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By May 1, 2015 4 Comments

May is Moving Month, and May 1st is New Homeowner’s Day!
Congratulations to everyone starting that exciting new season of life. Moving requires quite a bit of time, energy, and effort. Here are some helpful tips gleaned from my personal experience of having moved 14 times in my adult life (and helping my youngest daughter pack up her apartment this past week)!


  • Boxes:
    I’ll talk more about this in a few minutes, but for now just know that you will make the moving process much easier for yourself and the people helping you if you use boxes. Don’t assume that you will have to buy them new: it’s all too easy to find free boxes if you know where to look. Ask your friends and neighbors if they have any extra boxes lying around; my daughter has several friends who have babies, so she received about 20 or so diaper boxes that were the perfect size, very sturdy, and had handles on the sides. Ask the customer service desk at your favorite grocery store (we got 2 cart-fulls from Target) if they have any discarded boxes you may have. Liquor stores are also a good place to ask, since their boxes are made to carry fragile, heavy items. Don’t underestimate the amount of boxes you’ll need. If someone offers you free boxes, go ahead and take them! You won’t mind so much if you end up with extra, but it’s pretty frustrating to run out of boxes when you’re only halfway through packing.
  • Rolls of newsprint paper:
    By all means, if you have a newspaper subscription, use up any newspaper you may have lying around your home as packing material! However, it is very helpful to buy the big rolls of newsprint from your local newspaper office; usually they won’t charge any more than about $2.00 per roll. Take cash just in case they don’t take credit/debit cards. Use the paper generously – things can get crazy on moving day, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution when you’re packing fragile or glass items. We went through three rolls this week, and that was for a pretty small apartment.
  • Packing tape: 
    Again, you’ll use more of this than you think! Try to stock up on at least 4-6 big rolls of tape before you get started packing. Dollar General sells them for $3.00 a roll.
  • Black Sharpie: 
    Label EVERY box you pack with the contents of the box, and the room in which you want it to end up. You may think you will “just remember” what’s in each box, but when it’s the night after you’ve moved and you’re desperate to find the box with toilet paper or your bedsheets, you’ll be so glad that you labeled each box clearly and specifically.
  • Color-coded labels: 
    Along that same line, it can really help your moving help if you add color-coded stickers to each box so that everyone knows at a glance where the box is supposed to go. You don’t necessarily have to have a different color for every room in the house; you can try just color-coding the main bedrooms and living areas, such as Green for the baby’s room, Blue for the toddler’s room, Yellow for the master bedroom, and Red for the living room. This can help cut down on questions coming at you from all directions on moving day.
  • Donation boxes and trash bags: 
    Have a few extra boxes and bags set aside for items that you want to purge, donate, sell, or throw away. Moving is a great opportunity to go through all of your items and really decide what is worth keeping. Try to ask yourself as you pack each box: Who needs this item? Why am I keeping it? When/how often will I use this item? Where will I store it? Make the decision to trash anything that is broken, ruined, or irreparable. Look forward to starting a fresh beginning in your new home, and only take things with you that will add to that joy.
  • Sleep:
    Accept the limits of how much you can accomplish in a day. You will gain much more by getting adequate rest than you would by staying up all night to pack “just one more box.” When you’ve had the sleep you need, you will be much better equipped to work efficiently the next day. As overwhelming as the process may seem, everything really will get done!



    Try to begin the moving process about one month before your actual move. Start purging things you no longer want, and packing things you don’t need on a daily basis, such as books, extra dishes, off-season clothes, games, DVDs, CDs, wall decorations, and holiday decorations. As you start packing things up, designate a stacking area in each room.
    Boxes are simply the best way to protect your items, especially when you think about the possibility of bad weather on your moving day. It’s much easier to transport, stack, and store items when they are in closed boxes (as opposed to open drawers or huge armfuls of clothes on hangers). Put similar items in each box so that the unpacking process will go more smoothly. Also, clearly mark “Open First” boxes for each room so that you will know how to prioritize your unpacking.
    Submit your change of address information to the U.S. Postal Service web page. You don’t have to wait until after your move to do this. Make sure to list the names of each household member. Also make a list of all financial accounts, memberships, and magazine subscriptions that you will need notify about your change of address; almost all of these kinds of accounts will have an online option to update your information, so it shouldn’t take as long as you might think.
    When moving week arrives, shift into moving mode. Eat simple meals at home like sandwiches and finger food. Use paper plates, cups, bowls, and plastic utensils. Use up your pantry, freezer, and refrigerator items so that you’ll have less to move. Set aside one basket for each family member for personal items, clothes, and (if applicable) toys.
    Don’t try to do all this alone! Moving is a daunting task, and can easily get overwhelming. Ask for help with loading and unloading on moving day. Ask for help with childcare so that you won’t have to worry about little ones underfoot. Let a friend bring you dinner on moving day. Then, return the favor when someone else moves!
    Set up all the beds so that everyone has a place to crash after such an exhausting day. Hook up all the appliances. Then…take a break to just enjoy your new home! In the days to come, try to just unpack one room at a time – and as you do, make sure to set aside your boxes so that you can pass them along to another moving family!


What’s your best piece of advice to make moving less stressful? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below! 


Photo credit: peretzp / Source / CC BY-NC-SA


Olive Wagar

Author Olive Wagar

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Charlene says:

    Absolutely wonderful advice, Olive, and absolutely perfect timing because we have a child moving tomorrow. I have called her to make sure she reads this today! Much love! Charlene

  • Olive Wagar says:

    Nice to hear from you, Charlene!

  • Erica says:

    I really like the idea of using colored labels to indicate which room boxes belong. When we last moved, I tried writing on each box where it should go in our new home but seeing a little burst of color would be a faster method when unloading a moving truck (don’t have to read through everything) and would also save writing time. Great suggestion! We ran out of packing paper when we were moving so I used unpacked towels and linens to finish protecting fragile items.

    • Olive Wagar says:

      Color is such an easy way to organize. And you could also use different colors of duct tape. Very resourceful using the towels, Erica! Even blankets could be used. Thanks for sharing!

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