Simple Moving Tips

Box #108 headed for the basement

Since our recent move, I have received numerous requests for any simple moving tips I might have to share. Yes! I certainly learned a lot through the process and learned the best tip (#3) from a dear friend who had moved some 30 times! I knew she properly had it down and were worth taking note. So we delay the start of our March theme to talk some practicals.

1. Weed out as much as you can before moving.

My goal was that we would not take anything with us that we did not absolutely want! We sold a bunch of things on craigslist, gave stuff away, or consigned items. This made it so much easier to start fresh.

2. Pack your stuff for their destination room.

Start by picturing your new home and where you would like to relocate your goods. Sketch our a map if desired. Determine as you pack where they will be put in your new home. Chose a color for each new room in your home and then tape a construction piece of paper in that color on the box. When you move the boxes, then you can know easily where each box is going and then it is easy to unpack!

We selected RED as the kitchen color, GREEN as the basement, BROWN as garage, ORANGE as the kids room, etc. If you have a lot of furniture, you could also tape the colored paper on to them as well to indicate destination room. The friends and family that helped move us made several comments that this really speedied up the process of unloading our truck. They quickly were able to recognize and determine the destination of the colors.

3. Make a master spreadsheet of the contents in each box.

Rather than just randomly labeling each box with the contents, we chose to use the number system with a master itemized spreadsheet. I would number each box starting at 100 and make a quick list of the contents of each box on my spreadsheet. Each box would simply get the number written on several sides.

So for example, box 118 contains silverware, pots, pans, and glass vases and had a red piece of paper on the top (indicating its destination was the kitchen). Box 121 contained humidifer, potty chair, travel bags, etc. It worked beautifully!

This was extremely helpful especially in the initial packing stage. If I packed something that I needed it was so easy to find that box and bring out the item and return it to its location after use. Of course the kids got sick in the middle of our packing, so to find the humidifer was easy. I knew it was in box 121, even if there was already 25 boxes packed in our garage. It was also extremely helpful for a speedy unpacking. It seemed a crazy idea initially…but hey, I knew where all my plates were with one quick glass at the spreadsheet!

4. Use red duck tape to label all your essential boxes.

Pick up some red duck tape with which to wrap around all the sides of the boxes of your essentials. This includes anything you will need right away – bathroom stuff, bedding, kitchen essentials, etc. That way you know you need to unpack these first even if you don’t have energy to attack everything else.

5. Keep simple meals for your moving week.

As to meals for your family during a move, I just bought easy freezer meals, canned soup, and burritos for the week. I made sure they were meals that I only need one pot to prepare. I used disposable plates and the like. This made it really easy without mess.

Other means that we found helpful for keeping it frugal: find free moving boxes and paper on craigslist! Then repost them for another’s use when you are done. This left us with just packing tape and duck tape as the only things we had to purchase. Use the help of family and friends to help you move! Feed them a simple lunch, and they will be happy!

Hope that is helpful for any of you all!

About Lindsay

Lindsay Edmonds is first a lover of Jesus, wife, mother of four, homemaker, and writer. She loves inspiring women around the world toward simple, natural, and intentional living for the glory of God.

31 Responses to Simple Moving Tips

  1. Nichole November 2, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    In the process of moving for the 2nd time this year. Most helpful thing we’ve done is investing in a very large tough box. This is the last packed, first out. It has a pot, plastic silverware, paper plates, cups, cleaning wipes, a few snacks, sheet set, a couple bottles of water, (dog food, cat food, and baby bottle), etc. That way after the truck is unloaded there is only one box that needs to be unpacked for the night.

    Label you’re room doors-your movers may not know which one is the baby’s room, especially if your help is free. Before people come to help, tape the name of the room on the door (baby’s, master, office, etc), so people can find their way around the new house. This only works if you labeled your boxes.

    Also, I keep a few small ‘thank you’ gifts on hand. Sometimes you have new neighbors, or church members that offer to come help. One time our new neighbor actually towed a car for us, and it felt good to give him something in return, even if it was only a sented candle.

  2. Jazmin February 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Red Duct Tape… Great idea, thanks! We move in a few months… Also, lots of free super STURDY boxes to be found at ABC/liqour stores. Many come with handy dividers that are great for packing breakables!!!

  3. Megan July 20, 2011 at 2:41 pm #

    Although I don’t have immediate moving plans, these are strategies that I will keep in mind in the future. I have certainly weeded out some things, such as a chair, that I will not have to move next time.

  4. Craig April 25, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Where can I find this “duck tape?”

    • James April 25, 2011 at 11:09 am #

      Actually, despite what appears to be an attempt at “Don’t you mean duct tape?” Duck tape is acceptable to use. Duck tape is a leading brand of duct tape, much like you would say Kleenex for paper tissues or Q-Tip for cotton swabs.

  5. Chris Kirkham April 24, 2011 at 10:30 pm #

    I’m a huge fan of the color coding. That’s brilliant. I’m moving cross-country this summer and you better believe I’m going to borrow that idea.

  6. Phil Butler April 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    All of these are good ideas – but I beg to differ on the color coding scheme. What does one do when they run out of blue “bedroom” tape ?

    It’s been a while since I moved – but I labeled things on 3×5 index cards with a sharpie. I used a scheme like 2BR, 1Kitchen, BTools (the 1, 2, B indicate which floor the box needs to go to). A second line could be a box number or the contents. I agree with the person that said to mislabel boxes if “professional” movers are involved. This is where a box number comes in handy – but don’t dare loose the list showing the box#/contents.

    When I moved from an apartment into a house years ago, I had an extra room on each floor that really wasn’t going to be used yet. I had my friends move all of the “2″ boxes to that room on the second floor, “1″ to the dining room, etc. They didn’t have to ask me where something went at all – it was short and sweet. Also, in this way, when the furniture was being moved the rooms that got the furniture were totally free. It was months before everything got unpacked.

    • BA April 24, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

      The tape is not colored but the construction paper that is taped to the box.

      Also a typo I think on “with one quick glass(glance?) at the spreadsheet!”

  7. Kelsey Anderson April 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    So glad that I found this post! The hubby and I are going to be moving in the summer, and these tips will definitely help. Thank you! :D

  8. Kate @ March 25, 2011 at 7:20 am #

    SO glad I stumbled across this post today- we’re in the process of moving, and it’s pretty crazy! We’re only moving a few miles, but we have one week to get all packed up and moved, and we’re downsizing our space so that means getting rid of a lot of stuff QUICK! I love the color coding tips- and that you had a master list with the contents of each box. I can’t believe that in all the moves I have made I have never thought to do that! It will definitely be handy, too, because a lot of our stuff has to go to storage…

  9. M March 18, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    For our last move, I used the numbering system with a master list of everything in each numbered box typed up on my computer. It helped to be able to search my document for an item when I wanted to know where it was. So helpful!

  10. Sara M. March 16, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Funny about the color coding of the boxes. We moved ourselves with a U-haul 7 years ago, and we used colored labels to mark boxes for certain areas. We just didn’t have enough colors. ;) The number system is also a great idea. I thought labeling the boxes would help, but I think things were still misplaced.

  11. Laura March 12, 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    Love the moving tips..I can also say sometimes if you call your local walmart or store you can get boxes from them too..

  12. Kristen Lehmann March 5, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    Even though it’s the best option, it may not be possible to move all your valuable items yourself. As part of a corporate move, a team of packers come in and boxed up everything then another group of guys packed the moving truck. THE PACKERS advised us to mismark boxes of our valuables as a deterrent to moving handlers stealing personal property en route (apparently quite common). For example, expensive photography equipment and cameras were labelled “family photos”.

    I hope this tip helps keep your belongings safe.

    • Danielle B March 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

      Better yet, put the valuables in your cars.

  13. Naomi March 5, 2011 at 1:20 pm #

    We are in the process of moving. We will be moving about 2 1/2 hours away from our current house. My husband has been working at his new job for a little of 90 days now, so I’m so happy. He was able to get grants and Michigan Works also paid for my husband’s college, Praise the Lord!!! Anyways, we will be moving in June. My son gets out of preschool May 28 and my husband graduates, the commencement June 3, and the day after my son is done with preschool we will be moving. It will be such a busy week, but I will be happy to live with my husband again, he lives with my parents and has to drive 1 hour and 1/2 one way to and from work. Anyways, I really like your tips and hope to implement them. We have already started to pack and we are using a brand like space bags, but are a no brand kind. They work great for packing up the baby clothes I am keeping. My husband said that if we aren’t using some of the items, like Christmas stuff, for the next couple of months to put it in a certain room. We pack ever weekend since that is when he gets to come home and be with us. I am so excited to move. My in laws currently live just down the street and my husband’s family all live where we currently do, but I will be happy to live by where my husband works soon. (My in laws aren’t happy that we’re moving, but oh well, we have to do what we have to for our family)

  14. Casey March 5, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    Love the color code idea!!!

  15. liz March 4, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    where were you when I needed you for out move. if we move again (kicks self in face) i will definitely implement these tips. great post!!!

  16. Barbi March 4, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    Great tips!!
    When my parents made their big move across state (after 20 years in the same home), they did the spreadsheet system, too. Although I think they did it a little bit more efficiently- they got a ton of notecards that are already on one of those bigger metal rings, Then write the contents of each box on it’s own notecard, with number. They got a couple of rings, so each pack of notecards had it’s own area of house.

    I love your blog, btw! The Lord has used you so many times! Praise Him. :)

  17. Maura March 4, 2011 at 3:46 pm #

    Excellent advice and thanks for sharing. I like the item of using colors for each room and numbering the boxes then recording what is in each box.

  18. TJ March 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

    Soooooo… how did you know I was moving in two weeks? Thanks for the tips! :)

  19. Lacey March 4, 2011 at 10:26 am #

    we are a military family and have moved once each year for the past 7 years. Because we only are able to rent a u-haul truck and everything we own has to fit in that truck as we can’t be driving back and forth for multiple loads I have learned to combine everything as possible. Canisters that aren’t holding any food from the kitchen- fill those with anything that will fit. We stuff our dresser drawers as full as we can. You get the idea, combine, combine, combine! Let nothing stay empty!

    Another tip that I have is that I used our linens to wrap breakables. Towels, curtains, anything along those lines I use to wrap pictures and other breakables. This way, you are packing two things at once- linens and breakables, you are also saving on room this way, and less boxes as you don’t have separate boxes for just linens. Any linens that aren’t used to wrap things with can be just thrown into large garbage bags freeing up precious boxes to be used for something else. I label my boxes individually, but if you use the spreadsheet, you’ll know to go looking for your towels and things in the boxes with breakables!

    I’ve never done the itemized spreadsheet before, I may try that this time.

    God Bless!

  20. Stacy @ Delighting in the Days March 4, 2011 at 10:19 am #

    Excellent tips! And yes, #3 is a winner! I’ve never thought to do that, but will next time.

  21. Sarah March 4, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    Yes, yes, yes to #3! When we moved cross-country, we made a master spreadsheet of EVERYTHING we owned and which box it was in. We also color-coded and put room numbers on each box so that those helping us move in didn’t even have to ask where things went. Like many people, it took us a while to unpack and figure out where we wanted everything, so being able to go straight to our spreadsheet to find out where a certain item was before we unpacked its box was so helpful. We used our master spreadsheet to print out labels with contents for each box, which was also helpful down the road.

  22. Carrie March 4, 2011 at 6:31 am #

    I love the red duck tape idea! We moved to our new home last May and that would have been so helpful in getting things where they needed to be. :-)

  23. Sarah @ littlesliceofmyarmywifelife March 4, 2011 at 6:14 am #

    These are great tips! We have moved 6 times in the last 6 years. The life of an Army wife! :) I feel like I have it down to a science now.
    -The main thing is yes, DECLUTTER before you move! Then organize as much as you can! This will make unpacking a breeze!
    -We used one room or space as the “no-pack zone” which meant that room didn’t get boxed up until the very end. This was everything we needed to use or hand carry over or keep separate.
    -Make sure you set aside some basic tools for taking things apart and putting together, hanging thing sup etc. Screwdriver, hammer, nails, drill, etc. You will need these right away!
    -Don;t forget about window coverings! Some houses don;t have blinds, so you will need curtains right away, especially in bedrooms for sleeping. Keep these in mind and set them aside.
    -Also, give yourself some grace. We broke out the paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic utensils. It’s so much easier just to use these for a few days instead of having to worry about dishes.

  24. Jessalyn March 4, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    Moving. Ick. My husband and I have been married for almost 5 years and have moved 5 times. Our family basically knows that each year will bring a new move, thanks to our current “Seminary Couple” statis. Many of these tips I had never thought of before. I love the master list suggestion. Thanks!

  25. Hope March 4, 2011 at 5:51 am #

    In my church, any time there is a move, it is announced at church and everyone is invited to help. Usually this means that about 20-30 people show up. This way, a line stretches from the stacked boxes to the moving truck, and we don’t have to walk up & down stairs or carry things, just pass from one person to another like a water brigade! The whole move is usually done in less than 2 hours (including unloading at the new house) , so it doesn’t take that much time or energy, and we get to talk to one another. This helps us have enough energy to help *every* time someone moves–not just close friends or family, because we don’t get all worn out from a single big move! It really relieves stress on those being moved, and is an opportunity to love and support one another in tangible ways!

  26. Rebecca March 4, 2011 at 5:49 am #

    We used colors, too, but included our name and main contents on the labels as well. I had the colors hung up near each of the rooms in the new apartments. We had professional movers move us and both times, they commented on how much our colored labels helped!

  27. Jerilyn March 4, 2011 at 3:48 am #

    wow, excellent tips.

    we just moved but had a couple weeks of overlap with both places… except for the furniture, I moved everything we owned. We didn’t get a moving truck (we only moved 7 miles away) and so every night I would load up some boxes in my car. The next day I would drive to the house, unload, then put the baby down to nap and paint. I want to say it was our smoothest move yet but that’s not the truth.

  28. Julia March 4, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    Great tips and ideas, Lindsay!