A few general things you need to know about packing
- Keep boxes to 50 lbs or less. Put heavy items in small boxes and light items in big boxes.
- Pack non-breakables tightly in smaller boxes, so they’re not too heavy.
- Buy clean newsprint to wrap items, and bubble wrap for padding.
- Pack breakables loosely in plastic storage bins with lots of bubble wrap.
- Rent furniture pads.
- Mark your boxes by room, so you know exactly where everything goes. Color coding or using a number system works great (i.e., red stickers for bedroom or 1 for bathroom.).
- Write “FRAGILE” on all boxes with breakables and stack these boxes on top.
Packing the big things
- Beds: Tie bed frames together with tape or rope. Then label the pieces so they’re easy to reassemble.
- Bureaus: Fill drawers with clothes or fragile, well-wrapped items. Cover with a blanket or furniture pads and rope securely.
- Tables: Remove legs, pad and tie together. Put nuts and bolts in a bag and tape under tabletop.
- Big appliances: Empty, defrost and drain the fridge, freezer and dishwasher. Clean the interiors and put accessories in bags. Stuff towels between washer sides to prevent rotating and tape down moveable parts. Cover with blankets and tie.
- Computers, TVs, & Electronics: Use original packaging, or buy electronic-specific boxes.
Packing the small (but still important) things
- Small appliances: Put your microwave, VCR, etc. into boxes, and cushion with wadded paper.
- Books: Pack them flat in small cartons, alternating bindings. Try to keep each box under 30 lbs.
- Clothing: Pack hanging items, including drapes, in wardrobe boxes. Leave small items in drawers.
- Collectibles: Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and tape securely. CDs: Pack upright and cushion with newspaper.
- Kitchenware: Stack pots & pans, and cushion with paper. Put a few of these items in the “open first” box. Dishes: Never stack them flat. Wrap each piece in bubble wrap. Pack plates & saucers on edge, with cups & bowls placed around them.
Packing the awkward things
- Chairs: Wrap arms & legs with bubble wrap. Leave slipcovers on or buy chair bags for protection.
- Bicycles: Loosen the handlebars and turn them sideways. Cover chains and pedals to keep grease off other items.
- Mirrors, artwork & frames: Wrap small pieces in newsprint and pack in mirror boxes. Cover larger pieces with cardboard, tape securely and stand them along the truck’s sides or inside wardrobe boxes.
- Lawn furniture: If heavy or bulky, disassemble. Put nuts and bolts in a bag and tie together.
- Rugs: Roll up and secure with rope or tape.
- Plants: Put in plastic bags with air holes, then in boxes. Water before you leave.
- Power and garden tools: Wrap all sharp edges and use plenty of cushioning to prevent injury. Tape long-handled tools together and place small ones in boxes.
- Lawn mowers/yard edgers: Empty gasoline from all tanks, and check for oil leaks.
- Garage & attic stuff: Use medium-sized boxes for spray paints, brushes, car waxes, etc. Throw away oily rags or anything combustible.
- Pets: Always keep them in a pet carrier up front with you. Ask your vet how to make their, and your, move less traumatic.
Two Months Prior to Moving Day
- If you will use a mover, get a few estimates from moving companies.
- If you will move yourself, get costs from at least two truck rental companies.
- Create a floor plan of your new home for furniture and appliance placement.
- Make an inventory of your household goods and begin to remove clutter (start with the basement, attic, garage, and other storage areas).
- Start a file for all your moving paperwork (estimates, receipts, etc.).
- Arrange to transfer school records.
- Choose a mover (or truck rental company).
- Get your new home ready – Contact painters, carpenters, plumbers, roofers etc., so your home is ready when you arrive. Remember to change the locks on all the doors in your new home.
Six weeks prior to Moving Day
- Obtain and fill out post office change-of-address cards.
- Subscribe to the paper in your new hometown to learn more about your new community.
- Make arrangements for storage if necessary.
- Ask your doctor or health plan provider for referrals, and obtain all medical records.
- Have antiques, pieces of art, and other valuables appraised.
- Clean all closets and drawers.
- Start using foods and cleaning supplies that cannot be moved.
Four weeks prior to Moving Day
- Schedule disconnection of all utility services at your old home, and connection of them at your new one. Be sure to disconnect the day after you leave and connect the day before you arrive. If you have “last month” deposits with services, such as the telephone company, request your refund.
- If you are moving yourself, reserve a rental truck.
- If you are packing yourself, obtain packing materials and start packing items you won’t need until after you arrive at your new house. See our Packing Tips.
- Arrange for cleaning and repair of furniture, drapes, and carpeting.
- Arrange for special transportation of your pets and plants if necessary.
- Check with your insurance company to see how your possessions are covered during transit.
- Make any travel plans necessary for your move.
- Check to see if you need any moving permits.
- Plan your moving sale. Remember to check with local authorities about restrictions.
- Collect your important records — Gather personal and family records, including medical and dental, veterinary and school records; legal and financial documents; birth certificates, passports and insurance documents.
Three weeks prior to Moving Day
- Properly dispose of items that cannot be moved, such as flammable liquids.
- Prepare auto registration for transfer (if moving to another state).
- If you are moving in or out of an apartment, arrange for use of the elevator.
- Make child-care arrangements for moving day.
- Hold your moving sale.
Two weeks prior to Moving Day
- Arrange for disposal of anything not sold at your moving sale.
- Service your car in preparation for the move. If you’re moving from a warm climate to a cold one, check your antifreeze.
- Return any borrowed items (including library books) and retrieve any loaned items.
- Cancel newspaper delivery.
- Notify any creditors of your move.
- Transfer prescriptions and be sure you have an adequate supply of medications on hand.
- Assemble a file folder of information to leave for the new owner of your home.
- Change your address – One week before your move, send change-of-address cards to everyone who will need to contact you.
- Pick up laundry — Laundry tickets are easy to misplace, so ask for your things by name and not just by the receipts you have.
- Pack a travel kit:
Put aside critical items like a checkbook, credit cards, personal phone book, ID, flashlight, keys, toiletries, tools, paper plates, cups, towels, travel alarm clock, aspirin, bandages and games for the kids. Also, pack a suitcase with clothing and other personal items.
One day prior to Moving Day
- Transfer your bank accounts.
- Take animals to vet for immunization, if necessary.
- Close and empty your safe-deposit box.
- Settle any bills with local businesses.
- Drain power equipment of oil and gas. Drain water hoses.
- Find new homes for plants that will not be moved.
- Confirm any travel reservations.
- Drain your waterbed.
- Defrost refrigerator and freezer, propping doors open.
- Let movers pack your belongings (unless it’s a do-it-yourself move).
- Disconnect and prepare major appliances for move.
- Set aside anything that will travel in your car so it will not be loaded on the truck.
- Pack a box of items that will be needed first at the new house. Clearly mark this box “Load Last.”
- Obtain cash or traveler’s checks for the trip and to pay the movers.
- Confirm arrival time of your moving van/truck.
- If moving yourself, dismantle beds and other large furniture.
- If using a mover, be sure someone is at the old house to answer questions.
- Note all utility meter readings.
- Read your bill of lading and inventory carefully before signing. Keep this paperwork in a safe place.
Delivery Day – Again, be on hand to answer any questions
- Check your belongings carefully and note on the inventory paperwork any damaged items.
- On an interstate move, be prepared to pay the driver before your possessions are unloaded.
- Supervise unloading and unpacking.
- Be prepared to pay your mover with cash, certified check, or traveler’s checks unless other arrangements have been made in advance.