Life Pro Tips - Moving

I like to consider myself a moving expert.

In college, I lived in a different place every year, plus spent two summers at internships in Chicago, totaling 6 moves.

Post-college, I'm on my 8th apartment in 7 years... yikes. Fortunately, I'm (almost) officially a homeowner, so my apartment drifter days are at an end.

In preparation for my own move and to pass down wisdom to future generations, here are my best tips to make things go smoothly:

#1 - Use those project management skills!

Before you even touch a box, map out the move. I use Trello but there are many options, including good old analog pen and paper. Here are some things to list out:

  1. Address Changes: credit cards, bank accounts (including loans), important mail subscriptions, HR documentation at work, insurance (auto, medical, homeowners/renters), utilities (including cell service), drivers license and car registration, mass transit account, shopping websites (I've had stuff sent to the wrong address...), public library, and most importantly, voter registration (do your civic duty!). Additionally, set up mail forwarding through USPS to catch anything that fell through the cracks.
  2. Packing materials: paper, foam, and/or bubble wrap for wrapping breakable items and placing between dishes, packing tape (don't forget a dispenser), Plastic stretch wrap (see "Tricks of the Trade" for details), unscented drawstring garbage bags, moving boxes or bins, box dividers for glassware, vacuum space-saving bags
  3. Decluttering/Sorting: DO NOT pack anything you're just going to trash/donate. Don't do it. Write down the types of items you should be sorting through and getting rid of - either while you are packing or ahead of time.
  4. Packing Categories: Make three lists - Pack Now, Pack Later, and Day-Of. Put items/groups under each that you can accomplish in 30 minutes or less. Examples: small electronics, Books, DVD's, craft supplies, small appliances, office supplies, cleaning supplies.
  5. Home Goods and Furniture: Chances are, you'll have some new things to purchase for your new place. Listing them out as you think of them will ensure you don't forget to buy that toilet plunger until it's too late.
  6. Scheduling: Anything you need to make an appointment/schedule: move-out time, move-in time, movers, house cleaning, painters, turning on/off electricity and gas, mail forwarding, storage unit, furniture donation, etc.

#2 - How many boxes should you buy?

Like most things in life, the answer is "it depends." Here are items that don't need moving boxes:

  1. Folded clothing - pack in suitcases and/or leave them in drawers wrapped with stretch wrap. If there are still more clothes, I like using soft zip totes - great for storage under the bed in your new place.
  2. Hanging clothing - use drawstring bags to pack these up. Poke a hole at the bottom for the hanger hook, slip 8-10 items in, and tie up the bottom with the drawstring.
  3. Items already in boxes/baskets - use stretch wrap to secure the lid (and wrap rest of the box itself if it needs to be protected from dings). Give large plastic latching bins a quick wrap around the middle for extra security.
  4. Pillows and comforters - use vacuum space-saving bags.
  5. Wall art - stretch wrap is again your friend. You can group a few together and wrap thoroughly to protect.
  6. Pantry items - shopping bags and/or food coolers can be used to carry the majority of these.

A good rule of thumb for the items that need to be boxed - unless it's bulky and oddly shaped, small boxes are almost always the best size to use. And there are only very rare cases where a large or extra large box should be used if you followed my non-box tips above:

  • Books, office supplies, paperwork, DVD's, small decor - do yourself a favor and use small boxes. 
  • Use a medium box with glassware dividers for your glasses, but small boxes for place settings and silverware. 
  • Miscellaneous kitchen appliances and pots and pans can generally be put in medium boxes. Be careful and occasionally test the weight. If it's getting too heavy, fill the rest with bulky plastic items like mixing bowls or just tape it up - you do not have to fill every single box to the brim (see "Tricks of the Trade" below)

An alternative to cardboard, if you have the space and funds - consider buying clear plastic latching bins instead of medium size boxes. You'll still need to give it a quick stretch wrap at the end, but they are generally easier to carry and the transparency is super useful when you're trying to find that spatula for your morning-after-the-move pancakes.

#3 - Tricks of the Trade

  1. If you haven't noticed - I'm obsessed with stretch wrap. I only recently discovered it and it is a super economical way to transport awkwardly shaped items. It's also great to use as a buffer from scratches and dings on furniture. I recommend buying a 5 inch on a handle and a wider size between 12 and 20 inches. For the wider size, you can even use regular plastic wrap from the grocery store if you don't want to shell out the cash for a huge commercial roll - it's not as sturdy, but good in a pinch.
  2. All of the moving articles always say this, but I will re-emphasize: don't mix rooms in your boxes. Seriously. If you can't fill up a box, find a smaller container or just tape it up and go. Oh, and mark the boxes with at least the room but a description is always nice too. My only exception is day-of items - put it in the truck last and unpack it first, though.
  3. Start early. There's tons of stuff you can pack up 2 weeks or more in advance, and then you have time to really sort through and get rid of anything not worth taking to the new place. A good place to start is in craft and/or office supplies. 
  4. Give yourself time and packing materials for the aftermath. There's always something that was forgotten, or cleaning supplies that still need to go to the new place.
  5. Don't forget the fridge!
  6. Clean up after yourself. Don't be a disgusting heathen. Doesn't have to be sparkling clean, but sweep, vacuum, and wipe down all surfaces (including the fridge).