Pin It

January 9, 2014

Moving Tips From A Self-Proclaimed Expert

That's right, I do consider myself an expert on moving! My family moved a lot when I was a kid. I'm not even sure how many times we moved, but I'm pretty sure it's more than 20. As an adult, through college and after getting married I still can't seem to stay put. As I've mentioned, my husband is in the Air Force. We have moved 3 times in the last 4 years. Yes, we are crazy.

Is this a familiar sight to anyone else? A room
full of boxes and disassembled furniture. 
This last move we made from FL to DC I did a lot of searching for tips and tricks to make moving go smoothly. We had more stuff to move than we've ever had before, plus a dog, a rabbit and a kid! If you Google "moving tips", like I did, you'll find so much valuable info that you can apply to your situation. I'm going to add my tips to the pot and hopefully they'll help someone!

Before You Pack

* Go through your things and sell, give away or throw out anything you can.

Your move, and especially unpacking and moving into your new place, will go so much smoother if you pare down what you have first. I recommend doing this several months before your moving date, if you have that much notice. Have a yard sale, list things on Craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups, donate to Goodwill or give things away to friends. If it's not of value to anyone else and you haven't used it in awhile, don't be afraid to throw it away!

Something I tried that worked really well was to go through each area of my house, room by room, closet by closet, and sort everything into piles of things to sell, trash and give away. Things that were going to be kept and moved with us got put away properly, which leads me to the next tip:

* Organize everything before packing

Our linen closet never looked as good as it did just
before our move! Organizing and folding all our blankets
and towels made it easier to pack them up. 
Take some time in the months and weeks before your move to organize your house. Put things back in their homes, or find a place for things that have just been laying around. For example, we had a bunch of baby stuff we were no longer using in various closets and in our daughter's bedroom. We put it all in one place neat and organized so it could all stay together for packing. Organizing your home will make it that much easier to pack up.

* Take an inventory

This tip is especially popular in the military community, where the majority of the time, movers are packing and transporting your "household goods" for you. But it's a good idea for anyone. I'll admit, we didn't do this! But I wanted to and should have. You can get as detailed as logging every last DVD and china plate to just going around your home with a video camera, detailing everything you see. One thing we did do was take photos of our television showing that they worked prior to moving. Then if it's broken on the other side you can prove it happened during the move.

* Do everything you love one last time

If you are moving far - out of state, out of the country - make sure to take time in all the moving madness to see all your friends, visit your favorite restaurants and do all your favorite fun things. Making new memories of all the things we loved really helped me get some closure and also have a good time in the midst of all the stress.

Our last (for awhile) pizza at our favorite pizza place in
Tampa, Precinct Pizza
We got family photos taken in Tampa to remember how special it was to us.
(Photo credit: Kalyn Brown Photography)

* Buy several boxes of the GIANT sized zip top bags and use them for EVERYTHING

I'm talking about the jumbo bags; I think Hefty brand sells them, that's what I used. They were super helpful in organizing my kitchen! I bagged all of my spices in these babies. I emptied my crock of wooden spoons and spatulas into one. My baking flour and sugar got wrapped up and zipped securely in a jumbo-sized bag as well. Seriously, these things were life savers.

Jumbo sized Hefty bags keep all your kitchen gadgets organized
I bagged my whole silverware tray. The silverware didn't all
stay in the right places, but at least it wasn't spilled all over
a box! Another idea is to wrap your silverware tray with
plastic wrap to avoid spilling even more. 
These were also amazing for organizing and packing my craft supplies. I just had this nightmarish vision in my head of the movers packing my craft supplies and on the other end opening boxes full of crumpled scrapbook paper and beads spilled everywhere. I used the jumbo bags to hold scrapbook paper and embellishments, another for my cross stitch projects, another for yarn, one for my pile of Gasparilla (Mardi Gras) beads, and one for my massive sea shell collection.

When you unpack, just empty the bags into their new homes and you're set! No searching for missing pieces to a set or digging through packing materials for small things that may have come unwrapped during the move. Some of my bagged items even stayed in their bags! It has made me more organized even after we are all unpacked and moved in.

Also on the topic of craft supplies, I highly recommend the clear plastic storage boxes that fit 12 x 12 craft supplies. These just stacked up nicely in boxes and all my paper and projects stayed nice and flat.

My craft desk all boxed and bagged up. 
A word of caution: if you don't organize and pack up your things, especially small things, effectively, you end up with something that looks like this:

Random crap wrapped up in packing paper. I missed a
spot when organizing and so this is what I got.
* Pack all your photo frames and decorations together

I recommend taking down all the photos and decorations from the walls a day or two prior to moving day and stacking them all carefully in one place so that they can be packed together. For example, if you leave the photos that are in your bedroom in there, they may end up being packed in with all your other bedroom stuff and maybe not being as secure. Pack them all together carefully, or if you have movers, make sure they pack them in appropriate packaging so they don't get broken and label the whole box as fragile.

Packing all your decorations together also allows you to unpack all the important stuff for living first, then when all that is out of the way, unpack your decorations boxes and find them all wall space in your new home. Doing this has helped me be able to quickly make new houses look like home.

* Pack an "open first" box

Make the last box you close up an "open first" box full of everything you will need right away when you unpack in your new place. Don't waste time hunting through poorly labeled boxes for things like tools and parts needed to put together your beds! Things we put in our open first box included parts and screws (in plastic baggies) for furniture that would need to be re-assembled, a few rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates and plastic cups, scissors, clean sheets and blankets to go right on our beds, and furniture sliders for moving furniture around easily. Anything we needed right away was in that box and it was so helpful!

* Pack suitcases tightly

Especially if you'll be flying, pack your suitcases full and tightly with your clothes and toiletries so that things don't shift around and become a mess for you on the other end.

Unpacking And Moving In

* Unpack quickly and get settled in

My handsome husband unpacking dishes in a sea of
packing paper.
I can't recommend enough that you unpack quickly and get settled in. For military families, we usually don't have time to wait and unpack slowly. Many military families know how to make a house a home very quickly. Take the time necessary and unpack everything, starting with the things you need first. If you have pared down your belongings ahead of time, there shouldn't be boxes full of random stuff stowed in closets for years.

I also recommend making your new place home as soon as possible. We painted, hung curtains and photos and got rid of all the boxes in the first few months after moving here to DC. It has really helped us feel settled in. Now we're working on getting out there and meeting new people and making new friends and new memories in our new home!

* Have fun!

Moving is very stressful, even for crazy people like me who enjoy it. Take time, even while you're unpacking like mad, to go out and do something new and fun at your new destination. Check out a few highly rated restaurants in the area, go see a fun new attraction, or just take a drive around the area. Start making new memories right away and your new town (or state or country) will feel like home in no time.

You can even have fun with your moving boxes! Build the kids a fort, a race car or a play house. Or do like my family did and use them as your Halloween costume. We moved in October and didn't have time to find awesome costumes for trick or treating, so we dressed up as a family who just moved! We went out wrapped in packing paper and tape, with boxes stuck on/to us, and covered in those moving stickers stuck to everything when you have movers pack your stuff. It was fun and got laughs out of the understanding military community.

Here's a summary of my best tips for moving:

* Go through your things and sell, give away or throw out anything you can.
* Organize everything before packing
* Take an inventory
* Do everything you love one last time
* Buy several boxes of the GIANT sized zip top bags and use them for EVERYTHING
* Pack all your photo frames and decorations together
* Pack an "open first" box
* Pack suitcases tightly
* Unpack quickly and get settled in
* Have fun!

Hopefully these tips help you have a smooth move and get settled quickly. What are your best tips for a smooth move? Share them in the comments and help us have an even smoother move next time, hopefully not for a few more years. :)