moving and unpacking Hacks. 2 comments


After three moves in just over three years – two of those moves across state lines – I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two about how to efficiently move. Each time the move gets easier (please remind me of that if we have to move again at the end of this school year!) and I learn a new trick of two to add to the smoothness of it all. Below you’ll find my top 10 tricks and hacks for packing, moving, and unpacking.

  1. Color code your boxes. This time as our boxes were being unloaded, I directed the boxes to where they needed to go. Thankfully we had so much help that reading the contents of each box and then making a decision would have wasted time. Instead, when I packed up our things in Boise, I used different colors of tape to go with each room. The kitchen boxes were taped up with dark red tape, the girls’ room/toys were hot pink, bathroom stuff was blue, master bedroom was purple, and the living room was orange. This helped me on the packing end to sort things into boxes rather than the throw random things in random boxes. It helped with the unloading of boxes once we arrived, and majorly helped with unpacking. Having each box in the room in needed to go in meant that I spent my time unpacking rather than sorting through boxes, digging for various items.
  2. Get help. Before we left Boise I invited students over to occupy our kids so I could get some packing done during the daytime hours, not just after the kids were asleep. It also helped immensely to have additional help when we unloaded in Bellingham.
  3. U-pack. We’ve moved with them twice and I can’t recommend them enough. We go with the Relo-Cubes – they drop them off at our door and we can load them up at our own pace. Once they are loaded we put our locks on them, call the center, and they pick them up for us. This summer had time between houses so we needed to store them – U-Pack does that, too. When we had our arrival date finalized, all I had to do was call them up and give them the date, then they called us the day before with the estimated time our cubes would be arriving. We unloaded them, called U-Pack back and they picked up the cubes the next day. No giant truck to drive or be responsible for, no stressing about getting said truck back before the close of business, nothing. U-Pack makes it easy.
  4. Kitchen first. This time around I focused first on the kitchen and getting it settled, or at least unloading the essentials for cooking. Having a pot and pan, plates and cups (or at least bringing paper/plastic to use as we unpacked) made a huge difference. Instead of eating out for days on end, I was able to run to the store, pick up a few things, and cook almost immediately. While some people might not want to cook right away, I really enjoyed being able to stay in, unpack, and eat a home-cooked meal.
  5. Wall hangings next. Pulling out all of our various pictures and decorations is probably my favorite part of unpacking. I love figuring out where our things can be hung up and really making the place our own. In Boise, I really didn’t love the place we lived in, but getting familiar things up on the wall boosted my mood and started to make the place feel much more like a home.
  6. Pack an ‘essentials’ box. I keep forgetting about this one, but we lucked out since we were in between houses, I had most of this stuff with us anyway. Next time I want to pack an ‘essentials’ box with all the things I need/look for first: pot, pasta, paper plates/bowls, TOILET PAPER, holy water to bless the house, sheets for our beds, blankets, and some ‘new to them’ toys for the kids. That way when we get to wherever we are going, we’ll have the basic, bare minimum things we’ll need to survive for a day or two. If I’m really with it, I’ll even throw in an outfit or two for each of us, plus some clean underwear and extra diapers.
  7.  Open every single box. Even if you think there’s stuff in a box you won’t use at your new place, open it anyway. There’s a box of stuff that we took to Boise that I never opened there because I labeled it “mantle/fireplace stuff” and we didn’t have a mantle there. Well, we don’t have one in Bellingham either but I opened it anyway. In it I found the toasting flutes from our wedding, our cake topper, and some other precious memories. While we don’t have a mantle, I found some places to display things that bring a smile to my face. In the flurry of packing sometimes we forget each and every thing in each and every box, so open every box, no matter what.
  8. Repurpose things. Just because you used something one way at the last place you lived doesn’t mean you have to use that thing the same way every single time. For example, in our home in Colorado I had a little spice rack that hung on the wall. In Boise I used it in the bathroom to hold our little things, the kids’ vitamins/medications, lotion, etc. It was a real space saver and made much more sense in the bathroom rather than the kitchen. Check Pinterest for ideas before you toss something – you’d be surprised how many different uses we’ve found for things we were about to toss!
  9. Prepare for Internet-less days. Before we left Colorado we downloaded episodes of our favorite shows from Netflix onto our phones. Though we were told there would be internet hook-ups here, there were not, so we were without for over a week. That doesn’t sound like a terribly long time, but I was so grateful for a few episodes on my phone to relax with Anthony at the end of the day. After two moves, I’ve learned that we are much more likely to be without internet at first and we’ll plan better in the future: addresses for local grocery stores, things to do in the area should we want to get out, as many bills paid in advance as possible, etc.
  10. PURGE. Even though we had a baby while we lived in Boise, we left Boise with less stuff than we came with. Over the course of the year, and especially as we packed, we sold, donated, or got rid of things we didn’t actually need, use, or want. We spent the summer with about 85% of our stuff in storage. When we unloaded the boxes it felt good to have less stuff, but at the same time I was still amazed with just how much stuff we have. Though I had done a fair bit of purging before we left Boise, I was ready to do more as we unpacked. I started a bag for donation and if I unpacked something I hadn’t at all missed or didn’t feel that we needed, I put it in the bag. It didn’t take long for it to fill, either. I’m not trying to say we needed to endlessly purge things, but don’t be afraid to part with your things. I’ve found that the less stuff I have, the more free I am to be and to focus on what actually matters: my faith, prayer, and my family.

What are your tried and true tips for moving? Anything you’d add to my list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!


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2 thoughts on “moving and unpacking Hacks.

  • AnneMarie Miller

    Oh wow, colored tape is brilliant! We’ve always just written on boxes, but after multiple moves, it’s hard to tell what a box actually has inside because there are so many conflicting words written on it! That U-Pack sounds pretty amazing, and I will definitely keep that in mind if we ever move again in the future.

    I like what you say about wall hangings-I think it definitely makes a place feel more like home! We’ve been in our house nearly 3 months, but we still haven’t hung anything (I find it hard to make the commitment of putting holes in walls to hang stuff), but while our house feels pretty lived-in, it doesn’t have that “homey” sort of vibe. So just tonight I talked with my husband about how we need to figure out where we want stuff so we can adorn out walls 🙂