9 Expert Organizing Tips to Make Your Move Easier
Moving can be stressful, but with these ideas, you can streamline the process.
While the thought of finally moving into your new home may be exciting (especially after weeks of negotiating and filling out plenty of paperwork), just thinking about preparing for a big move can make any calm and collected person frazzled and anxious. Now you don’t have to dread moving day (too much!). Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin of The Home Edit, a full-service home organization company whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachel Zoe, have partnered with Target to act as the retailer’s home organizing experts. Their first task: to help navigate moving season.
Shearer and Teplin shared their best tips for a big move with RealSimple.com—from prepping weeks before, to getting everything organized the day of, and unpacking afterwards. Take a look at their step-by-step guide, and you’ll be ready to tackle moving day, so you can go straight to celebrating and decorating your new home.
Don’t leave the decluttering and packing until a few days before, you’ll make it much harder on yourself (and your family). “To eliminate moving stress, we always recommend preparing in phases,” Shearer says. “Two to four weeks before packing, you should begin the ‘purging’ process. Once you eliminate the items that aren't moving with you to the new house, you can begin to pack your belongings, moving room by room.”
But beware of being too eager to pack, unless you want to live out of boxes for a long period of time. “We do caution against packing your house too early, though—you don’t want to live surrounded by boxes!” Shearer says. “Depending on the size of your home, five to seven days should be enough time to pack with the purging phase already complete.”
Whether you’ve lived in your current home for one year or for 20 years, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of things that you no longer use or need—so don’t bring that extra stuff into your new house where it will most likely pile up. “We suggest moving room by room and leaving no stone unturned,” Shearer says. “Look in every drawer, cabinet, and closet and consider if the items fall into at least one of these buckets: You use it, you love it, or it has strong sentimental value.” Pack the keepers and donate or toss out the rest.
You might think organizing your current home would be a waste of time since you’re going to leave soon, but it might actually save you some precious minutes. “Put the items under your kitchen sink into a bin, or organize your bathroom products into drawer inserts,” Teplin says. “Once you’re in your new space, you can unpack the container and pop it into its new place, rather than having to deal with free-floating items. Since you might not know the exact dimensions of your new cabinets and drawers, try to buy products that are modular or a universal size that would fit most spaces.”
It will keep things streamlined and make unpacking easier. “Packing by room is the easiest way to keep your items organized throughout the moving process,” Teplin says. “Make sure each box only contains items from one room. Even if a box has extra space, you want to avoid adding additional items from another part of the house.”
Create a system to keep track of all of your items so you don’t get to your new place and realize you can’t find something and have to open all the boxes just to find one thing. “We love to label, and during a move, labels are your best friend,” Shearer says. “Label the contents of each box along with a box number, and keep a corresponding checklist for easy reference.”
Moving can be exhausting both emotionally and physically, so Teplin suggests taking some time to breathe and think on moving day. “Take a minute to enjoy the milestone moment,” she says. “Half the work is already behind you, and the hardest part is out of the way. Focus on setting up your new home and celebrate the fresh start.”
Now’s the time to start fresh. “Do you dream of a neatly, well-stocked pantry or a linen closet with the perfect amount of space to hold your precisely folded blankets and towels? Identify what’s important to you so you can ensure your new home incorporates everything you want from the start,” Teplin says.
“We recommend immediately getting started, but working at your own pace,” Shearer says. “Give yourself a realistic goal and try to hold yourself accountable. Whether it’s one to two rooms per day, or the whole house in a week, setting a time limit will help you stay motivated and focused.”
Once you’re unpacked and the boxes are gone, you can begin to think of an organization strategy. “Start by taking dimensions of the space you want to organize—don’t forget to reference your priorities,” Shearer says. “Take note of the height, width, and depth so that you can shop for product supplies that take advantage of every inch. We always suggest buying a few different options to experiment with, and extra quantities in case they are needed. You can always return anything left over, or use them in other areas of the house.”