Top 10 Tips for Packing Early for a Move

I think I'm having the most organized move of my life, and that includes all future moves. I should be; this move is taking forever to actually happen.

The tenants at my future home stopped paying rent over two months ago, and apparently that's how long it can take to evict someone in California. It's a frustrating saga I won't get into it.

I thought I would, however, share some of my tips for an organized move, especially tips on what you can do well in advance of actually moving.

1. Create a box or basket of moving supplies. You want one place to hold packing tape, scissors, your labeling pen, etc. You also want an organizational system for all the pins, pens, screws and batteries you'll come across. (Make sure to separate the working batteries from the dead.)

I like to use little jewelry boxes and small plastic containers to hold these items.

After each box is sealed and labeled, the packing tape and Sharpie are immediately returned to this basket.

2. Tackle the garage (or wherever your junk space is).

Our garage is tiny (smaller than a standard one-car) and packed. It's the electronics graveyard; the "I don't know where to put this" place; the "I'll get to it later" storage.

We started by pulling out those "I'll fix it later" big items and giving them away on Craigslist. We got rid of everything from a broken TV to wood scraps from broken down chairs. When it comes to the CL free section: If you post it, they will come.

Next, we  filled boxes for two different charity curb-side pick ups.

Then, we found a bunch of small items to sell on Craigslist.

From there, we started packing and cleared a ton of space to store packed boxes from the house.

3. Evaluate your outdoor items. Picture the items in your new backyard or patio and let go of anything  you won't need, won't work in the new space, or isn't worth the work to move.

Our current house has an uncovered patio and a huge and mostly unshaded backyard. Our new house has a nice covered patio, two SMUD shade trees, and is significantly smaller. We immediately posted our pergola for sale, and later our 10 ft outdoor shade umbrella. We sold all our plastic patio furniture and the giant trampoline.We netted about $300 from it all.

4. Go through closets, cupboards and drawers. Try on clothes you haven't worn in awhile. Try out all those random pens you find. Test batteries. If you see an item you haven't used in awhile, imagine packing it up, carrying the box in the move, and then unpacking it. If it doesn't seem worth the hassle, it's not.

It's embarrassing how much I found stuffed in the bottom of our china cabinet that we didn't need. I also had many "Oh THAT'S where THAT was!" moments. In the bathroom, I found expired OTC medications and beauty products I'll never use. In the past, these were the things that got packed in a rush with no time to evaluate usefulness. In my dresser, I found T-shirts I'll never wear again, and in the closet, neckties my husband has literally never worn and would never wear.

5. Examine your kitchen items. Match lids to containers. Look in the very back of cupboards to find those items you're probably never going to use again.

I parted with random bowls and cups. I discovered our orphan lid situation was worse than I first thought. 
Orphan lids.

6. Pack the items you won't need until you're in your new house.

Books, my china set, vases, boardgames, extra linens, photo albums and decorative items were first on my list. I like to use supermarket fruit boxes for books. They hold a fair amount without becoming too heavy. Many have handles, too.

7. Take down anything you've put on the walls, and take down the shelves from emptied bookcases.

I have my own light-switch covers, so I swapped those back with the standard ones. We took down the shelves we've put up, the outdoor hanging candle holders, etc. Again for me, these were the things that would normally get left for last.

I packed the small media shelves into a sturdy box with the bag of the shelf screws so everything is in one place and easy to transport.

8. Create a furniture inventory. List and measure every piece of furniture so as soon as you can get into your new home, you can plot where everything will go. This also ensures you're not moving anything that won't fit.

9. Pack your priority items -- fresh linens, bathroom and kitchen essentials -- in easily recognizable containers. These are the things you unpack first, so you don't want them lost in a stack of boxes.

I'm using my luggage set to hold a fresh set of bedding, clean towels and the bathroom items I'll need right away. I've put aside one bathroom bag to pack the day of, so I will know exactly where my medication, toothbrush and favorite body wash are.

10. Label everything immediately. List the designated room, the contents and the priority of the box.

I have boxes I want taken to their designated room immediately, and boxes that can sit in the garage until I have time to unpack. For example, dishes are a top priority, whereas my box of cookbooks and cookie cutters is labeled "non essential," because they can sit in my garage for a month, and I'll live.

NEW! 5 More Moving Tips to Make Life Easier! 


  1. I would have loved to read through this article, but the small bold font was quite prohibitive! From what I could gather before I got a headache, these are helpful tips.

    1. Thanks for your comments. The font looks fine on my end, but I will view it on another device and see if I can pinpoint the problem.

    2. Thanks again for the heads-up about the font. It should be fixed for all browsers now.

    3. if you go into view on your menu bar and text size or zoom you can change that to suit yourself laura fudge

  2. I feel the same way as the previous poster. I will save this in hopes that the font will be fixed.

    1. Thanks for your comments. The font looks fine on my end, but I will view it on another device and see if I can pinpoint the problem. If you have a chance, could you tell me what browser/device you used to view? Thanks for stopping by.

    2. The font should be fixed for all browsers now. I hope you'll be able to check back and get some use out of these tips.

  3. Replies
    1. You're welcome. Good luck with your move, Amber.

  4. Great ideas...thanks!!

  5. This has been a lifesaver for me. I'm sure that in time many of these ideas would have come to me, but the magic of the internet is that I have access to things like this. Stress of trying to come up with these things on my own- gone. Now all that energy can go towards tackling this nightmare of a move (whenever it actually happens)

  6. So glad you found these tips helpful. Moving is a pain in the butt!

  7. "...imagine packing it up, carrying the box in the move, and then unpacking it. If it doesn't seem worth the hassle, it's not." BRILLIANT. Thank you, I am definitely going to do this for my next move in 4 months!

  8. As I procrastinate on packing up my "scary" room (aka junk room) for our move that's still 2mths away, I came across this awesome blog through Pinterest and am actually looking forward to tackling it! Thank you for this informative piece! :)

  9. Your article is very helpful. I will definitely save this post for future reference. Thanks.

  10. I am so happy to have found your blog, I am a new follower, these tips were amazing, thank you

  11. Great post! I especially liked the part on Furniture Inventory.


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