How to Pack Up and Move in Ten Easy Steps (or Eight, or Whatever!)

Or not.  Really, it’s not as hard as it might seem.  Okay, okay, I really dropped the ball on this “series” regarding my adventures in moving, but maybe this will help make up for it.  Moving really isn’t as painful as you might think.

Step One.

Find a new place.  This is the fun part.  Well, it can be fun if you have basic decision-making capabilities.  It’s kinda cool to see beautifully arranged homes or apartments, those magazine-worthy decorating techniques, and you can get a lot of good ideas.  Just don’t let that overly influence your choice – be practical, and check location, distance from  your usual destinations, traffic, neighbors, general condition, and so forth.

Of course, it makes a big difference whether you’re moving locally or long-distance.  Let’s stick with local, because in some ways it’s easier – less careful packing, for example – but mostly because for this move we’re just going down the road…and the next, and the next.  But we’ve done both kinds, and there are some basics, either way.  We have, after all, moved two states away with two weeks’ notice.

Step Two.

Change everything: Internet, phone, address, utilities, etc.  You can usually do this online, even a couple weeks ahead of time.  Just be sure to put down the correct  dates, so you have all your “comforts” in the old place until you leave and have everything turned on at the new place when you arrive.

You can book a moving truck then too – or hire movers, usually the sooner the better.  Some months are more popular for moving and you don’t want to be stuck with just one pickup truck and two friends to move all your junk.

Oh, and about that address change – you can take care of most of your mail via the USPS, but you’re also going to have to change this with individuals, like credit card companies, banks, and so forth.  Take care of these as the mail arrives, about a month before you actually move.

Step Three.

Clean out all the crap.  Throw away whatever you don’t need or want, as long as you can’t imagine anyone else needing or wanting it.  Give away whatever you can.  If you want to have a sale, beware!  I’ve heard of people making money at these things, but having held oh, approximately 20 garage/yard sales over the years, I have yet to make enough to be able to say: Wow, that was AWESOME!  I’m RICH!


There are several organizations with whom you can schedule a pick-up for all the unwanted stuff you find.  Make a stack or pile somewhere out-of-the-way, in the garage, the basement, or an empty room.  Call a couple weeks ahead of time, and voila!  No more junk.

Step Four.


No one likes this part.

First, take everything off the walls and pack it up.  It’s a great idea to pick the least-used room in your home, move the furniture to the walls, and start filling that room with packed boxes.  A lot of “wall” things can’t actually be packed, so this way you have a place to stack them.

Get a container of spackle and fill all the holes.  This is best done with two people; after the first one has examined every wall, and filled the holes, have the second individual re-examine those walls.  Trust me, after staring at blank walls for a few minutes or so, you start to either miss things or see invisible ones!

Step Five.

Pack up all the knick-knacks.  This part earns another “blech.”  Have lots of newspaper on hand, not to mention boxes.  You can live without these things, just living with blank walls, for a few weeks.  Get it done, already!  You might be amazed at what you actually can do without and might decide to make it permanent – fewer things to dust, after all.  Include books in this section – honestly, you’re going to be too busy to read for a couple weeks!

Step Six.

Closets.  Off-season clothes can be packed for the long haul, and believe me, you’ll likely find a number of things that just don’t “work” for you anymore – put them immediately into the sell/throw away pile.  Pack up the rest however, if you’re moving locally, you can just take them out of the closet and put them in the car; hang them back up when you get to the new place and you’re done.  Less to pack. 

Later, when you get down to the last few days, you can pack up everything except what you’ll be using until the move – and this works with many things besides clothes.  Oh, and it’s just as easy to leave clothes in drawers and remove the whole drawer instead of using up more boxes.

Step Seven.

Drawers and cabinets.  Pack up all but the essentials as soon as you can, and remember to keep downsizing as you go – dishes  you haven’t used all year, or for longer, utensils, extra towels and sheets, all these things can be tossed or packed at least a week ahead of the move.

Step Eight.

Food.  Use up stuff in the freezer and fridge because, no matter how long or short the move, it’s always a pain to keep things cold/frozen.  Ditto for your pantry, and be sure to donate that stuff you don’t actually remember buying – and can’t imagine eating!

Okay, so far we’ve cleaned off the walls/tables/shelves, cleared out closets and drawers and cabinets, and the fridge and cupboard are looking a lot Old Mother Hubbard’s.  What’s left to do? 

Well, first – your office.  Whether it’s a full-fledged home office or just a place to keep bills, important papers, etc., you do have to pack it all up too.  I’m deliberately avoiding this section, simply because everyone has their own methods and madnesses.  I, for instance, have a complex filing system: I carefully place each piece of paper in the bottom file drawer, on top of the neatly organized folders that I seldom use; along about August or so, the drawer will either A) not close or B) not open.  That’s when it’s time to find a box.

Unfortunately, I’m moving in July so, while the drawer does indeed still open and close, I had to find a box.  I keep it next to my desk, in case there’s something important that I need to find.  There usually is.  On the bottom.  A tiny piece of paper on which I wrote SOMETHING that I MUST HAVE NOW.

And, of course, there are all the little things that must be packed before you actually leave.  This is where you can get creative because, naturally, all the other boxes are taped and marked at least with the name of the room they’re supposed to go into, right?  Right?  Okay.  Whew.  I was hoping you hadn’t missed that part. 

The last boxes are the ones into which you throw absolutely everything: your toothbrush, dog biscuits, your morning coffee cup, the pens that you found behind your desk, the extra buttons you’ve been meaning to sew onto something, the DVR, and so forth.  You’ll probably find what you need, when you need it, regardless of which room it ends up living in for a while.

Tomorrow, or maybe the next day, we’ll cover “how to clean so you get back your deposit or leave the place fairly nice for the new owners”.


One comment on “How to Pack Up and Move in Ten Easy Steps (or Eight, or Whatever!)

  1. Really loved your writing style. The last part about just throwing in toothbrush and doggie biscuits was hilarious. You reminded me of myself when I was packing and trying to move two years ago. I had so much stuff I just got tired of packing in a neat and orderly fashion and ended up just throwing all kinds of things together just to get the move done! lol


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