Moving Tips: Your Survival Guide for Relocation

by Vanessa Hayes

in Around the House,Organizing

May is National Moving Month. It marks the beginning of a 4-month long moving season; May – August, so I thought I’d share a few moving tips with you. As a matter of fact, I’ll be moving this summer for my 23rd move…which averages out to a move every 1.5 years!  Yes, I’m sure you can figure out my age…

Anyhoos, moving can be extremely stressful (ask me how I know).  The key to making it less stressful is proper planning. At a minimum, I would start planning a month before your actual moving date.  Whether you do it yourself, hire a moving company or do a combo (you pack and they move) there are some general tips that will help make your move much easier:


Find a moving company and get at least 3 estimates.

Call your friends 2-4 weeks in advance to help you with the move if doing a self-move.

Reserve a moving truck if doing a self move.

Collect or order packing supplies (boxes, packing paper, tape) from stores, work, friends and family. Note: this stuff is extremely expensive if you order from a moving company. Also, if you think you have enough…get more!  You usually don’t have enough. Supermarkets, big-box stores, and grocery clubs (Sam’s, BJ’s, Costco, etc) are a good source.

Do a change of address 1-2 weeks prior to the move. You can do this online with the US Postal Service.

Notify utilities and phone companies of move out date and when to disconnect / discontinue services...give them a forwarding address.

Set up utilities at new home, preferably the day before move-in to ensure services are turned on.

Collect dental, medical and school records 1 week prior to move.

Pack as much as you can ahead of time. Extra clothes, kitchen supplies, linens, books, etc.

Take this opportunity to purge your home before you move. You don’t want to pay for cost of shipping items you don’t/won’t use.  Plan 1-2 weekends to purge your home or longer if you haven’t done this in awhile (1 day per room).

– Throw out expired food items.

– Recycle or turn in hazardous waste from the garage and shed.

– Donate old and unused clothing.

– Toss or donate kids’ toys.

– Go through office files and shred, toss or recycle needless paperwork and magazines.

– Get rid of furniture that will not fit or go in new home.

– Don’t forget about the attic, basement, shed, garage and under the beds.  Sort and purge these areas too!

Schedule a donations pick up or plan a time to deliver these items yourself.


3-5 days worth of clothing for each member in the family.

Luggage to pack your clothing.

Toiletries for each member (toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, brush, shampoo, soap, makeups, hair dryer, etc).

Cleaning supplies for the old home and new home (broom, mop, disinfectant, gloves, sponges, rags, etc)

Set of tools for disassembly and reassembly (hammer, pliers, screwdrivers, tape measure, level, scissors, flashlight, batteries)

Permanent/Important files and other valuables like jewelry.

Warranties for the home and appliances to leave with the new owners.

A set of sheets and blankets to sleep on in new home.

Ice chest for food. Have plenty of water, soda, Gatorade and snacks (power bars, chips, cookies) for friends and movers!!!

Packing supplies: Boxes, tape, clear plastic bags for packing, Ziploc bags for parts, label makers, camera, permanent markers, labels, stickers, masking tape for glass frames and mirrors, inventory sheet, blankets and towels for packing.


Take photos of all your furniture and appliances so you have a copy of their condition before they were shipped in case you need to file a claim if your property is damaged by a moving company during shipment.

Take pictures of all your electronic wire hook-ups and plug-ins for your TVs, stereos, DVD players, computers, printers, scanners and speakers. You can use these pictures as a reference to set up your systems in your new home.

Label the cords of all your electronic components and chargers with a label maker or masking tape.

Take down all curtains, curtain rods, pictures, small shelves, wall hooks, door hooks, wall clocks, etc to make moving day much easier.

Keep screws, bolts, nuts, and other parts for each component or piece of furniture in a small plastic bag.  Attach this bag to the individual piece or keep all the parts in a separate “Parts Box.”

Pack heavy items on the bottom of boxes first, then fill with lighter items.

Fill boxes up to the top to avoid being crushed.

Use small boxes for books since they are extremely heavy.

Try to keep your boxes at 50lbs or less.

Use packing paper, plastic bags or newspaper (note: newspaper may leave black marks on your items)

Use colored tissue paper or different type of wrapping to distinguish delicate items.

Use your own sheets, blankets and towels.

Wrap cushions and pillows in large plastic bags to protect against the elements.

Mark large glass frames or mirrors with and “X” across the front using masking tape to protect against glass breakage or keep the broken glass together if it does break.

Keep clothes in dresser drawers instead of packing in a separate box.

Label boxes “UNLOAD/UNPACK FIRST” for items you want right away (kitchen and bathroom supplies, parts box, etc).


Identify and unpack your “UNLOAD/UNPACK” boxes first.

Completely unpack each box before moving on to the next one.

Break down boxes as you go.

Start another donation box for items that you did not purge before you moved.

Have plenty of water, sodas and snacks for the moving crew and for YOU!

I know…that’s a lot of tips!  But but take it from a gal with lots of experience moving, they’re all good ones!  I can’t guarantee a stress-free move because I don’t think such a thing exists, but I can guarantee  a much smoother, less stressful and organized moving experience if you follow these tips and suggestions. Oh, and beware “expert movers”…I’m just sayin’…

Photo Credit

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

harrisk May 9, 2012 at 1:19 AM

If you have done well with the packing and labeling packed boxes stuff then it will lead to a successful moving.

Steph July 22, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Just want to say “keep up the good work.” I love your website, I refer to it for almost everything! Just saying…

Vanessa Hayes July 22, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Thank you so much, Steph! You have no idea how much that means to me! People are usually pretty busy and I understand when they don’t have time to comment…but when I do get a message in my inbox like yours it is a real “pump me up.” I’m glad you like the site and find it helpful. Let me know if you have any particular “trouble spots” you’d like me to cover in the future. In the mean time, take care and thank you again for such kind words and taking the time to write them!

Mabel Perkins February 24, 2016 at 9:32 AM

The idea with the photos is brilliant. If you make a picture of all the furniture and the content of all boxes it will be really easy to unpack after that and to make sure that everything arrived safely! Thank you for the post!

Faye April 6, 2016 at 10:22 AM

I cannot thank you enough for sharing us an awesome post. Job well done!

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