How to Master a Move, According to People Who've Done It Countless Times

Bright white kitchen with black barstools.

Ashley Webb Interiors

Moving homes or apartments likely isn’t your idea of a good time, but there are plenty of ways to make the grueling process feel a little less chaotic—and possibly even a tiny bit enjoyable. Whether you’re looking for ways to streamline the packing process, need tips on how to stash a few items in storage, or simply want to reward yourself for a job well done, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on for tips from those well-versed in the moving world, and then start kicking things into gear ahead of the big day.

Jewel Marlowe, a military spouse, and blogger has moved a whopping 13 times and learned her share of lessons along the way. “We are allotted a certain weight limit for each move,” Marlowe explains. “And it has proven to be a challenge for a maximalist designer like myself.”

Consequently, Marlowe has needed to closely evaluate her belongings many times over the years. “My process is to prioritize the items that I love most, even if they are not the lightest,” she says. “For example, I have a black marble coffee table that weighs 10 times that of some other coffee tables, but in the last move, I was willing to sacrifice two older sofas in order to keep it."

While many won’t be faced with quite as rigid of regulations, engaging in a process of elimination like Marlowe can still be key. “We can ask ourselves, is the item I’m considering keeping so important to me that I need to take it, or is this a good opportunity to start with a blank slate?" she explains. "This editing process has helped me hone my style and recognize what my design priorities are."

We can ask ourselves, is the item I’m considering keeping so important to me that I need to take it, or is this a good opportunity to start with a blank slate?

Empty living space with lots of moving boxes and big windows.

Halfpoint Images/Getty Images

Of course, those who aren’t faced with stringent guidelines may want to consult their budgets before saying goodbye to pieces for good. Sometimes, the cost of moving an item—while still not inexpensive—may actually be more wallet-friendly than having to re-purchase furniture essentials down the line.

When it comes to packing, outsourcing—if your budget allows—can make a daunting process feel a bit more efficient. “If you’re moving within the New York City metropolitan area, consider Jugglebox, which drops off and picks up plastic bins that allow you to avoid the dreaded box construction,” Meghan Donovan, the founder of Wit & Whimsy, suggests. “And it’s better for the environment.”

Looking to go the cardboard route? Start stockpiling boxes from online orders a few months prior to your move, if your space allows you to do so. This will prevent you from having to purchase brand new boxes, resulting in more efficient use of time, money, and resources. 

And if your move involves downsizing? You can get help with that, too. “If you need storage, use MakeSpace to store off-season items or pieces you’d like to keep that don’t fit in your space,” Donovan adds, as she has moved seven times in the last 10 years. “They’ll ship you bags, you fill them, and then just schedule a time for their crew to come by and pick it up.”

If possible, delicate or sentimental items should be transported by hand, notes blogger Katie Urban, who has moved apartments four times in the past five years. “I usually try to get the keys to my new place at least a day or two before moving day so I can get into my new space, make sure everything is clean and in working order, and safely move some of those more fragile items,” she says.

Special mirrors, sculptural objects, and other breakables are worth driving over on your own—and since many moving companies charge by the hour, you may end up saving money in the process.

Last but not least: incentivize yourself. Scheduling something to look forward to at the end of moving day may help keep your spirits high during what can be both a physically and emotionally draining process.

“One thing I always do is schedule a wine night with a few friends for the day of my move,” Urban says. “It’s something to look forward to after a stressful day and it really makes my new apartment start to feel like home. As an added bonus, it also forces me to find and unpack my wine glasses quickly.”