‘Tis the season for moving! Here are some tips for preparing, packing, labelling, and working with movers that will reduce your stress levels. I’m grateful to my NAPO colleagues for some of the tips incorporated here.
- You will reduce your moving costs if you de-clutter before your move (fewer boxes = less time charged by the moving company). *
- Have area rugs professionally cleaned before your move. They will come to you rolled, wrapped, and ready for moving.
- When disassembling furniture, put hardware in a plastic bag and tape it to the corresponding piece (avoid taping to polished or painted wood).
- Make sure there’s soap, tp, and paper towels in all bathrooms in both homes.
* If you can’t bear the thought of de-cluttering before your move, then do it as soon as possible afterwards. A professional organizer like me can not only help you decide what to winnow out, but also has a good eye for staging your new space. If you do want to de-clutter your old home but don’t have three hours to spend with an onsite organizer, take advantage of my Virtual Organizing service – a one hour minimum, flexible hours, and we create a plan together via Skype, FaceTime, phone, or email, for you to implement in between sessions. Easy-peasy!
- Use suitcases for clothing, linens and books (yes, books – suitcases have wheels!).
- Use small boxes for heavy items, and large boxes for light ones. Place heavier items at the bottom of the box.
- Use colored tissue paper to wrap very small items that could get lost.
- Have several “toolboxes” with packing supplies (e.g. one for each floor or room) so you can easily find what you need and save time.
- Use your own vehicle to move laptops, important papers, family photos, personal firearms, small irreplaceable items, and perishable food (in cool bags or boxes).
Working with movers
- Research movers thoroughly. Look for reviews on Yelp; ask friends and colleagues who they’d use (or not use) again; check the Better Business Bureau website.
- Book well in advance.
- Measure doorways in your new home and give this info to the moving company well before the move.
- Let the movers pack fragile items – moving companies are generally liable only for things they pack themselves.
- Block out parking close to your home; this will avoid movers’ “long-carry” fees.
- If you are part of a van share (more than one household on the van, typically for for long-distance moves) or if some boxes are stored short-term at the moving company’s facility, label boxes with your last name. Number boxes and make a list as movers bring them in so you know – before they leave – whether you are missing any boxes.
- Before the movers leave: 1) inspect the truck for any small items left behind – dresser knobs, cables and shelf brackets, and 2) before signing off on the job, read the fine print and ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
Systems for labelling
Whichever of these methods you use, be sure to create your own labelling system rather than leaving it to the movers to do so you’ll be able to find things easily after they leave. Some of these methods (running from basic to more detailed) will also work well together.
- Have 3-4 boxes that contain essentials – a set of dishes and eating utensils, basic toiletries, a few day’s clothing, etc. Clearly mark these “LOAD FIRST/UNLOAD LAST – NEED IMMEDIATE ACCESS”. That way you are not hunting for things you know you’ll need straight away.
- Mark boxes with the name of the room where you want the box to go. Use ‘generic’ language that will make sense to the movers, e.g. “Small rear-facing bedroom.”
- Assign color codes to boxes and corresponding rooms. Companies that provide moving supplies sell color-coded labels for different rooms of the house.
- Clearly label each box with your name, its general contents, “Fragile” if contents are breakable, an arrow indicating which side is up if it’s not obvious, and where each box belongs.
- Use different color/pattern duct tape. As you pack boxes, tape a piece on opposite corners. (You can also tape on an index card of what is in the box.) Place a sheet of what each tape corresponds to on each level of your new home, as well as the relevant tape (on a plain piece of paper) on the door to each room. Remember to use painter’s or masking tape so you don’t damage the paintwork! Explain this system to the movers.
- This method is more labor-intensive, but if you’re the kind of person that needs to know where things are, or if you need a fast pop-up at the other end (EEK – school starts in two days!), then this system will be worth the effort… Number boxes and note contents in an 8 ½ x 11 notebook or notepad (size matters – you want to be able to find your list easily), along with the room it is to go to. If a mover needs help, you can quickly find the box on your list. Keep using this system after the movers leave – it is helpful if you need to find an item before the box is unpacked.
Have a great move, and enjoy this next chapter of your life!