Moving: Part I Packing
I have been away from blogging for a few weeks because we recently moved into a new home. The process always seems to get more complicated because we have acquired more things through the years. Preparing, purging, packing, moving and unpacking is very time consuming. We don't move often but every time we do I learn something new and get a little more organized for the next one. This blog will be part of a series of tips on moving. I'll offer advice about Packing, Moving and Unpacking. The following article will focus on packing tips, which are important for preparing for the physical move and unpacking when you arrive at your new house.
Tips For Packing
1. Purge. If you have the luxury of time, purge before you start packing. If downsizing, this becomes very important. Sort through your items to figure out what to donate to charity, dispose of, or give away. If you weren’t using it before, chances are you won’t miss it when you move and you can free up space in your new home. I was shocked at the amount of junk being stored in our attic, closets and garage! I forgot we even owned most of the stuff I came across so I got rid of a lot of it! There are also junk removal companies to hire, especially if you have large items to haul off such as mattresses, appliances that no longer work, broken electronics, etc. See previous article about purging tips here.
2. Storage. We lived in an apartment temporarily while we were remodeling our new house and, despite getting rid of many unwanted things before we moved there as well as this recent move, we still somehow ended up with more storage units than expected so we continue to purge! I don’t mind storage as a temporary solution but after spending a monthly fortune on renting units, those belongings just end up being forgotten about over time. Sometimes the amount of money spent on storage exceeds the value of the actual stored items! When considering storage evaluate the purpose, how often you will access it, timeline and cost.
3. Grouping items. Organize the house or rooms into sections to include donations, designations to someone else, and what to trash. Try to get those items out of the way as soon as possible so you can clear space for packing belongings going to the new home.
4. Pack yourself or hire professionals. One major thing I learned with this move is the importance of packing and preparing for the packers if you are outsourcing this work. If you are packing items yourself you have more control over how to organize items in boxes, where they go and labeling what the boxes contain. Whether you are doing the packing or you are hiring professionals, it is critical that you do some prep work and think through the inventory and process so you know what’s inside of each container and which room it goes to once you move.
5. Professional packing services. Many moving companies have people who can pack but I highly recommend hiring a company that has specific experience in packing and labeling boxes. These companies may also help unpack and organize your new home as well. These services can get expensive but if you are organized ahead of time, the hours spent packing and unpacking will be reduced. The professionals you hire to box up your belongings may or may not be through the moving company. These are discussions to have when interviewing movers. Ask what kind of experience they have with packing. Do they provide packing materials? How to they handle and protect fragile pieces, antiques and art and how do they tag them? What information to they include on the boxes? Are there certain items they will not pack or move such as guns, personal files, jewelry, art, safes, medication, perishable food, liquor, etc. And of course ask about the rate for packing and if they are insured.
1. Move a few things yourself. I did a lot of pre-packing on my own. It was sort of a purge-and-pack-as-you-go process for me. Some of the items I packed up and wanted to move myself included jewelry, personal files, perishable food, clothes and shoes. Before the movers arrived, and as the renovation was coming to an end, I was able to move some items into the new house so I could get my closet and office organized ahead of time. I also moved some antiques and other valuables. Everyone’s moving situation and timeline are different but if you have the opportunity to move a few things before the official Big Move, it does take a little of the stress off when that day comes.
2. Make a list. Before packers arrive, make a list of what you want them to handle and do a walk through before they begin. Planning ahead will reduce stress and time to locate items once you move into your new home. Create a checklist for each room whether you are packing yourself or outsourcing. Have a clear plan of how you want items packed and labeled: like items together, clearly identify items on the box, identify fragile belongings, which room they came from or will be moved to, etc. If anything is going into storage or to another location make sure you keep those items separate from the containers moving to your new home and label accordingly.
3. Packing supplies. Packing companies usually provide boxes, tape and other materials for an extra cost but confirm with them. If you are pre-packing or doing it yourself, go buy moving boxes, tape, paper or bubble wrap to protect breakables, and a marker for labeling the boxes. You may also find some used boxes. A suggestion is to use colored stickers or different colored painter’s tape to code where boxes go in your new home. This system makes it a little easier to quickly identify where items go.
As for boxes, I mostly used medium, large and extra large boxes. However, don’t overload the extra large boxes with heavy items because they may break or be too heavy to move. I loaded the larger boxes with soft goods such as bedding, clothes, towels, etc. Plastic storage containers are also great for heavy items as well as seasonal goods that can be stacked and stored in the attic. Buy specific picture/art boxes for paintings, mirrors and framed pictures.
4. Labeling. In some cases, I organized like items together such as art, books, accessories, bedding, etc. This step worked best if I labeled the boxes myself. Once the movers begin to pack the rest of the possessions up, they really have no idea whose sheets belong where or what to call any special heirloom, so keeping some things in the original rooms works best for labeling. Hang a sign in each room or on the door to identify the name of each room. This will help movers label the boxes correctly. Identify rooms such as Primary Bedroom, Daughter’s Room, Game Room, Her Office, His Office, Pool House, etc. Rooms may be called something different depending on how they are used and movers don’t automatically know how we have named or used our personal living spaces. Once movers start packing, the process goes very fast and it’s easy to lose control unless you are organized on the front end. You can also put the name of the destination room on the box as well. Mark all boxes containing breakables as “Fragile”.
5. Miscellaneous parts. When disassembling furniture, electronics, equipment or other items, put the hardware in a plastic bag and label it. Tape it to the item or place in the box to keep them together. Keep labeled cords and manuals together with the items when possible.
6. Padding. Save old blankets and towels for moving and protecting your items. Old towels can also be used to wrap breakable items inside boxes.
7. Pack an essentials bag. As you are packing all of your personal belongings it’s important to have a bag of items you will need such as snacks, waters, clothing, toiletries, medication, chargers, laptops, pet food and supplies, baby essentials, etc. Keep a first aid kit handy, too. If hiring professional packers, they usually come a day or two before the move so you don't want to have to dig through taped up boxes to find what you need. You may also want to put together a container of scissors, garbage bags, tape, and markers for unpacking. You may find that some items need to be repacked for storage or other purposes.
While the process isn’t always perfect, good planning and communication will help reduce stress and keep you organized before, during and after the move. The Silver Lining: A smoother moving experience!