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How to Pack Your House for a Move

Updated on October 27, 2011

If you're feeling overwhelmed by your upcoming move, you're not alone! You thought that finally settling on the right house or apartment meant the tough part was over, but getting all of your stuff organized into boxes and then taking it all out again at your destination is the real obstacle to moving.

Here is a great system to get you packed up and organized in no time!

The Supplies

Packing Tape
Colored Markers
Lined Notebook & Pen
Colored Ribbon
Clear Plastic Recycling Bags
Construction Paper
Container or Bag (to keep all of your packing supplies contained!)

The System

Here's the deal. Plan as you intend to go on and think about the rooms in your new place and what you'd like to use them for. Once you know what you'd like things to look like on the other end, start following the steps below.

1. Write down each room in your new place on a separate page in your notebook and assign each room a color. If it helps, write the name in the designated color or scribble a bit at the top of the page to aid your memory.

2. As you fill boxes in each room, number them and write down important items and general categories in your notebook. Write the number, room and contents categories on the side of the box as well with the colored marker.

3. Anything light that won't fit into boxes (like duvets, door wreaths, etc.) can be put into the clear plastic bags. Tie them with a colored ribbon that matches the room it's going into (as marker doesn't write very well on the bags!).

4. For all of your essential items (that you'll need right away in the new house) purchase an extra large plastic tote and keep anything you can in there. Check out the list at the bottom for suggested items!

5. On moving day, head to the new house before your moving crew gets there and mark each of the rooms/areas with colored construction paper. Writing the room on the paper can also be helpful.

The idea is, if you've color coded your boxes your movers can easily put boxes into the proper rooms without your constant supervision. You'll have enough to do on moving day without standing at the front door directing.

Life Savers

  • Don't plan on cooking your first night in the new place. Order in for your family and any helpers. Plan ahead and pack paper plates, cups and utensils in your essentials box.
  • Have a bucket with cleaning supplies and rubber gloves ready to clean the new place when you arrive. The more you get scrubbed before everything's covered with boxes the better! The gloves are a good addition since it's someone else's dirt and germs you're cleaning!
  • Numbering your boxes can also help you know which boxes to unpack first. Chances are you'll pack the least important items FIRST, so when you're ready to unpack, look for the boxes with the highest numbers!

Essential Items

Chances are the items you need right after moving are the same ones you'll need the last few days in your old home as well. Keeping a plastic tote around to store the items in them after you've used them the last time can be a great time saver. Here are some items you'll want to make sure you have!

  • 2-3 Days of clothing for all family members
  • Phone
  • Cleaning Supplies & Tools (like brooms, dustpan, etc.)
  • Non-perishable foods: peanut butter, crackers, COFFEE!, pasta and pasta sauce, soup, etc.
  • Toiletries for everyone (including toilet paper!)
  • Basic kitchen utensils & appliances (coffee maker, sauce pan, skillet, dishes, etc.)
  • Your Packing List!

You'll probably have a few more items that are important (maybe a laptop or portable DVD player to help keep the kids distracted if they're not at a friend's), but this list will get you started.


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