Recently my friend asked me for tips on packing up a house. She was getting ready to move but didn’t know where to start. And she knew I had moved more than once. To be exact, I’ve moved house eight times. And the majority of those times were with kids in tow.
It’s always daunting to look around at everything you’ve accumulated, and know that you have to pack it and move it to a new destination. Thankfully, I’ve never had to move interstate or overseas. That would have been a whole different level of challenge.
Hopefully these tips help to take some of the stress out of packing up your home.
1. START EARLY
Unless you are a true exponent of minimalism, you will have many, many things in your home. Big or small house, apartment or granny flat, you’ll be surprised at the amount of things you have accumulated over the years. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take you to pack everything up. Believe me when I say it takes great stamina to get through it all – more so if you are largely doing all the packing on your own and/or have toddlers running around at the same time.
2. GATHER MATERIALS
It’s easier to gather everything you need at the start to save you time. If you’ve never packed before, you’re likely to underestimate quantities needed. But you can always top up as you run low. So what is needed?
a) Boxes are the most obvious thing. These can be bought, but I would recommend asking friends/local businesses if they have any they can give you. This will save you some money. I’m lucky that my Dad owned a business that used a lot of different boxes. He always supplied me during moves. In our last move, my brother-in-law also provided some new and clean carrot boxes (believe it or not) from the markets that were the perfect size for books. The important thing is to get a variety of box sizes. You will want smaller, stronger boxes for heavy and fragile items and larger ones for things like linen.
b) You will also need tape – both to reinforce and close boxes. Packing tape is the best and if you can get your hands on a tape dispenser, it makes life much easier.
c) Butcher’s paper and bubble wrap also come in handy for both wrapping of fragile items. They’re also useful for filling of empty space in boxes that are not quite full and need to be packed tightly. Both these things can be purchased and I would recommend getting them from somewhere where you can buy in bulk to save you money. Google searches will help you locate places that sell these items in your local area. You can use newspapers as an alternative, but these tend to stain so I avoid them.
d) Textas/permanent markers are essential for marking boxes. Don’t even think about not labelling boxes. You will only be creating future nightmares for yourself!
e) A packing list is also very useful – see point 6 below.
3. HIRE A SKIP BIN
This is a bit of an extra cost but so worth it if you can work it into your budget. We usually hire one every time we move and just have it placed outside the house. As I stated in point 1, you will discover an untold number of items. Some will be junk, some will be things you no longer use and some will be things you no longer want. If you have to pack unwanted things into garbage bags and then dispose of them yourself, you’ll be tempted to just start throwing them into a box “to deal with later”. Particularly as those garbage bags start to pile up amongst the boxes. Having a skip bin out the front will be a great incentive to throw out things you don’t want or need!
4. GATHER LIKE WITH LIKE
When packing, think about what rooms items belong to and pack things belonging to the same room together in the same box. This might sound obvious but as tiredness and hallucination set in, you will be tempted to just throw whatever together. Accept that you may have a few boxes like this, but for the most part, try your hardest to sort as you pack.
5. LABEL BOXES
Everyone has a different method for labelling, but my advice is to think about where you are going, not where you are currently standing. If possible, think about which room a particular box needs to go to. For instance, you may currently have DVDs in your lounge room but you are going to a house with a theatre room and would like your DVDs housed in there. Life is made a lot easier on the unpacking side if boxes end up in the rooms where the contents need to be. So in this example, you would label the box “Theatre Room”.
Also label boxes with phrases like “FRAGILE” AND “THIS WAY UP”. This will hopefully prevent any precious items from getting damaged or broken. It’s like a red flag to whoever is moving the boxes to handle them with extra care.
6. PACK BOXES WELL
By packing boxes well, I mean with as little empty space as possible. If need be, use butcher’s paper or bubble wrap to fill in any unavoidable gaps. By packing boxes tightly, you will avoid the contents smashing against each other as boxes are moved. This is particularly important with fragile items. For example, I recommend wrapping each item in kitchen dinner sets separately and then ensuring no empty space in the box. This will give you the best chance of getting your goods to their destination in one piece.
7. NUMBER BOXES AND KEEP A LIST
Most people I know just label boxes with room names, but I’m a bit of an organisational freak (not that you can tell by the state of my house at the moment). So I like to number them as well…and then list them! You could conceivably have a couple of hundred boxes (I’m not exaggerating here). If you need to get to something in a hurry and your boxes are only labelled with room names, you can be in trouble. Especially if you’re searching for say the potato peeler amongst the kitchen boxes (of which there is usually a great deal).
I have sheets drawn up where I list the box number, the destination (a couple of our moves have involved half our things going into storage), and the contents. You don’t have to be too specific with contents, unless it’s something you may particularly need to find eg “good dinner set”, “Christmas presents” etc. That way when you need to find your good dinner set because the Queen is coming to visit, you can just look down your list, find the box number and location and go retrieve it 🙂
So, there you go. Hopefully this list will assist you to have a less stressful move. Obviously, furniture and white goods are a different category of packing so I haven’t covered them here – but I’d highly recommend a professional removalist for those (ask friends and colleagues for recommendations) as they will wrap your furniture and ensure it doesn’t get damaged.
Best of luck with your move.