How to Start Packing all Your Stuff for Your Household Move

Mature man, aged 31, carrying boxes out of a packed up room while moving house
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Moving takes time and if you're doing your own packing, which most people will do, make sure you give yourself lots of time - at least six weeks before your move date and plan carefully. Careful planning and packing will save you time, money and a lot of hair pulling.

Where To Start?

Decide what will move with you and what will stay behind. There may be items that you don't need anymore or that aren't worth moving or perhaps your move is temporary and certain unnecessary things can be put into storage.

No matter what the answer is, decide beforehand what stays and what goes. If you have items already in storage, make sure you take a thorough inventory to ensure you're not moving items you could do without.

Collect supplies. Try to estimate what you'll need and make sure you have enough on hand. Start collecting boxes from your place of work, from friends or from stores. Or purchase moving kits or packing kits online or from moving companies.

Pack non-essentials. Start packing items you can do without. If you're moving in the summer, pack all your winter clothes, sports equipment and heavy blankets.

Get Organized

Label boxes. While you're packing boxes, make sure you label the top and sides of boxes with contents, location of contents in your house and if there are any special instructions, such as "fragile" or "open first". This will assist the movers in putting the boxes in the correct room and will warn them of any fragile items.

Also, by keeping a complete list of the contents on the outside of the box, you'll save time digging through 10 boxes marked "kitchen" just to find the can opener.

Take inventory. When I'm packing, I tend to get a little anal. Maybe it's the numerous times I was disorganized and swore I'd never have to dig through another box again; or maybe it was the time boxes were lost and I wasn't sure what to claim for insurance.

Whatever the reason, now, not only do I clearly label each box, but I number the boxes and keep a running inventory list that I check off when the movers are unloading them into my new place. This way, if a box goes missing, I can easily identify which number it is and what is contained within it. Again, insurance companies love this kind of detail.

Make Sure Your Stuff Arrives Safely

Properly label boxes with stickers that instruct the movers on how to handle the contents. Stickers can be bought at an office supply store or made on your own computer.

Clothes, towels, linens, pillows can be used to keep fragiles safe. Just make sure you mark this on the box for when the box is unpacked. If the person who is unpacking the box is unaware that a crystal vase is wrapped inside a fleece blanket, they could easily unfurl the blanket sending the vase crashing to the floor. This has happened to me on more than one occasion!

Make sure you properly wrap all fragile items in several layers of bubble wrap and pack them on their edge (plates, mirrors, picture frames, etc). I strongly recommend bubble wrap. It's inexpensive and will prevent dishes and other fragiles from bumping against one another.

I've used newspaper to separate plates and have had a few broken pieces as a result.

Tape any stray items together into a bundle. Ski poles, brooms, mops, lamp stands, etc... can be taped into one package for easy carrying and storing.

When moving furniture, make sure you keep all parts together with the item itself. Screws, bolts and other small pieces can be put into a self-locking plastic bag (sandwich bag/freezer bag) then taped to the furniture itself. If you're moving a table, unscrew the legs, tape the legs together then tape the parts bag to the underside of the table top. You can even tape the legs to the underside of the table top just to ensure that the legs don't get scratched or dented in the move.

Wrap all scratch-able furniture in protective padding. Table tops, coffee tables, headboards, etc...

can all suffer from scratches and bruising during the move. Furniture padding can be rented from moving companies or storage facilities. I don't recommend using your own linens to protect furniture; linens can be ripped and become stained during a move. In addition, furniture padding is just that - padding. It will better protect your belongings.

  • Disassemble all furniture. Any pieces that can come apart, make sure you disassemble them. Desks are lighter without the drawers; the drawers are lighter without the contents, although I have moved desk drawers with their contents still inside them. The trick is to stuff linens on top of the contents then tape down the linens. This can be done if the drawers are stackable and can be placed in the nook beneath the desk when on the truck. You don't want the contents spilling over the truck bed while on the move. See loading a truck for more tips and tricks.
  • Keep box weight at a minimum. To prevent injury to yourself, your family, friends or the movers, make sure your boxes are not too heavy to manage. Most boxes should weigh less than 50 pounds with an ideal weight being 40 pounds or less. If you have any overweight boxes, make sure you mark them clearly so that no one injures themselves on the job.

Check out packing your computer or moving plants for more packing tips and tricks.