Smooth Move: Packing Your Stuff in Preparation of Moving Day

Introduction: Smooth Move: Packing Your Stuff in Preparation of Moving Day

About: I am an ordinary guy. Except that I live in an RV, drive a 250cc motorcycle, have a truck that runs on bio-diesel, am vegetarian, and have had almost 30 jobs in 10 years, including armored truck driver, bicycl…

I recently wrote a page on my website for clients to read after having shown up one too many times to a person's house who had previously expressed concern for the time / cost they feared the move would take - and yet were totally unprepared when I got there.

My girlfriend suggested that this information would help many people, even those who don't hire me (I assume it is because you don't live in the area, so I forgive you).

In my 5 1/2 years of experience, I have found that a small, one-person, studio apartment move can take anywhere from 30 minutes all the way to 4 hours, all with the same amount of total stuff.

It all comes down to preparation.

Step 1: Pack Everything in Advance!!

Do not try to pack on the day of the move! 

Do not pack just the "main things" - literally everything that you don't need to use the next morning should packed (at least) the night before; otherwise, expect to be making extra trips on your own to get all the little stuff. 

Any furniture which will not fit through the door or down the stairs (i.e. bedframes, large tables with removable legs, etc) should be disassembled in advance.

Step 2: Pack Boxes Properly

Use strong boxes, and be generous with the tape.  You don't want boxes breaking when they are picked up.
The kind of box which is solid on the bottom (file boxes) are better than the kind that has the flaps underneath (which has to be taped).

All boxes should be able to close!!
They should either have a lid, or flaps that fold down on top.
Open boxes are impossible to stack, which means they can not be placed on a dolly or stacked in the truck.

Don't be afraid to use large boxes, and load them to the top.  It is much faster to move just a few large boxes rather than lots and lots of tiny boxes.  Lots of small boxes means lots of tedious trips back and forth from the home to the truck.

If you are being moved by a mover, or the friends you got to help you are strong, weight is not a concern (so long as the box isn't in danger of breaking).  Go ahead and fill that file box to the top with books.  Again, fewer full boxes means fewer trips back and forth to carry them.  A standard size file box, filled to the top with book only weighs about 40lbs.  If you can pick up a 4 year old child, you can carry 40lbs.  Personally, I stack 3 boxes like that together and carry them all at once, because it is faster.

Protect and label fragile items.  Note the difference between brittle (glass) and crushable (papier-mâché). Brittle things need to be at the bottom of a stack, crushable at the top.

Label anything you need to be able to find post-move.

Step 3: Clearly Separate Items to Be Moved From Items to Stay Behind

Sometimes only one roommate is moving out, some furniture belongs to the landlord, some things are moving into storage, or for some other reason not everything is going to the same place.

Ideally everything to be moved to one location will be in one place all together, as close to the front door as possible.

If for some reason this isn't practical, at least label things which are going, and/or the things which are staying.

If cost/time is a major concern, you could even stage things near the street just before the person with the truck arrives.

Step 4: Recruit Friends to Help!

Whether you plan to hire a small independent mover/hauler, some day-laborers, or just do it yourself, you can probably get a friend or two to help out for free beer or pizza.

Having more hands, even if they aren't especially strong, makes everything go a whole lot faster.  If I have other people present to get all the light stuff, it lets me spend my time focusing on the stuff they can't get.

Step 5: Expect to Be Present for the Entirety of Your Move!

I can't really believe I have to say this, but on more than one occasion someone has met me at the door, showed me around, and then left to do some other work of their own, without letting me know in advance they weren't planning to help out with their own move.

If for some reason you will not be able to be present the entire time (i.e. you couldn't get the day off from work), or if you will be unable to help (i.e. back problems, watching a child), you should let anyone you are working with know this in advance.

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    8 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I think the moving and removals companies offer packing services these days if you can afford it. No matter how messy your house may be, these guys have some sort of method to help you get things properly organized and into a box easy peasy! Great option for the people who just don't want to (or can't) deal.


    5 years ago on Step 2

    Early preparations are really important to ensure that moving out is a breeze and to avoid all that tedious workload as much as possible. Well, of course moving out is physically taxing but we want to try to make it as convenient as possible. If we do not follow these tips and suggestions, we might take up more time and require more effort to complete the processes as opposed to following these ideas in store for us.


    5 years ago on Step 3

    This is very important indeed. If you do not separate them much earlier, you might just get your things mixed up and transport the wrong things instead. This is an almost irreversible task if you hire removal services because they might do things much quicker than you thought and by the time you realize it, it will be too late. Therefore, plan early and do not regret later.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I have had previous bad experiences when I moved out on my own. Friends and family helped out a bit but of course they were not professionals so things got out of hand eventually. Hence, I have always trusted expert removal services to help me with my move and I will definitely just hire them in the future if I were to ever move out again. They are trustworthy and keep my things safe and secure.


    5 years ago on Step 5

    Speaking from a customers' point of view, I have no idea how a person could be so nonchalent about the move that's going on in their homes! Not that I don't trust the removals company, but I'd like to be able to supervise just to make sure that things go the way that they're supposed to!


    Reply 5 years ago on Step 5

    I know, right?
    But I came up with this list based on actual experiences with clients.
    Everyone of them has happened multiple times!
    I wrote this to give to potential clients when we schedule so they don't happen anymore.

    Phil B
    Phil B

    8 years ago on Introduction

    We have moved ourselves a couple of times. The only time we had damage of any kind was when some well-meaning people helped us.

    One summer I worked in a grocery warehouse and got some experience loading trucks. The one very useful thing I learned is to put the heaviest things low and as far forward in the truck as possible. Lighter things can go higher and farther back. I also learned that the load always shifts toward the front of the truck, which can be very helpful when planing the load and loading the truck.

    Somewhere I remember hearing or reading that moving boxes should be loaded to no more than 50 pounds each. I have quite a few books and would place a box onto a scale. When I got over 40+ pounds, I began looking for lighter things to fill the empty space and stay below 50 pounds.

    I knew I would not unpack all of my books right away and usually tried to put books of the same type into specific boxes and then label the outside of the box to aid in finding a specific book when I needed it before the boxes were completely unpacked, which sometimes was for the couple of years we lived in that location.

    I like your Instructable. Thank you for posting it.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't think to put in anything about how to load the truck, because I always do that part myself (this instructable was just a modified version of the instructions on my website).

    I always try to fill the entire available floor space, so that nothing can shift around. I also drive relatively slowly, and leave large following distances (even with no load, but especially fully loaded!) which means that there is no sudden stops which is what would make the load shift forward.
    Between the two, I find it allows me to put the heavy things towards the back, which makes it easier to load and unload.
    I agree that heavy things should be low, and light things high.

    50lbs is a good max. A file size box will be totally full before you reach that weight. A large moving box shouldn't be filled with that much, especially since they usually have the taped flaps and bottom and can fall through.

    I have never actually had to pack my own stuff to move, so I have literally no idea what the unpacking process is like!

    Thanks for your feedback.