Whether you relocate every couple of years or have only completed a handful of moves in your life, you know that uprooting your life and belongings can come with its fair share of stress. To make moving less daunting, we spoke with pros for tips on what not to do while packing up those boxes and preparing for life in your new space.
Never Assume Your New Space Mimics Your Current Setup
As much as you love the flow of your apartment, your new space may end up coming together differently, and this is something you’ll want to keep in mind when packing, according to Christina Lee, co-founder of Graceful Spaces Organizing.
“More than likely, the layout of your current home will not be the same as your new home,” Lee says. “Rather than packing items by room, we suggest packing some items in categories. This will allow you to focus on placing the more important items in your new home first, and then you can easily shop from your own décor when you’re ready.”
Never Forget to Check All the Boxes—Literally
“A lot of customers want to do their own packing and boxing, and the problem that we have is that they sometimes don’t do so correctly,” Ivan Huerta, a customer service representative with Roadway Moving explains. Don’t forget to pack boxes using an adequate amount of bubble wrap to protect breakables, stay on top of labeling each box, and covering other key bases.
When it comes to labeling, Keith Bartolomei of Zen Habitat has a few pointers. “Label your boxes by category, add the room name of where you’d like it to land in your new home, and list key items you may find yourself searching for later,” he says. “Bonus points if you label the top and two sides, so you can view the contents from any angle.”
“As soon as you have an idea you might be getting ready to move somewhere else, start the process of reviewing what you have and evaluating whether or not it would be important to have with you in your next home,” Declutter DC Founder Jenny Albertini notes. More on that below.
Never Pack At Random
Once again, investing a bit more time upfront to pack correctly will make the move-in process much simpler. “I see a lot of clients pack their items with no rhyme or reason, just shoving whatever will fit into their boxes and bins,” professional organizer Aileen Mitchener of Aligned by Aileen says. “Before packing, sort your items into categories and do your best to keep like items together. Moving is already so stressful, so packing your items in an organized way will ultimately save you more time and streamline the unpacking process.”
In a similar vein, ensure that you’re keeping track of equipment parts and grouping them together into one box when packing. “If you're moving electronics, keep all the cords and accessories together,” Mitchener notes. “Similarly, a kitchen mixer is no good if you're missing the attachments. Tape a Ziploc baggie of furniture screws, bolts, etc, to the actual piece of furniture especially if you had to disassemble any items.”
Never Overpack Cardboard Boxes
Packing additional boxes may feel time-consuming, but will save you trouble in the long run, according to Tal Shelef, the co-founder of CondoWizard.
“I have witnessed several kinds of accidents and inconveniences on the mover's part,” he explains. “Use as many boxes as you need to create easy-to-lift loads, and limit your large boxes to no more than 50 pounds.”
Never Transport Useless Items
Take some time pre-move to do a mini apartment cleanout and decide what will stay and what can be tossed or donated. “Your holey sweater or broken kitchen appliance does not need to make the trek to your new abode,” Mitchener says. “As an organizer, I help clients unpack a lot of items that immediately get thrown away. Moving is also a chance to downsize and donate your good condition items as well. Free yourself of clothes that don't fit, that china you never use, and furniture that will not match your new home’s aesthetic.”
There can be monetary and emotional benefits to doing so, too, Mitchener explains. “Not only does getting rid of items lighten your load—hello cheaper moving costs—but it gives you a chance to start afresh and upgrade and reprioritize your possessions.”
Going through your belongings is something that should be done ahead of time, of course. “Before moving, go around your home and do a first edit of trash and donations,” Lee suggests. “Ask yourself, ‘Do I want to pay to move this?’ and set a dollar threshold for what you’re willing to pay to move. Once you’ve determined what you’re donating, schedule that drop-off before the movers arrive.”
Never Expect Movers to Transport Your Plants
You may be in charge of bringing your green friends from one location to the next. Huerta urges clients to make arrangements on their own prior to moving day.
Never Move “Someday” Items
Likewise, don’t transport pieces that you think you’ll use down the line if the odds are, you actually won’t. Says Albertini, “In your new home, will you suddenly start playing tennis with that racket that has sat in your basement for years? Can you visualize yourself using that dusty box of craft supplies in the new place?"
As you picture your life in your new home, be honest with yourself about what you want to do or who you want to be there and let go of the items you have been holding onto that don't match up with that vision. "We don't want to bring guilt into a new house," Albertini notes.
Never Move Piece By Piece
Just get it done, and you’ll thank yourself later. “For local moves, we see several clients who try to move a little at a time,” Lee says. “However, we believe this can lead to more chaos. We suggest preparing for a local move the same way you would for a cross-country move.”