So you are moving. You are not alone. Approximately 40 million Americans will change their home address this year. Whether you are moving across the country or around the corner being organized will help things go more smoothly on both ends.
1) Purge. Moving is the perfect opportunity to lay your hands on all of your belongings. Give them the critical eye. Is it useful? Is it beautiful? Does it make your life better? If the answer to all of those questions is no, then get rid of it. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you might find a place for it at your new house. Odds are if you didn't like it enough to find a place for it at our current home, you won't find a place for it at your new home either.
2) Begin early. It is never too soon to start packing before a move. There are many things in your home that can be boxed up in advance and not missed. Seasonal items, toys, seldom used kitchen appliances come to mind first. Even decorations and pictures can be boxed up a month or more in advance. Find one area of your home to store the packed boxes.
3) Quantity. You will need more boxes than you think. Look around objectively at all of your things. Estimate how many boxes you think you will need to use. Double that number and it will probably be a good place to start. Do the same for the packing tape.
4) Think of your back. Remember, don't make your boxes too heavy to lift. There is nothing worse than struggling with boxes that are too heavy.
5) Like with like. Begin packing a box in one room and finish packing in the same room. No matter how tempting it is to just fit that one random item into that space in the box, resist the urge.
6) Label it. Label your boxes with the room they are going to in your new house, not necessarily the room they are in at your current house. Colored dot stickers are perfect for having a visual reminder. Each room has a different color dot. When you arrive at your new home stick a corresponding colored dot on the door of the room. When people are helping to carry in your boxes they won't have to pause and ask each time where you want it to go.
7) Mark it. With a permanent marker write on the outside of the box exactly what is contained in the box. Even if you think you will remember. You won't. Heck, by the fiftieth box you pack you won't even remember why you wanted to move in the first place.
8) This leads me to, mark all sides of the box. It might seem like overkill, but I assure it is not. Invariably one of your helpers will stack the boxes in the corner of the room with the labeling facing the wall. You don't want to have to move the boxes or climb on top of them just to find out their contents.
9) Get real moving boxes. Craigslist is a great resource for used moving boxes. While it is fine to collect random boxes from stores, they don't fit together as well as moving boxes. This is especially important if you have tight moving van space and/or a long distance move.
10) Use unprinted newsprint to pack fragile items with. You can get the end of rolls from your local newspaper or you can buy rolls from any of the moving van rental companies. While it is fine to use newspaper, the print will rub off on your items and you will have to wash everything on the other end of your move. Decide for yourself if saving a few dollars is worth the hassle.
11) Last On/ First Off, or things you can not live without. These will be in the last boxes to get on the truck and be the first off. Distinguish these couple of boxes somehow from all the others. Paint them red, let the children color them, whatever the case may be so that you can locate these boxes easily in the sea of cardboard.
What should be in these boxes?
Think about the items that you can not live without, or of you have children what they can not live without. Coffeemaker, coffee, DVD player, shampoo, vodka... whatever it is that you will need at your new home before the heavy duty unpacking begins.
Cleaning supplies. Designate one of the last on/ first off boxes to these items. Think hand soap, paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, plastic cups, that sort of thing. Inside one of these boxes you also want a big box of black trash bags. Remember all of that paper you just wrapped your things in? Somehow on the other end of your move this paper will multiply.
Bed linens. Most likely you will want to sleep at some point after your move. Make sure that you clearly label your bed linens so that you can immediately make your beds after setting them up. Consider that part of unpacking. You will be happy later that night.
12) Random personal items such as a change of clothes, toothbrushes, that stuffed animal your child can not possibly sleep without, put in one of your suitcases and toss in your car. This is also a good place to put the remote controls, power cords, cameras, and mail. Things you don't want to get lost in the shuffle and were probably using up until the last moments.