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Efficient Packing Techniques for a Stress-Free Move

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There are few life events that are more stressful than preparing for a move. In addition to packing all of your belongings and getting your current home clean and prepped for the new resident, there are a million little things that need to be done to make for a smooth transition. Doing a little research on best practices and thinking through the different steps of the move will go along way to getting you settled in your new place and details taken care of for your previous residence.

One of the most important considerations for your move are the details of packing. Making an efficient process while protecting your belongings is critical to minimize the stress of the situation. In this article, we will explore some practical tips and techniques for packing the right way.

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Create a Checklist

As part of your packing process, begin by making a list of all the tasks needed prior to the move. Prioritize each task with a deadline and use this document as a checklist, marking off tasks as you go and making notes to help resolve any speed bumps. This will help you break down the packing process into manageable steps that you and your family can follow. It can also be helpful to allocate specific days for packing different areas and categories of items in your home.

Once your task is complete, make a separate list of packing supplies. This should include boxes, packing tape, bubble, wrap, packing paper, markers, and box labels. Include in this list specialty boxes for things like dishes, clothes, TVs, mirrors, lamps, and art.

Purge and Declutter

Before you even begin the packing process, just as you would if you were organizing your home, purge in every room to decide what to keep, donate, cell, or discard. There's no better time to go through this process than prior to a move, when you already have to sort through everything you own anyway. This decluttering process will leave you less to pack, make everything easier to organize and significantly reduce the cost of your move.

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Once you decided which items are not going to be coming with you, you can donate all the items that you don't need or have garage sale to make a little extra money on the more valuable items. Put together a list of charities and donation centers if you already don't have a favorite. This way, a charitable cause will benefit from all of the hard work that goes into your move.

One Room at a Time

Because the task of clearing everything out of your home can seem daunting, pack one room at a time, starting with the rooms that are the least used. As your move date gets closer, pack a suitcase full of all the things you'll need for the first couple of days in your new home to minimize the stress of the unpacking process. 

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Packing Properly

Utilizing a few proven packing techniques will make your move easier, starting with labeling. Label each box with its destination, room and contents, making sure to list all boxes with breakable items as fragile on the top and sides. If you'll be moving any items to storage, mark them accordingly and set them aside in a separate area of the house, like the garage.

There are a few techniques for packing fragile items that will make sure that they arrive at your new home in one piece. Small breakables should be wrapped in a few sheets of paper and packed tightly together. This will prevent them from moving around or getting crushed by the other items in the box. Larger breakables  should be wrapped first with paper and then bubble wrap. Tape around the bubble wrap to make sure it doesn't become unwound as the boxes are moved. Use all of your towels to cut down on the amount of paper and bubble wrap that you will need.

Packing heavier items on the bottom and heavier items on the top will also prevent valuables from being crushed. Using wardrobe boxes, you can drop foldable items like pants and sweaters on the bottom while hanging dresses blouses shirts, and jackets on the wardrobe hanger.

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Dish Packing

Dishes require special attention, and are the most commonly improperly packed house items. Plates and bowls, even larger ones, should be packed on edge rather than stacked on top of each other as they are in your kitchen cabinets. Dishes are structurally stronger when pressure is applied to the edges than they are at a given point along the top and bottom surfaces. Pack dishes and smaller medium boxes so that their weight doesn't make them unmovable. 

Start by making rolls of three sheets of paper, a thick layer of towels or other soft fabric on the bottom of the box. Pack the dishes on edge, packing them tightly together after wrapping each in a few sheets of paper and then cover with a few additional rolls of paper or towels. Label the boxes with an arrow pointing up and the words “this side up” on each side and verbiage like “pack on top” to make sure they are not packed in the truck beneath four or five other heavy boxes.

Specialty Packing

TVs, mirrors, lamps, and art also deserve special packing considerations. Custom TV and mirror boxes are available from moving companies that fit their shape and make them easier to pack. Pack the bottom and top of the TV boxes with paper in a similar manner as you did the dish boxes. 

Wrap TVs with bubble wrap, taping the edges carefully, and mirrors should be wrapped with bubble wrap and paper and securely taped. When packing lamps, remove the shades and bulbs. Pack the lamp and its own box after wrapping and bubble wrap and pack lampshades separately in their box after wrapping paper. Number each lamp and shade box so that they can easily be paired during the unpacking process.

Labeling as a Precaution

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Creating a good labeling system can help speed the process. Use colored markers or labels for different rooms and numbers boxes while keeping an inventory list. This is critical when after unpacking you discover a valuable item is unaccounted for, so you can file a claim with the moving company before the timeline for your claim expires. if you will be driving your own car to your new residence, it is recommended that you keep your most valuable items in the vehicle to prevent this unfortunate situation.

Additional Considerations

Dismantling furniture will save you room in the moving truck on your move and makes it less likely that furniture is damaged during the moving process. Use heavy plastic wrap on all furniture to prevent damage to vulnerable areas like the corners.

Make sure to keep important documents and other items accessible before, during and after your move. Having a few boxes marked in this manner and placed in your vehicle, will prevent the stress of trying to track them down among the mountain of boxes in your new home.

Packing for your move efficiently greatly speeds the process of the move and ensure that everything that you own arrives safely and in the same condition as it was packed. The sample checklist below can help you get started, and make it easier to add tasks that are specific to your situation.

Move Checklist

2-3 Months Before the Move

  1. Create a Moving Plan

  • Determine your moving date.

  • Decide if you'll hire movers or do it yourself.

  • Create a budget for moving expenses.

  1. Research Moving Companies

  • Get quotes from multiple moving companies.

  • Check reviews and references.

  • Book the moving company early.

  1. Notify Important Parties

  • Inform your landlord or real estate agent.

  • Notify your employer.

  • Start informing schools if you have children.

  1. Organize Important Documents

  • Gather and keep important documents in one place (passports, medical records, etc.).

6-8 Weeks Before the Move

  1. Declutter and Donate

  • Sort through your belongings.

  • Sell, donate, or discard items you don't need.

  1. Start Packing Non-Essentials

  • Begin with items you use least.

  • Label boxes by room and content.

  1. Notify Utilities and Services

  • Schedule disconnection/connect of utilities (electricity, gas, water, internet).

  • Inform other services (subscriptions, deliveries, etc.).

  1. Plan for Pets and Plants

  • Make arrangements for transporting pets.

  • Decide how to move plants or find new homes for them.

4 Weeks Before the Move

  1. Update Your Address

  • Forward mail through the postal service.

  • Update your address with banks, insurance, and other essential services.

  1. Confirm Moving Details

  • Reconfirm dates and times with the moving company.

  • Review moving company’s contract and insurance options.

  1. Pack Essentials

  • Prepare an essentials box with items you'll need immediately (clothing, toiletries, snacks, important documents).

  1. Plan for Moving Day

  • Arrange for child and pet care if necessary.

  • Plan meals for moving day.

2 Weeks Before the Move

  1. Finish Packing

  • Complete packing all remaining items.

  • Double-check labeled boxes.

  1. Clean and Repair

  • Clean your current home.

  • Make any necessary repairs to your current home or rental.

  1. Confirm Arrangements

  • Confirm all moving arrangements (truck, helpers, etc.).

  • Reconfirm utility setup for the new home.

1 Week Before the Move

  1. Pack a Moving Day Kit

  • Include tools, snacks, water, and cleaning supplies.

  • Keep this kit easily accessible.

  1. Check Weather and Plan Accordingly

  • Be prepared for any weather conditions on moving day.

  1. Say Goodbye

  • Schedule time to say goodbye to friends and neighbors.

Moving Day

  1. Final Walkthrough

  • Do a final check of your current home.

  • Ensure nothing is left behind.

  1. Supervise the Move

  • Be present to supervise the movers.

  • Check items as they are loaded and unloaded.

  1. Initial Setup at New Home

  • Unpack essentials first.

  • Set up beds and basic kitchen items.

After the Move

  1. Unpack and Organize

  • Take your time unpacking and organizing each room.

  1. Update Registration

  • Update your address on your driver's license and vehicle registration.

  1. Explore Your New Area

  • Locate essential services (grocery stores, healthcare providers).

  • Introduce yourself to neighbors.

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