Saturday, March 15, 2014

Packing Day and Moving Tips

Terry and I both had the day off yesterday, so we planned to spend as much of it packing as possible. We woke up early to pick up boxes (Trader Joe's is the best!), but then Terry had an appointment to donate blood at UCLA.

After his appointment, though, we managed to get a good chunk of the packing done. I've noticed that a lot of people--my husband included--absolutely hate moving, but I don't really mind it. Over ten years and no fewer than--are you ready for this?--eleven moves to various dorms and apartments since starting college, I have learned a few tricks that really help save time, money, and frustration. Here are a few (keeping in mind that all of our moves have been local):

Plan ahead as much as possible. Unless you have very little notice, it's usually possible to plan at least 30 days in advance. So you have plenty of time to start packing early, hire movers or arrange for helpers, and gather materials. Pack up things like books, movies, frames--anything you won't need until after the move.

Go through the post office to forward your mail. For one dollar, the post office will forward all your mail for one year. It offers a back-up system in case you forgot to change your address somewhere, and it saves you the hassle of figuring out where your mail might be.

Get free boxes from grocery stores. In my experience, grocery stores have been more than happy to give away boxes. Simply call or ask while you're there to see what their policy is and then pick them up as you're ready. No need to pay for boxes that you'll just end up tossing.

If you can swing it, hire movers. We always rented a moving truck until our last move, when we finally decided we just had too much bulky stuff to move all in one day. The movers we hired were incredible, and the entire process took about four hours! In my experience, a full move usually took at least 8-10 hours, and we were exhausted at the end of it. But with movers, our stuff arrived safely and quickly at the apartment and we spent our energy unpacking instead of lifting and moving. It's expensive, but for us it was worth it. (Even with our recent budgeting, we're making room for movers, especially because I'm pregnant and therefore unable to help.)

Try to overlap move-in and move-out by at least a few days. If you have to be out of your current place on the same day you get the keys to your new place, you add a lot of stress to the situation:

  • Making sure there are no problems actually getting the keys.
  • Having to clean (and possibly get an inspection) on your current place after all the moving is done.
  • Feeling like you have to do everything all in one day.
If you can overlap by even two days, you take some of the stress off. You can move one day and clean the next. This method can also help if you're not using movers; spreading the move itself out over two days provides a little wiggle room.

Use items you're planning to pack as cushion for fragile items. Instead of buying (and wasting) tons of packing paper or other cushioning materials, do your best to make use of sheets, towels, throw pillows, and other soft items. You have to pack them anyway, so why not?

Stay organized. Label every box as you pack it, and try to make sense of how you arrange each box. It may be tempting to throw in whatever fits, but that method can get frustrating when you are looking for something specific later (before you unpack completely). Similarly, be sure to think about items you'll need first at your new place, and make sure those are easy to access. 

Plan meals. It's so easy to skip this step, especially once the kitchen is packed up. But try to plan out and even make meals ahead of time. No matter how organized you are, moving day gets stressful, and hunger does not help ease that tension. Most important, eat breakfast (ideally a big one!). Then pack portable snacks like trail mix, whole fruit, and simple sandwiches that you can grab and eat throughout the day. Once you're in your new place, it may be easiest to just order in that night, but again be sure to plan ahead so it's not 10 pm before you realize you haven't had dinner.

Any tips for moving? We have one week left before the big day!


  1. Making sure the food is taken care of can relieve a lot of stress. It's just one of those things that can be easily overlooked. One time I packed my kitchen first in a move!

  2. My husband just got a new job offer, and it's a great opportunity. The only downside is that it is on the other side of the country. Neither one of us has ever made a move like this, so it is very new, and we need all the help we can get. I love what you said about asking grocery stores for boxes! It seems like a waste to buy boxes, so this would be perfect!

  3. It’s great to know that you made your list of things to do and remember when packing based on your own experience. Readers of your post will truly trust your tips because you have already been doing it several times already. Also, most of the tips that you mentioned are really practical, such as using towels and sheets in order to provide cushion for fragile items without buying packing paper. So, thanks for sharing them with us!

    Clay Delgado @ World Packaging Co.