It’s hard to believe, but most people who responded to a survey about moving said they felt that moving was more stressful than even planning a wedding or starting a family. It can definitely more stressful than buying a house through CityWorth. One reason for all the stress is that packing often feels like an overwhelming task. When you’re faced with an entire house of stuff and a moving deadline, it feels like too much to handle. To avoid frustration, give yourself time to get organized and follow these six packing hacks that will not only help you get ready to move but also make unpacking easier for you.
When you start with a plan, you’ll also reduce the chance that you end up shoving items in boxes and end up with a mess of mismatched items to unpack at your new place. It’s far better to have organized, labeled boxes that you can gradually unpack than to be frantically searching for essentials in box after box once you arrive at your new home.
For each room, label and pack an “unpack me first” box.
With an “unpack me first” box, you’ll have everything you need to use right away at your fingertips. Below are some helpful lists of what to pack by room. Having these boxes ready to go will truly make your first days in your new place less stressful.
Main bedroom: Approach packing this box like packing for a weekend getaway. Pack each person a few changes of clothes, pajamas, toiletries, and essentials like phone chargers and daily medication. Then add to this pile a clean set of sheets, a blanket, and some bathroom towels. You can even pack your pillows if they fit. If you have large suitcases to move, you could use them for your “unpack me first” containers instead of boxes. After all, you’ll be moving your luggage anyway, so why not fill it up?
Children’s rooms: In this box, pack a few days’ changes of clothes, pajamas, a few favorite toys and books, and a special blanket to make their new room feel more welcoming. If you have young children, make sure to add diapers, wipes, and any kids’ toiletry items. Also, pack a set of fresh sheets, some towels, and a pillow, as well as any sleep aids that are important like a night light or a music player. You might want to consider packing window coverings in this box (if they aren’t included in your new place), as it can be hard for kids to fall asleep in a bright room.
Kitchen box: Put together enough dishes, cutlery, and kitchen basics to get you started for a few meals in your new place. It’s helpful to pack some cooking tools, a frying pan, a pot, some knives, a can opener, and a few dish towels and cloths, along with paper towels and dish soap for the sink and dishwasher. If doing dishes will be stressful while unpacking, you can pack disposable or compostable paper plates and cups to use instead.
It’s also important to add essentials like a coffee maker and coffee, cooking oil, salt and pepper, sugar, and any other kitchen basics you use daily. Plastic wrap and some storage containers for leftovers are also very handy to have in this box.
Bathroom box: Pack the essentials that you’ll need for the first few days in your home, including toilet paper, hand soap, tissues, shampoo and conditioner, hair dryer, hand towels, bath towels, and a bathmat. You can also include some bathroom cleaner and a shower curtain in this box. Remember to pack kids’ bathroom items as well. If you have little ones, tear-free shampoo and some bath toys that are ready to go will be useful for establishing routines in your new place.
Office: In this box, pack the most important papers that you’ll need to get started with your work right away, especially if you work from home. You can also include papers that you need for moving-related activities, like documents for your new home. Add some basics like pens, paper, and other office items that you use daily and don’t want to have to sort through a bunch of boxes to find. It’s useful to add some basic tools to this box as well, like a box cutter, scissors, a hammer, screwdrivers, and Allen keys.
Another helpful tip is to pack your most important documents in this box, along with other valuables like jewelry or special collections. You can move this box (or boxes) by yourself if you’re concerned about important items getting lost. If you have movers handle this box, don’t label it with “valuables” or “jewelry”, which could lead to your items getting stolen. Instead, put an abbreviation on the box or a symbol, like a star, that only you’ll recognize.
Living room: In this box, it’s helpful to pack TV remotes, important cords and cables, books that you’ll need to have access to right away, and some toys and games to occupy the kids if you’re moving with a young family. Nothing is worse than wanting to watch TV in your new place and not being able to find the remote.
Pets: If you have pets, make sure to have your frequently used items like a leash, pet food and treats, pet dishes, and crates or beds easily accessible in an “unpack me first” box. You might want to move this box by yourself, too, to make sure that you have these items available right away when you get to your new place.
Color-code your boxes by room with labels or stickers
Assign each room its own color, and then add a colored label or sticker to each box that you pack for that room. Just writing the room name on the box can also work, but it is easy to misread something handwritten. It may seem like it will take longer to create this system, but once you get going, it won’t take much extra time to add the labels. You can buy colored labels or stickers at a dollar store or office supply store or order them online. Alternatively, you could use colored markers to label each room’s boxes with an assigned color.
When it comes to unpacking your moving truck, share the color-code system with your movers or friends, so they immediately know where to carry each box. Color-coding will not only help you organize your items, but you’ll also save money on hourly moving costs because your movers won’t have to keep stopping to ask where each box goes as they take items off the truck.
Add a short description to each box on two different sides (so at least one label will be visible when your boxes are stacked)
Just as color-coded boxes will help get your boxes unloaded quickly, adding labels and a short description of the contents of each box will save you lots of time unpacking. When you’re in your new place, it’s frustrating to search through box after box simply labeled “kitchen” if you’re just trying to find something like drinking glasses or the rest of your cutlery. Multiply this by all the rooms in your house, and you can see how writing simple descriptions on each box is a real time-saver. You don’t have to list every item, just enough to give you a clue what you’ve put inside each box. Remember to mark “fragile” on any boxes that contain items that can easily be broken.
Use your linens and clothes to wrap breakable items
You can save money on bubble wrap and packing paper by wrapping breakable items in linens and clothes. You have to move these items anyway, so put them to good use as cushioning.
Make sure you take the time to wrap fragile items properly by putting fewer items in a box with lots of cushioning and packing smaller items into larger ones to help to protect your treasured things. Also, consider saving up bubble wrap packages and boxes from online shopping as another source of free packing material for fragile items.
So you won’t be struggling to lift boxes, pack heavy items into smaller boxes
Unpacking can be more difficult if you have large, heavy boxes that are difficult to maneuver. It’s also harder for movers or friends to lift them safely. If you have a lot of heavy items, like books, records, or kitchen appliances, pack them in smaller, sturdy boxes, like alcohol boxes, which you can often get for free. Having manageable boxes can also help if you change your mind about where you want to put things in your new place. If each box isn’t too heavy, you’ll be able to shift the things around yourself more easily when you’re unpacking.
Wrap potentially leaky items in plastic bags and line the box with plastic bags too
Avoid the unpleasant surprise of having your items covered in shampoo or sticky syrup by packing items that might leak in several layers of plastic bags. Also, line the box with more plastic bags or a large garbage bag.
If you don’t have a bunch of plastic bags saved up, ask your friends or neighbors. Chances are you’ll find someone with a stash of grocery bags they’ll happily give you.
Another hack is to use plastic wrap under the lid of open items (between the lid and bottle) to prevent the products from spilling. If you don’t have a way to wrap potentially leaky items, consider moving them yourself in a separate box so that you won’t have items ruined by a spill or a big mess to clean up when you’re unpacking.
Yes, a less stressful move is possible
Altogether, if you follow these six packing hacks, your move will go a lot easier. The key is organization, having your essentials easily on hand, and taking care with fragile and potentially leaky items.
To get yourself started, begin with creating a color-coding system, and start packing in a room that you don’t use very often, or a small area that’s more manageable, like a bathroom or a closet. As you get going, seeing the progress you’ve made and feeling organized will help keep you motivated. You could even have a packing party if you need extra help. Just invite some family or friends over to pack and reward them with pizza or another yummy treat.