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12 Moving and Packing Tips


Moving & Packing Tips

When I was in college, I frequently moved—often once a year or more. Moving then was annoying, but compared to moving with a family, it was easy. When our family moved from Chicago to Tucson eight years ago, I learned some moving and packing tips that made the move smoother, which was important because moving with a family of five is a lot different than moving myself as a college student with minimal belongings. Now, we’re in the throes of moving cross-country again, this time from Arizona to New York. I’m utilizing my old moving strategies and adding more, which is even more important this time because my kids are teens, and we have a lot more to move!

12 Moving and Packing Tips

Next time you move, try these techniques

Declutter, Declutter, Declutter

As you’re packing, declutter, declutter, declutter. If you haven’t used something for a year or two, toss it or give it away. As much as I find moving a pain, I also like it because I get to purge the whole house and start with a clean slate at our new home.

As you go through your belongings, separate them into throw, give, and pack. If you have personal items that you still want but don’t need, consider taking pictures of them and tossing them. For instance, in first grade, my son laminated a two-foot picture of himself wearing a Santa hat. Instead of packing that for New York, I took a digital photo of it and then tossed it. Take pictures of crafts your kids made that you want to keep for sentimental value.


You can donate other items that are still in good shape that you no longer need. We’ve donated two minivan loads full of belongings as we pack for this move. I’ve given away pots and pans that we no longer use, outgrown kids’ clothes, books we’ve read, etc. I have two favorite ways to donate.

Big Brothers & Big Sisters

You can call Big Brothers & Big Sisters and schedule a pick-up. They will come to your house, pick up all of your donated goods, and use them to fund their organization. However, they’re usually booked a few weeks out, so if you need to get rid of your stuff immediately, this option won’t work.

Join a Buy Nothing Group

You can also join a local Buy Nothing group and advertise things you want to give away. You’ll almost always find someone who is happy to take the items off your hands.

If I can’t utilize either of those options, then I donate them to Goodwill because I can do so immediately.

Get Free Moving Boxes

I never buy moving boxes because there are so many places to get them for free.

Grocery Stores

The last time I moved, I had great luck stopping by grocery stores and getting egg and banana boxes. However, now, the produce manager told me eggs come in reusable containers. Instead, he gave me apple boxes.

Your Realtor

Moving and Packing Tips

Our realtor offered to email us if anyone who had recently moved was getting rid of boxes. In less than a week, I had a supply of moving boxes from one of her clients who had just moved to the area. See if your realtor offers the same option.


I haven’t tried this one, but a friend said she gets her boxes from Michael’s, the arts and crafts store.

Packing Tips

I used to move and write on the side of the box which room the contents were for and a few of the items that were inside. But this wasn’t descriptive enough for me, so now I use a different system.

Create a Master List

Now, I keep a master list. I give each box a number, then type up a master list that gives the number, what’s inside, and whose room it goes to. When we unpack, we can consult the list to find the items we want and to know what boxes to unpack first.

Color Code Boxes

I color code the boxes to make it easier to tell the movers where to put them. I put colored tape in the corners of each box. The colors correspond to the room where they need to go. To make the process even easier, I put a piece of tape on the door for easy reference as to where the boxes need to go.

Use Plastic Mattress Covers

We put our mattresses in plastic mattress covers, so they’re not dusty and dirty when we’re ready to use them.

Keep All Furniture Parts Together

When we take apart furniture like bed frames, we put the hardware in a baggy and tape it tightly to the furniture, so we will have it when we are ready to reassemble it.

Buy a Dolly

Moving and Packing Tips

One day of packing and moving boxes filled with my daughters’ books made my back ache. Moving was easy when I was young, but my back hurts much faster in middle age. I spent $100 to buy a dolly for this move, and it has repeatedly paid for itself. We’ve extensively used the dolly, and while we’re still sore, we’re not as sore as we would be without it.

Unpacking Tip

When you arrive at your new home, prioritize putting together the bed frames and making the beds. Also, make sure you carry toiletries, pajamas, and clean clothes when you move so that you’ll have pajamas for the first night and a change of clothes for the next day.

Final Thoughts

Moving with a family can be an arduous chore, but these moving and packing tips can make it easier. Enjoy the process of purging and then moving to a new location to start a new life with less “stuff.”

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