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Moving Tips

My husband and I will be moving from an apartment to a house in a few months (thinking by the end of June; we don't have a set date yet). It's only a few miles away, so we won't need to rent a truck or anything; we should be able to do it all in car loads, and renting a trailer at most. Still, any tips to make moving go smoothly? Ideas for how to pack up stuff you're still going to use in the next 2 months? Words of Moving Wisdom?


  • edited May 2013
    Just make sure that each room is organized and that you are not going to be moving anything you don't really want to keep. Often people think that if they are moving to a larger place they can move everything and sort later. Don't do that. If you have clothing or household items to donate do it before you move.

    If you can have everything boxed and rent a truck, it is much easier on you and your husband to make one big trip than to dash back and forth with many small loads. It will help you to stay organized and will be an easier situation to recruit friends if you need help.

    It is exciting to be moving into a house! Enjoy the process and the new place to decorate!
  • Packing everything for safe travels is always my biggest concern. Do not underestimate things shifting! I didn't bubblewrap my glass spice jars last time and thought that they were packed tight enough in the box and they wouldn't move. Yeah... I lost almost all of them as the glass bottles they were in cracked/shattered.

    Bubblewrap is expensive though - using towels, clothing, etc. helps on the cost a lot.

    There's also no such thing as overlabeling a box. "I'll remember where it's packed" does not exist, lol.
  • I've moved more than my fair share and have found that having a box or bag (but let's be honest, it's usually just a laundry basket) that has all the "What am I gonna need right now/tonight?" stuff that goes in the car with me so I don't have to think twice about it.

    This involves toilet paper, hand soap, a hand towel or paper towels, bottled water, granola bars and string cheese, my toiletries (for taking a shower after getting all icky from moving), a clean pair of undies/socks/pajamas, and a fresh set of sheets for making the bed. I usually look up the local number of a pizza place before hand, too so it makes lunch/dinner a fast option that allows you to continue moving or unboxing while waiting.

    For more preparatory stuff, I've always waited to pack my kitchen up last (usually a few days to a week in advance and have easy meals (sandwiches, pre-made salads, soups, etc) that don't take a lot of effort or dirty dishes.

    For what it's worth, I've done a "small" move like you're planning to do where I thought I'd just use cars and rent one of those small trailers. WORST MOVE IN MY LIFE. The back and forth was a nightmare. I also damaged the interior of my car even though I was super careful. Sure, U-Haul or Penske can be expensive but for me, my sanity, time, and gas money is worth the $80 - $100 to get it done in one big haul. If you go this route, I wish you luck and patience!

    Also, I agree with the PP -- don't move stuff you don't really want to keep!

    Congrats on the house and best wishes! :)

  • This was just our exact situation last month! Here are some thoughts:
    -start packing.. now! that was a huge help for us to start packing the things we knew we didn't need and focus on other things later closer to the move. also label the boxes the best you can
    -we rented a truck because we had a good amount of furniture and it was definitely worth it. we rented one of Sunday instead of Saturday when the rates are lower and found a 15% off coupon
    -on the day of your move keep a separate box of essentials for your next day. makeup, TP, underwear.... ;) anything that you will need in that first week! keep it close by.
    good luck!
  • Having moved more than a few times I think you should definitely get a truck, a few runs in a car will turn into a lot more than a few, never underestimate how long the day is going to be as it is - do anything to make it easier!

    Pack as much as you can as soon as you can, after you use something get into the habit of thinking 'will I need this before moving day'. If not, pack it! Get loads of boxes ready, I get them from work but local shops will usually give you some. Also sort through your stuff, you don't want to move things that you are just going to get rid of at the other end, have a yard sale or do a car boot sale if you're from the UK like us. I really like to see moving house as an opportunity to rationalise our stuff, as you have to pick up everything you own so you might as well evaluate its usefulness while you have it in your hands.

    Pack a suitcase for a few days before and after you move that includes everything you might need (as if you are going away), so you can pack everything away into boxes and don't have to worry about 'I'll pack this after I've finished work' and once you have moved you have enough clothes to carry you over a few days in case of unforeseen disasters. On one occasion this really paid off for us, we couldn't move into our new home so had to go and stay with family and could just take our suitcase and not have to start unpacking stuff out of the van.

    I take a plastic box in the car between the 2 houses with some snacks, the kettle, tea bags, coffee, a carton of milk and a few mugs so we could make a drink without having to open boxes. When you have thirsty volunteers it helps to keep them in a good mood, and tea and coffee are better than beer if you are trusting these people to transport your treasures!

    Label everything as specifically as you can. Instead of just 'kitchen' label your boxes 'kitchen - plates and bowls' or 'Clothes - Kate - Work' so when you get to the other end you can lay your hand on what you want quickly without opening too many boxes.

    Get some 'fragile' tape or label the fragile stuff really clearly, and wrap it up as much as you can - there is no such thing as too much bubble wrap on something precious to you. For items that aren't too fragile but you want to protect from scratches or chips newspaper makes a cheaper alternative. I've moved 4 times so far and haven't broken a thing, as long as everyone knows what's fragile usually it's ok - my boyfriend laughs at me writing FRAGILE on every side of the box in massive letters but it pays off! He also laughs at my in depth box labelling as it seems like a lot of work before moving but the day after moving in I got dressed in 2 minutes while he had to unpack all of his clothes to find what he was looking for as every bag of his was just labelled 'Tom clothes'

    I try and book a few days off work after moving day and a few before, my partner was back to work the day after moving day last time and he was so regretting it! Also it means you can get mostly unpacked and at least in a liveable state before you have to get back to normal life.

    Get a plan for moving larger furniture, anything that needs to be dismantled or doors fastened closed etc do it before moving day. We usually rope in some family to help move larger stuff and also to help move boxes. We usually pack up the car with boxes and then the van with large furniture, last time my Dad also came with his smaller van for boxes, it means less trips if you can get a few vehicles going at once.

    If you have pets move them last, so you can get the rest of it done then bring them to their new home. The same probably goes for children...

    Good luck, it is the longest day ever but if all goes well it hopefully won't be too stressful!

  • We are in the process of moving the first week of June and to help making packing more convenient for us and those that are helping us we are using this great tape on all our boxes. The day of the move, I will hang a colored piece of construction paper in each room to coordinate to the color of the packing tape.
  • We do two things.

    First, we try to move slowly -- one room at a time per week. Since we basically have 4 rooms of 'stuff' it's basically 4 weeks.

    Then, we just do each room. We declutter, pack non-essentials, and keep aside a minimal amount of stuff. Then we move the non-essentials and easy-to-move storage (shelves) to the new environment and unpack those items into closets and onto shelves (this allows us to reuse boxes).

    I typically go from least essential room to most -- so first the lounge/living, then DS's bedroom, then our bedroom, and then the kitchen (eat-in). Then, furnishings are moved at the last (we hire movers for this, but we only have two beds, two chairs and a stool, and a table and 4 chairs -- so it's a light load and usually costs us about $100 and is much easier than doing it ourselves and getting frustrated with each other).

    Once the furnishings are out of the apartment/house, I do a thorough cleaning of that house, and then make the drive to the new place, and complete the unpacking and tidy it up. We usually have take-out in our new place that night, so I budget that in as well.
  • My husband is in the military, so we should be moving pro's by now, lol. We're much more used to the long haul type moves, though, so at least it will be more convenient for you not having to travel so far. The advice above is exactly what I would give (no sense in repeating it). Be sure to pack your books light if you have a lot of them. If you are using a box, use a piece of newspaper on the top and bottom so your books won't stick to the tape if there is a gap between the flaps.

    Best of luck! :)
  • You've gotten lots of advice so I'll stick to one thing no one else mentioned specific to packing and unpacking. If you are going to be stacking boxes at any point in the move make sure they are packed full! Stuff them full of paper.

    If the box top gives when you lean on it, then you need more paper to keep the box sides from getting crushed. Take the extra time and effort or else you will be replacing broken items later.

    Also, sometimes it works to put parts, etc. in a plastic zip bag and tape them to the piece they belong with. But, something that worked really well on two recent moves was to pack all parts, remotes, cords, etc. in a brightly labeled box that you pack last, unload and open first. Label everything with masking or painters tape and a Sharpie.

    And on the flip side, if you use packing paper, flatten each piece. You never know what you might toss otherwise.

    Hope this is helpful!
    Best of luck!
  • I would just like to second what everyone has said about going with a truck. I have moved within the same city half a dozen times, each time using the method you're describing. I would suggest going with the trailer and doing all the furniture at once, in one or two trips at most. The back and forth with smaller loads is so bad for morale (and I don't even have that much stuff-I live in a 600 sf house!).

    I have also tried to save money on boxes by moving with only free boxes I've picked up at stores. I also hate this method. The best experience I have had was picking up free boxes on craigslist from a family that had bought nice/new boxes from a moving supplier. Having similar sizes made it so easy to stack and load.

    My last piece of advice is to pack early and just go without. I have been known to dig through a packed box because I got invited to a pool party/BBQ in April. That sort of behavior is always a mistake. You will always need things you packed away, but really consider what you can just do without for awhile.
  • I just moved a couple of weeks ago. One thing I did differently this time was to wrap all of my breakables in clothing. I had a lot less boxes than the last time I moved, since I didn't have to pack the clothes separately - and I didn't have to spend the money on bubble wrap.
  • Start early by packing the things you rarely "touch": books, picture frames and wall decor, out of season clothes...we have tried moving a little at a time and it ended up being a lot more stressful than when we got movers and knocked it all out in five hours. We kept having to make extra car trips and somehow kept finding one off things in the place that didn't fit neatly in boxes.

    The worst is digging through all of your packed boxes trying to find that one spatula. Keep a medium sized kitchen box on hand with a couple sets of dinnerware, just enough glasses, one all purpose pan, etc. Make sure to leave out your cleaning supplies!

    I just helped my sister pack for a move and one idea we used (I think it was from Pinterest) was putting paper plates between real plates to protect them.
  • I just moved from an apartment to my first house a couple weeks ago. The move was less than three miles to the house, but I did opt to rent a truck to haul everything, and I had 10 friends to help make the moving easier.

    Take some time to consider where your things will go in the new house, if it isn't obvious like kitchen or bathroom. I was stressed during the move when someone was carrying my box of craft stuff (or whatever) and I had to decide which room it should go in! Because it does make things easier if your boxes end up in the correct room instead of moving them around again and again inside the house. You may also want to come up with "names" for the rooms in the new house so you can direct items to "guest room 1" and "guest room 2" rather than "second door on the left" each time. It was helpful for me at least.

    And if you have the ability, I suggest spreading out your move a little since you are going to be so close. I had 2 weeks overlap between my apartment and house, so I was just able to bring over a non-carefully packed crate of vases and other breakables, another of picture frames and decorative items. When the box is just sitting next to me in the car for five minutes, it doesn't need to be packed as well as if it will be in the back of a truck.

    I also moved and unpacked most of my kitchen items to the new house the day before the move (took the day off work) so I was able to grab a cup for water right from the cupboards. I also took that time to clean out the cabinets and put in shelf and drawer liner, while the cupboards were empty. I also cleaned out the fridge and stocked it with some basics so I wouldn't need to run to the store right away.

    And yes - label label label! I taped index cards with details on some boxes, but I had a few other labeled just "shoes" and it was annoying to rummage through three boxes looking for my running shoes.
  • oh - and the best thing - can't believe I forgot this. UHaul sells "wardrobe boxes" and they make moving hanging clothes SO EASY. You don't have to take things off hangers. Just move the hanger to the rod in the box. Things are easily accessible even if you aren't able to hang in your new closets right away for some reason. I bought these two moves ago and stored collapsed in my apartment's attic space (obviously not everyone has the luxury of that sort of space; my apartment was in a home).
  • We sold our building in 2008 and required Personal storage units that was sensibly evaluated and open for our business. We moved into a space unit in 2008 for temporary. We are still there in 2013 and have no propositions of taking off.
  • edited June 2013
    Everyone else has great suggestions, so I'll only add one I haven't seen. Do NOT use regular newspaper!!! It is a colossal MESS on your hands and arms, it makes everything around you dirty, and then if you go to touch anything, you get newsprint ink on it. My mother even had a massive allergic reaction from using newspaper on one move, and her entire neck and face, hands and arms, broke out from overexposure to the ink - this was an apartment move too, not a huge house.

    Instead, pay the small amount it takes to buy plain newsprint (same paper but without the ink) - it makes all the difference in the world!!
  • I usually just wrap all my breakables in things I already have like dish towels, washclothes, bath towels, socks, t-shirts, blankets, etc.
  • AlyssaMAlyssaM Buffalo NY
    I'm in the midst of a move -- unpacking after relocating to a new city. There are a lot of great suggestions in this forum. I strongly second the note about NOT USING regular newspaper. It's a huge mess when the ink rubs off, and as one commenter pointed out it can provoke allergic reactions. You can buy boxes of clean newsprint from UHaul for $10. I used two boxes for my small apartment. It protected my glass/delicate items as well as bubble wrap and was well worth the expense.

    Also, I have really appreciated my decision to pack enough clothes and toiletries for several days -- like I was going on a short trip. This has made the transition easier. Similar to other people, I packed a basket full of essentials for the kitchen -- basic cutlery, two sharp knives, a mixing spoon and small pan, storage bags/containers, plates & bowls, paper cups, paper towels, dish towel, sponge, dish soap, instant oatmeal, snacks, etc. that I could use during my last days at the old apartment and first days at the new apartment.

    Finally, as I was packing I labelled a bunch of boxes "priority" so that I knew what I wanted to unpack first.

    Good luck!

  • OK, so I think this is long after the original poster's actual move so I will post one tip that helped my husband and me when we moved, although it doesn't relate to the original question. We basically sold/donated/tossed most of our stuff before moving to a new state and started from scratch. There were a few months between when we bought and when we moved, so we were able to make trips (from NJ to NH) every few weeks with a carload here and a carload there.

    BUT when it came time to actually move we rented a truck. My tip is if you don't happen to have young, strong friends/family to help you ask your realtor. Our NJ realtor hooked us up with a couple of strapping high school football players to help load and our NH realtor put us in touch with some college-age guys for the unloading. Very cost-effective and back-saving solution, especially for geezers like my husband and me.
  • EbethomaEbethoma Washington, DC
    I just moved and had people helping me. The best thing I did was to buy 5 different colors of duct tape (because my new apartment had five rooms) and put a piece of tape on each box indicating what room it went in. Blue tape on box = blue tape on doorway of the bathroom. It made moving a breeze for not only me and my organization, but everyone who helped me knew exactly where each box went and didn't have to ask me!

    bonus points: writing what's in each box on the colored tape (I'm OCD enough to do that for each box)

    tip for clothes: unless you're moving really far, just keep everything on the hangers and then wrap clean trash bags around them to protect them - that way you can just hang them in the closet right away and don't have to transport boxes of hangers.
  • I think it's been mentioned, but I'll say it again. Pack a suitcase as if you were going on a week-long vacation! Include TP, hand soap, and a shower curtain liner (just in case...nothing makes you grumpier than needing a shower after a sweaty move and realizing there's no shower curtain). Have a big empty box or plastic storage tub set aside for your bedding. Have another for all the other last minute things that you'll come across the day of the move. And pick up disposable plates/cups/utensils (for the last week or so at the old place and first week or so at the new place). Stop grocery shopping about a month ahead of time and get creative to use up as much as you can from the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Yeah, you'll have some weird meals but food is heavy. Have a cooler on hand the day of the move for the condiments and other food from the fridge. Also, buy a new plunger and toilet bowl scrubber. It's just gross to pack those things.
  • One more. This is an oldie but a goodie: Pack heavy things in small boxes and light things in big boxes. It's a no brainer but it's easy to forget.
  • martiny59martiny59 Madison, WI
    1) Pack a suitcase (like you're going on vacation) so you have everything you'll need for the next few days all in one place.
    2) Assign each room a color and place a coordinating colored sticker on each box so you know exactly what room each box "belongs" to when you pack it. Create a legend and tape it to your entry door, so people that are helping you move know where to put boxes too.
    3) On moving day, make sure you set up your bed (sheets included) early in the day. Last thing you want after a long day of hauling furniture is to have to make your bed before you can collapse in it!
  • KristiCKristiC Charlotte, NC
    MrsIppi said:

    I've moved more than my fair share and have found that having a box or bag (but let's be honest, it's usually just a laundry basket) that has all the "What am I gonna need right now/tonight?" stuff that goes in the car with me so I don't have to think twice about it.

    Also, I agree with the PP -- don't move stuff you don't really want to keep!

    I second both of these things. My Realtor gave me a laundry basket when I bought my house and I would never have thought about it! Good to have the toilet paper on hand ;-) I also am still learning this "don't move stuff you won't keep" process... but we all have room to grow, right?
  • KristiCKristiC Charlotte, NC
    wakemily said:

    oh - and the best thing - can't believe I forgot this. UHaul sells "wardrobe boxes" and they make moving hanging clothes SO EASY. You don't have to take things off hangers. Just move the hanger to the rod in the box. Things are easily accessible even if you aren't able to hang in your new closets right away for some reason.

    My movers also taped the top flaps of the unused wardrobe boxes upwards (to make it really tall) and loaded it up with the loose pillows / blankets / soft goods / couch cushions - super helpful!

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