Moving to a new place is usually seen as a new beginning, a chance for a fresh start, a new page in life…
However symbolical the moving process may be, though, in fact it is just a sequence of actions that result in the relocation of your belongings from one place to another. So, while the emotional and mental preparation for your house move is, undoubtedly, crucial for the successful outcome of your relocation adventure, the actual preparation of your items for shipment is just as important, too. You need to inventory your possessions, sort them out, declutter your home, get rid of any unwanted items, carefully pack the things you’re going to take with you, provide appropriate insurance for your valuable, and so on.
All these preparatory steps are essential for organizing a smooth and trouble-free relocation, of course, but it is the packing process that should be your greatest concern – it is, without a doubt, the most time-consuming, laborious, and consequential moving task you have to deal with. To ensure your packing success and the safety of your cherished possessions, you need to create a packing list, get hold of appropriate packing materials, observe the golden rules of packing, and steer clear of packing mistakes.
But first things first – before you can get down to work, you need to know where to start packing for a move.
So, what to pack first for moving? It’s only logical that the first things to pack will be the things you need the least.
Items in storage areas
Everything that has been safely stored away and hidden out of sight in garages, basements, or attics, is certainly rarely used and little needed (if at all). It is highly unlikely that you will need any of these half-forgotten items in the time left until moving day, so you are recommended to start organizing them and packing them away as early as possible. Remember that going through the storage areas in your home and sorting out all the miscellaneous things kept there will take a lot of time and effort.
So, roll up your sleeves and “attack” the storage areas at the earliest opportunity. Your first task is to assess your stored belongings and decide their fate. Sort them into three separate piles:
1) “to be discarded” – all the items that are too outdated or too worn out to be used ever again, as well as any damaged pieces you still keep;
2) “to be sold, donated, or given away” – all the knick-knacks, decorations, old furniture, specialty equipment, craft supplies, tools, and so on that are still in good conditions but you don’t like anymore or won’t be able to use in your new surroundings, be it because of the climate, the available space, the peculiarities of your new lifestyle, etc.
3) “to be packed for moving” – anything that has considerable practical, aesthetic, or sentimental value and you don’t want to part with.
Needless to say, you need to dispose of the first pile immediately and take care of the second one as soon as possible (otherwise you may reconsider your decisions and start pulling items out of that pile). Organize a moving sale or sell online any costly possessions of yours that you’re not taking with you (artwork, sports gear, specialized tools, etc.), donate practical items of little market value (old clothes, toys, furniture pieces, etc.), and give away to friends and family whatever they may like or need.
All the rarely used items from the third pile (things you intend to take to your new home) should be packed and prepared for shipment a month or so before the actual relocation. Make sure you:
- create a detailed inventory of the items you are packing and document their current condition;
- provide your items with excellent protection against moisture, dust, bugs, etc. (have in mind that the first things you pack for moving will stay in the boxes for quite a long time);
- label the boxes properly as you won’t remember which items went where;
- stack all the packed boxes in a separate area where they won’t get in your way;
- properly prepare the large tools and equipment you’re going to take with you (lawnmowers, snow blowers, bikes, etc.) – any fuel should be drained out of the tanks, sharp edges and cutting parts should be safely wrapped, and so on.
Have in mind that moving companies are not allowed to relocate certain typical garage contents (motor oils, antifreeze, paint and paint thinners, charcoal, propane tanks, fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, car batteries, as well as any flammable, explosive or corrosive items) for safety reasons, so you should not waste your time packing them. Unless you can move the non-allowables yourself, you’ll have to get rid of them before the relocation – use them up, give them away, etc.
The term “non-essentials” refers to everything you can live without for a few weeks – things in drawers, closets, cabinets, etc. that you won’t miss if they stay packed away in boxes for a month or two. Such items include but are not limited to:
- decorations and artwork – holiday decorations, framed pictures, figurines, vases, souvenirs, and all other kinds of decorative objects that make your place charming and cozy but have no practical purpose whatsoever. Have in mind that such items should be packed with utmost care as they are quite delicate and fragile. Besides, some of them are not only beautiful and sentimental, but also very expensive (pieces of art, for example), so you will most definitely want to keep them intact;
- collectibles – you will certainly not have the time to look through old photo albums or to admire your train models in the weeks leading to moving day, so any collectible items should find their way into the moving boxes long before the relocation;
- extras – any extra towels, linens, bedding, office supplies, etc. should be among the first things to get into the moving boxes as they are not used anyway;
- books – you won’t be reading much in the busy weeks prior to your move, so you can pack your books away as early as 3-4 weeks in advance. Make sure you put them in small sturdy boxes that won’t break under the weight of their contents and keep them in a clean and dry place;
- DVD’s, CD’s, video games, hobby materials – you may keep a few of those to provide for some entertainment during the strenuous weeks of moving preparations but it’s a good idea to pack most of your leisure time items long before the relocation chaos has taken reign over your home;
- off-season clothes, shoes, and accessories – pack up everything you are not going to use for over a month, including seasonal items such as beach umbrellas or ski goggles;
- specialized kitchenware – fine china, cake plates, condiment dishes, crystal glasses, ice-cream cups, pie pans, cookie cutters, barbecue tongs, etc., as well as small appliances, extra dishes, dishtowels, food storage containers, and other similar items that you use rarely or only on special occasions, should be packed well in advance.
Once you’ve dealt with all the infrequently-needed items described above, you should proceed with games, jewelry and toiletries that are not used on a daily basis, followed by non-perishable pantry items, office supplies, sewing supplies, and various other knick-knacks you can easily survive without for a week or two.
Which rooms to pack first
When you have sorted out and boxed up the storage areas (the toughest packing challenge you’ll be faced with), you should move on to the other less commonly used rooms in your home, such as the guest rooms and the living room. The most essential rooms – the kitchen, the kids’ room (if applicable), the bedroom, and the bathroom – should be packed last, of course.
All your clothes, kitchen items, electronics and pretty much everything else that is not yet into the moving boxes should be packed up in the week before moving day. So, make sure you have enough clothes to last for the next few days (including appropriate attire for moving day), take out the plastic utensils (forget all about cooking during the last day or two before your move), have your kids each choose one set of toys they want to keep out for the last few days, put aside the items that will get into your box of essentials and pack all the rest of your belongings (do not forget to prepare household appliances and disassemble large furniture pieces, as well). Keep a few extra boxes and bags handy for last-minute packing endeavors.
SEE ALSO: What to pack last when moving