Settling on a new place to live is exciting. Actually getting your stuff from Point A to Point B is decidedly less fun. From how to properly pack a box—without a single stemware casualty—to how your camera can come in handy along the way, these tricks will make boxing up your belongings far less stressful.
1. FIRST, PACK A MOVING DAY KIT.
Pack personal “moving day” essentials separately and keep the bag on hand. This should include toiletries (your new bathroom probably doesn’t come with pre-stocked toilet paper) and a change of clothes for you, as well as the items you’ll need to start unpacking once you get to your new place, like a box cutter, cleaning supplies, tools, and trash bags.
2. TRANSFER UTILITIES WELL BEFORE YOU ARRIVE.
For most services, you can schedule a transfer more than a month in advance for the exact day you move. That way, you aren’t chasing the clock to get water turned on in the new place or waiting weeks before you’ll have working Internet. It’s also wise to file a “change of address” form with the post office a few weeks before your moving date.
3. TAKE PICTURES.
If you’re hoping to recreate the way something was organized at your old place—say, the way a bookshelf was arranged, or the specific placement of all those TV cords—take photos before you start packing so that you can use them as a reference.
4. PUT A LITTLE EXTRA WORK IN NOW TO MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER LATER.
Devote time to sifting through your belongings— deciding what you actually use and what you can trash or donate—before you pack it up, not as you’re unpacking. Making this extra effort to minimize your stuff beforehand will save you space, time, and money, as you’ll have less to box up and move.
5. DON’T WASTE MONEY ON BOXES …
Ask your local grocery or convenience store for spare boxes instead of shelling out for them at your local home supply store. Retailers often dump dozens of perfectly fine, flattened ones several times a week, and most managers won’t balk at your request to reuse them.
6. … AND GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR CONTAINERS.
Get extra use out of your hamper, decorative baskets, suitcases, and even dresser drawers by packing them up with stuff. It’ll save you from being chin-deep in cardboard boxes. Just never use trash bags, as they could be mistaken for garbage.
7. SKIP THE BUBBLE WRAP.
Instead of spending a fortune on hundreds of yards of bubble wrap, wrap breakables in clothes, towels, and sheets. For extra padding, use socks to stuff glassware. This might make for slightly less organized boxes, but you’ll save both money and space.
8. DON’T STACK PLATES.
Pack plates vertically, like vinyl records, for less risk of breakage. Wine glasses should be placed upside down to put the pressure on the large rims instead of the fragile stems.
9. MAKE SURE SMALLER OBJECTS STAND OUT.
To prevent small knick-knacks from getting lost in the shuffle, wrap them in brightly colored packing paper. That way, you’ll be able to immediately spot whether a wad of paper is just padding or something more important.
10. GET SPECIFIC.
As you pack each box, number it. Use a notepad to catalogue, in as much detail as possible, what items are kept in each numbered box. That way, you’ll know—without having to unwrap anything—which “kitchen” box has the coffeemaker and which has the spatulas. It’s also a good way to ensure every item is accounted for. If a box goes missing, you know exactly what was lost.
11. COLORFUL STICKERS ARE YOUR FRIEND.
Assign each room a color, then label the boxes that belong in each with stickers of that hue. Before the movers arrive at your new place, use your trusty stickers to label the door frame of each room—that way, they’ll be able to easily decipher what goes where (without having to interpret your terrible handwriting).
12. KEEP HARDWARE HANDY.
Tape screws, brackets, or mounting pieces to the back of the frame or piece of furniture they belong to. That way, you don’t end up with a random bag of mismatched hardware when you start hanging things in your new place.
13. TRANSPORT THE REALLY IMPORTANT STUFF YOURSELF.
Concerned your great-grandmother’s vase might get lost or stolen? Don’t chance it—bring it with you as part of your moving kit, and tuck it away somewhere safe once you’ve arrived at your destination.
14. BE KIND TO YOUR MOVERS.
Offer them water, allow them to take breaks to catch their breath, and ask how you can help make their process run more smoothly. They’ll appreciate the courtesy and will likely reward you with extra care when moving your belongings.
15. TAKE SOME MORE PICTURES.
Don’t forget to photograph your old apartment in its empty state just before you leave, as well as your new home just before you move in—and use a mobile app like
to make the process a snap. This will provide solid evidence in the event of security deposit disputes or property damage.