first step to feel that you are in control of what’s going on and create a plan that works for you,” says Ellen Delap.
“As far ahead of your move as possible, go through your entire home and look at all of your possessions. Open every cabinet and drawer. Let go of what you don’t need, use or love. Why pay to move things you don’t like or can’t use?” says Jennifer Lava.
Supplies that may come in handy for moving include an apron with pockets, a folding table, cleaning supplies, sharpies, post-it notes and/or construction paper in different colors, masking and packing tape, scissors, markers, rubber bands, all sizes of zip lock bags, measuring tape, a box cutter, goo gone, shelf liners, garbage bags, and a step stool.
Many organizers recommend setting up a “moving station” so that all of the supplies have one home. You may consider purchasing large plastic tubs and label them for items to be recycled, given away, and sold. The plastic tubs can also be stacked to reach high things if you don’t have a ladder. Every organizer with experience moving recommends that clients pack a suitcase as if going out of town for a weekend so that they have everything they need within reach.
“Select the right boxes. For books, use a 12×12 cube. Cut out finger holes in the sides to make it easy for you to pick them up and move them,” suggests Bertilson.
Create a Moving Binder
Hazel Thornton of Organized For Life recommends a 3-ring binder with A-Z tabs, a pouch for holding pens and sticky notes, pockets or plastic page protectors for holding brochures, and business card holder pages.
“You don’t have to know your categories in advance, just file things when you get them according to where you would look for them later,” Thornton says.
If you’re digitally inclined, you can use an app like Evernote to capture, gather, and organize websites, photos, and notes about your move.
Each of the professional organizers I spoke with recommended packing like things together.
“Keep your tape gun, black marker, scissors, and any other needed items in a bucket and bring it with you to the area you are packing,” says Stacey Agin Murray of Organized Artistry. “This makes it easy to bring them to the next room or level of your home and avoid misplacing them.
“People think they are saving on packing paper by wrapping the glass vase in a bath towel, or making good use of space, by filling up the half-full box of holiday decor with shoes,” said Thornton. “Miscellaneous is not a category, it’s a lost china set in the making.”
“Assign a color for each area or room in your home. Use colored pens, colored tape or colored stickers that can easily be seen across a room. This will help make it easier for kitchen boxes to end up in the kitchen and bathroom boxes to end up in the bathroom, etc.,” says Jennifer Lava.
“Label both the top and sides of your boxes so you can read the labels even when they’re stacked,” says Sarah Soboleski of Classically Organized.
Moving is a marathon, not a sprint, and like a long race, preparation and self-care are important.
“Be sure you are well hydrated, getting rest and eating properly,” says Ellen Delap.
“Always pack a survival box with essentials like toilet paper, sheets, towel, soap, toothpaste, coffee pot, plastic ware, extension cord, kleenex, paper towels, note pad, pen, etc.,” says Sue DeRoos of OrganizeU.
“Keep moving paperwork and important documents in a portable file that you take in your car. When you arrive, designate a location where everything important (keys, lease, phone, etc.) will be put until new systems are set up,” says The Seana Method’s Seana Turner.
“Pack your rugs last so that when you move in they come out first and you won’t have to move furniture to place them later,” suggests Liana George of By George Organizing Solutions.
“Put things on Craigslist or Freecycle for free pick-up to get rid of things at the last-minute that you don’t want to move,” says Bertilson.
The Big Day
“Arrive early to the new home and label the door of every room so that the movers can match the names (and/or colors) of the boxes to the names of the rooms,” says Lisa Montanero. “This saves you having to stand there and direct traffic all day.”
Best practices apply when it comes to unpacking to ensure that you get the important items set up that you’ll need during the first few days.
“First make the beds, then unpack the essentials in the bathroom, and finally get as much as you can unpacked and put away in the kitchen. If you can sleep, do basic grooming and eat dinner your first night in the new home, it will be so much easier and less stressful to tackle the rest of the unpacking work,” says Lava.
“Open items over a box filled with packing paper so that if pieces slip out, there will be a soft landing and they won’t get broken,” says Turner. “Flatten the paper as you unpack. It takes more time, but ultimately makes the cleanup easier, Turner says.
Throw Money at the Problem
“If you’re completely overwhelmed at the prospect, consider hiring a professional to manage the process. It saves a lot of headache,” says Turner.
“We create a home, we don’t just unpack. We do it quickly, and we think of the extras. A lot of companies will not hang art, will not hook up electronics. Professional organizers can forward their mail, grocery shop the day of the move or the day after, make sure their coffee maker and coffee is never packed and is brewed the morning of the move,” says Kristin Bertilson of Queen B Organizing, who handles a lot of moves for her clients.
Hopefully these tips, and a little advance planning, will make your move much easier and less stressful.