Packing and Unpacking Strategies For a Stress-Free Move


Packing up everything you own and moving to a new place seems like a fun adventure. That is, until you realize it’s not exactly an easy process. Packing can be tedious and time-consuming, but it’s not worse than unpacking. If you’ve moved at least once, you know the dread of walking into a room full of boxes with no idea where anything is. But it doesn’t have to be like that. The secret to easy unpacking lies in smart and strategic packing. When you know how to pack before leaving, unpacking will be a walk in the park!

via Jenny Keenan Design

Pack Everything You Don’t Use

People often make the mistake of starting with items they need in their everyday life. But if you want to avoid packing and unpacking boxes several times, start with the things you don’t use daily. That includes:

  • Memorabilia, pictures, diplomas
  • Books and DVDs
  • Out-of-season clothes and shoes
  • Rarely used kitchenware
  • Rarely used bathroom items

Sort Everything Into Categories

Once you get the unnecessary items out of the way, it’s time to move on to categorizing everything else. You’ll have to go through everything you own anyway. So, you might as well try and get rid of some things. We recommend you divide everything into three categories: ‘keep,’ ‘toss,’ and ‘donate.’

To decide which category each item belongs to, ask yourself a series of questions. Is this an item you use often? Is it something that is of sentimental value to you? If the answer to these questions is yes, then the item belongs to the ‘keep’ category. On the other hand, if the answer is no, then you should decide whether the item can be of use to someone else. If it’s not in good enough shape to be donated, then it might be time to say goodbye to it.

via Jenny Keenan Design

Room by Room Packing

Once you have the sorting procedure worked out, the smartest way to pack is to go through one room at a time. It might seem that the easiest thing to do is to just put whatever is nearest into a box, but you have to think of the future you, the one that will have to unpack that mess. So, make sure that each box contains only items from one room.

That doesn’t mean you can’t start packing your bedroom until you’re finished with the kitchen. It just means that you should keep the boxes from each room separate so that you’ll have an easier time finding and unpacking them later on.

Extra tip: Once you clear out one room, preferably a bedroom or living room, you can use it to store all your boxes in one place. That way, the space will look cleaner and it will be much easier to take the boxes to the moving truck.

via Jenny Keenan Design

Label Everything

Packing one room at a time won’t be of any help if you don’t know which boxes are from which room. That is why masking tape and a sharpie are your best friends during the packing process. Label everything clearly and be as specific as possible. That means it’s not enough to just write ‘bathroom’ on the box, as you’ll probably end up with several ‘bathroom’ boxes and you won’t know what’s in any of them. A better system is to write things like ‘bathroom — medicine cabinet,’ ‘kitchen — dry pantry,’ etc. 

It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t use the same boxes for all your possessions. Take a look at this moving boxes guide to learn which boxes you need for your stuff and where you can find them. 

Stress-Free Unpacking

If you follow our tips, unpacking is bound to be a much easier process than if you were just randomly opening boxes trying to find a mug for your coffee. If you have an inventory of where you put your belongings, it will be even simpler. Now, once you arrive at your new place you can just check what’s written on your boxes and start unpacking! Here’s how to best go about unpacking.

via Jenny Keenan Design

Unload the Truck With Purpose

After a potentially long drive or flight, probably the last thing you want to do is carry the boxes to the room they should be unpacked in. But that will save you a lot of time later and you’ll be grateful that you can start unpacking as soon as you catch your breath.

Start With the Necessities

First off, start with the box that contains the things that will help you keep your home running in the first couple of days. If you didn’t pack a separate box with only the necessities, start with the boxes that contain food, bathroom essentials, and basic kitchenware. But if you want to have a completely stress-free first day in a new place, here’s a guide on packing an essentials box.

Once you’re rested and used to the new environment, you can move on to the rooms. Just as you packed room by room, it’s the easiest to unpack this way as well. Since all your boxes are already in the room they belong to, it won’t be too much of a hassle.

Try to Make It Fun!

Even when you’re organized and have an unpacking system in place, it can still be a bore. So if you want to keep your momentum, try making unpacking as fun as it can be. Play some energizing music through the speakers so that you can hear it wherever you are in the house. Alternatively, if you don’t want to annoy the neighbors right away, put your headphones on and listen to your favorite tunes that way!

Another way to make unpacking more thrilling is to make a competition among the family members. For instance, you can reward the best organizers or the fastest ones by letting them choose where you’ll order dinner. 

Give Yourself a Break

You’ve been through a lot — from making a decision to move and leaving behind your old life to packing and unpacking to setting up a new life. So don’t be too harsh on yourself if everything is not perfect right away. You’ll have plenty of time to settle in and make a home out of your new place! Thanks to Oz Moving for consulting



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