My Best Moving Tips

Our move is not too far away and while we haven’t started any packing yet (I don’t want to live out of boxes any longer than I absolutely have to),

This move is much less intense than some of our other cross-country moves, which is super nice.

This will be our twelfth move (if I’m counting correctly), so it’s definitely not our first rodeo and I’ve definitely picked up some moving tips over the years. I like to joke that our favorite hobby is putting all our belongings in boxes and then taking them back out again.

I’m crossing my fingers hard that this is our last move in a long, long time.

If you have a move coming up, here are some of my best moving tips – I hope they’ll help make it a little smoother!

My Best Moving Tips

  1. Don’t start too early. You can make moving last a week or two or you make it last forEVER. Personally, I’d rather have it be fast and furious, rather than disrupting my life for months on end. Living out of boxes is the worst in my opinion, so I’d rather just pack up the week or two before we actually move. I spend the time before that sorting and organizing things so I’m not moving anything I don’t actually want to keep. I’ve been going through all the closets and drawers in our house this past month and taking piles of stuff to donate.
  2. Create a spreadsheet to track address changes and little tasks. One of the worst parts of moving is changing all your addresses. Every credit card, every utility bill, every account. Bart and I keep a spreadsheet (on Google Drive so we can both access it from anywhere) with all our accounts and then we can highlight or unhighlight them as we change the info there. It’s also helpful to keep a list of little tasks there that need to be done (making a spare key copy, having the utilities turned on, etc). One of the hard things about moving is that it requires so many tiny tasks, so having a place to jot those down and track them makes a huge difference and is one of my best moving tips.
  3. Get more boxes than you think you’ll need. Most box places will buy back extra boxes that you don’t use and it’s a big waste of time to have to keep going back to get more. And guaranteed, you’ll need more than you think.
  4. Label the boxes for the rooms they’re going into in the new place. Since a lot of the time things aren’t going in exactly the same rooms in the new place that they’re leaving in your old place, it makes sense to label the boxes for where they’re going. It doesn’t matter what room they were in at the old house – you want them in the right room in your NEW house!
  5. Finish up room at a time. It’s easy to pack up a little in each room but never feel like you’re FINISHING anything. Once you’re ready to really fully pack up, go through one room at a time until absolutely every single thing is packed. Close the door behind you and don’t let anyone or anything go back in there!
  6. Have a last-in, first out box. Once you’ve closed up a box, you do NOT want to be opening those boxes back up. Keep one box open that is the absolute last one out of the house and then will be the first one in the new place so you have all those “must have” items in one place. And make sure a few tools – a screwdriver, a hammer, etc – are in there. It’s a great place to have paper towels, toilet paper, and other things that you probably need immediately.
  7. Consider hiring professional movers. My natural inclination is to never spend money I don’t absolutely have to, but when we moved to Arizona, I arrived with three tiny girls (including a 4 month old baby) a few days before Bart, since he was doing training out of state for his new job. My mom drove down with me, but there was no way we could manage all the furniture on our own and so Bart hired a moving crew of three that met us at the new house and unloaded everything in to the right rooms. It cost about $300 and it was the best money we’ve ever spent. We did the same when we moved into our current house and we’ll do the same again next month. We do all the packing, but just that actual moving help is magical.moving tips
  8. Hire cleaners for the new or old home. If you’re moving into a place that’s been recently occupied by someone else, it’s really nice to have it well cleaned before you move in. Even better, in my mind, is hiring someone to clean your OLD house. When I’ve been packing non-stop, deep cleaning that house is the LAST thing I want to do before I’m finished up with it. If you can afford to hire someone to deal with it for you, it’s a  huge weight off your shoulders and they’ll probably do it better anyway! Our realtor in Arizona insisted we have the house professionally cleaned before we left (it was going on the market after we moved and we were leaving it staged) and it just looked SO great and I was so grateful that I didn’t have to be the one to do it.
  9. Accept help when it’s offered. Moving is basically a full-time job for at least a week. If someone offers to watch your kids or bring over dinner or clean or help you pack? Say yes! When we moved to Arizona and my mom came down with me, we had about 36 hours before she flew home. Her help was priceless and we made so much progress with two of us (plus it was a lot more fun!).
  10. Get some premade meals. Eating out meal after meal gets old quick (plus gets expensive fast). Stocking up on some pre-made meals from the grocery store or Costco means you can have a hot meal when you’re ready for it without a lot of prep or extra dishes.
  11. Make the bedrooms up first thing. Moving is EXHAUSTING (there’s just no way around it – even if you have professional movers doing the whole thing for you) and the thing I most want is my own bed. My very first priority as soon as we get into a new house is making up the bedrooms so everyone can sleep in their own, fully made beds. Not only does it help me keep up my energy to keep unpacking, but it’s also very calming for both kids and adults to have a real bed and place to sleep in the middle of all the chaos.
  12. Have one solid day of unpacking. Once we’re in a new house, I want it unpacked as fast as possible. Living out of boxes is not my idea of a good time. Having one full day set aside for unpacking means you can get a LOT of things done, like the kitchen unpacked, laundry set up, clothes in closets, and your new home somewhat manageable. It’s highly unlikely you’ll get everything finished in a single day, but you can make a TON of progress with that dedicated time.
  13. Done is better than perfect. In a new space, it can feel hard to make so many decisions about where things will go. Are you really choosing the BEST drawer for the silverware to go in? Should it go somewhere else? Whatever you choose doesn’t have to be forever – you can move it later. For now, it’s better to have it unpacked and maybe not in the optimal place than still in a box. You’ll know how to use the space better as you use it, so for now focus on getting things out of boxes and into cupboards, drawers, and shelves and then you can adjust later on as necessary.
  14. Know that moving won’t last forever. In the midst of it, it feels like you will literally be moving forever. That you will never again get to spend a day that doesn’t include wrapping up breakables or weaving through stacks of boxes. But at some point, it will be done and you’ll have forgotten all about the pain of moving and it’ll feel like you’ve lived there forever. Remembering that it’s temporary makes a huge difference – you WILL get through it!

Any other moving tips? I’ll take them all!


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Photos by Heather Mildenstein

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  1. One thing I’ve learned after our 13 moves is to have a little basket with supplies handy—sharpies (lots and large and small), multiple tapes, scissors, box cutters, baggies, trash bags, notebook, pen, etc. And that basket stays with me in each room. I HATE going to find my 1 big sharpie when I need to label, or having to go to the store for more tape. So I have multiple (because they always seem to walk away) and I keep everything together.

  2. Recently moved several states away, and these are all excellent tips! I would also recommend numbering boxes and keeping a list on your phone (or a Google sheet) of the numbers and a general list of what is in each one. Makes finding stuff when you are unpacking way easier!

  3. Two peas in a pod here! We moved in early 2019. I was working full-time teaching from home, so I took advantage of Christmas break and packed up a lot of stuff we wouldn’t need over the next 3 weeks while I had the time (and had my husband home to take over kid duty). When it got closer and I was packing up the kitchen, I would pack an entire cupboard, and then clean that cupboard inside and out. Then when moving day came, we didn’t have as much cleaning to do, and I wasn’t spending the rest of the day trying to get that done (or going back a million times to clean). We were also moving fairly close, so I took all my and my husband’s clothes to the new house the day before we moved and got it all hung up in the closet. I also took toilet paper, soap, paper towels, etc. out there so we’d have it the next day if anyone who was helping us needed it.

  4. I’d also recommend adding a Buy Nothing Group as you prepare to move if there is one in your area. It’s a great way to rehome things you no longer need as you sort through them (and then you don’t have to drive them to a donation center, where most of the stuff ends up in the trash anyway). Here’s some information about it: https://www.honestlymodern.com/all-about-buy-nothing-groups/ but you can always look to the Buy Nothing website or check Facebook to find your local Buy Nothing group.

  5. thank you for this list! we are moving for the first time in over 9 years, and buying our first home. while i handled our last move very well, i am feeling overwhelmed with all of the logistics and your advice gave me some tasks to add that i hadn’t yet thought of!

  6. I respectfully disagree with number one. Obviously it’s personal preference, but we’ve found that there are SO many things you don’t use regularly (hiding in closets, drawers, etc.) that can be packed early. We’ve done 12 moves too, to several different states and countries. We’ve had people help load trucks but we do all of the prep and packing ourselves. Basically no later than a month before the move, we basically pack our luggage as if we’re doing a 7-10 day stay somewhere. Once those must-have things are stored, everything else call be packed. The one exception is the kitchen which we may wait on. Hubby is great at getting things into boxes. I’m great at designating everything that can be packed.

    As for number two, totally agree! We finally put together a Trello board we share that we use to manage the entire move process. Everything is recorded there (where to change addresses, info about utilities, tasks that need to be done at each house, EVERYTHING). We use the last move Trello board as a template for the next move so we remember to do everything.

    Last thing I’ll mention is for number three. Heads up if you’re moving a long distance, we had several plastic boxes crack/break. They’re easily damaged when moving across state lines. We didn’t have any items break so boxes went poorly packed. The plastic is just brittle and doesn’t flex well as the trucks rumble along for days. Our cardboard boxes did better than the few plastic boxes we used simply because we already had them on hand. I’m sure there are fancy, sturdy reusable ones meant for moving, but the standard ones, like from Target, don’t always hold up great. Happy moving everyone!!!

  7. I color coded boxes by room in the new house, so it was easy to see where things went. But someone also gave me the idea to add a letter to the color. A was for stuff that should be unpacked within the first day or two. B is for stuff you’ll need soon but not in the first three days. C is for stuff you want to keep but won’t need any time soon, so they often go into the basement/attic/garage storage. But some of the Cs you might want in the bedroom closet or family room game cupboard, so it’s helpful to have them with the room color on them as well. For colors, I had squares of construction paper in 8 colors that were heavy taped on the box, and a letter added next to it right when the lid went on.

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