Give me your moving tips/tricks!
December 12, 2016 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Moving out of our apartment in 6 weeks. Looking for tips/tricks to get things done in an organized and fast way.

We are moving out of our 2 bed/2 bath apartment and into a 3 bed/1 bath in 6 weeks. We have a 5 year old with a disastrous amount of toys and incredibly disorganized closets. I know I should be doing packing in advance but I'm going to be honest: I'm not.

I'm looking to start packing two weeks before, a little at a time. I'll be hiring a moving company to move the boxes/furniture. Do you have any tips/tricks that helped you keep organized and kept the move going smoothly?
posted by Sara_NOT_Sarah to Human Relations (43 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
For me, the feeling I should be perfectly organized lets me dawdle and procrastinate until I stay up all night shoving things into random boxes. If I just started with that outcome in mind, I could have a much less stressful run up to moving.
posted by advicepig at 9:54 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Rubbermaid tubs. Buy as many as you can afford.

They last forever, have convenient handles, nest nicely when you're done with them, and stack nicely when the lids are on.

Also great for basement/garage storage/car-trunk storage...
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:56 AM on December 12, 2016 [11 favorites]

From my experience...
- Label the sides and top of boxes
- Color code rooms and boxes (to distinguish bedroom 1 from bedroom 2) so the movers can move the box there, rather than you sorting it later. This could be a good activity for a 5 year old ("here's a yellow marker, put a big dot on all the boxes in your room!")
- Setting aside a few boxes that should/need to be unpacked immediately and moving those yourself so you know exactly where they are
- Seconding rubbermaid bins with handles!
- it's okay to use garbage bags to transport clothes, just make sure you don't throw it out
- release all attachment from material goods*

*this may not be entirely possible, but moving is a great time to get real with yourself and loved ones and admit you don't need that shelf of books you've never read, the pants that are too big/small, or you will never use that set of dishes from college again
posted by thefang at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2016 [12 favorites]

Ask the moving company to bring wardrobe boxes. Nothing worse than piling hanging clothes in the back seat of a car.

Put the toys into clear plastic tubs with snap-on lids. I also do this for things like my scarf collection, curtains, etc. Anything non-breakable, things I need to find right away (like curtains), goes into clear plastic tubs.

For all else: I write what's inside on both the top and at least one side of the boxes. If you want to get fancy, buy Sharpies in different colors and use red for the kitchen, blue for the bathroom, etc. I also get a big box of packing paper from the place I buy boxes from. If you have any leftover, it's fine for washing windows, as it's basically like newsprint paper, and the extra $8 or whatever means no getting ink all over my hands when wrapping dishes.

I usually have a bag or plastic tub with things like toilet paper, fresh towels, and toiletries, in the car with me. This includes things like water or juice and snacks.

Honestly, if you can afford it, ask how much it would cost to have the movers pack for you. My daughter used to do this for a living, and she was incredibly fast at packing. Just make sure not to leave anything around that you want in the car with you (favorite kid's toy, cell phone, etc., I knew someone who left their phone on a side table and the movers put it in a box).

I usually throw out old mops and brooms, toilet brushes, etc., and buy new ones. That way, I have the cleaning supplies at the new place, and can use the old ones to sweep up at the old place.

When sorting, I have a throw away pile, a maybe keep pile, and a definitely keeping pile. The maybe pile lets me sort faster, without agonizing over it. When I get enough to fill a large trash bag or box, I take it to Goodwill. I find it easier to start in the bedrooms, because they are less distracting (to me) than the rest of the house.

I put the sheets into pillowcases, and those can go into suitcases or duffel bags. I do the same with shoes, they go into suitcases, or a laundry basket, where I can see things, nothing worse than hunting for your sneakers and forgetting where you packed them.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

Pack up and clearly label a few boxes with all the things you are going to need the first night/day: sheets, towels, toiletries, coffeepot, mugs, breakfast dishes, complete change of clothes for everyone.

Before you start moving things in, clean the new place. If you can afford it, pay someone to do it - you have enough to do with just moving. The dirt left behind when someone moves out is astounding. Wipe hair and crud out of bathroom drawers, vacuum everywhere, scrub insides of kitchen cabinets and fridge, wipe baseboards, clean windows.
posted by cecic at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Cardboard file boxes or Rubbermaid tubs are nice in that they are all the same size - you can stack 20 of them against a wall (4 deep x 5 wide) and take up virtually no space.
posted by 445supermag at 10:05 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Packing tape labeled by rooms! It's not the highest quality tape (keep a clear roll in a dispenser to tape up the box bottoms and only use the labeled stuff for the top), but it is a no-brainer way to label boxes.

This kit has two colors of bathroom tape. Use one for the stuff you will need immediately (hand soap, hand towel, and TP) and the other for the rest of the bath stuff. I also like to unpack the kitchen on day 1. With kitchen stuff only labeled in boxes with kitchen tape, you'll know when you're done. That creates a sense of order in the house even while the rest of your stuff is boxed up.

Also have a weekend bag packed for each person with a few changes of clothes, PJs, underwear, chargers, and toiletries.

Keep one giant tote bag with you on moving day and use it to hold anything loose, stuff you forgot to pack, the keys and paperwork for the new place, etc. Just throw it in there. The important thing is not that it be neatly organized, just that you know where to look when you need it.
posted by mama casserole at 10:07 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Here's what we did recently, and it worked well. A couple of weeks in advance, we took on the mindset that we do when we are on vacation: when we travel, we get by living with a handful of things that we have brought with us, in terms of clothes and necessities, and some entertainment. We set those things aside, and then packed the rest. So the couple of weeks felt like it does when we travel, which we already have mental categories for. In terms of the toys (we also have a bazillion), we let our kids keep a handful of their favorites that they wanted to play with, and packed the rest. (This also worked well for decluttering later, as it's pretty amazing how many toys they forgot that they had, or though that they needed.) We also transitioned to paper plates and plastic silverware for awhile, and ate out a few times more to pare down the food issue. What this allowed us to do is have everything ready for the movers, have a handful of things on hand that we knew we could live with, and then pack up those fewer things when it was time to go in a box or couple of suitcases. I hate moving with a passion, and this actually worked pretty well for us this time round.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:10 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

Space bags for clothing or anything fabric.
posted by vrakatar at 10:12 AM on December 12, 2016

Rubbermaid tubs. Buy as many as you can afford.

Nthing this. The last time we moved, I had to take a bleary-eyed early morning drive to WalMart, where I ordinarily never shop, to buy some more since I underestimated the number we needed. It was the only place open between the realization that "Uh-oh, we need more tubs" and the movers showing up, with time in between to pack said tubs.

But if, as you say, you've got lots of loose toys and odds and ends, these will make life way easier.

But they've come in handy for long-term storage of stuff (winter/summer clothes, etc) in the new place, and the extras nest and stack away nicely.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:15 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

As someone whose entire house textile contents is currently in vacuum bags, I do not recommend them for bulk use because they are heavy, very awkward for lifting/carrying, do not stack well. They do compress things nicely (and the suffocation is an excellent method of controlling a clothes moth infestation) but they are a pain in the ass to move, carry, stack or otherwise deal with.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:17 AM on December 12, 2016

I should also mention that the giant blue IKEA bags are pretty dang awesome for hauling a lot of stuff.
posted by thefang at 10:20 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I don't think that "2 weeks before" and "a little at a time" are really compatable. I think you can spend a whole weekend (full time) filling boxes from your kitchen and still not be done. Starting right about now might allow you to work on it a couple of nights per week plus weekends and get it done.

At the very least, you can start with the stuff that you shouldn't move. Go through your desk drawers and your kitchen junk drawer and throw out as much as you can. Also, if either or both of you have Life History Boxes somewhere (you know the ones), decide right now if you need it all or could eliminate 95% of highschool, etc.

Last tip: have one box with "day one" stuff -- toilet paper and soap, a set of towels and sheets (or sleeping bags) for everybody, a favorite toy, and enough dishes and cups to get through breakfast if you can't find the right kitchen box. Either carry it yourself or insist tha tit be put prominently (like in the tub or kitchen sink) in the new place by the movers so you don't have to force-unpack a bunch of stuff to get through the first day.
posted by acm at 10:25 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Rubbermaid tubs

Make sure to have lids, or movers won't put them in the truck
posted by thelonius at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

This is very controversial and will probably mess with people's sensibilities of all that is moral and good, but I've moved over 10 times in the last 7 years and I always pack my dishes and breakables in my clothes. Set all the clothes aside into sensible piles when you unpack the kitchen and then carry each upstairs to the bedroom wherever it's supposed to go. It's not that much extra work, saves a load of space and there's no waste.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:30 AM on December 12, 2016 [11 favorites]

plus, mugs full of socks with tights wrapped around the outsides is delightful and hilarious.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:32 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Get colored dot stickers and use one per room and then you can designate a room "red" or "blue" and the movers can just know where to put things. You can also stick them on furniture.

I really don't think you should do rubbermaid tubs for anything but stuff that will go into and stay in some kind of storage. For packing and moving, don't get liquor store boxes, get standard packing boxes (these kits are not bad honestly) because those will be easier to move for the movers and they all pack together nicely and your stuff won't be damaged. Invest in the proper stuff to move your nice glassware, also. Finding a box full of crushed wineglasses is not great fun. Do not pack books in giant boxes. Small boxes are best for books.

DO use your suitcases to pack your clothes. You own them for that, so anything that is in a drawer can just go into a suitcase.

As you pack go through "Keep, Donate, Trash" and designate someone to take the trash on the regular.

DO pack a "day one" box or boxes so that you have what you need on that first night. If you have help, it's nice to designate someone who can make the beds while you're directing the last of the movers or whatever you're doing. Making your bed is the last thing you're going to feel like doing at the end of the day. These were things I moved myself so that they didn't get lost along with my "overnight" bag with all the stuff I'd need that night and the next morning.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:35 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I am the same way as you and I am now about a week away from moving. I have a lot of packing to do, but instead of packing in advance, what I did was read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I went through all of my clothes and now I am about to go through my books. It will still be a frantic shoving of things into boxes when I move, but now I at least feel I am only bringing things with me that I really want.
posted by pazazygeek at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

To build in thefang's recommendation, we only label the boxes with name/contact info, room (I used colored Post-it labels), and a number. Then I used a Google spreadsheet to list the contents. This accomplishes two things. One, you don't have to scribble contents awkwardly with a Sharpie, and two, it's really easy to find things with a simple CTRL+F!

Also wholeheartedly agree to pack bags (suitcases?) with everything you'll need for the first day/night. Clean clothes, pajamas, towels, sheets, toothbrushes, paper towels, toilet paper, shower curtain, etc.
posted by radioamy at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I really don't think you should do rubbermaid tubs for anything but stuff that will go into and stay in some kind of storage. For packing and moving, don't get liquor store boxes, get standard packing boxes (these kits are not bad honestly) because those will be easier to move for the movers and they all pack together nicely and your stuff won't be damaged. Invest in the proper stuff to move your nice glassware, also. Finding a box full of crushed wineglasses is not great fun.

Seconding this. The tubs are great if you need to store stuff in tubs at your final destination after everything is unpacked, but if you don't have an empty unfinished basement or something they'll take up space in your house. When I lived in apartments, even a stack of empty bins wasn't something I really had extra space for. Until recently, I lived in a string of apartments and moved every year or so and I haven't had extraneous stuff that could just sit in a bin for an extended period of time. My method when I've moved, and I've only moved using my self as the packer - no outside movers other than friends and the company hooking a truck up to the trailer I packed, is to go to an office supply store and get a bunch of 10-packs of banker's boxes. They perform the same general function as the bins, but I can recycle them when I'm done. They're sturdy enough to stack a bunch up against the back wall of a trailer, but small enough that I can pack one full of books and still be able to carry it. To supplement the banker boxes I'll get a few large boxes from a moving store (18x18x24 is the biggest I'll risk without reinforcing the box with plastic wrap or a couple bands of packing tape), which I'll use for thing that don't fit in the little boxes - mostly kitchen stuff like pots and pans.
posted by LionIndex at 10:48 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Horrible horrible truth: clean first, pack second. You think you'll clean while you pack, magically producing X boxes of most-beloved toys, Y boxes of donation toys, Z bags of trash. In reality you'll pack boxes of trash. Spend the next two weeks brutally cleaning those closets, drawers, and shelves. Then go back and pack what's left.

You can, before you even do the cleaning, go into each room and box/bag/suitcase absolute bare essentials to live with over the next six weeks - you really can function with a fraction of your kitchen stuff for that long, and two sets of lounge/pajama clothing + 5 work outfits per adult (if you don't have a washer in your residence, you can go a little higher than this), and you don't have time to read more than one book per grownup because you should be cleaning and packing.

There are moving companies that rent plastic moving boxes, giving you the durability and stackability of bins without needing to buy and store bins.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:54 AM on December 12, 2016 [5 favorites]

If you have a lot of books or vinyl records, you want small boxes, lots and lots of them. Not large boxes.
posted by thelonius at 10:57 AM on December 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

Did you check with the moving company if you're supposed to pack everything up into boxes? Due to liability, some companies want to pack everything themselves and I've heard from friends of them coming in and unpacking all their packed boxes.
posted by just.good.enough at 11:24 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Things that have helped me in the past:

+ Do a declutter pass before you pack. Get rid of stuff you don't need, don't use, don't like. Closets, bookshelves, toy boxes, and kitchen cabinets usually have some some serious potential for thinning. There are some potential pitfalls here. Someone getting overly sentimental about items can turn this into a quagmire. I'd say just get rid of anything you can get rid of without too much drama or debate. Another issue is the "getting rid of" part turning into a major job. Just take it to goodwill or throw it out. Trying to find someone who will buy or find good use in all your items is a frustrating waste of time.

+ Home Depot sells cardboard boxes much more cheaply than other places. You'll probably need more than you realize.

+ Don't get too overly complex about organizing the boxes you pack. Just label them by room and let the movers put them there.

+ pack suitcases for everyone: a couple days' clothes, pajamas, toiletries, mobile phones and chargers, etc. This is helpful for your last night in the old place and the first day or two in the new place.

+ pack a clearly labeled necessities box: toilet paper, a bar of soap, wet wipes, a shower curtain liner and rings, a plunger, a flashlight, etc.

+ if at all possible, try to get in the new place to clean when it's empty. It's so much easier. (But if it isn't possible, don't sweat it.)

+ practice a little bit of good karma: leave a roll of toilet paper in the bathroom at your old place when you leave it.

Moving house is stressful, but you will have a nice new home in the end. Good luck with the move!
posted by Cranialtorque at 11:25 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

Do not remove your hung clothing from the hangers. Just pull them off the rack in clumps of about 10-20 items, loosely fold them into a roll around the hangers (make sure to keep delicate or light coloured fabric away from the hooks) and plop the rolls into giant Rubbermaid bins or double bag them in clear trash bags (clear so nothing accidentally gets tossed). Unpacking is so fast and easy if you do this!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:26 AM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

I've gotten freebie moving boxes from the "free stuff" section of Craigslist, including garment boxes, which were great. Start checking right now. I donated my Rubbermaid tubs on Goodwill/Salvation Army, so check there, too. The advice about living right now like you're on vacation and packing the rest is a good strategy.
posted by Elsie at 11:29 AM on December 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

The Rubbermaid people are right. I've been moving this way and frequently for years -- it's so easy and my moving people have actually thanked me for it. I use opaque ones and it's fine. I apply a big strip of paper packing tape to the side of each one and write the room on the tape. I like the ones with locking handles but you can also just tape the lids shut because sometimes they pop.

And n-thing to purge before you move. Clean first, organizing everything to match like with like. Then after you have everything sorted (I like to do a whole closet in a day and then rest for a day or two so you have fresh eyes), purge anything you don't use, anything in disrepair that will not be repaired.

After you think you are finished packing, you will find tiny and random items that don't fit anywhere. This is your GLURGE BOX. It is OK to have one Glurge Box. Label it glurge and move on.
posted by mochapickle at 11:37 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you can afford it, have your movers do the packing. They will do a much better job for you than you can do yourself and save you a ton of time and energy (assuming you hire a quality outfit, ie not necessarily just the cheapest guys you find.)

Purge before you move is crucial.

Label boxes by room-they're-going-into in the new place.

Pack a couple changes of clothes, coats, bedding, toilet paper, devices, device chargers, whatever you need for you Internet setup, some basic dishes and cookware, etc into a bin that stays in your car, not the movers van.
posted by fingersandtoes at 11:57 AM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

The last time we moved, there was a lot of frantic last-minute deciding of what to throw away or give to Goodwill or keep. I think the next time, I would get a really big box or Rubbermaid, and as you're packing, just toss everything (clothes, books, whatever) that you're not immediately sure you want to keep into the box. Once it's full, you can take a little break and then go through the box. It saves you from being paralyzed by having to make a decision for every item as you pick it up. If multiple people have to agree on getting rid of something, it also means you can all go through the box together instead of shouting questions at each other.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:14 PM on December 12, 2016 [4 favorites]

If you're not going to go buy rubbermaid bins or new moving boxes and are going to just swing by the back of the supermarket and pick up whatever they've got, it's even more important to color code, and you should do it with large (at least post-it sized 2.5x2.5) slips of colored paper taped securely to at least 2 if not 3-4 sides of the box. Trying to distinguish labeling from the Dole Canned Peaches logos is hard, don't just write on it in sharpie marker.
posted by aimedwander at 12:40 PM on December 12, 2016

- yes, just stick a garbage bag under your hanging clothes and keep them on the hangers.
- leave all clothing in your drawers, just remove them from the dressor.
- go to staples and buy heavy-duty packing boxes. Like, 100 of them. Get them in the smaller size so they aren't totally impossible to move.
- get a bunch of quart and gallon sized plastic bags with the slider tops. Use them for all the odds and ends - jewelry in one, hair ties and bobby pins in another, batteries, tape, etc.
- books go in duffle bags.
- rather than futz a around with clothes just wrap your dishes in newspaper. Way easier when it comes time to unpack.
- when it actually comes time to move, do: decorations first, then clothes (keep a small set of clothing for the next few days), then non-perishable kitchen and kitchen junk including dishes, then bathroom, then "utility" (junk drawers, under the sink, etc), then cleaning supplies and finally fridge and freezer.

Good luck. I agree that it's a fine line between being too organized and inefficient vs being just organized enough. I've moved 14 times in the last 12 years and when it comes to moving I think you should make everything as simple as possible but not simpler. So don't worry about color coding the boxes by room or whatever but do use baggies to keep interior contents of boxes organized.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:16 PM on December 12, 2016

Craigslist and NextDoor are great places to get moving boxes. However, I disagree on using random boxes from the grocery store. I did that once and my husband said it made it really hard move because they weren't all standard sizes and shapes and they didn't stack nicely or fit in the van well.
posted by radioamy at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

Tubs worked really well for toys for us. The best advice I read here was to pack a suitcase for every member of the family with clothes for a few days, toothbrush, toiletries, etc., plus 1 box of bedding + towels for the night. It took the stress out of having to find the essentials at the end of a long day.
posted by snowymorninblues at 1:29 PM on December 12, 2016

Moved twice in the past year, and I'm nthing the suggestions to use the mid-sized rubbermaid tubs. Seeing as how it's close to Christmas, there's usually a sale on them going on at Target/Walmart/Home Depot, etc... If you buy all the same type at the same time, they stack neatly together and all the lids fit standing up in the top bin, so it shouldn't take up a ton of room at the new place.

If you are like me and iamkimiam and feel the need to wash clothes after they've been moved from one abode to another, using them to wrap up glasses and plates is awesome. I've done it for every move since I was 18 and it works great, saves a lot of money on packing paper/bubble wrap, and while it does add some weight to your boxes/bins, that's what you're paying movers for!

Last tip I agree with, blue IKEA bags, if you've got an IKEA near you. 99 cents per bag, they're huge, strong, and have good handles. No matter how well you pack, there's always ALWAYS stuff that you need up until the last minute, or is weird shaped. IKEA bags are perfect for these items.
posted by sharp pointy objects at 1:32 PM on December 12, 2016

I live by the philosophy, "She who dies with the most Sterilite boxes wins."
I use the shoe box, sweater box and deep sweater box when possible. The larger ones are okay, but tend to warp and the lids tend to crack or stop sealing over time (as in decades). And never put a tiny item in a large box, you'll never find it again. A half full box of like items is better.
I've fallen down stairs carrying a long box. Don't do it.
I've lost fabric items after they have gotten wet in a cardboard box. Now it's clear plastic only.

Now -- the purge. Get four laundry baskets. Don't think about it; just drop items in.
1) Throw away: be ruthless. Would you go back into a burning building for it? Will it cost $20 to replace it? When was the last time you used it? How many of them do you have? Keep filling up those garbage bags and setting them by the door.
2) Sell / give away: your time is money. Don't sweat the small change. Will you get $20 for it? Can you get a tax write-off for donating it? Will they pick up donations at your residence? It's amazing what some organizations will take, and if they won't (old TVs and computers come to mind) it can go into the garbage pile.
3) Sentimental value: have you used it / looked at it in the last year? Will you look at it / use it next year? Fasten a tag with a date on it and if you don't interact with it, give it to someone who will. Set a limit on the amount of stuff that has no practical use. If something goes in, something else has to be discarded. Simplify, simplify.
4) Keep: now you are down to clothes that fit and have been worn in the last year, kitchen and bathroom supplies used in the last year, sports and hobby supplies that have been used... you get the idea.

Put the boxes in a corner of your new house and begin taking what you need out. After a couple of months, take another look and get rid of the things that you didn't actually need to "keep."
posted by TrishaU at 1:45 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

I understand you don't have time to Pack in advance, but can you [or a friend] clear out stuff now?
I'd suggest:
Clearing out old/outdated food from the entire kitchen/pantry.
Clearing out unwanted dishes and cooking utensils.
Clearing out paper to shred or to throw away.
Clearing out books.
Clearing out old clothes you no longer want.
posted by calgirl at 2:43 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

- Start culling now. Put aside some time to really look at your stuff and donate as much as you can manage to charity (or throw it out). It sounds like clothes, toys and bathroom stuff should be you're major culling sources.

- I know you said that you don't want to start packing, but I pack my books as soon as I know I'm moving. I can manage without books for 6 weeks, and the boxes stack in the bottom of the bookcase and don't get in the way.

- Matching boxes. Two sizes, smaller for books and other heavy stuff, larger for everything else. I've never used plastic tubs, so have no opinion on them, but if you're paying your movers by the hour, they go much faster when the boxes are easier to stack. Get them from somewhere that you can return them to, either used or unused, and buy more than you think you'll need (I store them in the bath tub during packing). Label two sides and the top (details on the top, room or single word on the sides). They will take the boxes first, so have them easy to access from the entrance the movers will use.

- I use linen (sheets etc.) to pack electronics and kitchen stuff. I keep clothes separate, and use newspaper for the rest of the breakables.

- If you have practical, helpful friends, ask them to come around the evening of the move and unpack your kitchen. My friends and I have done this for each other for years, and it's amazing. I doesn't take long for two or three people to unpack enough kitchen stuff to have a functioning kitchen. You'll spend the first few weeks working out where they put things, but it's soooo much better than rooting through boxes, and you can always rearrange it at your leisure. If you set up and make the beds while they do it, you've done the most important stuff the first day.

- There will come a point, sometime on the last day of packing, where you look at the rest of the stuff and think, "I cannot bear the idea of packing anymore boxes, I'll just toss the rest in my car and take it over myself". Resist this urge as long as possible. Yes, it feels ridiculous to fill an entire box with couch cushions, but it's better than carrying all those couch cushions yourself.

- Be extra careful (to the point of paranoia) to keep the screws etc that are needed to reassemble the furniture.
posted by kjs4 at 4:44 PM on December 12, 2016

Moved many, many times. I think SpacemanStyx nails one important aspect: taking care of you. Treat it like a trip, completely separate from the move.
Also, in my new place, I always carved out one little cave first. A place to sleep, to keep my suitcase.
Give away a ton of stuff.
posted by LonnieK at 6:23 PM on December 12, 2016

Write down everything that you need to remember in one place! Between now and the big day, any time you think of something that needs to be packed specially (or unpacked first, or whatever), write it down in that place. Moving-related to-do's as well -- anyone you need to notify re: your change of address, new parking permits, relevant phone numbers, etc. -- keep it all in one and only one place.

It's a great load off your shoulders to not worry about "did I remember all the things I wanted to remember about packing"...

You can also go a little nuts and just inventory your apartment, room by room. It will give you a sense of where everything is, and give you a chance to mull over all the things stuffed into corners that you're not sure you want to throw out. You don't have to pack anything yet! Think about it like looking through a scrapbook or something. Just sort of figure out enough so that you'll know you can handle it when you have to.
posted by miniraptor at 6:55 PM on December 12, 2016

Two weeks isn't enough time. Start now. 90% of the stuff around us is not what we need to live every day. Start with things like off-season clothes, fancy dishes you don't use all the time, books (it's not like you're going to go on a reading binge 6 weeks before moving), etc.

The weeding is worth doing and takes more time than you expect. Donating also takes more time than you expect. Research where you're going to take things and what they do/don't accept. If you're going to grab a receipt for itemizing your taxes, write down somewhere each and every item you donate.

Selling and giving stuff away takes longer than you think. People are flaky. I am in the process of moving now and have used CL and Facebook to get rid of things, sometimes for money, sometimes for free. There are now many Facebook pages called "YOUR TOWN Buy/Sell/Trade" or similar. Check local Buy Nothing groups for free giveaway spots. But leave a lot of time, because a large number of people agree to take something and then don't show up. Leave time to go to person 2, 3, 4.

Since you haven't hired a company yet, it's good to know that one thing they are going to ask for is an inventory. Walk through your house and make a list for each room of each hunk of large furniture, and an estimate of how many boxes of stuff you plan to move are in that room. This helps them estimate how many people and how many hours to plan for.

If your move is longer-distance, you can be charged by weight. That is a big, big incentive to get rid of crap that is cheap to replace or that you don't want in your new life. Those moves can shockingly cost thousands of dollars. The old Sauder beaverboard-laminate bookshelf from Target that got you through college is not worth what it costs to transport. Get rid of it.

Another thing you can do right now is research your new utility setup and call ahead to make appointments to turn on cable/internet, gas/heat, water, electricity.

Look now and see when your last big recycling and trash days are. Schedule a Bulk Waste Pickup for the week you're leaving. You may not think you'll have bulk waste but chances are you will.

Make a list of damage/changes you've made to share with your old landlord on your final walk-through. People often recommend hiring a cleaning service after you move out rather than cleaning the place yourself. After you've moved your stuff out the last thing you're going to want to do is clean your old house.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on December 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

When I move, I put my own label with a box number on everything, and then keep a journal with what is in each box by label number. If a box gets lost, you know what is (was) in it.
posted by freezer cake at 12:17 PM on December 13, 2016

Late to the thread, but since no one has mentioned - cling wrap. You can buy cling wrap on a handle, and wrap it around everything. It keeps drawers from sliding out. Or, even better, it keeps stuff inside drawers so you don't have to take stuff out of them at all (omg, that was so awesome, really). Obviously, not breakable stuff, but it was great for clothes.
posted by timepiece at 10:27 AM on December 21, 2016

Also, yes, most boxes can just be labeled by room. But if you're not very close to a cafe or deli, mark which box the coffeemaker is in (and make sure the actual coffee, filters, carafe, sugar, etc. are in the same box).

You will thank me for this advice.
posted by timepiece at 10:33 AM on December 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

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