Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Question: I need some packing/moving advice. Can you help??

Of course, I can help! Thanks for the email Paige. I've actually got a lot of great tips from personal experience to make packing and moving as stress-free and easy as possible. Growing up, my family was O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D with moving. Nine times to be exact. In the same city. That averaged out to be exactly every two years - just when our life was getting to be somewhat normal again. As the oldest child of three by five years, lucky me wore many hats during the moving process. It was at this time that my mom realized she had the ultimate task-master on her hands.

But it didn't stop there. I moved four times during my four years at the University of Washington and was hired to facilitate the entire move of a 10,000 sq. ft. home for the family I nannied for. That was definitely more than I wanted to chew off at the time. And now 7.5 years into being married, we're currently on move #7 in multiple cities and states. And no we are not part of the Military.

After 20 moves in 31 years, I consider myself a seasoned veteran on the topic having never ONCE hired professional movers to pack my boxes. So here are my top 10 tried and true tips:
1: BUY ALL SUPPLIES AHEAD OF TIME. And more than you think. There is nothing more frustrating than getting into the grove and having to break to go buy more boxes, tape, etc. If you purchase boxes from a moving company, you can always return unused boxes for a refund. Have about 10 boxes set aside for last minute, miscellaneous stuff on moving day; ie- bedding, pillows, clothing, cleaning supplies.

Here are a list of supplies you will need:
Boxes (all sizes)
Clear Packing Tape & Dispenser
Garbage Bags
Sharpie (Black & Red) Marking Pens
Colorful Stickers
Bubble Wrap
Packing Paper/Newspaper/Tissue
Plastic sandwich & gallon freezer size bags
2: DO NOT PACK ANYTHING YOU WILL NOT USE OR NEED IN YOUR NEW PLACE. Rule of thumb (in my house) if you haven't touched in the last 8-12 months, toss or donate it. You want to set aside time to do this BEFORE you move. It is a sheer waste of time & money, packing and moving items that you are going to eventually get rid of. Once you get into the new place, you want the unpacking process to be as clutter-free as possible.
3: TACKLE ONE ROOM AT A TIME. Packing can be an insurmountable task when viewed from the perspective of the entire house. Packing one room at a time has the effect of dividing the daunting overall move into smaller, more manageable tasks. This approach also allows you to set realistic goals; living room today, kitchen tomorrow.
4: KEEP LIKE THINGS TOGETHER. This is something you should be anal about. If you do this, it will streamline your unpacking process. Keep light bulbs with lamps, electrical cords with appliances, bookends with books. Also attach small, loose parts - like picture hooks, bolts, and shelf brackets - to the corresponding item or place them in a plastic sandwich bag or envelope and tape to the back of the item. Do not just throw random things in boxes together. Talk about anxiety attack when you go to unpack. Everything should be folded and nicely placed too. It is best to keep a few boxes with miscellaneous items opened until the very last second so you aren't throwing cords in with clothing. And one last thing - keep all valuables and personal paperwork with you. Pack in a small box and put them in your car. These are not to be in the hands of your movers.
5: LABEL, LABEL, LABEL. Use a Sharpie marker to label all boxes. First label the room it should be placed in and then be general but specific as to the contents of each box. Instead of miscellaneous bedding, label as "sheets" and "extra pillows." Also make sure you indicate if the box is FRAGILE in red Sharpie. If you want to go above and beyond, color coordinate the rooms in the new house to the boxes. For example, color code your daughter's room as PINK. Then put a pink sticker on her door at the new house along with a pink sticker on all her boxes. This will take all the guess work out of it for the movers. They will know exactly which rooms to put certain boxes without having to ask you a million times.
6: MAKE A LIST. If you have the time to be uber-organized, create a numbered tracking system before you even pack one box. Next to the vague description on the box, give that box a specific number. Then on your numbered tracking sheet, list out all the items packed inside that particular box. And be specific. Instead of miscellaneous kitchen, write "blender" or "tulip dishes." This is especially helpful if you don't get around to unpacking boxes right away.You won't waste time rummaging through the wrong boxes looking for what you need.
7: PACK AHEAD. You should NOT be still packing on moving day. Start packing the unused items well ahead of time to allow you enough time for the everyday items. Such items include; out-of-season clothing, fine china, and holiday wares. Pack up the misc. cooking utensils and plan meals for the next few days that can be made with the bare essentials. Pack up your toiletry/medicine cabinet and live out of a cosmetic bag for the remainder of the week. And remember to utilize space by packing things inside any spare garbage cans.
8: UTILIZE WARDROBE BOXES. Don't forget about all the extra space at the bottom of a wardrobe box. Before you put in your hanging clothes, fill the bottoms with department store bags (with handles) of shoes, belts, socks, etc. Or even comforters and towels. Do not put heavy items on the bottom or else they 1) might be too heavy to lift and/or 2) the bottoms might give out and create a moving mess.
9: USE YOUR LUGGAGE. Fill luggage and bags with things you'll immediately need - clothing, toiletries, bedding, towels, paper goods to eat off, garbage bags, etc. You'll be able to easily spot your luggage over box #162 that is stacked to the ceiling.
10: CLEAN AS YOU GO. Consolidate your cleaning supplies and after you pack up each room, clean it and be done with it. That will give you a sense of accomplishment that it's COMPLETELY done. Also, if you have stuff to donate to Goodwill, load up the bags into your car immediately. Do not leave them lying around the house amongst the rest of the clutter. You'll be more apt to drop them off sooner if they are taking up space in your car.

And don't forget amongst all this chaos, to notify the Post Office and/or Newpaper for a change of address and call all Utility Providers of account changes and disconnections. And if you have the time and money, schedule all renovations and repairs to be completed before moving in.

If you can wrap your head around sticking to these tips, I promise you'll be smiling at the end of the day. Happy moving!!!!


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  2. 20 moves in 31 years? That’s a lot of moving! Moving can be total pain in the neck, but I realize, if there’s one thing you are fortunate about this process, is that you were able to master the packing part, which is the most difficult task for many. Having a guideline like this is really a great help for people so they can sort their things and prioritize what's important and what is not. I’ll definitely keep this note for my next move.

    Clay Delgado

  3. I was looking this kind of post from long about Long Distance Moving Service…Thanks for sharing…

  4. Whoa! You already moved 20 times? That’s a LOT! I must say, you’re already a professional when it comes to packing and moving. You have a great list of tips here. You know, you could add selling those items you will not be using in your new place. This is a great idea if you want enough money for your moving process, like money for boxes and other packing materials. What do you think? Have you tried it?

  5. Professional movers & packers understand moving process very well. professional movers & packers provides good moving services and points you made is good, did get good information
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  6. Packing can be an insurmountable task when viewed from the perspective of the entire house. Packing one room at a time has the effect of dividing the daunting overall move into smaller, more manageable tasks. This approach also allows you to set realistic goals; living room today, kitchen tomorrow.


  7. Take photos of the way electronics are plugged in before you take them apart. It’s easier to put back together with a photo to work from.


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