How many times have you moved in your life? Plenty, if you’re like the average American. Every year, one in five families decide to pull up stakes and move to new digs. That means if you live the average 78 years (give or take a couple months), you can expect to face one of life’s biggest organizational challenges approximately 11.7 times, according to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data. That’s a lot of boxes, packing tape, and wondering where you put the coffee maker. Here are a few things to add to your moving checklist in order to ensure a smooth move for every one of those 11.7 (or more) times.
Creating Your Moving Notebook
Cynthia Ewer, editor for the website Organized Home, is a big fan of the dedicated moving notebook. “Get one with big pages, one for each day, and throw in some business card holders, zipper pouches and receipt envelopes,” she advises. Ewer says you’ll use it for everything – from keeping track of phone numbers and paint and fabric swatches, to receipts, road maps and the myriad of details you jot down on scraps of paper and can never seem to find when you need them. With a single big binder (get a brightly-colored one and label it) you’ll always know where to look.
Create Your Own Labels
Ewer is also a cheerleader for a realistic labeling system that won’t result in dozens of boxes with “miscellaneous” scrawled on them. Use your computer and the biggest box of cheap labels you can find. She recommends you print out large quantities of labels for every room – more than a couple hundred per room is not too many. As each box in a room is packed, Ewer says to slap a label on the upper left-hand corner on each side of the box. That way, you won’t need to flip boxes over and over to find the label. This is a great tip that will save time, frustration and sore muscles.
Use Wardrobe Boxes
Interior Decorator Coral Nafie is an enthusiast of wardrobe boxes. Not only are they ideal for clothes you don’t want to fold, Nafie says they’re also “perfect for bulky, lightweight items such as comforters, pillows, and blankets…[and as] closet storage boxes, shoe boxes, and other bulky items such as fabric bolts, large baskets, or gift wrap tubes.” Don’t know how many you’ll need to order? Nafie suggests you ask your mover for the width of the wardrobe box they’ll be using, then measure the clothes hanging in your closets and divide the total by the box width. For example, if the boxes are 3 feet wide and you have 12 feet of clothes, you’ll need four wardrobe boxes.
Plan Your Packing Strategy
Amanda Arnold, editor for TLC’s How Stuff Works website, weighs in on the proper way to go about actually packing.
- Pack by the room. Keep similar items together. In addition to the room label Ewer recommends, Arnold suggests noting specific contents on the box, along with your name and an arrow indicating which side is up. Don’t forget to write “fragile” if breakables are inside.
- Use the right packing techniques. When putting a box together, Arnold says you should, “tape the seam on the bottom, and you should run a piece of tape perpendicular to that seam. Pad the bottom of the box with newspaper and stuff the sides with extra paper to really make the bottom solid.” Then fill the box as full as possible, using additional packing material to keep things from shifting and to prevent boxes from collapsing when they are stacked on top of each other.
Remember to keep important papers and valuable items with you. If you have to pack valuables, Nafie suggests you bury them in a box with an unappealing label that won’t entice thieves. Instead of “Family Heirloom Silver”, try “Bathroom Cleaning Supplies”.
Keep Essentials Nearby
Ewer recommends you pack your essentials last in special boxes that contain those things you, your family members and pets will need to get by during and immediately after the move. Then do whatever it takes to make those boxes stand out from the rest. After all, you don’t want to be looking through a mountain of plain brown cardboard containers when your 3-year-old is screaming for her security blanket and teddy bear.