Many small and large things can go wrong during a move, but with some planning and preparation, you can ensure it’s as stress-free as possible. If you haven’t moved in a long time, you may be surprised at how long it takes to pack up your belongings. Even a short move across town can be time-consuming and costly.
Between moving vans, fuel, and supplies, the cost of moving can quickly add up. According to data from Angi, the national average for a short-distance move is $1,400 and can be significantly more if you move out of state. It may be helpful to use a moving cost calculator to estimate what a move within your zip code could cost you.
When it’s time to move, you have several options to choose from – you can do the packing and move everything on your own, or you can hire someone to pack your belongings and move them. You can also pack your belongings and hire professional movers to load and unload them. Packing your household items allows you to declutter and will save you money.
Ten Packing Tips From Professional Movers
1. Invest in Good Packing Boxes
Buy boxes designed for moving. These boxes can handle anything homeowners are likely to pack and won’t collapse like free boxes from the grocery store. You can buy packing boxes and supplies online or in most hardware stores. Make sure you have appropriately sized boxes for what you’re packing. Large boxes are for lighter items like towels, clothing, and bedding. Small boxes are for heavier items, including dishes and books. If you only have large boxes, you’ll fill the empty spaces with paper, waste packing materials, and valuable space in your moving van.
2. Don’t Pack What You Don’t Need
If you haven’t moved in a while, you might be surprised at just how much stuff you have accumulated! On average, each American household has 300,000 items, and many of those items are rarely used. Why pay to move things that you don’t need? Moving is a great time to declutter. Donate unused or unwanted items, give them away to family and friends, or have a yard sale, but don’t pack things you aren’t likely to use in your new home.
3. Start Packing Early
Professional movers estimate that for the average 3-bedroom home, you could spend 3-5 full days packing, assuming there are no delays and you have all the necessary boxes and packing materials. Anything you won’t need before your moving date should be packed ahead of time. This includes:
- Seasonal clothing
- Holiday decorations
- Guest rooms
- Basements, attics, sheds, and garages
4. Don’t Wait to Pack the Kitchen
The kitchen takes the longest to pack, primarily because of all the breakable items. Always stack dishes upwards, and avoid breakage by using boxes designed for glassware and dishes. Use bubble wrap or packing paper to protect china and other items rather than newspaper to prevent stains.
5. Don’t Leave Empty Spaces In Boxes
Fill in gaps with packing paper, clothing, or towels. Unbalanced boxes are harder to move and are more likely to collapse when stacked in a moving truck.
6. Don’t Mix Items From Different Rooms
Get enough boxes so that you aren’t mixing items from different rooms. It will make both packing and unpacking easier.
7. Use Wardrobe Boxes
It makes little sense to take clothes off hangers. Save time at both ends of a move by using special wardrobe boxes designed for hanging clothes.
8. Clearly Label Each Box
Label each box with the room destination and a brief description of the contents. This will help you, and your movers know where every box belongs in your new home. Number each box and keep an inventory list to track what you’ve packed and ensure everything arrives safely. Label the top and at least one side of the box to locate items more quickly.
9. Take Photos
Before you tape a box shut, snap a photo to keep a record of the contents. If you’re moving valuable items such as antiques, artwork, or electronics, make sure to document their condition before the move. Accurate photos of your belongings prior to the move will increase your chances of being reimbursed for loss or damage.
10. Keep All Important Documents in One Place
If you’re utilizing a professional moving company, it’s best to keep all of your sensitive documents in a safe place and move them yourself. This includes passports, social security cards, marriage licenses, insurance information, and any other personal information you don’t want misplaced, lost, or stolen.
Prepare a Moving Checklist
In addition to packing, there are many other things to take care of before moving into a new home. A thorough moving checklist will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t forget anything. Here are just a few essential things to take care of:
Contact Your Service Companies
Contact all of your utility and service providers to cancel or transfer your services. Have the electric, gas, sewer, water, internet, phone, and trash services placed in your name and new address. Cancel newspapers, cable, pest control, lawn, and other services at least one week before your move.
Forward Your Mail
Go to www.usps.com to have your mail forwarded. It’s best to allow at least two weeks’ notice. Your mail forwarding service will eventually expire, so remember to update your address with all of your important contacts. Contact your banks, credit card companies, doctors, family and friends directly to update them with your new address.
Get Moving Insurance
Accidents happen, so check to see if your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers your items during the move. Adequate insurance coverage is essential for long-distance moves. If you’re handling the move yourself or the moving company you hire doesn’t offer coverage, look into moving insurance to protect your property.
Pack a First Day Essentials Box
Fill a clear plastic tub with the essential items you’ll need for the first few days in your new home. This should contain important things such as toilet paper, trash bags, cleaning supplies, toiletries, light bulbs, first aid supplies, pet supplies, and other essential items your family needs. Don’t forget to have water, snacks, and necessary medications readily available.
Hire Moving Help
Hire a moving company or rent a truck if you have much to move. Rental vans and trucks are busiest on the first and last of the month when most rental leases end, so reserve well in advance. If you plan to do it yourself, rent a truck with a ramp to make loading and unloading easier. Hiring a professional moving company is money well spent if you have a lot of heavy furniture and bulky boxes to load and unload.
Enjoy Your New Home!
Moving into a new home should be an exciting time for your family. With some upfront planning and organization, you can alleviate the stress of packing and moving and start enjoying your new home sooner. Your real estate agent is an excellent resource for planning your move. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice.