In the past, when preparing to move, you may have wondered: “Where did it all come from?” Referring, of course, to the vast quantity of stuff that suddenly and mysteriously appeared in your home. Belongings that you will carefully wrap, pack, and seal in well- balanced, clearly-marked boxes stacked neatly for your movers.
Or perhaps not. Packing isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. And that’s okay.
Packing for your upcoming move doesn’t have to be stressful, expensive, or unpleasant if you follow these seven ways to pack smarter and save money.
Make a packing plan (and an unpacking one, too)
A packing plan is a strategy to get the things in your current house (or apartment or condo) safely into boxes and out of them again, this time in your new home. Everything that isn’t a piece of furniture must be packed for transport by your movers.
Assign packing responsibilities to family members or friends. Whether you delegate tasks by room (living room, kitchen, bathrooms, etc.), type of object (dishes, artwork, clothing, etc.), or some other way doesn’t matter. Make sure everyone has a job because packing takes time–often much more than you think.
One recent customer told us that it took him and his wife about 16 hours each to pack their railroad-style three-bedroom apartment.
Do the same thing for your unpacking plan. If you follow tip four below, all the boxes should end up where they belong. All that remains is for the assigned person to unpack each box and put its contents in the right drawer, cabinet, closet, or on a table or shelf.
Stick to your packing plan and feel the stress dissolve.
Give yourself two weeks to pack (or more)
There’s not much more to say. Spread out your packing over a few weeks. Do a few boxes at a time. Whittle your way down to the bare essentials for each room in your home. You’ll experience much less of that dreaded day-before-the-move stress.
Find free moving supplies online (they’re out there)
A medium-sized moving box at Home Depot costs about $2.25 (tax included). The contents of an average three-bedroom house require between 75 and 125 medium boxes to pack. Add the cost of tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, and other supplies, and you can easily spend $400 or more.
Or you can look online and find much of that stuff for free.
Hundreds of people move to and within New Jersey each week. That’s a lot of moving boxes to be recycled or, as is often the case, given away for free.
We recommend scanning the “free stuff in my area” section on Craigslist (or a similar online community marketplace) once or twice a day. You can also do a targeted search for moving boxes.
You can save a lot of money if you start early. Look for free boxes, leftover tape, and bubble wrap a month or two ahead of your move. Be quick when you see them–they go fast.
Label your moving boxes three times (yes, really)
Remember the Area 51 warehouse full of boxes at the end of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark? It’s easy to lose track of what things are where if you don’t label the boxes. Unpacking won’t feel like playing the lotto if you mark each box on the top AND side as follows:
- Contents – be specific (though brief) about what’s inside
- Fragility – if the contents are fragile, make sure it is clearly labeled
- Destination – tell your movers where the box goes in your new home
Pack each box the right way (remember the 3 B’s)
Packing is an art and a skill. Boxes should contain just enough stuff (packing materials included) to close neatly and keep their contents from moving. Wrap or otherwise protect each item before placing it in the box. When ready, remember the three B’s:
- Bottom – place heavier items at the bottom of the box
- Balance – distribute weight and volume evenly as you fill the box
- Brim – nothing should poke out and prevent you from closing the box
Some items don’t fit neatly into standard boxes, and that’s okay. Clothes, which may require wardrobe boxes, are one example. To help preserve your clothing should it stay in a box for weeks or months, we wrote a blog post about Packing your clothes like a pro.
Pack one room at a time (but leave essentials out)
Packing room by room has many benefits. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment by “completing” a room before moving on to the next. And knowing that your basement (for example) is ready for your move can inspire you to tackle the kitchen or dining room.
Feel free to skip this tip if your packing plan (or personal preference) follows a different strategy. Just make sure your things go into boxes in time for your move.
Remember to leave essential items out–things you use multiple times every day–until the day before your move. You don’t want to make life harder than it needs to be in the weeks and days approaching your move. And speaking of necessities, pack an essentials box to get you through the first few days after you move.
Share your plan with your moving team (before the move)
Sharing is caring. Let your movers know ahead of time what you expect. Providing clear (but kind!) guidance about where things should go will help them help you. Your moving coordinator may have some professional insights to help streamline the process.
For the best results, draw a rough floor plan of your new home and label each room the same way you wrote them on your moving boxes.
The Bottom Line: Packing Must Be Done
All this preparation, organization, and packing takes time–and we understand if you’d prefer to channel your energy elsewhere before your move. But even people who know what to expect when moving often leave packing to the last minute and haphazardly toss their belongings into boxes the night before the big move.
That’s why we offer expert packing services for your belongings, from fragile plates to bulky grand pianos. Give us a call at Vector and let us know how we can help make your next move a success.