Get a Move On
Unless you’re a major minimalist, gathering up your belongings for transport from one home to another is a hassle waiting to happen. Fortunately, a number of tried and true strategies can make it less stressful and help ensure your goods get where you’re going intact. So whether you’ll be migrating across town or across the country, keep these dozen “dos” in mind to think inside the box—er, boxes.
Dump Before You Decamp
A move is a major opportunity to purge, so why not be rid of all you can live without at your new abode? To turn a profit, post on Craigslist or eBay some six weeks prior to moving. Have a yard sale for whatever doesn’t get snapped up; anything can be donated to charity or given away.
Make an "Open First" Box
A clear plastic bin or two filled with essentials can make moving day and your first week’s adjustment easier. Think: box cutter, paper towels, toilet paper, soap, trash bags, minimal cookware, dishware and eating utensils, power strips, phone chargers, flashlight, and basic tools. Remember must-take medications, a child’s favorite toy and/or a pet’s preferred bed.
Code Your Containers
Number all your boxes, label them with their contents and the room they belong to—even color-code them for a smoother, speedier action. Assign a color for each room (blue for bedroom, yellow for kitchen, say), and mark each box using colored tape; at the new place, add a piece of colored tape to each corresponding doorway. This will give you (and the movers) at-a-glance info on what goes where.
Do Right By Delicates
Bubble wrap and packing peanuts are pricey. To cut costs and still protect fragile items, wrap such breakables as dishes and pottery in towels or T-shirts; slip glassware and knickknacks into socks; and wrap old sheets and blankets around furniture legs and corners to act as bumpers. (Bonus tip: Pack plates vertically, like files, as opposed to stacked, to minimize risk of breakage.)
Keep It Together
Put hardware (for, say, curtain rods or mounting your flat screen) in small clear sandwich bags and tuck into the item’s box. If you were lucky enough to keep the original boxes for your computer and electronics, pull them out, re-insert your stuff, and fit those boxes into other larger boxes for safe transport.
Get a Photographic Memory
Snap a picture of any electronics setup so that you’ll know quickly which wires go where when you’re ready to plug in at the new place. Plus, if you aim to recreate any gallery walls or other decorative arrangements, shoot those before dismantling.
Be Bottom Heavy
Break Down Your Furniture
Bag It Up
In case you forgot to order wardrobe boxes, collect closet items (still on hangers) and slip into large garbage bags and tie drawstring around the hooks.
By the Book
Take Care with Your Toiletries
Bathroom basics like makeup, shampoo, and lotions can be messy. So take the time cover the openings of bottles with plastic wrap, and then replace the cap or top as a hedge against leakage. Putting an extra cotton ball or pad inside cosmetics compacts will also help prevent breakage.
Moving is an opportunity for a fresh start. Toss the old stuff you don’t want to bring along and replace it with better-quality items. Take advantage of your new home while it’s still a blank slate to create the interior design you want. This is your opportunity to paint, get new floors, or buy a new couch before you’re comfortably settled in.
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