If you are reading this post, then you are probably moving soon. Maybe you have some experience and maybe you don’t. I consider myself to be pretty proficient in packing up a house to move. Whether your move is across the country or down the street, you have come to the right place for advice because I have done it all! I have moved 18 times in my life, 7 of them being HUGE moves across the country, so you could say I have some experience with moving. Along the way I have discovered many useful tips and want to share them with you as I prepare for yet another big move across the country myself very soon. This post is long but it is packed (no pun intended) with my top 10 most useful moving tips and information to help make your move easier.
1 // PLAN, PLAN, PLAN! This is number one on my 10 best moving tips list! You never have enough time. Procrastinating will make you disorganized and give you anxiety. It will also cause you to be rushed and have to pay more to move things you don’t necessarily want to move. Whether you are moving from a rented apartment or a large home you own, you need to plan out your packing 4 weeks ahead of time to allow the move to be an organized and pleasant experience. Get your calendar out and start to plan something for every day. I have created a printable 4 week calendar to help keep you on track and help you prepare to move.
Download the printable below to keep yourself on track!
4 Week Packing Calendar
2 // PURGE, PURGE, PURGE! You always have more stuff than you think you do. You realize quickly when you start to pack that you have much more stuff in the closets and cupboards than you think you do and you can end up being overwhelmed and anxious. Starting to pack sooner than later will allow you to PURGE. No matter what, we all accumulate things that we do not need that is either junk that needs to be thrown away or things we no longer use that can be a blessing to someone else’s life.
If you don’t start purging early, you will be forced to put things in boxes that you don’t love, or that you otherwise would have gotten rid of, and pay to move it. As you begin to clean out your spaces, have one location for all of the things you are getting rid of so it will all be in one place for donating or for a garage sale. I suggest setting up 3 boxes…one for throw away items, one for garage sale and one for donations.
I love to donate….my husband jokes that I purchase things just so I can donate them. In one of our earlier moves I packed up everything in our home. A few years and a few moves later I still had boxes from that move that had never been opened and full of items I obviously didn’t need. Don’t be like me. PURGE. Here are some of my favorite places to donate in Indianapolis with links. (You may have something similar where you live.):
-Take those bikes to a place where they teach youth how to rebuild and fix the bikes and keep them busy and out of trouble – FreeWheelin’
-Have you traded in your slacks for leggings now that you have kids? Let your retired work/career attire be used by someone who is going in to an interview to achieve economic independence and needs the appropriate wardrobe -For men I like to donate career wear to Danny’s Closet of Hope and for women I like to donate to Dress for Success.
-Women and men who leave an abusive home with nothing more than what they can carry leaves them with, well, nothing….I like to help with all of my women’s/men’s/children’s clothing/ and all extra home goods by taking them down to – Thrifty Threads
-You can sell items locally on Facebook Marketplace, an online garage sale. I have had a ton of success on this app and it is really easy to use from your phone. You take the pictures and put in the description and in minutes your items are listed for sale. SO EASY! OfferUp is another app that is equally as awesome! I have had more success with these apps than selling on Craigslist. I tend to get a lot of scammers reach out to me on Craigslist and it is exhausting.
Whatever method you use, get rid of ALL THE THINGS that you don’t use/won’t use/haven’t used for the last year unless it has extreme sentimental value to you. **TIP** If you love something and don’t want to forget the memory and feeling that looking at the thing evokes, then take a picture of it and let it go.**
Some times we just hang on to things because when we look at them it makes us feel a certain way. You can still look at the item in a photograph and not have to keep the item** The less you have to move the better. Remember, you pay for whatever you move so make sure it is something that you really want to keep!
3 // Find a mover that suits you. This should be done as soon as you know you are moving, but at least 6-8 weeks ahead of your move, especially if your move is in the summer time because it is the busiest season and the rates are higher at that time. There are many methods of moving out there. Some things that may determine which method is best for you is cost, time and effort to name a few. No matter who you choose to use, negotiate. They can/will come down in price so negotiate. And, if they won’t budge, there are several more companies that will! Remember, they are all competing for your business.
SHIPPING PODS are a great option if you want to load and unload your things leisurely or need to store your items for any amount of time. You can request a 7′, 12′ or 16′ pod delivered for moving. If you want to pack up your home and store it short term while you are renting a space or if you’re not moving in to your new place right away. They give you the option to pay to store the pod (or pods) and then deliver it when you are ready. It is also cost efficient if you are moving in right away. They give you one month to load, ship, deliver and unload your pod. I think these are a great option for a smaller move. If you have an apartment or small home this is a good option and economical. A larger home means the delivery of more pods and coordinating all of the help you will need to load each pod. That can add to the price pretty quickly. Click here to see the top 5 pod companies with pros/cons to each one!
VANLINEs are my favorite but they are pricey! I like them because the truck has one driver from beginning to end, it is packed in one day and the trucks typically have good suspension to cushion your belongings from bouncing around too much. I got several quotes for my move and the range was so varied by so many thousands of dollars that I still really don’t understand it. It is worth having 2 or 3 estimators come to your home to see all of your items you plan to move. Each estimator is different and has a different opinion on their quote. The great thing is that they will estimate how much all of your belongings will weigh and then send you a binding contract. The binding is on their end so if your items get loaded and it weighs more than estimated, they will cover the difference. If it comes in under weight, then you will get the discount and not have to pay as much at time of delivery. Some companies offer a virtual quote option if available in your area. A virtual quote is where you basically FaceTime your estimator and walk him/her around your house. They make notes as you go along and they send you a quote based on that tour.
HIRED DRIVERS are a great option. You can email a company like MOVEX to coordinate a 28′ trailer to be dropped off for you to pack and a driver to pick it up and bring it to your destination. You have 3 days to load, a driver picks it up and takes it to your destination, and you have 3 days to unload. They don’t provide anything like moving blankets, dollies, etc. so that is on you to protect your belongings. They also don’t provide any help so you may have to hire movers to help load the trailer. However, they don’t always go to your destination and you don’t get any discount or money back for unused space in a trailer you have requested.
UHAUL or PENSKE is a great option for a short distance move. Even a long distance move as long as you want to drive the actual moving truck. If you do, be sure to request the newest trucks. They have better suspension and newer interiors with bluetooth, USB, etc. Much better for a long distance drive. You do also have to option to hire a driver to drive your rented truck at websites like rentedtruckdriver.com although I have never used this service.
ABF or UPack are a great option, too. Like Movex, they drop off a 28′ trailer to your home. You have 3 days to load it and then they pick it up. If you find that you need more space, you call them and they will drop off another trailer and charge you around $182/foot of used space. They will pick up your trailer and take it to a distribution center close by. Then they will hitch it to another trailer going the same direction and take it to the next state with a distribution center. And so on all the way to your destination. Your trailer will be hooked together and driven in tandem with another trailer (like train cars) and there is no suspension. Be sure your items are packed well and tight because they will bounce around a bit, especially if it is a long distance move with a long span of highway to cover (think potholes).
4 // Find boxes and paper and tape. You can find these at your local hardware store like Home Depot and Lowes, at truck rental facilities like UHAUL and on Amazon. Don’t forget large permanent markers for clearly marking your boxes. Home Depot and Lowe’s have actual moving sections in the store where they offer everything from blankets to tape. Both stores are good for different reasons. In a nutshell, they both carry decent boxes, the tape is better at Home Depot and Lowe’s carries the little dollies and moving straps.
Boxes: I have bought some from Home Depot and Lowe’s and I have ordered from Amazon and they arrive at my door in 2 days. That’s awesome! You can also reach out on Craigslist or your neighborhood app called Nextdoor. If you are part of the NEXTDOOR app you can reach out to all of the people in the community and surrounding communities and ask for boxes. I got most of my moving boxes for this move by using Next-door. Someone else really blessed me by letting me take all of their boxes for FREE! I also ordered a few boxes here from Amazon like wardrobe, t.v. and picture boxes. They get delivered right to your front door!
Try to avoid going to stores like Walmart, grocery stores and Target for boxes. I feel like going to stores and asking them for their leftover boxes is more trouble than it’s worth, but some people like to do that. Usually their boxes are not appropriate for moving. Sometimes you may get lucky and find a few that will work for a small local move, but if you are moving long distance I would advise against this. Typically those boxes are small, have precut holes in them for ventilation that don’t close and have an open top. Whichever method you choose to retrieve boxes, be sure that they can stack neatly on top of each other. It makes loading your truck much more efficient and easier (well, as easy as you can get playing Tetris in the moving truck).
Paper: I have bought paper from various sources and have found that the most cost effective and better paper is from here. It is newspaper print without the “print”. In addition to the fact that it comes in 2 days, the weight and size of this paper is my preferred go-to. When you look at paper you will notice that it comes in different pounds. That is referring to the density of the paper and the higher the pounds, the thicker the paper. I like this best because it is large and heavy but not too heavy so you don’t have to use a lot to get good coverage. It gives good protection without being too bulky and is large enough to cover a lot of larger items like platters and photo frames. You can order paper from U-Line…the prices are good but shipping will cost around $25 which is just about as much as the paper. And of course you can visit your local Uhaul type facility for paper. A box isn’t too expensive and the weight and size of the paper is decent. The last option, and my least favorite, is actual newspaper. But if you choose to use newspaper from your home, you will end up with newsprint on your hands and your belongings. It is messy.
Tape: All packing tape is not the same when it comes to moving. I buy mine at Home Depot and also order it here and it comes in a day. You want to get good, strong packing tape. Lowe’s offers Ducktape Moving tape and it isn’t as good as the Scotch brand moving tape. It is actually a lot worse so avoid it! Masking tape is not the same thing but is good for labeling things and wrapping up/labeling cords . Also, don’t buy painter’s tape….you will hate yourself. Painter’s tape will not hold your boxes closed and when the bottom of your box opens as you’re walking and all of the contents fall out, you will wonder why you didn’t listen to me, lol!
5 // Pack your most important papers with you on the flight or in your car. Do not pack them all in a box and throw it on the truck. Documents like titles, birth certificates, deeds to properties, insurance policies, passports, contracts….all important. Whether you want to talk about it our not, the truth is that anything can happen to your belongings when they are being transported.
Ever think about the semi carrying everything you own overturning on the highway or getting into an accident and bursting into flames? Or what if someone decides to take something from your load and that happens to be full of your irreplaceable docs? I know, bad thoughts. But if your important documents are on that truck, and something happens to them, you will wish that you had just thrown them into your bag and brought them with you. Think about what it would take to replace those documents….not worth it!
6 // Pack things you need right away in colored bins. I have learned over all of these moves that I need what I need when I need it! And after a long day of moving, I don’t want to fight with boxes to find what I need. Years ago I selected a few bright orange bins that are my go to for packing things we will need right away. In a sea of brown, my bright orange bins stand out every time.
I have found that moving makes me tired, both mentally and physically, and at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is try to find my coffee maker and a mug. With 4 kids and 2 dogs I have plenty of other things to worry about. Having the items I need in a colored bin allows me to have what I need right away and not feel anxiety about locating something. It takes the pressure of having to furiously unpack because I can’t find things I need. I have one for the kitchen, each child, the laundry room and the master bedroom.
Here is a list of what I put in each bin:
Kitchen Bin: I put paper towel, paper plates, my silverware (I just lift the organizer out of the drawer and put it in the bin), a couple of small pots, cutlery, cutting board, plastic cups, a couple of mugs and our much needed coffee pot/coffee.
Master Bedroom and Kids Bin: I have a bin for each child’s bedroom which has anything they deem an immediate need, a set of clean sheets for their bed, blanket, toiletries, a towel and whatever else they want to have right away (for girls it is usually EVERYTHING in the bathroom). Same thing goes for the master bedroom. Anything we may need for the first night or two.
Laundry Bin: This one holds laundry detergent, dryer sheets, steamer, toilet cleaner and windex, toilet paper and any other necessary cleaning supplies. **TIP** We always have dirty laundry. The day of the move I go around and throw any sheets, towels and clothes in a big garbage bag that I label “dirty laundry” and then put it in the laundry room when we arrive at the new house. I know what is dirty and can get it clean right away.**
7 // Load your vacuum and broom last on the truck. As you move out of your home, you will want to go around and clean up any dust bunnies that have escaped from under your sofas and beds into the open once it is loaded onto the truck. Once one room is emptied, vacuum it and shut the door. Tell everyone that the room is clean and to stay out of it. If you don’t load your vacuum onto the truck and are driving a short distance to your new place, just load it into your car at the end of the day.
8 // Arrange your destination help ahead of time. If you have a full-service moving company then they will have a team arranged to unload the truck for you. That is nice. But if you don’t choose to use a full service company, and if you don’t want to do all of the heavy lifting yourself, you will need to hire a team of people to come in and help you. If you choose a POD method, and you don’t know where to start if you’re in a new state, then they will have a list of referred companies to help you with the unloading of your items.
For us, we hire a team to come in for a couple of hours and do the big stuff. We work along with them to get it all done. It is exhausting and not my favorite, but it works and keeps costs down. Local moving companies usually have some sort of deal on Groupon so you can usually get a discount on services. If they don’t have a Groupon, you can ask them what kind of specials they are running. I have found that they are always running some sort of special.
9 // Pack extra things in your suitcase to use in case your load takes longer to get there than you expected. You never know what may occur and when you will get your things. My daughter had a POD and they told her 5-7 days but it took more like 10. Just be sure to pack enough to last you through a little longer than expected. The moving companies will give you a window to receive your items of 2 to 10 days. Just assume it is going to be closer to the tail end of the window. If it comes earlier then it will just be a bonus!
10 // Create a little touch up kit and set it aside to use when you are cleaning up/touching up the house before you leave. The kit will include: spackle, putty knife (or a plastic rewards card or old gift card will work, too), sheet of sand paper, touch up paint in a small jar with lid or in a disposable plastic container, foam brush, garbage bag, paper towel, Windex and a sponge. You can make a “travel size” out of the spackle and paint and keep in disposable containers for this purpose. Touch up, sand and paint, clean anything else that needs cleaning and then just toss it before you leave the house. That is all you need and your home will look fantastic when you walk out of it for the last time!
The new homeowners will appreciate it and you can lay your head down that night knowing that you did your best. I always try to teach the kids to leave a space better than when they came into it. The world has lost that a bit and it makes me sad. Or maybe you are lucky and your landlord will take care of it for you. But, your landlord may also take money out of your deposit or keep your deposit all together if you leave a bunch of work for them to do.
I hope you have found this moving post to be helpful and that the downloadable calendar helps you, too. Moving is EXHAUSTING!! ( Just look at Lucy!) It is so hard to know where to start and to remember all of the things that need to be taken care of. I hope this helps you a little bit! Even though I have moved a lot and have a lot to share, you may have something really valuable to add and share with all of us. Please leave your best moving advice in the comments below! Wish me luck with my upcoming move and if you are moving, good luck, too!!!
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