What do you need to do to get started?
Start early—much earlier than you first think. The smoothest, stress-free moves are preceded by a good plan, along with a thorough declutter.
“Your packing process should really start months in advance by considering what you want to have in your new residence,” says Kevin Kleckner, director of national consumer sales and programs at Penske. That’s not always possible, but aim to start packing at least a few weeks in advance. “Start with your closets or basements (if you have one) where some of your least used or seasonal items may be located,” recommends Kleckner. Ideally, you’ll have an empty space—the guest room or garage, for instance—where you can store packed items.
Before you pack, declutter.
“Decluttering is one of the most important pre-move tasks,” says Rachmany. And Wenzke agrees: “As soon as you know you’re moving, please start decluttering. It will save you time and money on both ends of the move.”
Rachmany recommends sorting items into four categories: keep, donate, sell, throw away. Wenzke offers a different strategy, focusing on large, heavy items first. It’s far better to sell or donate a couch before your move, then to schlep it to your new home and get rid of it once you arrive.
If you’re moving, you’ll need supplies—and lots of them.
See-through, plastic crates (which you can easily rent) can be very convenient. “Not only are they stable and waterproof, offering additional protection from the city streets, but they’re also environmentally friendly,” Rachmany says. He also notes that vacuum-sealed bags work well for clothing since they pack things up tightly and without wrinkles. Moving companies like Penske offer all manner of cardboard boxes. Scoop up a variety of sizes, says Roth—heavy items (like books) do well in small, sturdy boxes, for instance, while lightweight items can be packed in larger boxes.
Free boxes from local offices, stores, and restaurants are also a great option. Since these boxes have been previously used, make sure they're sturdy before filling them up. Take advantage of your neighbors' moves, too. "People like to dispose of their unused moving supplies as soon as possible to make their new house feel like home," says Wenzke. That's helpful, since it means you can snag moving supplies through Facebook, NextDoor, Craigslist, and other neighborhood sites.
Don’t forget that you’ll also need markers or some kind of labeling system, protective materials (newspaper, bubble wrap, or the like), and plenty of packing tape to seal up boxes.