Pack Knack

Friday, August 5, 2011

As our closing date for our new house is approaching, I've come to realize something a little startling: We have no idea how to pack.

I mean, sure. Throw things in a box, throw crap in the car/van/truck, take it to new house. It doesn't sound complicated, which is probably why I've never really put much thought into it before. But now that it is upon us, we don't really know where to start. It's one of those things that is so overwhelming, it's paralyzing.

I think back to all of the times that we've moved--to/from college four years in a row. And, well, when we moved into this condo six years ago. All of those times, we weren't moving much, since we were really only moving ONE ROOM worth of stuff for each of us.

Six years later, we've accumulated all of the things that make a place a true home. A couch, dishes, kitchen gadgets and appliances, dining room furniture, TV stand with large flat-screen TV, a whole set of baby furniture, tools, bikes, and it goes on and on and on. Needless to say, it's a bit more complicated this time around.

I'm left wondering how far in advance we should be packing things up. What we should pack up first. What we should leave for last minute on moving day. What size U-Haul we should reserve. How we protect big things (dining room table and chairs, for instance) from getting damaged. I'm thinking there should probably be a plan in place. If we wing it, I'm afraid the move will take FOREVER.

How does this work? Is there a proven method to this madness?


Angie August 5, 2011 at 10:33 AM  

One thing that has always helped me is start with the stuff you don't use every day. Pack up 'storage' first: stuff you have in the basement, or garage, etc. that is either holiday related or stuff you know you wont use before you move. Also one thing I did the last 2 moves I had that really helped is don't seal up your boxes yet, and label all 4 sides as well as the top. If you use the paper boxes that have lids, they are great because you can 'pack & stack' but still go back and move stuff around, or add to boxes if you need to! And by labeling all 4 sides and the top, you can stack and then dig later with out having to turn the boxes to see what they were LOL! By not sealing up you boxes, you can pack things you might use like ace bandages and other first aid items. Also I start with my books, then just put the boxes back on the shelves of the book case (if they fit) or stack the boxes near it, that way when you go to transport to the truck, they get moved 'together'.

As far as what size u-haul to get, they are really good about helping you with that. We always used whatever size they recommended knowing that we also have our vehicles as 'overflow' if you need it. Unless you have a lot of really large furniture, then go the next size up. Sometimes with all the moving I've done I feel like I could be a professional mover, and every move I say this will be the last before we buy a house, but alas I still end up moving every 1-2 years anyways! But good luck and start sooner than you think you should!

Bailey August 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM  

You should check with Emily from Daily Garnish. I'm sure she has some tips! I think she's moved about ones a year for the past few years, including across the country. I personally have only had small moves like you mentioned - from a dorm to an apartment, etc. So I really have no clue!

Anonymous,  August 5, 2011 at 12:08 PM  

I agree with everything Angie said. Some other tips:

- Number every box and keep a list of what's in each box (this helps if you've packed something you shouldn't have). And if you hire a moving company, they usually ask you to do this anyway.

-This is kind of obvious, but label each box specifically with whatever room you want it to go into in the new house.

- If you have a guest room, pack this up first, including furniture, and make it a box repository. Pack boxes into the closet, and in the back corners of the room.

-look on craigslist/freecycle for used boxes. Boxes are expensive.

-Near the end of packing, make special boxes that will help make things accessible when you first move in - paper plates, silverware, paper towels, cleaning supplies, bedding, bathroom, etc.

Sara August 5, 2011 at 12:38 PM  

As far as protecting the big furniture in the truck, U-Haul (or which ever service you use) can provide you with padded blankets to cover them with. You should be able to request however many you think you'll need when you reserve your truck.

My husband and I just moved into our first [town]house in May. We only had one room to move, but packing everything in a way to distribute into an entire house was so overwhelming.

Good luck to you guys! I hope you'll share pictures of your new place once you're settled. ^_^

Becky August 5, 2011 at 12:53 PM  

I started packing as soon as our inspection was completed. We packed as much as we could take over to the new house ourselves once closing was done. We had about 3 weeks between closing and our scheduled move date so everytime we went over there to clean or paint we brought two carloads of stuff. We first packed our folding table & chairs and cleaning supplies. It was nice to take a break cleaning or painting and actually have a table and chairs to sit at. One thing our movers told us was that they packed the back of the truck, floor to ceiling,and then put a box spring or bed against all of that stuff to "block it in" if that makes any sense. Then in front of the bed, pack another section floor to ceiling and put the second part of the bed up against it.

Good luck! I hate moving!

Anonymous,  August 5, 2011 at 2:57 PM  

Sharing your joy, Heather, as you, Michael and Nora prepare to move into your first-ever house!

I've been reading your blog faithfully since discovering it in February 2010 when I googled "Hostess cupcake recipe."

I'm a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers who resides in the Minneapolis area.

In August 2010, I had the privilege of working alongside the then-U.S.-president of NAPO on two large household relocation projects in the Seattle area.

In a nutshell, here's what I learned:

One ...
Pack by room; not according to what is, but according to what will be. In other words, decide which items from your condo you want to use in your new home, and in which room they will be used; pack accordingly.

Two ...
Sell or donate everything else before moving day, so you're only spending time and money transporting things you will actually use in your new home.

Three ...
Rent reusable heavy-duty plastic packing boxes (besides wardrobe boxes, just one standard size is available, which is great for stacking in the truck) with attached bi-fold lids (we used Karma Boxx in the Seattle area: Additional packing paper and clear packing tape to reinforce the bi-fold lids are sold at (i.e.) The Home Depot.

Four ...
You can never use too much packing paper. As far as damage or breakage is concerned, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Five ...
Professional movers disassemble all furniture and wrap every inch in moving blankets (the equivalent of medium-weight bedspreads) secured with miles of packing tape. (Couches, chairs, mattresses and box springs are wrapped, too. Drawers are not removed from furniture. Screws are contained and adhered to furniture.)

Six ...
Lamps are disassembled and packed in oversized cardboard lamp boxes, and framed wall art is placed in oversized cardboard picture boxes -- both sold by professional movers. All are padded with generous amounts of packing paper.

Seven ...
Leave hanging clothing on (uniform plastic tubular or wooden) hangars and hang in wardrobe boxes in the same order you want it to hang at your new home. Rent reusable heavy-duty plastic wardrobe boxes as mentioned in tip three above.

Eight ...
Last to be loaded on the truck is anything you need to use the first night and the first morning in your new home.

All said and done, unpacking at your new home will be as efficient and painless as possible.

Anonymous,  August 5, 2011 at 3:09 PM  

Forgot to mention, my husband and I relocated from the Seattle area to the Minneapolis area in April. It was a large household move. We did the packing ourselves, and hired professionals to do the moving.

Elizabeth August 5, 2011 at 4:47 PM  

I agree with Angie, Uhaul is really good about trying to help you pick the right size truck, though if you have lots of big things definitely go the next size up. When I moved last month we got the size that they recommended and ended up having to make 2 trips with it because we had so much big stuff.

As far as packing goes, definitely make sure you give yourself enough time. I thought we had enough time leaving ourselves a week before the move to pack and it was definitely NOT enough time. We had been in the same place for 4 years and I couldn't believe how much stuff we had accumulated over the years. As far as packing went we went room by room and started by packing up the things we didn't need to use. It also helped that we were super organized about labeling the boxes, so when it came time to unpack we knew what was in each box.

Good luck with the move!

Vanessa August 5, 2011 at 4:53 PM  

There are some great tips here!
I TOTALLY relate to what you describe as we just did this a few weeks ago and yes, it is different from packing in the college days!

My tips:

1. Plenty of bubble-wrap and paper. Do not scrimp on this - I packed carefully and not one thing broke.
2. Pack storage first.
3. Label everything as you go along - you will inevitably need something you've packed away.
4. START EARLY! Wrapping plates and glasses is intensely boring and time-consuming. I started 1.5 months in advance and spent every weekend packing stuff, so by the end it wasn't so overwhelming.
5. I packed all our china and glasses and used disposable stuff for a few days prior to the move.

It gets done, and you will settle in far sooner than you think!

In terms of moving large furniture, we got movers to do that rather than using a company like U-Haul. Really, it was money well spent. We packed everything ourselves, but they did the moving of large boxes and furniture into the truck and into the house, and dealt with the furniture. We took as much stuff as we could by packing things in large carrier bags. That service cost $200-$250 or so - money so well spent in saving our backs apart from anything else. Perhaps that's something to consider?

So excited for you! It is the best feeling in the world to move to a house you love, and that you know will be your long-term home!

Jen August 5, 2011 at 6:14 PM  

If I lived near you, I'd pack for you! I know it's weird, but I actually love packing & unpacking! I guess it's that crazy-organized part of me :)

Nicole August 5, 2011 at 9:34 PM  

Well, we have a POD in our driveway since we had to pack up our attic and basement before we listed the house-so we started with that stuff. Most of the things in the house we haven't touched yet and I'm dreading doing it-like you said, very overwhelming (wait until you move from a house to another house-SO MUCH STUFF!) I heard the earlier you start, the better though but it is hard when you use so many things here and there!

Mrs. B August 5, 2011 at 11:16 PM  

being a fellow Rochesterian - I have to recommend All Around Movers - we used them when we moved almost 2 years ago from our townhouse into our house - we had 2 bedrooms plus living room and kitchen and a full basement of stuff to move and they did it in about 5 hours - and they only charged $90/hr (granted that was 2 years ago) but still it was by far the best quote we had heard of! Couldn't have been happier than we spent the money for movers!! Good luck!!

Krystie August 5, 2011 at 11:36 PM  

Everyone has great tips! Since I JUST went through this a mere week ago my number one tip is label label label.

I'm type A. I need to know where my stuff is. I labeled every single box room by room. Then I color coordinated stickers ( red stickers up stairs, blue stickers down stairs, etc) And then I numbered each box. With that system I created a *master* list.

Mostly this was for the unpacking portion which is my least favorite. But I knew what was in each and every box!

We started off with garage so we had an organized place to put boxes that were being packed.

good luck!

Clint & Alicia McLaws August 6, 2011 at 2:43 AM  

I agree with what Angie said. We moved a LOT when I was a kid, because dad was in the Coast Guard. We used blankets to cover furniture in the truck to keep it from getting scratched.

Erin Maree August 7, 2011 at 7:52 AM  

Ok I have been involved in 9 moves, with my family and here are my tips:
Pack up all the things that you know you won't need before the move, (also if you can/want take pictures down off the wall).
Lable boxes by what room and what they have in them, say: DVD's home theatre/lounge room, that way when you unpack you can clearly see whats in the box and what room it belongs in.
Do a bit of packing everyday, it won't seem like such a big chore that way.
The night before the move sleep in sleeping bags, so your not dealing with sheets on moving day.
Pack Nora's room last, so she won't be unsettled by it all (she may not be, but chances are if her surrounds are changing, she may be a bit restless and seeing her room the same way will settle her)
Finally buy a heap of packing tape and leave it around the house, the chances are when you need it you won't be able to find it! Hope these tips help :)

nikinikinine August 7, 2011 at 10:59 AM  

we've hired a moving company for every move. They pack and secure everything and then give you an itemized list and then they unpack everything and anything damaged (which does happen occasionally) is covered by their insurance.

If we were going to be doing it by ourselves I'd pack up the rooms I use least in advance first, and then pack up the rooms we use most in order of use from there.

For example, my dining and guest rooms would be the first packed since we can do without them. Then the extra bathrooms. Then kitchen stuff that we can do without. With the nursery, playroom, our bedroom, our bathroom and our major kitchen stuff last to go.

In the past we've bought paper plates, forks, etc. to use so we could pack our dishware up and we've reduced our pots and pans down to one or two that we absolutely need to function, the rest can go.

Michelle August 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM  

Packing blows. I've blocked out our most recent move because it is such hard work but I will give you a couple of tips. LABEL everything. There is nothing worse than not being sure what is in a box. You will want to just throw random crap into each box but it is best to stay as well organized as possible, even if it takes a bit longer to pack. Label each box and make sure when you are moving that it goes directly into that room.
Also, if you move your clothes with them on the hangers, hang them up right away. Throwing them on the floor to be hung up later is a bad idea because they get tangled and fall off the hanger and it is double the amount of work.
It is a great time to get rid of stuff you won't use. Packing stuff up only to unpack it and then get rid of it is a waste of time. Donate donate donate!
And now I lost my train of thought. I'll email you if I think of more!

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