I’ve moved four times in the past five years. Some of those moves were disastrous—but by that last time, I'd come up with a few tricks to help things go a bit more smoothly. If you're planning on trading spaces soon, learn from my mistakes and take note of these five tips.
Classic moving mistake: emptying out a bookshelf into a big ol’ box that ends up being way too heavy. The weight of books adds up fast (and that includes paperbacks as well as those old textbooks you’re holding onto).
Instead, spread the love. I like to tuck one or two books at the bottom of every box we’re packing, and it works out much better than ending up with one insanely heavy box.
It doesn’t matter how clean (or not) you are. Dust bunnies are bound to accumulate under furniture that doesn’t get moved often, and there’s nothing grosser than reaching under that nightstand and coming away with a ball of dust and hair.
So make sure you wipe down the bottom of your furniture. You don’t need to do a perfect job, but at least take a wet rag and quickly wipe off the bottom of your dressers, end tables, etc. (This is especially important if you’re getting help from friends and family.) And as an added bonus, you won’t be moving all this dust into your new digs.
If you’ve ever helped a friend move, you know there’s nothing worse than standing there, arms shaking, while said friend tries to decide if the chaise lounge should go in the living room or basement. But it’s also terrible to unpack boxes that all ended up in the wrong spot. So whether you’re having professionals handle the heavy lifting or relying on friends and family, make sure it’s clear where you want each box to go.
Most moving companies are happy to put each box in the right room. Use a big, bold permanent marker to write the room on at least three sides of the box, as well as on top. If you’re feeling crafty, seal the top of each box in a different color of duct tape based on the room it’s going to, too.
Labeling isn’t just about marking down the right room, either. Unpacking will go so much more smoothly if you’ve listed out what’s in the box on the outside. Don’t go too crazy listing out every little thing inside, but be specific enough that if you need something, you can find it.
The earlier in the day you can start the move, the better, especially as we move into summer and the temperatures creep up. I’ll never forget the 90º day in July we moved into a third-floor apartment with no elevator… or central AC. By noon, it was unbearable. But even if the day isn’t hot, you’ll still want to end early so you still have energy left to take a shower and make the bed.
Don’t wait until the morning of the move to finish up packing, either. You’re wasting money if movers are standing around waiting for a box. If you didn’t hire professional help, your friends and family will appreciate being able to start (and end) faster—maybe even with a little time left to help you unpack at the end of the day. The night before the move, you should be down to an overnight bag with a few changes of clothes, your essential toiletries, and a couple rolls of toilet paper. All of which are useful for when you get to the new place, by the way.
If you’re going to be at the house on moving day, don’t be shy about giving direction. During our last move, my brother, who was helping us out, steered me to the front door and said, “You stay here and tell us what to do. Don’t leave this spot.”And I didn’t. For the next hour, I gave everyone directions when they walked in the door. It felt really lazy, but it was so much easier on everyone else. And if I wasn’t sure where I wanted something, I just made up a place for it and dealt with it later. Moving soon? Check out our collection of moving coupons for deals on packing supplies, moving trucks, storage rentals, and more.