Moving soon? Read these tips

Getting everything organized is half the battle when it comes to moving. If you have your things packed efficiently, it makes it easier on you, the movers, and the entire trip. Below are several ways to make the whole process easier.

Start early, and with least-used things. Moving almost always takes longer than you think it will—so start packing at least three weeks before your scheduled move. Allowing lots of extra time will help you complete the chore without feeling overwhelmed. Start with things you won’t need for a few weeks—everything in the attic and basement, followed by books, off-season clothes, and decorative items around the house. Stack filled boxes off to the side, where they won’t be in the way. Start saving newspaper so you can place it between plates and around picture frames.

Don’t buy boxes! Instead, call up your local grocery store or wine shop and ask if they have any spare boxes they’re trying to get rid of. Store managers are more than happy to share their surplus boxes with you.

Label everything. Start a labeling system for all your boxes. On each box, use a large marker to clearly label the room it belongs to, the box number, and contents. For example, if you just packed up the kitchen into a total of six boxes, label the first box “KITCHEN – 1/6” and then quickly jot down its contents right on the box. The next box should read “KITCHEN – 2/6,” and so on. This way, when you do move, you can tell how many boxes are still on the truck or if they’re all together. If you want to be extra organized, make a master list as you load boxes so that you can reference it when you get to your new home.

Keep valuables and documents with you. If you have any pieces of treasured jewelry or heirlooms, or have a file of important documents like birth certificates and passports, put them in (clearly labeled) boxes that will travel with you in your car rather than in the moving truck.

Pack some essentials and keep them with you. Each family member should use a suitcase or overnight bag to pack up a few essentials that will save them from prowling through loads of boxes that first night in your new house. Include basics like fresh changes of clothes, cell phone chargers, toiletries and any medication. If you have younger kids, their essentials bag should include a few favorite toys, books or games to keep them occupied and to give them a better sense of home. Start an essentials box for the kitchen, too—a few basic pans and spatulas, paper towels, paper plates and plastic cutlery, mugs, dish soap, and even the coffeemaker, filters, and coffee if you know you’ll need to brew some to start unpacking. A bathroom box containing a shower curtain, toilet paper, towels, and shower soaps and hand soap will be helpful, too. Keep those with you in your own car when you move, so that you can have access to them right away.

Use moving as a time to declutter! The golden rule of packing is that if you haven't used it in at least eight months, it can be donated or tossed if it’s not usable. This includes clothing, kitchenware and excess linens. The more unused stuff you get rid of, the less you have to pack and then unpack. Another great way to look at it: if you really don’t want to pack it, you probably won’t want to unpack it, either.

Prep for the movers. If you’re hiring movers, there are a few things you can do to make their jobs much easier. First, a clear labeling system will help them get boxes unloaded faster, especially if you take it a step further by labeling doorways in your new place. If you have masking tape or painter’s tape, mark off the space in your new home on the carpet or floor to show the movers where to place large furniture like beds, sofas, and desks. And if you have refreshments for yourself, make sure you offer the movers refreshments, too. A bottle of water or a granola bar can go a long way!

With a little bit of planning, organization, and patience, you’ll be in that new home before you know it! Be sure to check out our other articles this week for more moving tips.

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