Moving Day 2019 is finally behind us and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.
Let’s just get this out of the way: I strongly dislike moving. I think it’s stressful, a TON of work, and just an overall pain in the butt. Even though I purge closets regularly and consider myself to be a minimal-ish person, I’m always blown away by the sheer volume of things we possess that we have to pack up and move. It takes weeks of preparation and hours upon hours of work and even then there are always odd things towards the end that are just hard to pack up until the last minute so it’s inevitably still a little harried in the day or two before moving. Plus in the weeks leading up to moving, my house fills up with packed boxes, half-filled boxes, packing materials, piles of things to pack/sell/donate, and it stops feeling like a cozy little home and starts feeling like a messy warehouse. Have I painted a clear enough picture? Moving = not my cup of tea.
That being said, I do think there are ways to make the move as simplified and stress-free as possible. This is the third time Justin and I have packed up our entire lives and moved in our almost 6 years of marriage, so I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way that have helped ease the burden of moving and today I thought I’d share them with you. These tips don’t eliminate stress and in my experience, there will always be a certain level of complexity and chaos when packing up and transplanting your entire life. It’s just inevitable. But these are some things that worked for me to help reduce stress and keep things as simplified as possible. If you’re planning an upcoming move, I hope you can find a helpful tip or two here!
Start Packing/Collecting Boxes Early
A lot of things need to wait until closer to moving day to pack, but there are many things you can get out of the way early on. I started packing up infrequently-used items about 6 weeks before our moving day. I’m talking seasonal items, our china dishes, things that we can definitely go without missing for several weeks. I started storing these packed boxes in our garage so they were still out of the way from our daily life but it felt really good to have a head start! I also started soliciting boxes and packing materials from family and friends around this time – I personally don’t want to pay for moving boxes when I can find enough good used ones if I just start looking soon enough. My dad and my aunt both work in places that get a ton of shipments and they had access to a lot of boxes that had already been used that I could have for free. Score! I also love to find sustainable solutions when I can and re-using boxes and collecting newspapers to use as packing materials helps gets even more use out of these items before they get recycled. In this day and age of online ordering + shipping, it’s not hard to find a friend who loves Amazon Prime and has plenty of boxes and packing material to set aside for you to re-use if you just ask. 😉
Seal Boxes with Colored Duct Tape
This tip is one of my favorites. I scored a bunch of different colors of duct tape for super cheap years ago and I use different colors to seal boxes depending on which room they’re going to go in. I used yellow duct tape to seal any box that was destined for the kitchen, green duct tape for anything going into the living room, blue for the basement, purple for our master bed/bath, orange for LJ’s room, etc. Even though I do still use a permanent marker to label what is actually in the box, I love the duct tape method for these reasons:
- On moving day, our friends and family can easily identify where a box goes without having to ask me. This saves me from having to delegate/micro-manage and I can be working on cleaning or unboxing rather than feel like an air traffic controller directing people every two minutes. I have a “master key” by the door that identifies what color goes in what room and after the first few trips inside, everyone has the hang of the layout. It is easy for the friend helping to see “oh, green tape, this goes in the living room” and take it to that room than to say “hmm, this one is labeled ‘books’ . . . let me ask Justin or Sarah where the books should go”
- It’s way harder to lose a box. If I’ve labeled correctly, it’s super easy to see if a box accidentally got put in the wrong place. For example, I was looking for my spare power cords and I knew I had labeled that box blue for basement. I went to the basement, looked at the blue boxes, and quickly found the one with power cords. If that box had accidentally got taken to the living room instead, a quick scan would have easily shown me a blue-taped box and I could have gone straight for it rather than have to look through the labels on EVERY box in the house to find the misplaced one. Saves me SO much headache!
Duct Tape 2.0 – Mark Fragiles Separately
A bonus tip with using colored duct tape: I add a funky duct tape in addition to the color if the box contains fragile items. For this move, zebra stripe meant fragile. I do still write “fragile” on the box, but it’s such a different pattern from the solid colors that it jumps out at anyone lifting to be extra careful with that box. It worked out SUPER well with this move because since we only moved about 15 minutes, we had some friends drive their cars in addition to our moving truck and any box with zebra tape got packed up in their cars instead of the big moving truck. Made it super easy to identify the fragile items to put in cars and everything got delivered safely!
Cushion breakables with Paper Products
I bought a large package of paper plates and paper bowls prior to moving for two reasons. First, it allowed me to actually pack up our everyday dishes a few days before we moved and we still had something to eat off of. Second, when packing dishes I alternated a paper plate in between each regular plate to help cushion them so they wouldn’t break in the move. I do this with all our bowls too and it works really well! (In our last move, Justin didn’t put paper bowls between our everyday bowls and most of them cracked. 😦 ) Then when I unpack, I just keep the paper products to use for cookouts or whatever in the future (as long as they didn’t get dirty or super banged up in the move).
Store in drawers as much as possible
Maybe this is obvious, but I don’t box up anything that is already stored in a furniture drawer. My nightstand drawer can get taken out of the nightstand to move downstairs, and then the drawer just gets put right back in the nightstand on the truck. Same with dressers: you can make the work lighter by taking the physical drawers out to move the dresser onto/off of the truck, but during transport, just put the drawer back in the dresser with all your stuff in it. I also packed a ton of extra things in our guest bedroom dresser (seen above, since it is normally empty for guest use) and this saved space and boxes.
Use clothing or towels to pad breakables
Breakables have to be moved. Clothing has to be moved. Why not move them together? We did have some newspapers and packaging material such as bubble wrap for some of our most fragile items, but between decor, dishes, picture frames, mirrors, etc, there was just WAY more stuff that needed extra cushioning than we had packing material for. We used towels and blankets to wrap some larger items like mirrors, canvases, and frames (top right picture) but for smaller items like dishes, glasses, ceramics, etc. I took clothing like t-shirts and scrubs (Justin works in a hospital setting and has tons) to wrap around items (top left picture) and this worked great! Obviously, things are wrapped much tighter than the picture shows, but I had to loosen things up so you could actually see what I had packed.
Use garbage bags to transport hanging clothes
It seemed really silly to me to take all our clothes off their hangers and pack them in boxes to move. Instead, I left all the clothing on the hangers and pulled a garbage bag around as many as could fit (usually about 20 items fit). Then I took the loops from the bag ties and hooked them around each end hanger so the bag would stay up and I could just carry the bag into my van. Once we got to the new house, I carried the bag to the closet, hung up the hangers, and removed the bag. Done! A few items fell off the hangers in transport, but the good news is they all stayed in the bag so it was very easy to retrieve them and put them back on the hanger in the new house. I did this with all my tops and dresses, Justin’s suits, our dress pants, belts, ties, literally everything that had been hanging on something in the closet and it worked like a charm!
MOVING DAY TIPS
It can be so hard to ask for and accept help sometimes. But we knew that we couldn’t move alone, especially since my pregnancy prevented me from a lot of the lifting, so we reached out to friends and family. We also had some people offer to help without our asking, and even though my initial reaction was ‘oh, that’s okay I think we’ll be fine,’ we humbled ourselves enough to graciously accept all offers of help. And I’m SO thankful we did. We had friends not only help move our stuff but offer trucks/vehicles, an extra dolly to move heavy furniture, and one friend even volunteered to watch LJ at her house all day so we didn’t have to worry about him being in the way or trying to get him to nap with all the commotion going on. We were so thankful for the generosity of our village, whether they could help for an hour, for the morning, or all day. And it would have been far, far more stressful and difficult if we had tried to do it without their help.
If you’re having friends and family help you move, feed them! These people are taking time out of their day to help with a super unpleasant task. Honestly, no one wakes up on a beautiful Saturday and thinks “gosh it’d be fun to lug a ton of boxes around today’ so these people are rockstars for lending a hand. That doesn’t mean you should stress out about food. We bought some bagels and muffins from Costco and a coffee tote from Panera to have at the first house for people who helped in the early morning. Then we had waters, chips, cookies, and sloppy joes for people to grab for lunch as we unloaded at the new house (also, a neighbor/friend of ours couldn’t help with the physical move but offered to make sloppy joes and once again, we humbled ourselves enough to accept her generous offer and I’m SO THANKFUL I did because it was one less thing to worry about!) Our move miraculously finished up much earlier than we thought, but had it gone longer we were planning to order pizza for dinner as well. Don’t try to prepare food and add to the stress – this is the day to outsource and use all paper products!
Whew! Here’s hoping I don’t have to move again for a long, long time! What tips and tricks do you have for moving?