An Organizer’s Insight On Packing To Move
One of the hardest things about moving is achieving a balance between getting a head-start on the packing, having what you still need to live and function in the house before you move, and keeping a home worth showing.
As a Professional Organizer, I deal with packing for moving quite frequently. Many people find the packing and moving processes abhorrent and excruciating, making this one of the biggest stressors in anyone’s life. Thus, many times they rely on a Pro to deal with all that.
Here is some advice to ease the burden of the packing for the moving process. If there comes a time when you have to go through this, hopefully, being better informed and armed with some strategies will ease your pain.
Home Areas & Item Categories
Pay attention to the order, the how, and the what of your packing. The best thing to do when in the process of moving is to organize the home before you pack your move. Why is this? There are three main reasons:
Note that if a moving company handles the move, they might have restrictions and limitations about how to pack and who does the packing. Due to insurance, they might need to do the packing instead of the client.
But whether you pack your move, or they do, following a particular order in the process and grouping items in a certain way for later packing will make everything easier.
The main thing to remember is that packing logically and per item category (not by room) is the name of the game. Therefore, although this article is divided by house areas, you will notice the crucial importance of item categories in the process.
Miscellaneous & Décor
Pack decorative and miscellaneous items first. Gather artwork, framed photos, Knick knacks, books, paintings throughout the whole house. Wrap frames and delicate items in bubble wrap. Place decorative pieces in medium-sized boxes so they aren’t too heavy. Also, pack so that the weight of the top pieces doesn’t crush the bottom items.
Living Room/Media Room/Game Room
Most likely, your movers will take care of large electronics and furniture in that room. However, before moving day, you should empty the cabinets and drawers and allocate their contents in the groups, boxes, according to the item categories in the space. Examples of items in these areas are board games, DVDs, board games, CDs, smaller A/V equipment, toys, blankets, smaller electronics related to games, etc. So, you want to go throughout the house and gather all items that belong to any of these categories, so these items are packed together.
Pro Tip 1: Use small boxes for CDs and other living room items. The weight adds up fast — pack heavier items toward the bottom of the box and lighter items toward the top. Don’t exceed 50 pounds per box to make moving easier.
When a game room, living room, or media room includes crafts items, if you will have a dedicated crafts space in the new home, box crafts stuff separately and mark them as such. These boxes should land in your new crafts space when you move. If the new home does not have a dedicated crafts area, you might want to merge all crafts material with office supplies. In this case, take all crafts items to the current home’s office area to pack these items with office things.
You might need many files and documents right until the day before the move. Set aside all documents you will need, and you can transfer the contents of your filing cabinet to banker’s boxes. Label these boxes. You will only need to add those files or documents to the boxes on moving day.
It is best to pack your desktop computer last unless you have the same access to information using your laptop or iPhone. Laptops can go with you in the car, so there’s no need to pack them in anything but their case.
If you have been diligent in keeping your paper files in order and have cleaned up your files every year, you are in the best shape possible in that area. If not, take care of that now. It’s in your best interest to avoid moving messy files that will need sorting later and would only make your move more expensive.
Linen & Coat Closets
Linen and coat closets usually contain lots of random things. Moving is the best time to see what we own, what we still want, and what won’t go with you. In the process, it is essential to consider the function of those items we keep.
The purpose of each item determines where that item should be stored. Now is the time to take each item where it should go, rather than pack everything in these closets together.
At the same time, determine if other items in the home should rather be in any of those closets. In that case, gather such things and merge them with the closet’s contents. Why? Because you want to pack together items serving the same purpose or belonging to a particular category. Packing this way leads to a faster and more logical unpacking process on the other end, as mentioned before.
The kitchen usually contains items that we accumulate for years and never use. Before packing, spend some time assessing what you use, need, and want. Get rid of duplicates and other things that are you do not use or want.
Pro Tip 2: Pack dishes, trays, cutting boards, and other flat items in boxes, vertically instead of flat. This way, they are less likely to crack. Use smaller boxes for dishes and utensils because these items are heavy. Place thin foam sheets between the plates. For china, use bubble packaging material. Cloth napkins, dish towels, and tablecloths are also helpful to cushion.
Pro Tip 3: Avoid newspaper, though. Newspaper leaves ink marks, and you do not want to have to wash every dish in your new home when you move in.
Most bedroom items can be packed well in advance of the move, except for the sheets and blankets on the bed and outfits you wear regularly.
There are many things we keep in our bedrooms that fall into the “miscellaneous” category. Examine those items. If anything belongs somewhere else, take that item or group of items to where they belong so they can be with their logical groups before packing. If you no longer need or want something, this is the time to let it go.
Go through every toiletry product in your cabinets and discard unwanted or expired ones. Identify all hygiene and beauty products you will need until moving day and those in a box or bin, so they remain available for your use but are easy to grab and go on moving day.
Pro Tip 4: After this process, pack the rest of your toiletries in small boxes lined with plastic garbage bags, as toiletries can easily leak.
Pack all towels and linens that are not in use with other towels and linens found throughout the house, in one single category. This can also be packed in advance.
Pro tip 5: Keep a laundry bag handy for the few dirty clothes and towels used until the last minute.
Do not wait until the last minute to pack your closet. Unfortunately, closets become storage spaces for all kinds of things, and we forget about them because these items hide behind clothes.
Start organizing your closet ahead of time before your move so you can decide about those items that don’t belong in the space. Place those things with related stuff and where they should have been in the home. Then, once in the new house, find the logical, permanent place for those items (do not place them back in the closet!).
The use of wardrobe boxes makes packing clothes easier — transfer the clothes from the closet to the box, hanging them on the bar. There is no need to remove hangers, which facilitates unpacking your wardrobe later.
Pro Tip 6: Protect folded clothes by placing them in a large plastic bag before boxing. Then, if the boxes get wet in transit, the plastic will protect your clothes.
Before you cringe, let me say that you can tackle the garage with ease and grace.
Start by trashing everything that you can discard. There is usually a lot of trash in garages. That will make the process easier. Then, take all paints and chemicals to a specialized recycling facility. If paint cans have lived in the garage for years, they are no longer in good shape. Also, paint is specific to the house- you won’t need it in your new place. One idea is to take pictures of each can lid, so you keep a record of paint formulas and brands for the new homeowner.
Moving companies don’t transport chemicals and paints, but you’ll be better off buying new products, so you start in your with a clean, fresh, new garage area and supplies. Also, these items are heavy, and moving companies charge by weight. So probably it is less expensive to buy new garage products.
For this same reason, you want to clean up your tool chest or toolbox to keep what you need and use. Repair and building equipment are bulky and heavy and will substantially increase moving costs. You will be amazed at the many things you can let go, sell, and even donate to places like Habitat for Humanity during this purging process.
Now is the ideal time to take inventory of your holiday decoration. We usually store holiday decor in a garage or attic. So, see what works or not, what will fit your new place, and what can be donated or trashed.
Organize all items to keep in plastic, labeled bins with lids. Those bins will probably go inside moving boxes for the move, but the totes will protect their contents. Once at the new place, you will remove the boxes and place the containers in your garage shelving system, attic, or storage unit.
Treat any other things you keep in your garage the same as the holiday décor category (organized, relevant contents, in well-labeled plastic bins). You will see how manageable the garage is when you tackle it methodically.
Some pet items such as grooming supplies and extra toys and additional dishes can all be packed in advance. Ensure to leave out anything needed for your pets until moving day and during the moving process, such as kennels accessories, special toy(s), treats, etc. Ensure your pets are safe during moving day, including keeping them locked away when movers are in and out of the house to prevent them from running away.
Important Things To Remember
In summary, here are some things to remember for packing each space of the home:
- Before starting the packing process, it would make sense to organize the home – during the organization process, items find their logical homes, and things of the same kind come together, making it easier to pack logically.
- Purge as you go.
- Get all items of the same category or use throughout the house and pack them together.
- Pack item categories with your new home in mind – think about where the things will go.
- Label each box with the name of the room where they will go in your new home (not where they came from).
- Using a box number system, create a contents inventory for each box in a master file.
Creating a plan and starting the process ahead of time are crucial elements in making the packing process less stressful for you and your family. The less stress you face in this phase means a more enjoyable transition to your new home.