Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to Get Outta Dodge

Summer seems to be the time when everyone moves.  With school ending for the young kiddos, high school and college graduations and weddings, June and July seem to be the most popular months to move. With so many exciting things going on, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the whole moving process.
First off, I’m a moving machine. I moved 38 times before I finished high school. I’ve been married 13 years and have moved 7 times (most were out of state). You can say, I’m an experienced mover. I have learned lots of tips through the many moves that I’d like to share:
  • Don’t forget to pick up a change of address form from the post office. You can also fill out the form online now.
  • If moving from an apartment, make sure you give your landlord your forwarding address.
  • Schedule the disconnecting of your utilities and when your utilities will need to be turned on at your new location.
  • Create a "packing central" bin(s). It can include a small plastic bin with the following: tape (good quality-the cheap stuff will make you cuss), several tape guns, lots of black Sharpies, Ziploc bags, colored tape (if you plan on using it), plain newsprint paper, bubble wrap, styrofoam peanuts, clipboard with paper & pen, etc. If it's all together, you can just grab the bin and take it to the desired room.
Carton Sealing Tape
  • If you choose to use different color tape, make sure you put it on more than one side, so that the mover won't have to keep turning the box around to see the color. This is a good job for the kids. Hand them some tape & a pair of child's scissors & let them put their designated tape color on the boxes from their room.
  • I'd also suggest typing and printing a list of rooms with colors. Put on the main door where the movers are coming through. Also tape a piece of paper with room name & tape color on the outside of each room. The movers will have no idea which room is the guest room, etc., but they'll know the colors.
  • Another tip, you may want to post a sign in each room saying which wall you'd like boxes stacked against. This prevents boxes from being scattered all around the room & blocking the way for furniture to be placed.
  • When packing, make sure you stuff the corners of the boxes, and it is COMPLETELY full. There's nothing worse than the movers stacking boxes and the bottom ones collapsing because they weren't completely full. I pack my boxes so that you can sit on them. This is when sheets, towels, blankets come in handy. I use the plain newsprint for corners too.
  • However, don’t forget the laws of physics and OVERSTUFF boxes. If you have stuff hanging out or the boxes is bulging….it’ll burst.
  • Some people like to number boxes & put the contents & corresponding number on a master list. That way you can look at—example: box number 15, and know that it contains your china.
  • That system didn't work for me because I had multiple people packing in different rooms. If it's just you packing--then it might work.
  • You'll need more supplies, boxes than you think.  Put aside a few medium sized boxes for the last minute crap that you totally forget about until you're on the last leg of packing.
  • Don't be afraid to use big lawn bags for things like pillows, stuffed animals, etc. Just make sure you have tape or colored ribbon to tie around the top to identify that it's not garbage.
  • Make a small "parts & pieces" box. In it, include any screws, cords, cables, plugs, bolts, nails, etc. that hold furniture together. It took me a while to put together a bed after one move because someone just threw the bolts in a random clothes box. Make sure each set of pieces are put together in a ziploc & labeled with a Sharpie.    
  • Start using up your freezer and pantry food. You don't want to have to pack up all that stuff. The same goes for cleaning supplies. Start using and consolidating.
  • Pack what you don't need. Pack out of season clothes, sports gear, kitchen stuff, and seasonal stuff. The more you can do ahead, the better.
  • Keep a special file or banker's box with all your needed papers for the sale of your old home, title info for the new house, etc.
  • Make a list of phone numbers all the utility companies, cable, and water. Trust me, I needed the number of my gas company, and was glad I had it when we moved to Missouri. Especially since they didn't turn on the gas heat, and it was 34 degrees.
  • Make sure you leave out things like broom, dust pan, garbage bags, Windex wipes for when you're doing the last bit of cleaning.
3462 - Broom & mop holder
  • Pictures with glass--Always wrap separate and pack so they are standing as they hang. DO NOT LAY FLAT!
  • I recommend paper plates between the dishes! They cushion them wonderfully! And you can still use them afterwards!
  • Pull out a calendar and make a plan when each room will be completed. You'll greatly underestimate how much time it'll take to pack. Put this calendar with your "packing central" kit or on your clipboard.
  • A picture is worth 1000 words- Use a digital or cell phone camera to take pictures of how complicated wiring (computer cords, speaker wires) is hooked up. Be sure to use plenty of light and careful focus so the pictures will be clear. Print each picture and put it in the top of the box holding the item. This will make hooking up the items in your new place much easier.
  • Pack a suitcase- For each member of the family moving, pack a suitcase as if you’re all going on a 3-day vacation, including changes of clothes, medications, eyeglasses, toiletries, etc. Keep the suitcases separated from all the other items to be moved, such as in your car, at your new workplace, etc. so you’ll have everything you need for the first few days without searching through boxes.

  • Create “Open Me First” boxes- Pick one or two boxes per room as "Open Me First" boxes. Put in them the things you'll need first at your new location. Then mark the sides of the boxes so you'll know which ones are which.
  • One at a time- Wherever possible, work on packing just one room at a time (instead of several all at once) to keep things focused and organized.
  • Less is more- Use packing as a way to clean out belongings for donations, a yard sale, and/or the recycling center. Aim to eliminate 1/3 of your belongings. You'll save time and expense.
  • I kept 2 big boxes for the kids to make their own 'house' - they were having fun and gave me time to unpack, uninterrupted.
    • Off the floor- Instead of the floor, use a completely cleared-off table top or counter in each room for packing boxes. You'll find you get much more accomplished.
    • Tracking small parts- When taking apart items to be moved, such as tables, securely tape screws and other small parts securely to the underside of the item. You'll always know where to look and save time putting things back together.
    Do you have any moving tips you’d like to share?


    1. I have to move once a year due to school and I put all my clothes and linens into space bags it makes my life SO much easier. Since I have to move annually we also have rubbermaid tubs for each separate area of my apartment.

    2. Great tips! If moving overseas and shipping your items, chances are they're going on a boat, so wrap everything in plastic and seal edges with Duct Tape as well as lining the box with plastic on the inside... when my stuff arrived to the island, it was totally fine, but there was sand on the plastic and water spots too!!!

    3. I read a lot of your tips when you shared them on twitter, but these are great! I can't believe you have moved so many times. I knew you were experienced, but wow!

    4. Great tips! I love the idea of putting paper plates between each plate--genius. I could have used these tips two years ago!
      I did put lots of soft stuff in several clear garbage bags (from the O.R. of course) and to this day cannot figure out where some of it went. Pretty sure my hubby threw them out to the curb with the garbage.

    5. Awesome post! I'm sitting here surrounded by boxes and packing tape, so GREAT timing!

    6. Wow! I am so thrilled you posted this! My husband and I have moved almost every year for the past 8 years because of college. You would think we'd have this down, right? Nope! It's a huge cluster mess every single time we pack to move. I love the idea of packing on a table in every room. I think where I go wrong is mixing everything together on the floor. I will definitely be returning back to this post later this summer & again next year! Thanks so much!!!!