Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How To: Pack for a Move

It's that frenzied time of the year for students.  May: the month of final exams, graduation, and big changes.  You may be graduating college, starting an internship, or entering the workforce.  And chances are, your lease is ending. If you didn't renew your lease to stay put in the same place, you're probably dreading the overwhelming task of packing up your current place to move into a new one.  Resist the urge to just throw everything into boxes.  (You'll thank us later when you need that little usb drive!)  Packing in an organized manner will make both the packing process and un-packing process easier.  Trust us and follow this simple guide:

Plan & Prepare

Make a List
Before you even begin packing, sit down and make a list of what you'll need in your next place.  Separate the list into things you'll need right away and things you will need as you start settling in.  For example, you'll need your shampoo/conditioner, toothbrush/toothpaste, glasses, deodorant, laptop, electronics chargers, etc. right away.  You'll need decorative items, kitchen wares, dvds, books, etc. later on as you're unpacking and moving into the new place.

Get Supplies
Consider cardboard boxes in various shapes and sizes, duct tape, newspaper, permanent marker, and garbage bags are your essential packing items.  For the packing system discussed below, it will help to have a few large cardboard boxes or clothes hampers for sorting purposes.  You'll want other boxes for packing. (Check grocery stores, liquor stores, etc. to see if they give away their unneeded boxes.  You can also buy boxes from Staples, The UPS Store, and Lowe's.)  Duct tape is a better box sealer than mailing tape.  Plus, you can turn it into a label by writing on it with a permanent marker.  Newspaper can be used to pack fragile items.  And garbage bags are fantastic for clothes, purses/bags, coats, towels, bed linens, and other textiles.

Let Go & Hold On

Label to Ditch
Use several larger boxes/bins or hampers as devices to get rid of belongings you no longer need or want.  Label them with actions such as Recycle, Donate, Sell, and Trash... depending on what you're most likely to do with items that need to go.  Each time the Recycle box fills up, sort it and empty into recycling bins.  When the Trash boxes fills up, dump it into the dumpster.  When the Donate or Sell box is full, take the items to Goodwill or a consignment shop.  (Or post them on Craigslist depending on how much time you have before moving.)

Label to Keep
For each zone (explained in next section) you'll need a box to Pack Away and a box to Keep Handy.  The Pack Away box will be for things you won't need right away or at least until you're moving in and unpacking at a new place.  Decorative accessories, books, dvds, seasonal clothing, seasonal shoes, extra blankets, not-so-frequently used kitchen items, etc. will go into this box.  The Keep Handy box should be smaller and only packed with the bare essentials you'll need to get by during the packing, moving out, and moving in process. Shampoo/conditioner, soap, toothbrush/paste, your laptop, electronics chargers, latest bills, important paperwork, some clothes, pens, etc. are items you'll need to have close at hand.

Divide & Conquer

Separate Zones
Tackling your entire space at once will lead to trouble finding things later.  Separate your room into obvious zones that make sense for packing and un-packing.  Desk & Bookcase: school/office supplies, books, paper, and folders go together.  Dressers & Closet: clothes, coats, etc. go together.  Bathroom: bath, body, and beauty items.  Entertainment: dvds, cds, records, etc.  Do one section at a time.  If you come across something that belongs in another zone, return it to its zone and then go back to the one you're packing. For example: If you find a notebook on your dresser top, don't pack it with clothes.  Instead, go put it on the desk and deal with it later when you're packing the desk area.

Sort While Packing
Stick to the labels you created on boxes: Recycle, Sell, Donate, Trash, Keep Handy, and Pack Away.  Don't put office things with bathroom things.  Don't put dvds with kitchen stuff.  If a Let Go box fills up, take care of it by emptying it into the recycling bin or dumpster, or by dropping it off at a consignment store.  When a Pack Away box gets full, make a WTF (Where To Find) list of everything that's in it, tape up the top of the box, and tape the WTF list onto the top or side for easy finding later on.  If you finish off a zone but the Pack Away box isn't full, set it aside to be combined with something else later on.  Don't tape up Keep Handy boxes.  You'll probably eventually want to combine those items into easy-to-transport bags, suitcases, or backpacks.

Additional Tips & Tricks

Use Trash Bags
Pack clothing, coats, purses/bags, bedding, etc. into garbage bags.  Be sure to label whether the bag is full of clean or dirty clothing using a permanent marker and a simple C or D on the outside.  Garbage bags will hold more soft textiles without getting too heavy or the bottom falling out, as often occurs with cardboard boxes.  Plus, they can be pushed into different configurations in a vehicle to fill up valuable space.  Just don't get a trash bag full of trash confused with a bag full of clothes!

Don't Hoard
If you haven't worn it, used it, or look at it in over a year, ditch it.  Unless it is super valuable in worth or sentiment, part ways.  It can be all too easy to get sentimental over silly things.  That dress you haven't worn for over two years, but think might come back in style?  It's taking up closet space.  Get rid of it to make room for a new dress you'll actually wear time and time again.  If you really can't decide about something, set it aside for a few days while you ponder how much you need it.  Clearing up the clutter will make for easier packing, unpacking, and living in the next place.

Aim for Organized
As much as you may get fed up with packing... As much as you despise making another list of whatever is in that dang box... As much as you may be tempted to just throw stuff altogether into any old box and sort it out later... Stay neat.  Stay tidy.  Stay organized.  You will thank yourself later when you know where everything is and what is packed with what when you're moving into the new place and unpacking there.

Stay Positive
It may look worse before it looks better.  Sitting on the floor of your disaster of a bedroom with belongings strewn all around you, you might find it hard to recognize the space you've called home for so many months. If you only focus on how far you have to go, you won't notice how far you've come.  Don't get discouraged or overwhelmed by the mess.  Just keep pushing through and thinking happy thoughts.

Be Entertained
Worst of all, packing can be B-O-R-I-N-G.  It's tedious and lonely.  Put on some upbeat tunes to keep you motivated.  If you've been sitting on the floor in a pile of clothes for two hours, get up and take a walk around the block.  Have your favorite series playing on Netflix in the background---it's okay to watch as long as you stay productive packing.  Invite a friend over for help and entice them with a pizza break and drinks afterward as thanks.

Rest Insured
If you're worried about anything important or valuable getting damaged during the move, get moving insurance.  And don't forget to get renter's insurance in the next place, too.

Do you have any awesome tips for packing to move?  Tell us in a comment below!


  1. Thank you so much for your tips, Jessica! I used to dread packing and moving but at some point, I enjoyed seeing all my things and have that time to sort them out. It takes me time to look at old notebooks, notes, and letters though because I tend to read them all. It also saddens me to let go of some old favorite stuff, but I always think that someone else would be able to use and enjoy them as much as I did.

    Clay Delgado

  2. I like your idea of being entertained. Having fun while packing is the best way to shake the stress away. Ask a friend, a relative, a member of the family or someone you trust to help you with packing. Also, I suggest to have a list of all your stuff first. And from there, sort out what you need from what you don't. Let go of the stuff that's just eating up your space to lighten the load when you move.

  3. Don't know if you mentioned something like this as I've just had time to scan (will read better closer to our next move) but when we moved last summer I had a traveling box that would go back and forth between the houses with me. It was filled with things you might want to get to at a moments notice and didn't want packed away. It had anything from a screwdriver, wrench and small hammer to ibuprofen to a thing of packing tape and a sharpie. The last time we moved in a very short amount of time and we just threw everything in boxes. This time, knowing we have an upcoming move, I've been taking the last few months to try to declutter, organize and donate what is not needed! Thanks for all these tips to help it go easier!

  4. it's really a useful post to move a house , Very helpful tips for packing,keep it up.
    House Removal

  5. I'm glad I found these post. It's really helpful.Thanks.

  6. I've moved multiple times from cross country to intrastate, and one thing I do is pack breakables with towels and this way I use up two things per box.