Finding an apartment in Los Angeles on a budget with the right number of bedrooms, more than one bathroom, laundry machines in the unit, and a commute to work that takes less than an hour is nearly impossible. So when my roommates and I stumbled upon a three-bedroom apartment that met all our criteria (and came with a private backyard!), we thought we’d won the lottery. With the strenuous apartment search behind us, all we had to do was figure out how to pack for a move.
The move came with its own set of challenges. As appealing as driving an enormous U-Haul truck through L.A. traffic sounds, we opted to make many small moves in our own cars, stowing larger items in my roommate’s SUV with the seats down, and selling anything that wouldn’t fit. Needless to say, this was incredibly time-consuming and inevitably left us sitting on a newly purchased couch on a sidewalk in Hollywood at 10 p.m. waiting for a driver from GoShare—advertised as the “Uber for moving”—to pick up our couch.
We entirely underestimated how much we had to move and how much time it would take, which Ross Sapir, founder and president of the New York moving service Roadway Moving, says is a common rookie error. Mindful of my own moving mistakes, I asked Sapir just how to pack for a move more efficiently. Learn from my mistakes, and take note of these eight expert tips. This is the key to a stress-free move.
Have a Plan
If you don’t plan out where you want all your furniture and belongings to end up once you’ve moved them to your new place, you could end up doing more work by unpacking and moving your things multiple times. “It is extremely helpful to map out where you will want to place furniture in your new home and to keep the movers aware of these locations.” Sapir suggests either obtaining a floor plan of your new place or taking a tape measure to the space beforehand to plan out where you want to move larger objects.
Start Packing in Advance
One of the mistakes my roommates and I made was leaving the actual packing to the last minute and not setting aside an entire day to make the move. “Many people do not allow enough time to handle packing, and it’s definitely not something you can handle the night before your move.” Sapir suggests starting the packing process a few weeks before your move-in date by packing up some of the things you don’t use regularly, like décor objects or clothes that you won’t wear until the weather changes.
Don't Skimp on Boxes
Even though it may not seem like you own heaps of personal belongings when it comes time to empty every drawer, shelf, and closet corner, the volume of your possessions can double. This is why you’ll want to invest in enough high-quality boxes to contain all your things. “It’s important to have enough boxes in order to avoid having to cram belongings during your move,” Sapir says.
Empty Everything (and Then Check Again)
It’s easy to leave things behind during a move, even if you think you’ve checked every nook and cranny of your home. “We recommend doing triple, even quadruple checks of your home before leaving for good.” Sapir also advises you do this with someone else so you have another set of eyes looking out for forgotten items hiding in your furniture and closets.
Pack Your Boxes Strategically
Instead of hastily trying to pack up your entire kitchen into one box, take some time to consider the best way to pack up your items without causing any damage. “Before placing items in boxes, take a quick inventory of all fragile items and their weight.” Sapir thinks it’s a good idea to line your boxes with extra cushioning for maximum protection before you start packing up your valuables.
Take Your Time with Fragile Items
Sapir lists poorly packing fragile and delicate items as another common packing mistake. “It may seem like a time-saver to wrap items in groups, but it is not worth breaking items en route to their new location.” Instead wrap breakable vases, décor items, and glassware individually so they don’t end up as collateral damage during the move.
Label Your Boxes
Often overlooked, it is crucial to label your boxes for seamless unpacking. Because you’ll need some items right away, while others can wait to be unpacked, labels will help you get to the important stuff—your coffee maker—quickly. Sapir says it’s best to identify boxes by what group they belong to like kitchen essentials or decorations. You can even write some of the key items on the box to help you remember and speedily retrieve what you need right after moving in. My roommate tried using clear plastic containers so she could see what was inside. This worked well for unpacking, but they were a bit heavier during the actual move.
The thought of hiring professional movers did occur to me and my roommates (mainly when we were waiting for a veritable stranger with a truck on the side of the road with our couch), but we didn’t even know you could hire professional packers. According to Sapir, many moving companies offer packing services to go along with their movers. “[It’s] a great option if you are pressed for time.”