Moving Tips & Tricks and How to Stay Sane!

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Well, OK, the staying sane part while moving might be a stretch, but I am going to try my best this time.  I am getting ready to move, and Christy is also getting ready to move so I thought it would be a good time for us to try to come up with a post of tips and tricks.  Also, if you’re moving into a rental (or military housing), then check out Christy’s post {here} about how to decorate a rental property to make it feel like home.


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Y’all kicked in your suggestions via facebook and email and it was great! I am already making use of so many of your tips. On this topic, I know that our military spouses (a crown Christy wears as well) readers know that of which they speak. Thanks for the input, everyone!

In case you missed it, we’re packing up our current home and moving “home” in a few weeks. Being that this move is our choice as well as long-distance, we don’t have the budget for a crew of trained packers to come in and wave their magic wands and leave me with all our belongings nicely in boxes. I am that magic fairy, and I am going to be working hard these next few weeks! So, again, any way possible to make it easier will be a HUGE help.

So here is all the great advice you all gave me when I asked, such great tips!

  • Take everything off the walls and keep together. Label boxes with each room. Live off paper plates and paper products. Pack up the kids room leave out only a few toys.  Pack and stack boxes in your garage while kids are at school. Pack suitcase of clothes for each kid and yourself and live out of and wash only that. Pack the rest. Use towels to pack breakable vases and such.  ~Megan (9 military moves)
  • Pack your bedding in the dresser that goes in that bedroom.~Suzanne
  •  I put all our clean clothes into those giant ziplock bags {you can get those HERE} with dryer sheets, that way they stay reasonably folded and clean and don’t have that cardboard box smell. The movers just put the bags into boxes and also strange men aren’t pawing all the clothes. This has made unpacking the clothing of a family of 5 way easier on the other side. Good luck, we are up this summer, moving to Germany! ~ Allison {Thanks Allison, Good Luck to YOU!}
  • Go around the house now, open every drawer and closet and photograph- will really help if your whole shipment disappears or, more likely, you have a few missing or damaged items.~Mary  (11 military moves)
  • Pack silverware and kitchen utensils in gallon ziplock bags {those available HERE} and they stay clean….just empty into the new drawer at your destination.~Kate
  • Give the house a good cleaning before you start packing or packers and movers show up! Everywhere should be exactly where it’s “supposed” to be before you start packing (even if it hasn’t been in the right spot in years lol) It will keep you motivated and bring your stress level down when everything seems a little more organized and clean to start.~Tianna
  • Put all your breakables that are treasures in one spot, like on  the dining room table.  Have the packers pack them first when they are fresh for the day.~Lezlie
  • One of the best helps I’ve come up with is having 2 boxes. ONE for bedding and any household supplies, packed and ready to use upon arrival AND a box that I mark “PARTS”. Every top of a lampshade, every screw, every key, plug, wire etc etc etc goes into that box. Both boxes are LAST on the truck and first to come off. ~Kathleen

Christy gave me her tips {below}, these from the girl that if you visit her two weeks after she moves in, will already have her house perfectly squared away and probably be painting her cabinets. Trust me, I know.

  • I always try to pack and LABEL a box that has a hammer, nails, drill, picture hanging hooks, drywall anchors, doublestick tape and Command hooks, spackle and putty knife, etc. so that I can start hanging stuff as soon as I unpack it.  And last, but definitely most important, keep your corkscrew, shaker, and coffee maker out because alcohol (and caffeine) consumption spikes sharply during a move! 🙂 ~Christy {11Magnolialane, her 8th military move is coming up}

I am going to add in a few more tips, believe it or not we’ve moved nine times and we’re not even military. The first tip I always utilize originally came from my cousin-in-law, Mary, who was a military spouse. She said to put all the contents from each linen closet in a clear garbage bag, then pack it in a box. Then, when you unpack you can just drop the garbage bag in the closet and toss the box, that way you can unpack at your convenience but everything for the closet is already where it needs to go. Brilliant!

linens in bag

Here is my number one moving tip: prior to all of my moves,  I take the kitchen layout, pour a cup of tea and sit down with a pencil, I plot and plan where my kitchen items will go. It saves a ton of time when you actually are unpacking not to have to think on the spot what cabinets to put the glasses in, what drawer for the silverware etc. My Mom was sweet enough to help with my last move and she could also reference my plan instead of asking me over and over where to put things, it was a great help.

pre-move kitchen planning diagram

Above is my diagram I did prior to moving into my current home, sorry, I know it’s hard to see as I wrote in pencil so I could adjust things accordingly. I used my cabinet layout provided by our builder, and as you can see below it mimics my kitchen layout perfectly. You can also just work off a picture of the kitchen and just draw it out, then label where things should go.


Another tip before you start–stock up on moving supplies {if you are packing for yourself} so you aren’t running back and forth to get more.  You will need more boxes, bubble wrap {at a good price for large bubbles HERE and small HERE} and packing material than you can imagine when you start, so buy extra! It is easier and cheaper to buy it in bulk ahead of time than from a moving company. Home Depot is a great resource for inexpensive boxes. I have found this plastic shrink wrap is a huge help.  I shrink wrap what I can together, like these glass plates, and it keeps things from moving as much during the process and seems to help. You also will need quite a bit of packing tape and extra {they disappear!} sharpies for marking boxes.

plates wrapped up

One more tip about packing supplies–check Craig’s List, you may be able to find someone finishing a move who will sell you all their packing materials for less than they cost new. And, keep that in mind when you are done–we’ve sold all of ours and recouped much of the cost after a move.

Also, I found these adorable labels {Via Pinterest} from to use on you boxes. I may not quite get as far with the “cute” factor this time, but had to share them nonetheless!


OK! I am off to pack boxes now…but thank you so much to those who shared tips, and for any tips we’ve missed please leave them in the comments section so that this will continue to be a great resource for all facing the FUN task of a move.

{Now that my move is complete, if you would like to see my new home please click HERE}

Christy has written a follow up to this post and you can read it {here}.

Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. I stick post-it’s on the cabinet and drawer fronts with what is in each. This makes it so much easier unpacking and actually helps everyone adjust to where everything is.

  2. First I have to ask, “Do you all move at the same time? 😉 That’s friendship!

    My suggestion: If possible get rid of anything that you no longer use: sell, give away, donate before the move. All too often we end up with multiple boxes that don’t get unpacked for a very long time. If we can do without them why move them.

    • Janet–that is a great question, actually our last two moves have been almost at the same time. We are constantly sending new home prospects back and forth, which is fun! You are so right about moving, I need to remember to purge well in advance. At the end its easier to throw it in a box then give it away, and you are right then it just stays boxed up. Good advice. Thanks for sharing,

  3. Thanks for the mention lots of great tips in this post. Please let me know if you ever need samples for upcoming tutorials or how to’s. Matt 🙂

  4. If you have movers coming in (or if it helps you) color code the boxes using a sharpie. Tape/crafty putty a colored slip of paper on each door. The boxes match the color of the room. You can also use numbers. I don’t like strangers (movers, etc) knowing which room belongs to my kids. It gives me piece of mind and makes it much easier. There is now saying “that box goes to the second bedroom on the left at the end of the hall next to the bathroom”.

  5. We just pcs’d….again…..and one new thing I tried that worked really well was to draw maps of each room in the new house, clearly name the room (living room, master bedroom, etc), plot out where in each room the big furniture needed to be, and tape the maps at the entrance/on the door of each room using painters tape (won’t damage your paint like regular tape). When the movers came, we did a walk through of the house, I showed them the maps, and answered any questions they had. That way when they were unloading the truck, I could be there marking off my “bingo sheet” of box numbers and could direct to where the item needed to go using the room name. It was a lifesaver considering I was by myself and it would have taken a lot longer to unload iif I had to keep running back and forth showing them where I wanted things. Will definitely be doing it again in our future moves!

  6. As a military brat and even though I myself am not military I do move a lot as an adult. A few of the best tips I give anyone moving is, one, keep a good size box open for those last minute throw ins and a sheet of paper taped on outside of box so you can scribble down whats being thrown in this box, even when you plan every detail there are always those few items in a drawer or on top of a closet shelf that was forgotten. Second, pack all cleaning supplies last and label it as such, trust me those cleaning supplies will be the first box you want open when arriving at a new place, and don’t forget to throw in a couple of rolls of the toilet paper and maybe a few light bulbs. You’ll be surprised how many people remove every light bulb before moving out and leaving you in the dark when moving in. Happy moving!

  7. I just stumbled upon your site just now and thought I would add my two cents, even if I am late to the party. My mom wasn’t a military wife but she once moved twenty-seven times in nineteen years, from Georgia to Washington state and back again, and she swears by writing not only what room the box goes to but what is in it as well directly on the box, ie. Library: Cookbooks or Kitchen: Paper Plates and Plasticware. I wouldn’t advise this if you are having strangers move you and handle your boxes, but for those who use U-Haul and friend-power, it’s a great way to be able to find something quickly and not have to go digging through twenty-someodd boxes to find a screwdriver.

  8. Imagine moving someone else!!! While we were assigned in Germany, one of the men in my husband’s unit had a serious medical emergency and was sent to the States with no notice. Of course his wife went with him. We then volunteered to assist in supervising their move without them there. His wife was staying with family while he underwent treatment so their items were going directly to storage. To make it easier for them to get to the items they needed, and set aside the items they didn’t, we had a volunteer assigned to each packer. The volunteer supervised labeling each box clearly with the room the box was from and the main items in that box. They then duplicated that information in a notebook detailing nearly every item so they could find what they needed. We carefully labeled each box by the number listed by the moving company, but also kept the numbering order together by room. When the items arrived at the storage unit, they organized the boxes by number. They could then look in the notebook and refer to the room where the item had been, then scan the list of boxes and contents to see which box they needed and easily get it from storage. We were also extremely careful to take lots of photos of the rooms before packing, including drawers, cupboards, etc. then detailed photos of valuable items.

    While these extra steps aren’t necessary in most moves, it might be helpful if a move into long-term temporary housing is anticipated, or for those items that have to be in storage during a move to a location that limits the amount of household goods you can bring with you, such as Japan, etc.

  9. If you go ahead and reserve a moving truck (we reserved a truck with Penske and Budget) your prices stay locked. If their prices go up your prices stay the same. If their prices go down YOUR PRICES GO DOWN YAY!!! Also, make sure you pay attention to what your getting charged for. We got charged an extra $150.00 for being under the age of 25 (that’s with Budget).

    Last but not least… Check with other ,moving companies to see if they match prices.
    We saved $600.00 dollars from reserving EARLY and their prices kept going down.

    (Military, Second move, also getting out).


  10. I have a small notebook where I write down what I learn from each move. I have just added a few more lines with the tips that have been shared here. Now my tip, we did a partial DITY move (our first DITY) from NM to FL in November and I discovered tape rolls at UHaul that are colored room labels. I labeled all the boxes I packed with the tape, put all those boxes in my closet to separate them from the movers’ boxes, and went behind the movers and slapped a line of the UHaul tape on each of their boxes. (I was rocking some tape roll bracelets on packing day but I didn’t have to worry about reading packer’s handwriting which looks an awful lot like my 6 year old’s). And when we moved into our new house, I slapped a coordinating piece of tape in the new rooms and told the movers to just match the tape. Now we’re moving again here in a couple weeks (yeah, twice in less than a year) and I still have plenty of that tape left.

  11. Followed your link from the favorites post. There are some great tips here, but due to past experience I have to advise against the “parts” box. We had one of these during our (first!) cross country move, it went on the truck last, and then got left behind when our stuff beat us to our new city and had to be stored for a few days. This was during our ikea days so it left a large chunk of our furniture useless. =( Just a word of caution to anyone whose truck is not going door to door!

  12. Excellent post! So many great tips and ideas! Thanks so much! They are so helpful for me! 🙂

  13. Such a detailed article and very well written too! I’ll be moving for a second time this year, but I see I still have a lot to learn!

  14. shau toscano says

    any good tip for navy guys who goes on deployment and need to store the stuff somewhere? Will the storage fee be covered? what about the move to and from the storage?
    Your advice is highly appreciated.

  15. Hello Shau, I think you must go thorough this link where i think you can find your answer and by the way you have written very well article, I enjoyed while reading. If any query please let me know!

  16. The most thoughtful and helpful tips I’ve found so far. This post is golden and by sharing it you help a lot of people. When I moved the first time I wish I had this article as my guide. This is why I’m bookmarking it now and sharing it on my fb wall. Thanks for existing and being awesome!

  17. Sean Phillips says

    Love all the great suggestions! Moving has more tentacles than an octopus.
    Mine is a somewhat silly one: if you can, put on workout music or other entertainment in the background to help keep momentum up.

  18. These are great and very helpful tips! My sister is going move next month and I’m definitely recommending your advises to her. I’m sure she’ll appreciate the ideas and and will deal with all her moving issues. Thank you for gathering all this nice info in one place. Greets!

  19. Your tips are the ultimate guide for me. I will definitely use them for our upcoming move next month. Thanks for the amazing post. I’m bookmarking it right away and coming back when I most need it for a closer inspection. I will definitely share it with my friends as well. THANK YOU!

  20. Ron Devanso says

    My sisters named amy actually, love the name. I’ll have to give some of my customers these tips. We are always having people pack their things with improper materials, some of these money saving tips might change their minds on how they pack

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