6 Things To Do First When Moving House

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today’s post topic comes from Melissa who writes:

Hi Annie, I love your blog and look forward to reading it every day. I am moving house in about a months time and wondered if you had any organisng tips you might like to share on how to make it go smoothly. I’ve got a toddler who is a handful so i am starting to plan it now. Thanks so much.

In homegirl’s honor, here are 6 tips for ensuring your move goes smoothly.

1. Create A Master List

There are many, many things to attend to during a move. Compile each and every one of those tasks on a master list, and include the date by which it needs to be completed.

Though the list itself may seem overwhelming at first glance, it will give you peace of mind to know that you’re aware of everything requiring your attention, even if you don’t get to it today. Break larger tasks into its smaller components, and resolve to cross off a certain number of items each day (more To Do List Tips).

Along these lines, it’s also wise to create a file (or files) for move-related documents (invoices from painters, movers, etc).

2. Determine Your Role

There are differing levels of involvement possible in the moving process, and it’s important to consider which is the optimal, realistic one for you.

If you have time and patience, helpful pals and strong brutes at your beck and call, then shouldering the whole move (a.k.a packing everything yourself and moving it all in your vehicle) is an option.

If you have some time and patience, a crawling toddler who requires a moderate amount of attention in order to avoid certain death, and frail friends then it might be wise to go half the pie (you pack your belongings and hire movers to do the heavy lifting and transporting for you).

If you have no time or patience, no friends or no car then it’s probably best to hire others to handle the whole sha-bang for you (they pack it and move it you sit and sip iced tea or whatever it is you do).

3. Come Up With A Packing Plan

It’s wise to pack things in order of priority of use. So, for instance, let’s say my house has both a library and a kitchen in it. I would pack up the contents of my library first, as I’m likely to be alright without access to those things for a while. On the other hand, I would delay packing up the contents of my kitchen until one of the last moments, as I’ll most probably continue to require sustenance, and therefore access to food containers. Get me?

3.5- One of my favorite moving tips is the “open me first box.” This box, labeled as such, should contain the items that you’ll need immediate access to upon arrival at your new digs. You may have just one, or you may have one for every room. Just do it, trust me.

4. Get Supplies

Boxes, garbage bags, labels, markers, bubble wrap, as well as plastic storage tubs (read which ones I recommend here). Get them. Get going.


5. Create An Inventory & Labeling System

This step will vary according to where you rate on the OCD scale, but keeping an inventory can greatly reduce stress and confusion throughout the moving process.

As you pack up each box, jot down its contents. Use an identification system (numbers or colors will do) that you’ll note both on your inventory and on the box itself. You can refer back to this inventory as a way to track each box during the moving phase (packed, loaded, in transit, unloaded, unpacked).

If you’re giving your goods over to storage or moving companies, keeping an inventory is especially wise.


Keeping things in your home that you don’t need, want or use is silly. Packing, transporting, and relocating said items (and paying to do so!) is just stupid.

Ruthlessly declutter before you pack up your belongings. Moving is an opportune time to lighten your load, as it provides a heightened clarity about what really matters to you. View your new home as a fresh start, and respect that by being intentional about what you bring into it. 

Bonus tip*

– Insure valuables before you move them (consult your homeowner’s policy to see if items in transit are covered and if not, insure them through your moving company). And on that note, if you do use movers, do your research (!) and make sure it’s a reputable company.

Got any great moving tips of your own? Throw them in the comments below!

Image credits: stock, Martha StewartMarianne JacobsonA Bowl Full Of Lemons, unknown, Life’s A JournalBBC

8 thoughts on “6 Things To Do First When Moving House

  1. Melissa

    Thank you so much Annie. I had started doing some of these things randomly and others I hadn’t thought of. I had made a list – which keeps getting added to but didn’t have due dates – good idea. I had though to myself that the very first thing I need to do when I get there is set up my Bubs bed but I love the idea of open me first boxes too.

    I also love the idea of a packing plan – rather than just doing it randomly.

    Of course I am taking this opportunity to declutter as well. So far I have only done the bookshelf but I’ve been ruthless!

    Thanks again 🙂

  2. Courtney

    I’ve moved a lot throughout my twenties and have a few life saving suggestions also. I usually do the painting and cleaning myself the day(s) before the move and take my cleaning supplies, tools, step ladder, trash bags and newly purchased items you don’t want to reuse such as doormats, shower curtain, shower curtain rod, and disposable hand soap in an unpacked load. These are all items you’ll want to have out and accessible while moving. I start packing pretty much as soon as I find out about the move as gradually as I can acquire recycled boxes. I start with books then DVDs, then out of season clothes etc down the list until I get to the items I use every day. Towels, curtains, throw pillows, and blankets all get washed before their packed in trash bags so i know they’re clean when i unpack. All of my hanging clothes also get packed in trash bags like a dry cleaners bag and my dresser drawers are moved as is. I pack an overnight bag with my pajamas, painting clothes, moving clothes, etc. and my basic toiletries. The bathroom and kitchen each get an open box with the daily used items packed the morning of the move and all perishable food gets packed in my reusable grocery bags. The first thing I do when I get to the new house is wash my bedding (I keep my top sheet and mattress cover on during the move to keep the mattress clean) and second is my bedroom curtains. With all of these steps of preparation the new house is livable starting from day one and you can gradually unpack your closet, kitchen, books, DVDs, art supplies or whatever as you have time to organize them properly while still maintaining your basic standard of living.

  3. Jordan

    I recommend NOT labeling the boxes with their contents, especially if the contents are really nice/expensive. Instead, label the box with a number and list the contents of that box in a Word doc that you keep to yourself. Most movers are probably honest guys, but better not give them anything to be curious about – especially if you’re moving across the country and all of your worldly belongings will be thousands of miles away from you for days and days.

    1. livesimplybyannie Post author

      Thanks for clarifying, Jordan. Can see how what i wrote might have suggested that. What I meant was to make sure you note the identifying number or label name on the box and in your personal doc. Only the personal list has the contents, but the box has to be paired up to that via an identification system.

  4. Veronika Srpova

    I recommend to write a number for every box and also write down every single thing in it on paper with the same number, usually I need to open some boxes after packing because I realise I need something from it. Also if you have papers with you, you can check items immediately. Its good to put similar things together like bed sheets and towels, winter clothes etc. and get them clean for use but remember, if you pack winter clothes three monts before and put them in garage they might smell funny after such time! So try to storage ready boxes to some dry place.Its great to have one box with your important things like insurance, passports and so on and its also better to take care of this box by yourself. Also i always carry around to do list, one to do list for old house and the other one for new house. For example you need to clean all appartment and maybe do some small repairs like paint around switches on walls etc. The same is for new house, you need to buy shower curtain because before you had shower not bathtub and so on. You will be surprise what gets on your mind during traveling to work and these are actually useful ideas! Also you want to buy things you dont want to take care of during moving. Its really annoying when you remember during unpacking in new flat that you dont have a toilett paper, toothpaste and food for your cat…when you arrive have something to drink and eat, scissors and papers with items in each box, then cross out what is ready especially when somebody else is helping and you dont know what is done already, also maybe write down who helped with the box if you dont know where is something from the box you know where to ask:) hope its gonna help, sorry for my english, Im from Czech Republic:)


  5. Bonnie C

    I cannot recommend clear box labeling & master list/manifest enough! About 18 months ago we moved cross country and had hired movers (instead of doing it ourselves) so I wanted to make sure I knew what each box contained – and that each box made the move! I let my OCD go wild and I color coordinated every room including the storage unit and was mocked thoroughly by friends and family UNTIL it came time to unload. The movers were in awe, and possibly frightened a bit, of my labeling – lol. But they were able to easily separate out the stuff that was going to the outside storage unit from the stuff that needed to go to the 2nd floor apartment and motored through the process. Since my husband was at work and I had 3 kids (one a toddler) underfoot, this was extremely helpful. Once it was all upstairs, everything was mostly in the room it needed to be in and I didn’t need to open every box to find what I wanted. Took me a few days to crank out a system that made sense to me before getting started, but it was time well invested. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Tough stuff, house hunting, and sanity savers | Brick Road Creative Studios

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *