How to Unpack Your Home After a Big Move

Let's Get Moving

Photo: Valerie de Leon for The Spruce; Graphic: Amy Sheehan for The Spruce

Once your belongings arrive in your new home it can feel truly daunting to start the unpacking process. Staring out at a pile of bags, bins, boxes, most of us feel more overwhelmed than inspired. Which box do you unpack first? How do you stay organized? What do you do if you can't find an item you need right then and there?

Fear not, these easy tips will get you well on your way to settling in and feeling at home. Read on for the tried and true unpacking tips we swear by.

  • 01 of 06

    When It Comes to Rooms, Focus on the Bedroom First

    When it comes to unpacking you may be tempted to start with smaller rooms first, but the key to feeling at home almost immediately is to get your bedroom set up as soon as possible. Having familiar bedding and pillows on which to rest your head is a tried and true way to make your first night in a new space feel not only comfortable, but homey as well.

  • 02 of 06

    Make Sure Anything Perishable Is Stashed As Quickly As Possible

    If you plan to transport any perishable items, those should be moved to the new fridge as quickly as possible. This doesn't mean you need to unpack the entire kitchen: dishes, pots, pans, etc can wait until you have your bedroom set up. But any food or beverages that might spoil, should be placed in their appropriate space as soon as possible.

    If you do plan to eschew the cliche moving day pizza and cook your first night at home, plan ahead and pack one kitchen box with just the essentials you'll need. That way you won't have to rummage through bins and bins of pots just to find the one you need.

  • 03 of 06

    Put Each Box In Its Designated Room Immediately

    In a dream world, you could unpack every box the same day you move to your new home. The reality though, is far different. It's much more likely that you'll have boxes scattered around for days—if not weeks—and there's nothing wrong with that. Moving is a process. But to ease the stress, make sure you put each box in its appropriate room on moving day. See a box that says kitchen essentials on top of a box that says living room? Promptly move the kitchen box into the kitchen and stash the living room box in the living room. That way, when it comes time to unpack you won't have to go searching for any missing boxes.

  • 04 of 06

    Get Your Daily Essentials Out In the Open

    Every person is different when it comes to home essentials, but on moving day we do have one thing in common: those are the items that should be unpacked before we even realize we need them. If you're a big coffee drinker, make sure your coffee maker is one of the first things you unpack so you can be prepped and ready for day two. If you take medication regularly, make sure you get those prescriptions out where you can see them so they're easily accessible when it's time for your next dose. And always, always, always have a roll of toilet paper and hand soap ready to go in the bathroom. If you know you'll need a shower that night, make sure you have towels and your shower essentials ready as well.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Don't Forget the Kids, Pets, and Plants

    While it's easy to focus on yourself and your own needs on moving day, if you share your home with others, their needs should be considered as well.

    For parents or caretakers, make sure you remember that your kids' bedrooms are just as important as yours. Help them make up their beds early on in the day so they know they have somewhere safe and cozy to retreat to at night.

    If you're someone moving with pets, make sure to designate an area of the home to set up their bed, crate, toys, food, etc. so they feel at home in the new location too.

    And while plant parenthood is less involved than caring for children or pets, moving can still pose challenges. Make sure to find your plants a spot with their suggested amount of sunlight and water them well as they adjust.

  • 06 of 06

    Take Time to Tackle the Rest

    Moving will simply never be a 5 step process, but focusing on the above tips first can help in making the day go as smoothly as possible and set you up for a less stressful unpacking process. As you work through the rest of your items, make sure to give yourself breaks as needed. Once your essentials are unpacked, the rest will feel much less daunting.