Packing 101: 7 Tips For A Hassle-Free Relocation

Editorial team
9 Min Read

According to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, roughly one in 10 American adults move to a different dwelling every year, with the majority of those transfers occurring domestically. While this figure is not as high as 70 years ago, it still accounts for the exodus of over 40 million people annually.

However, the pandemic changed all that, doubling the number of movers primarily due to financial struggles, per a recent Pew Research survey. Other reasons include the shutdown of campus dorms and the desire to be closer to family members in these trying times. Since that survey, some people have moved back to their original neighborhoods, finding homes nearby their family or close friends.

It’s not difficult to see that a lot of moves are happening right now, and with every move potentially having its fair share of hassles. Packing everything in boxes, scheduling your move at the wrong time, choosing your moving service—all these and more can undeniably give you headaches. By the time you get to your new home, you could be left with more problems than when you originally contemplated moving.

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

Fear not, for this moving guide will take you through the proper steps for moving preparation. Consider the following tips to make sure you get everything you need to your new address safely:

1. Choose A Moving Service Based on Where You’ll Move

As mentioned earlier, most moves happen within the county. It’s easy to consider that a nationwide moving company has more resources and expertise, but it’s not as straightforward as you think. If you’ll be moving on within or to the next state, such a company is a reasonable choice.

But if the move is within or between neighborhoods, a local moving company would have the advantage. They know the locality well enough to make logistics far less burdensome, from the fastest route to local regulations. The company may even throw in a few packing freebies to save you several bucks.

Photo by Handiwork NYC on Unsplash

2. Declutter Before the Big Move

Cargo weight is a factor in calculating the overall moving cost. Sure, your new home may be a few blocks away, but including things you don’t actually need in the move can add to the price fast, not to mention make the whole unpacking longer than it needs to be. So, give yourself enough time to declutter, preferably several weeks before the move.

If you have trouble choosing what and what not to take with you, adopt the KonMari method, promoted by pro-organizer Marie Kondo. It’s a technique that suggests asking yourself if each item ‘still sparks joy.’ If it does, it’s a keeper; if not, throw it away, sell it for extra cash, or donate it to someone in need. For those that aren’t fond of Kondo’s minimalist approach, other organization experts like the Home Edit (the team featured on Netflix’s Get Organized series) can be of great help too, and you’ll easily find their best tips and tricks online.

The logic behind this is pretty candid: the fewer things you have to pack, the fewer things you have to unpack later. So, it’s crucial to commit to such a task.

3. Pick Your Packaging Materials Wisely

No move can happen without the humble cardboard box. You can fold or cut it into various shapes and sizes for specific items. It also provides enough protection during transit despite a flimsy look, thanks to its corrugated design. But it doesn’t usually work alone.

You’ll most likely place various items in one box—big and small, fragile and non-fragile. Bubble wrap, packing peanuts, and old newsprint are among the box’s familiar companions. Below is how to make the most out of each, according to several moving companies.

  • Wrap your most fragile possessions in a layer or two of bubble wrap
  • If the item can withstand some hits, wrap it in old newsprint or paper
  • Fill any gaps inside loaded boxes with packing peanuts
  • You can also use packing peanuts for a box of electronics
Photo by Brandable Box on Unsplash

4. Heavy Items at the Bottom, Light Ones on Top

The boxes will be subject to all kinds of forces over the journey, even if you pick the most careful of moving companies. Without a proper arrangement of items inside a box, they’ll rock around, bump into each other, and may cause damage during transit.

Moving services advise piling items from heaviest to lightest for the best stability. Place the heavy items first at the bottom and the light ones on top as you fill the box. While you shouldn’t pack the box more than its intended capacity (typically 50 lbs.), you also don’t want it to be partly full. A partially empty box will only give the items more room to shake around.

5. Group Items Per Room or Area

More often than not, the hassle with unpacking comes from knowing which item goes in what room or area. Imagine setting up your meditation room at your new home, only to realize that it’s missing a few things. You now have to scour your home for them.

To prevent this, allocate a box or two for all items in a particular room or area. Everything in your bedroom should go into its own boxes; the same applies to your living room, kids’ room, makeshift office, and others. Label each box with the room and the items inside for faster unpacking.

Photo by HiveBoxx on Unsplash

6. Take Advantage of Packing Hacks

Some people want to reduce their carbon footprint, in which relying on bubble wrap too much isn’t the best way forward. If you’re eco-conscious, you may need to get a bit creative with packing tools. Here are a few examples.

  • Roll clothes like a cake roll; fold those that crease easily
  • Put loose wires and pieces of jewelry inside unused cases
  • Fill vases and other containers with small items
  • Tape old wooden beams to furniture legs for extra stability
  • Place plastic wrap on toiletries and put the cap back on

7. Dispose or Expend Chemicals If Possible

Lastly, most moving companies won’t pack cleaning agents and other chemicals for safety reasons. They might spill throughout the journey, leaking through boxes and being a fire hazard. If possible, try your best to use them all up before the move.

Otherwise, check your local community for any collection service for leftover chemicals. For those that you need to take, secure the bottle openings and pack them inside a garbage bag before putting them in their own box (consult your moving service first to make sure that’s okay).

Final Thoughts

Moving is a big deal for the average American, but it doesn’t have to be a pain. Follow these seven tips, and starting life in a new home will be a lot easier.

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