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30 Essential Tips to Make Moving Easier

By Cathie Ericson |

There are few things more stressful than a move, not only because of the way it uproots your life but because the actual physical process of moving and packing is hard work and overwhelming.

But we’ve got you covered with moving tips that cover all phases of the process, from packing to unpacking and everything in between.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to master your next move.

1. Create a Schedule or Timetable First

“It’s all too easy to put things off until you realize with a panic that you’re not ready for moving day,” says Chris Seman, president of Caring Transitions, a senior relocation service. Plan out how much time you have, how long you think it will take to pack each room and create a schedule with adequate time built in.

2. Only Pack What You Need and Want in Your New Place

“Take a long hard look at your closets and other stuff to see what you can donate,” says Annie Draddy, organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby. Get rid of items that haven’t seen the light of day in years.

3. But Pack All the Chargers

The exception to this rule is chargers and cords. Draddy recommends putting all the random ones you come across in a box and see if you can match them up during the packing or unpacking process. Better safe than sorry.

4. Pack an “Open Me First” Box

Pack one box with all the things you can’t live without to survive the first night in your new home, says Michelle Hale, organizer and co-founder of Henry & Higby. Include personal items, and then other necessities like toilet paper, bed sheets and blankets, prescriptions, eyeglasses, contact lens solution, and maybe that book you are almost done reading—really anything that you might be tempted to haphazardly tear through all of your boxes to find in a crisis.

5. Keep Important Items Off the Moving Truck.

Keep your “Open First” box, along with any vital paperwork and other key items (you know like your keys) with you in case the moving truck doesn’t arrive when you do.

6. Clearly Label Your Boxes By Room

Unloading boxes in the right room the first time, means less shuffling for you in the long run.

7. Use Colored Packing Tape

Even easier to spot than a marker is different colored packing tape for each room, so you’ll know at a glance where each box goes, says Mike Glanz, the CEO of HireAHelper.

8. Know Whats Inside Each Box

Write down a brief summary of the contents on each of your boxes, Hale recommends. You might want to immediately access your everyday dishes, instead of trying to remember exactly which box you put them in. You can also photograph contents with your smartphone before taping them up. Then number the box and take a photo of that too, that way you know which photo goes with which box.

9. Don’t Make Boxes Too Heavy

“Even if you hire movers, they aren’t supermen,” says TJ Peterson of Oz Moving & Storage. Put dense, heavy items like books in small boxes to make it more manageable to carry.

10. But Pack Them Full

Fill empty spaces with packing material so your items don’t shift, which can lead to breakage, Peterson advises. You can also pack light items like towels, pillows and blankets to fill empty space without adding extra weight.

11. Take Photos When Taking Furniture Apart

“We often see people struggle with putting back together their cribs after disassembling them,” says Peterson. Use a smartphone to take pictures so you remember what goes where. Make sure to label all the pieces. Take pictures of electronic set-ups too so you can get back to your latest Netflix binge ASAP.

12. Pack Breakables Together

Pack items such as pint glasses and tea cups as pairs, oriented like shoes in a shoe box. Wrap each individually, then use larger sheets of packing paper to draw the breakables together into a tightly packed brick shape, says Glanz, which makes the breakables more durable.

13. Use Towels and Blankets In Place of Bubblewrap

Wrap breakables in your own blankets and towels to do double-duty and save on packing and padding materials.

14. Get Good Boxes (For Free if You Know Where to Look)

You don’t want your boxes to fall apart on you, Peterson notes. Sturdy boxes can be obtained at liquor stores and big-box stores, or spend a few bucks on new ones.

15. Change Your Address

Fill out the “change of address” form at the U.S. Postal Service, so the post office will know to forward your mail and inform the senders of your new address. Update any magazine subscriptions and financial services, such as credit card or insurance statements, to make sure you continue to receive important mail.

16. Get a Better Deal on Insurance

Before you move, find out if you are still covered by your current insurance policies, both auto and home. “This is a good time to shop around, as your new zip code could offer new savings, says Lauren Hartung of Metromile.

17. Visit the DMV

If you’ve changed states, you’ll need to register your car, but even if you’ve just moved a city over, you’ll still need to get a new driver’s license and register to vote, Hartung notes. If you are lucky, you live somewhere that you can request a new ID online.

18. Transition Your Other Services

Make a list of all the services you receive at your current residence — Internet, satellite or cable provider, electricity, trash collection, and so on. Call to cancel them and then reactivate at your new home, typically a week or two before you are planning to move, says Lucas Pinto of Lucas Pinto Real Estate Group. “There is nothing worse than being without power for a couple days because you forgot to call,” he says.

19. Don’t Choose Movers Blindly

Check Yelp and other online review sites to make sure the moving company treated other clients well. Ask friends and family members for referrals as well.

20. Ask to Be First

Otherwise, Glanz says, your crew is bound to be tired from the earlier jobs, which might make them move a little slower, as well as be more accident prone. Plus, you won’t be waiting around if something holds them up during their first job.

21. Opt for Full-Value Replacement Coverage

If the moving company only offers ‘standard’ repair coverage insurance, you might only see an $18 check when your $500 TV is damaged, Glanz says. Full-value replacement coverage is the way to go.

22. Choose the Right Size Moving Truck

In a truck that’s too big, your items can shift around and get damaged, says Kelly McClenahan of Price Self Storage. She offers the following handy estimate:

  • 10 ft. truck = studio or small 1 bedroom
  • 12-14 ft. truck = 450 cu. ft. or 1 to 2 bedrooms
  • 16-17 ft. truck = 800 cu. ft. or 2-3 bedrooms
  • 22-24 ft. truck = 1,200 cu. ft. or 3 to 4 bedrooms
  • 26-27 ft. truck = 1,400 cu. ft. or 4+ bedrooms

23. Know Your Contract

Typical fees include a charge per day for the truck, including mileage, but may also include additional fees for packing supplies, dollies, insurance and more, McClenahan says. You should commit these details to memory so you don’t get caught off guard.

24. Pick Your Date Strategically

Moving at the end of the month, when renter’s leases turn over is usually going to be more expensive because of increased demand, says Ryan Carrigan, co-founder of moveBuddha. Weekends are also pricier, especially three-day ones like Labor Day or Memorial Day.

25. Create a Moving Day Plan

“Don’t just start throwing things in the truck,” cautions McClenahan. She recommends loading large items first, starting from the front of the truck and putting your heaviest items lowest on the truck and lighter items on top.

26. Pack Tightly

Packing everything closely together reduces the chance of items shifting in transit and potentially breaking, McClenehan says.

27. Protect Your Stuff

Cover all furniture with protective pads, and tape drawers closed with painters tape so they do not slide open. Sofas and chairs should be covered in stretch wrap. TVs can be wrapped in a blanket or shrink wrap and stored upright.

28. Unpack Kids Stuff First

The best way to make kids feel at home is to set up their rooms right away. Let them decide where to put their furniture, within reason, to make it truly theirs. Plus they’ll have a place to hang out while everything else is unpacked.

29. You Don’t Have to Cook

Eat takeout the first few nights rather than cooking. It’s also a great way to sample new local restaurants.

30. Take Your Time

The best way to unpack is to thoughtfully figure out where everything should go. If you don’t know about a certain item, put it in a separate “decision” box to decide if it really goes in your new place. Put that box in storage, and then as time goes on, consider whether those items should be donated.