Moving house: Tips from an expert

Get boxes. Lots of boxes. Start collecting them early. You'll need a lot more than you realise.
Cristian Casanelles at Tempura

Get boxes. Lots of boxes. Start collecting them early. You'll need a lot more than you realise.

Are you moving? Whether you're shifting to an apartment or a house, upsizing or downsizing, planning is the most important thing you can do.

Packing 101

Start early. Packing always takes longer than people expect, and doing a little each day is much less stressful than trying to do it all right before your movers arrive.

You're going to need a lot of boxes and packing materials, and I mean a lot. Whatever your estimate is for what you think you need, double it. Really. Check local e-mail groups for postings offering free moving boxes. If you are using a moving company, ask whether the boxes and packing supplies can be dropped off several weeks ahead of your scheduled move date, or order boxes and packing materials online. Make sure you have boxes in a variety of sizes, from book boxes to wardrobe boxes.

Once you're ready to pack, go room by room and pack similar things together. Start by packing the rooms and items that are not in daily use. Pack your kitchen last, and label each box clearly with the contents and where you want it in your new home. Be as specific about the contents of each box as possible, especially with kitchen items. It will make unpacking so much easier. And even though it should go without saying, don't pack keys, computers, jewellery or important paperwork. Take them over to the house yourself and put them somewhere safe and out of the way so they're not misplaced.

Clean out now

Nothing motivates people to de-clutter and purge more than having to wrap, pack and unpack all of their possessions. You probably won't have time to clean out every room or every closet, but if you haven't used or worn something in a long time or no longer like it, don't pay the movers to transport it. Set it aside to donate, give away or sell prior to your move.

Prepare the new home

Whether you are buying or renting your new home, put some thought into any cosmetic changes that can be made before you move in. (Actually carrying out these changes might depend on how close your new place is to your current one.)

Painting will be easier without furniture in the room. Schedule a carpet cleaning at the new place and send rugs out for cleaning a couple of weeks before you move. If you're considering refinishing hardwood floors, you need to do it before you move. And remember, you are going to need some kind of window treatments in bedrooms and bathrooms, so get started early if you need to have the windows measured and blinds or curtains professionally installed. Even if you're going to do very temporary window coverings to begin with, know how many and what size you'll need, especially in private spaces. And last but not least, thoroughly clean your new home before the move.

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Once everything is in, it is much more difficult to do a comprehensive cleaning.

Plan the space

To save time on moving day and to give yourself some peace of mind, plot where you are going to put everything in your new place. If possible, take measurements, especially of key walls or spaces where big pieces, such as a sectional or media cabinet, could be placed. You probably will have to improvise a little on moving day, but you don't want to be debating furniture placement while the movers are being paid by the hour.

Think about the essentials

A couple of days before the movers arrive, buy the essentials: paper towels, toilet paper, laundry detergent, garbage bags and cans, and soap. Take them to your new home. Pack a couple of suitcases or boxes with clean sheets, blankets and pillows for each bed, bath towels and toiletries. That way you won't be scrambling to find your toothbrush and bedding at the end of your exhausting move day.

Organise the kitchen

Prioritise getting your kitchen unpacked and organised. From my experience, very few people — especially not families with young children — can function without a working kitchen. Nourishment during such a stressful and exhausting process is important. The sooner you can cook a meal in your new home, the sooner it will begin to start to feel like home.

Before the move, take pictures of your new kitchen and think about where it makes most sense to put everything. For instance, plates and dishes can go in the appropriately sized cabinet nearest the dishwasher; glasses can go in an upper cabinet near the refrigerator, and pots, pans and spices should be near the stove. If you have time prior to the move, label the cabinets and drawers with sticky notes to indicate where you think the items will go. This is especially helpful if you have friends or family members who are helping you unpack.

The moving calendar

8 weeks out: Start researching moving companies. Get at least two price quotes.

6 weeks out: Start going through drawers, cabinets and closets to identify things you want to donate, give away or sell. Begin to think about the layout of your new home and whether you need to sell or buy any major pieces of furniture.

4 weeks out: Choose a moving company and confirm the date. Be sure to get a price quote, arrival times and other details in writing.

4 weeks out: Get moving boxes and other packing materials. Start packing!

3 weeks out: Recruit friends and family to help unpack at the new place.

2 weeks out: Schedule a thorough cleaning of your new home.

1 week out: Confirm your plans with moving company. Go to your new home and map out where everything will go in the kitchen. It's easier to unpack when you know where you want to put everything.

1 day out: Deliver essentials such as toilet paper, hand soap, garbage bags, garbage cans, shower curtains and toiletries to your new home. Also, take over valuables including jewellery, artwork and important paperwork.

- Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik. 

- Do you have any tips to share? 

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 - The Washington Post

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