Back when I worked in Toronto there was a four year span where I moved myself, my boss or our office no less than EIGHT times. Seriously. By the end of it I’d found ways to make moving much easier and reduce the inevitable stress that comes with it. The move from our little apartment in the suburbs to a big house in the country came with it’s own set of obstacles (like where to put boxes once they were packed in such a small space) but for the most part I was able to use the same process that I’ve used in the past.
Now that we’ve settled in to the new house a bit more, I thought I’d share some of my favourite moving tips! They’ve made a huge difference in keeping us organized during this exciting (and somewhat stressful) time!
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1. Save Money and Pack Yourself
This one is huge. I totally get the appeal of a moving company, but for us I’ve found it’s hard to justify the expense. We did all the packing ourselves leading up to the move and then thankfully we had family and friends who kindly gave us a Saturday (and their vehicles) to move us out to the new place. We thanked them with pizza and beer for lunch – which was less than 1/4 of the price that we were quoted on a moving truck alone!
2. Label Your Boxes & Keep Track
I kept the folder, label sheets, a pen, a permanent marker and packing tape in a basket that was easy to carry around from room to room. It also helped Garrett do his packing when I wasn’t around – no more hunting for tape!
2. Pack Your Boxes Full
Fuller boxes are safer, as there is less chance of things jostling about and getting broken. I would pack a whole box of books or office supplies and then pack the very top with something soft like a big fluffy towel or a stack of t-shirts.
3. Find Free Boxes & Use What You Have
The boxes are usually reinforced very well for carrying heavy bottles making them perfect for heavier things like books. The smaller size also makes it harder to over pack things to the point where you can’t lift it. They often come with dividers as well that you can just recycle or use the slots to pack glasses, candles or even your own liquor cabinet.
If you need bigger boxes, I’ve had great success going to my local pharmacy or grocery store. Leading up to when you’re packing, go into the store and speak to the manager. They can tell you what day they get deliveries and when they’ll have boxes available. I did this at our Shoppers Drug Mart and they gave me a huge stack good sized boxes to help pack up larger bulkier items like pillows, blankets and towels.
4. Skip the Bubble Wrap and Pack Your Breakables in Linens and Clothing
Rather than pay for bubble wrap, I tried to use as much of our linens and clothing to wrap things as possible. All our glasses, casserole dishes, jars and pie plates were wrapped up in tea towels. Our bathroom glass containers went in hand towels and our face cloths were perfect for vases. Anything else that needed wrapping went in newspaper or big sheets of white tissue paper I found on sale. All our packing supplies were less than $10 including tissue, packing tape and markers!
5. Use Up Your Food Before the Move
6. Pack your First Box
There are so many things that you’re going to need in those first few days and the last thing you want is to start rummaging through boxes on a hunt. Pack a clearly marked “First Box” with all the things you’ll need and make sure this goes with you in the front seat of your car! Include things like paper towel, toilet paper, all-purpose cleaner, garbage bags, box cutter, power strips, screwdrivers, hammer, phone charger, etc.
7. Clean While You Pack
8. Clean the Bathroom and Kitchen Ahead of Time
We closed on the Thursday evening and got straight to work cleaning. The kitchen and bathrooms were the first thing we cleaned – from the counters to washing out every cupboard and drawer. We had time on Friday to vacuum the carpets (and thousands of ladybugs), sweep/mop the floors, wash the windows and dust all the shelves too. If you are able to go ahead of time and clean your new space before everything gets moved in, it makes a huge difference! I still needed to clean up after all the mess from moving in, but having that first deep clean was a big relief.
9. Make the Bed and Unpack the Kitchen First
If you have time (and energy) to set up one room in the house, make it the kitchen. It may still take awhile until you get everything in the cupboards the way you like it (I’m still working on that!) but at least you can get up and make some coffee the next day.
10. Pack an Overnight Bag
Those first few days you are so busy and it’s hard to know where everything is. Packing an overnight bag with a few days worth of clothes (including what you need for work!), toiletries, phone charger, laptop, etc. will make it easier. We didn’t need to worry about unpacking clothes or our bathroom boxes right away and good focus on settling into the rest of the house.
Great list, and the house looks beautiful just from what you’ve posted!
Amanda - Small Home Big Start says
Aww, thanks Lor! It’s slowly coming along.
chelsea jacobs says
Labeling boxes and keeping track of that in a folder is so smart!
Amanda - Small Home Big Start says
It took many a bad move for me to figure out that one! haha
These are such great tips! We’ve moved relatively frequently (although not as much as you) and I totally agree on all accounts. The labeling is something I always INTEND to do but get lazy with by the end and then regret it. And I”m also a huge fan of the idea of a list of all the boxes. How many times have we said, “Where the heck is …?”
I also totally agree with the idea of unloading the kitchen and bedroom. Something about those two rooms being ready makes it feel more like home.
Michelle B. says
Thank you for the tips and the amazing free printables, Amanda! You’re awesome for helping so many people. I really needed a hand and I feel a lot more confident after reading this unique post. I will share your article with all my friends, you can be sure of that.
I just found your website and printed out the box and inventory lists. My husband and I will be moving from California to Arizona in the next few weeks. He is retiring on the 8th of this month after 38 years, and I have some physical disabilities. Neither of us are physically fit enough to do the lifting or the driving of the huge moving truck that distance, so we have to use a moving company. Still, we need to keep the cost down as low as possible. Your ideas and lists are already EXTREMELY HELPFUL, because I am probably the MOST disorganized person in the world. We are both worried sick about this move, but you have helped me to feel so much better about it already. I couldn’t think of a good way to label boxes and keep track, until I came here and read what you had to say. I just cannot thank you enough, but I will start by shouting a LOUD “THANK YOU!” along with giving you a virtual hug! There are no words to describe just how much you have helped us! Thank you again.
I’m so happy that this has been a help for you, Veronica! I hope you and your husband have an easy move, and best of luck on your new adventures in Arizona!
Lillian Schaeffer says
These are some great tips, and I appreciate your advice to pack a first box that has all the things you’ll need when you arrive at your new house. My husband and I are going to be moving out of our apartment and into our first house, and this is the first big move we’ll be making. We’ll definitely pack a first box so we can easily find the things we need right away. Thanks for the great post!
These are excellent points about moving. When we moved into our new home, most of the things that ended up breaking didn’t break in the box… they broke when I was rushing myself to unpack. Thankfully most of those items weren’t irreplaceable or expensive! Being mindful of when you move in is also a really good idea.