Expert Moving Advice

What to pack first when moving

June 17, 2021|

You’ve done it. You’ve hired a moving company and have set a day to move into your new home. And now comes the part you’re likely dreading — sifting through the shockingly enormous amount of stuff in your house and figuring out the best way to approach the packing process. 

Take a breath. It’s probably not going to be as bad as it looks. (Except for the garage. That really might be as bad as it looks.) 

The first thing you might want to do is create a moving checklist. Pulling out a calendar and then working backwards, figuring out all the tasks you need to do along the way, can help the move go more smoothly and remain reasonably stress-free. You don’t want to be stuck scrambling at the last minute. 

Once you’re ready to get a head start on the packing and fill that first box, the question becomes, where to begin? 

One good packing tip: the easiest way to pack something is to not pack it at all. Now is the time to take an inventory of all your belongings and decide which items are coming with you and which items should be left behind. Remember, a professional moving company (especially on a long distance move) will charge by weight, so there’s no point in paying to move unwanted items to your new house. 

Taking the time to declutter your abode will actually save money. Take the castoffs and donate them to charity, or hold a garage sale. 

Now that you’re ready to start packing for the move in earnest, you’ll want to start by identifying the items you don’t use on a daily basis and that you won’t need before the moving truck arrives in front of your house. 

Non-essential items should go first into the cardboard boxes. 

You probably have a pretty good idea where those non-essential things live in your house already. Do you have an attic? That might be a good place to start. 

What about a garage? Are you using yours as a default storage unit, piled high with holiday decorations, important documents, photo albums and other stuff? If you’re taking it with you, grab some bubble wrap and start packing. 

Do you have a spare room that’s rarely occupied? Pack it up. 

Next, you might want to move down your packing list to the closets. Things hiding inside make good candidates for early packing, such as extra towels and bed linens. You may also want to begin packing off-season clothes. If you’re moving during the moving industry’s busy season from May to September, you probably won’t need those bulky sweaters and winter coats. Stow them away in preparation for the move. 

Next, you might want to move onto books. They’re easy to pack, and you probably won’t be needing them before your relocate. Filling boxes with books is often quick work and can clear a nice amount of space from your home, potentially giving you the sense of accomplishment you need to continue powering through the drudgery of the packing process. 

Now take a walk through your house or apartment and identify all the things that don’t serve any purpose beyond decoration — sort of like that one guy on every roadwork crew whose job seems to be to stand around and watch the others. 

Remove all the artwork and picture frames from the walls. These are particularly fragile items, so make sure to use the correct packing materials to guard against breakage. 

Sweep all the vases and knick-knacks off your shelves and windowsills and pack those away, as well. Your goal is to to leave only the most minimal components you’ll need for day-to-day living, such as furniture and toiletries. Anything else can get packed away. 

One other fat target for early packing should be things that you rarely (never?) use, but may need a little extra TLC when it comes to packing them for the professional movers. Do you have fine china that’s incredibly breakable? What about collectibles, whether it be trading cards, stamps or incredibly valuable vintage action figures still in their original boxes? You may want to spend some time early in the moving process packing up those safely and getting them out of the way. 

Now that you know what’s first to pack, what about what’s last? Many experts suggest maintaining for as long as possible a Zen, normalized zone in your house, where the boxes and the chaos of the upcoming move don’t intrude. Maybe you leave your bedroom for last, so that you have a refuge. That way, even if nothing else goes right in the packing process, at least you’ll get a good night’s sleep.

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