Last time we talked about apartment hunting, now we’re ready to get organized, declutter and pack it up!
Here are some great tips for an organized move, especially on what you can do well in advance of actually moving.
- Create a box or basket of moving supplies. You want one place to hold packing tape, scissors, your labeling pen, etc. You also want an organizational system for all the pins, pens, screws and batteries you’ll come across. (Make sure to separate the working batteries from the dead.) I like to use little jewelry boxes and small plastic containers to hold these items. After each box is sealed and labeled, the packing tape and Sharpie are immediately returned to this basket.
- Tackle the garage (or wherever your junk space is). Our storage closet is tiny and packed. It’s the electronics graveyard; the “I don’t know where to put this” place; the “I’ll get to it later” storage. We started by pulling out those “I’ll fix it later” big items and giving them away on Craigslist. We got rid of everything from a broken TV to wood scraps from broken down chairs. When it comes to the CL free section: If you post it, they will come. Next, we filled boxes for two different charity curbside pick-ups. Then, we found a bunch of small items to sell on Craigslist. From there, we started packing and cleared a ton of space to store packed boxes from the house.
- Evaluate your outdoor items. Picture the items in your new backyard or patio and let go of anything you won’t need, won’t work in the new space, or isn’t worth the work to move. Our current house has an uncovered patio and a huge and mostly unshaded backyard. Our new house has a nice covered patio, two SMUD shade trees, and is significantly smaller. We immediately posted our pergola for sale, and later our 10 ft outdoor shade umbrella. We sold all our plastic patio furniture and the giant trampoline. We netted about $300 from it all.
- Go through closets, cupboards, and drawers. Try on clothes you haven’t worn in a while. Try out all those random pens you find. Test batteries. If you see an item you haven’t used in awhile, imagine packing it up, carrying the box in the move, and then unpacking it. If it doesn’t seem worth the hassle, it’s not. It’s embarrassing how much I found stuffed in the bottom of our china cabinet that we didn’t need. I also had many “Oh THAT’S where THAT was!” moments. In the bathroom, I found expired OTC medications and beauty products I’ll never use. In the past, these were the things that got packed in a rush with no time to evaluate usefulness. In my dresser, I found T-shirts I’ll never wear again, and in the closet, neckties my husband has literally never worn and would never wear.
- Examine your kitchen items. Match lids to containers. Look in the very back of cupboards to find those items you’re probably never going to use again. I parted with random bowls and cups. I discovered our orphan lid situation was worse than I first thought. TOSS!
- Pack the items you won’t need until you’re in your new house. Books, my china set, vases, board games, extra linens, photo albums and decorative items were first on my list. I like to use supermarket fruit boxes for books. They hold a fair amount without becoming too heavy. Many have handles, too.
- Take down anything you’ve put on the walls, and take down the shelves from emptied bookcases. I have my own light-switch covers, so I swapped those back with the standard ones. We took down the shelves we’ve put up, the outdoor hanging candle holders, etc. Again, for me, these were the things that would normally get left for last. I packed the small media shelves into a sturdy box with the bag of the shelf screws so everything is in one place and easy to transport.
- Create a furniture inventory. List and measure every piece of furniture so as soon as you can get into your new home, you can plot where everything will go. This also ensures you’re not moving anything that won’t fit.
- Pack your priority items — fresh linens, bathroom and kitchen essentials — in easily recognizable containers. These are the things you unpack first, so you don’t want them lost in a stack of boxes. I’m using my luggage set to hold a fresh set of bedding, clean towels and the bathroom items I’ll need right away. I’ve put aside one bathroom bag to pack the day of, so I will know exactly where my medication, toothbrush, and favorite body wash are.
- Label everything immediately. List the designated room, the contents and the priority of the box. I have boxes I want taken to their designated room immediately, and boxes that can sit in the garage until I have time to unpack. For example, dishes are a top priority, whereas my box of cookbooks and cookie cutters is labeled “non-essential,” because they can sit in my garage for a month, and I’ll live.
- Take notes. Alphabetizing makes me happy, but I knew that as I packed up my CDs, that ABC-order I so love would get a little mixed up in the boxes. To solve this problem, I used paper placeholders to mark the beginnings and ends of shelves within the box. If I opened a random box, all I had to do was look at the first placeholder to tell me where to shelve that stack of CDs. “Shelf 4 begins with Jet,” for example.
- Take pictures. Books are one thing I don’t alphabetize. I arrange books by genre and, of course, group books by the same author. Having a picture of my bookshelf before I packed up my books made all the difference. All I had to do was pull it up on the computer and I could glance it at it from time to time to ensure each book went into its designated place.
- Clean bedding, curtains, rugs, etc. Immediately before the move is the perfect time to steam, shampoo or launder those items that might otherwise arrive at your new house less than pristine. Everything we took down went immediately into the wash. That meant as soon as curtains came off the rods, into the machine they went. While the bed was stripped off all bedding, we went to work vacuuming and steaming it. Don’t forget small appliances and knick-knacks. While I am obsessive-compulsive about organization, I am far laxer when it comes to cleanliness. This means little things like the spice rack, the paper towel holder and the utensil holder don’t get cleaned nearly as much as they should. I wanted everything like-new again for the new house, so I spent some serious scrub-time to shine everything up.
- Keep handy a portable file tote with any papers you may need in the next month. My move happened to coincide with a whole bureaucratic mess to deal with, so that file tote was my life-saver. It’s also a good way to keep coupons in one safe place. I have a large four-drawer file cabinet, but making the file tote my go-to spot for papers just simplified things.
- Stock up on household essentials and grocery shop for far more food than you think you need — preferably a variety of easy-to-prepare items. At the end of a long day of moving, running to the store for pack of paper towels or a gallon of milk is the last thing you want to worry about. And easy-to-prepare doesn’t have to be frozen. Think fixings for sandwiches, cheese, rice and dry beans for burritos, and fruit and granola bars for quick snacks.
NEXT TIME: Now that we’re packed, let’s do the move!