How to Pack for a MoveTips for Downsizing
You’ve got a move-in date and you’re excited to get into your new home — but that means there’s a whole lot of packing to do before the big day. Here are some tips to help you pack like a pro so the unpacking and settling in is just a bit easier.
DECLUTTER & DONATE IN ADVANCE
Whether you’re an empty-nester who’s downsizing or a first-time homeowner, there are probably a good number of things in your current home that you won’t need or want once you move to a condo. Decluttering a couple of months before your move will give you time to really think through which items are going to your new home and which aren’t — without the added pressure of moving within days. Starting early also gives you more time to sell items that have some value.
When you’re decluttering, sort things based on category, Marie Kondo-style — you might have books or clothing spread across a few rooms or closets in your current home, and it’s a lot easier to see if you have multiples of an item when everything in a category is gathered up. Working by category makes it easier to truly cull collections — especially important if you’re downsizing.
This is also a great time to sort consumables like pantry foods and toiletries. Get rid of anything that’s long expired, and try to use up anything that’s nearly empty so it doesn’t have to be packed.
Once you’ve determined what’s being donated, get it out of the house — not only does this give you more space for packing, it ensures you don’t end up moving any donation items simply because you don’t have time to do a last-minute drop-off.
MAP OUT A PACKING PLAN
It’s a good idea to have a bit of a schedule when you’re packing so things stay organized and you don’t end up completely overwhelmed in the week before your move. Here’s a good packing schedule:
8 Weeks Before
Pick up packing materials: boxes, packing tape, packing paper, stretch wrap, coloured labels or duct tape, markers
7 Weeks Before
Out of season clothing, seasonal decor, keepsakes and books you won’t be reading before the move
5 Weeks Before
Items that can’t or shouldn’t be transported by movers (e.g., paint, batteries, jewellery, financial documents) — create a designated space for boxes
4 Weeks Before
Kitchen items that aren’t used regularly
3 Weeks Before
Decorative and fragile items (you don’t want to do this when you’re stressed or rushed)
2 Weeks Before
Clothing and accessories (set aside outfits for two weeks before you start), linens, begin packing overnight bag
1 Week Before
Electronics, kitchen items that aren’t essential for the next week
1 Day Before
Non-perishable foods, remaining kitchen items, toiletries, laundry from the past two weeks, cleaning supplies
Add your duvet to the box of bedding, wrap your mattress and boxspring, finish packing your overnight bag, pack perishable foods in a cooler (or give them to neighbours if you’re moving a distance), pack up plants
SET UP A PACKING ZONE
Having a dedicated packing space in your home means all the essentials — boxes, tape, packing materials, scissors and markers — are corralled in one place. This makes it super easy to do a little packing each day.
While you’re at it, designate a spot as a no-pack zone for anything you want to transport in your car rather than on a moving truck. These are the sorts of irreplaceable items, like heirlooms, jewellery, family photos or important documents, as well as perishables and anything your movers can’t transport (like paint, batteries, aerosol cans and fertilizer).
PACK BY ROOMS IN YOUR NEW HOME
While decluttering by category is smart, when it comes to packing, it’s better to group items by the room they’ll live in in your new home so unpacking is quicker and easier. For example, cookbooks might go in a kitchen box while other books are destined for a living room or bedroom box.
Make things easier for yourself and movers with detailed labels on each box or bin. Each box should be labelled with the room it goes in along with with the category of contents (e.g., Kitchen — cookbooks, tea towels). It’s a good idea to label on the top and a side so that you can see labels easily when boxes are stacked.
Make sorting boxes extra easy by using a colour-coded system, such as labelling with a different colour of tape for each room in your new home. Be sure to mark fragile boxes really well with a red marker or neon stickers so everything arrives in one piece.
NUMBER YOUR BOXES
Numbering boxes is a smart idea because it makes it easy for you to tell quickly if any boxes have gone missing in the move. But it can also make unpacking extra easy if you also log the boxes in a spreadsheet. It can be as simple as listing the number and category of items in the box, but we like the idea of a slightly more detailed list of contents so it’s easy to find essentials when you really need them. Think about things you might really need, like a plunger, first aid kit, frying pan or electric kettle.
10 SMART PACKING TIPS
- 1. Pack an overnight bag with all the essentials for the day of and day after your move, such as clothes, toiletries, medications, and any paperwork from the moving company. Keep this bag with you rather than loading it on the moving truck.
- 2. Wrap dishes individually and pack them vertically (file style) rather than stacked to prevent breakage.
- 3. Save on packing materials by wrapping breakables in soft textiles like pajamas, scarves, socks and tea towels.
- 4. Don’t pack items in laundry baskets as things can easily fall out of the open top and slatted sides.
- 5. Pack clothing and linens in suitcases and bins.
- 6. For hanging items, wardrobe boxes have a rod built in, so you can move clothes right from your closet to the box. For a more budget-friendly alternative, gather a section of hanging clothing in a garbage bag, tying the top of the bag around the hangers before placing them in a box — it’ll keep everything together and make it easy to hang items in your new home.
- 7. Pack electronics and small appliances in original boxes if possible.
- 8. Use smaller boxes for heavier items (such as books) and large boxes for light bulky items like clothing, bedding and pillows.
- 9. Get a mattress bag to protect your mattress from getting dirty or damaged during the move.
- 10. Pack all the linens you’ll need to set up your bed in one box or bin so you won’t have to go digging through multiple boxes to get some shuteye after a long day.
If you do a bit of packing every day, it won’t feel like such a huge task and it will quickly become a habit. And look for ways to make it seem like less of a chore — put on an upbeat playlist and pour yourself a glass of wine, and an hour of packing will practically fly by.