You’d really have a hard time finding many folks who enjoy packing for a household move. Still, if you are moving, the packing part must be tackled — whether you do it yourself or hire a crew to do it.
“Packing is expensive, time-consuming and stressful,” said Denise Baron, a home and lifestyle expert in Philadelphia.
If you’re going the DIY route, here are nine tips to make the task simpler:
1. Clear out the junk
Get rid of items you don’t plan to move to your new place, said Lori Matzke, a home-staging expert and former home organizer in Minneapolis.
“If you intend to give something away to a friend or family member, either deliver it to them promptly, or set a deadline for them to come and pick it up,” Matzke said.
For those items that aren’t being handed off to friends or relatives, consider selling them at a garage sale or donating them to charity, or simply toss them.
2. Collect free boxes
Rather than forking over money for boxes, check with local grocery, liquor and hardware stores to see whether they can give you leftover ones.
“Liquor store boxes are ideal for books and heavier items, as they are usually more compact, easier to handle and sturdy,” Matzke said.
3. Label the boxes
Based on the rooms where they’ll go, label boxes on every side.
“You never know how things are going to end up being stocked in the moving truck, and nothing is more frustrating than having to flip a box around to find out what room it belongs in,” said Kevin Smits, a residential real estate agent in Frisco, CO.
Matzke recommended picking a labeling color for each room, such as red for the kitchen, blue for the bathrooms and green for the master bedroom.
4. Don’t skimp on tape
Smits said he’s seen far too many people buy cheap packing tape, and then apply just a single piece to the bottom of a box containing Grandma’s cherished china.
“Buy good tape, and buy a lot of it,” Smits said. “It is easy to open those boxes later with a knife or even a set of keys.”
Don’t forget to pick up a heavy-duty tape dispenser made for shipping, Matzke advised. You can buy one for $20 or less at office supply stores and other retailers.
5. Consider the weight
“Remember, the bigger the box, the lighter the content,” said Chantale Bordonaro, a professional organizer and relocation specialist in California.
For instance, books should go in small boxes, shoes and clothes in midsize boxes and bedding in large boxes. “It is easier for the movers and won’t break their backs,” Bordonaro said.
6. Stay focused
Finish packing each room before switching to the next, Smits said.
“We tend to get distracted and fail to finish,” he said. “All this does is leave you with a whole lot of last-minute packing by throwing unrelated things into a box.”
7. Don’t waste space
To conserve on boxes, you should pack belongings into coolers, totes, laundry hampers, baskets, empty suitcases and empty drawers, Matzke said.
8. Throw in the towel
Save money on bubble wrap by using towels and clothes as cushioning for glasses and other breakables, Matzke said.
9. Pack the kitchen last
Chances are, all that packing will make you hungry, and you don’t want to be scrounging around for plates, utensils and cups.
“That last farewell dinner in your old home just isn’t as memorable if you are drinking out of a red Solo cup and eating on a flimsy paper plate,” Smits said.
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John Egan is the editor in chief at SpareFoot, the country’s largest online marketplace for self-storage.