Moving always sucks. It doesn’t make much of a difference if you have someone pack and unpack for you (okay maybe it does!) or DIY the whole thing. It just sucks. It’s a process that you can’t really speed up – you just have to live through it. The packing, realising you should have gotten a bigger truck, the mini freak-out where everything will go, and the days and days of being surrounded by brown boxes. And then having to deal with either the beating sunshine or torrential rain on the actual move day.
What a joy.
Having moved interstate, upsized, downsized, combined a tonne of stuff, and from someone who just hates moving in general, here are my tips for moving your home (and humans) with less stress!
1. Put EVERYTHING in a box (excluding furniture)
We have ALL helped out that one friend who has bought 5 “jumbo” boxes thinking it will be enough to fit their entire life in and then realised it wasn’t enough – by any stretch of the imagination. And instead of buying more, they have shoved everything into thousands of tiny plastic bags, pillow slips, the odd IKEA bag, their one broken washing basket, and the rest they just expect you to carry in teeny, tiny piles in with your arms. It’s a logistical nightmare.
Ditch hoping everything will fit into a minimum amount of boxes and buy up! You always need more than you think! And purchase some strong masking tape whilst you’re there. Having a quality box means you won’t be dealing with boxes falling apart at the seams and your stuff falling out on the street… And trust me it’s 10x worse if it’s raining! #beentheredonethat
Having every item packed into a box will save time (and let’s be clear: sanity) for everyone on moving day. And when it comes to moving: time is money. It’s much quicker to load 2-3 boxes on a trolley than it is to carry down a vase filled with faux flowers, a dressing gown, and a pile of books!
Some people like to assemble boxes all at once and then put items in them, I say it’s 100% okay to do up 5 boxes, fill them, and then do up some more. Assembling every.single.box in advance means you will probably end up drowning in a sea of empty boxes. Seriously, they will take on a life of their own. Bit by bit is usually a better, more sustainable approach.
For any heirlooms and valuables, the age-old saying of transporting these items yourself still stands. Stuff will get damaged, so transporting that lovely artwork piece or a special bottle of wine yourself is always worth the extra effort.
Avoid: hoping everything will fit in 5 boxes.
Do this: buy more than you ever think you will need. Most removal places will buy boxes back (win!) or tuck them away for future moves!
2. Box Labels: keep it simple and just write the name
The most common question I get when it comes to moving is “how can I tell people where to put stuff in the new place?”
The answer is NOT colour coding rooms.
No one (and I mean no one) cares if the Master Bedroom is the purple sticky note or the pink sticky note. Kinda looks like magenta to me…? Or was it green?
Just buy some YELLOW post-it notes and write “Master Bedroom” – and firmly tape that label down!
In addition, label rooms that make sense to your movers. “Tom’s Bedroom” is all well and good, but “Downstairs Bedroom” makes much more sense to a stranger.
Firmly sticky tape a label on TOP of the box and on one SIDE of the box. That means the movers and you will know to just look for the yellow labels to know where the box needs to go. Consistency is key.
If possible, in the new home, sticky tape a label on each of the doors in the house so they know where “Master Bedroom”, “Ensuite” (and so on) are specifically. It’s a simple touch to make life easier on Move Day.
I also like jot down the important items (e.g hairdryer, iron, cutlery) below the post-it note on the side of the box so I can quickly find the items I know I will need ASAP after the move.
Avoid: colour coding which adds another layer of complexity and can be confusing.
Do this: put no-nonsense, practical names on each box. You WILL 107% forget what is in each box, so do make the effort to label every box.
3. Give yourself extra time: packing always takes much longer than you think (and it never ends!)
If you think you can pack up the entire house in one weekend, you may find yourself working quite late the night before Move Day.
Movers are there to move stuff, not to help you pack. Get organised ahead of time.
Try to start packing 2-3 weeks beforehand, by putting away the stuff you know you definitely won’t use. Packing away even 5-10 boxes and even small things like taking artworks off the walls will make a difference on the day and makes life much easier, particularly if you have small humans running around your home. To make packing faster (as seen in point 1), having enough boxes will make life MUCH easier. Create an overly simple system for everything to go in (everything). This strips the process of decision-making as you are not wondering how you will carry stuff to the moving truck.
If you do find that you are short on time, decide what is going in the moving truck that day and what items you will come back for later on. Keep in mind, it may be easier to come back for say 4x dining chairs than it is to come back for piles and piles of smaller items. Think about what can fit in your car in one trip (you can put the car seats down, use those roof racks!).
Avoid: thinking you can do it all in 1-2 days.
Do this: pack away the stuff you 100% won’t use 2-3 weeks out. Doing little bits in advance adds up.
4. ‘Declutter-as-you-pack’ is a myth that needs to get in the bin
In an ideal world, you should declutter before you move. And it makes sense. You are moving less stuff and therefore it will cost you less in time, boxes, tape and stress. Blahblahblah.
We all know what we should do.
But life doesn’t always pan out that way, so here are my thoughts on lumping moving and decluttering together.
Moving is a huge project entirely on its own. Decluttering is another huge project.
Moving is simply taking items from cupboards and playing Tetris on Level 30 to fit them into boxes. Decluttering is quite different as you are making decisions if an item stays or goes – and 90% of those decisions carry an emotional weight. Decluttering often results in comparing items against each other. Not as simple as playing Tetris. Moving and decluttering are quite different frames of mind to be in and rightly so as they are separate processes. If you do decide to declutter as you pack, just keep in mind it will make the packing process go a lot slower. It’s not always as simple as “in the box or not in the box?” as you pack. You need the time and headspace to do it.
If you can, do a declutter session well before you start packing. Move through your stuff asking “is this item staying or going?”. You may need to do several passes of this as you work through your stuff. If it is going, you can then either bin or donate the item. If you donate the item, keep in mind you will need to make a trip to the local charity or organise a pickup. It’s extra time that you may or may not have. Be realistic.
If you don’t have time to declutter before you move, the next best option is to do it as you unpack your stuff in the new place. If you don’t want to keep an item, don’t put it away. Bin it or put it by the front door for donation. This will mean that the unpacking process WILL take longer, but you are doing two tasks at once and it will pay off in dividends when you have a new clutter-free home!
Avoid: stressing about decluttering before you move.
Do this: plan what you will do in advance. Either, declutter WELL before you start packing OR as you unpack – either way is 100% okay. It just takes extra time.
5. Sort the essentials for the first few nights
Tired bodies, tired eyes, hungry tummies. Moving takes it out of us both physically and mentally so having a game-plan for the first few nights will make life a lot easier for everyone. Here are some ways to make the first few nights in the new place a little bit easier!
- Plan ahead where the large pieces of furniture will go (for example couch, TV unit, beds, bookcases, storage units, portable wardrobes). Communicate this with the moving team in person whilst in the new home so no one is wasting time trying to guess where everything goes. Draw up a super-dooper clear floor plan for the team and stick it to the wall of the corresponding room and double-check all the heavy stuff is where you want it before the muscle leaves the premises.
- Plan out everyone’s meals for the first few nights, particularly on moving day even if it’s order pizza on Night 1. That way after the long, exhausting days, you don’t have to worry about hungry humans getting cranky or hunt for the coffee the next morning.
- Keep a pack of daily essentials with you (soap, toilet paper, toothbrush, change of clothes) so if the moving truck can’t deliver on time or everything ends up being a shambles, you can still carry out your daily tasks.
- Take the time to celebrate the night you move in. You made it! Whether it’s a microwave meal, pizza delivered, or a quick meal at the pub, take the time to pause and congratulate yourself on getting here. It’s the start of a new phase and it’s worth getting excited about!
Although moving is never fun, the brown boxes will come to an end and you can get excited about the next phase! I hope you have found at least one useful tip in this!