Moving can be an exciting time, offering a fresh start and new places to explore. It can also feel overwhelming, whether you’re packing up a studio apartment or a large, single-family home. If you’re wondering how to organize before moving, the keys to undertaking such a big project are to plan ahead and stay organized while tackling one room at a time.
Heather Rogers, president of Simply Organized, recommends beginning the moving process at least two months ahead of the big day if possible. “Start by getting quotes from two to three moving companies, and hire the one that fits your needs best,” she says. “If you can afford it, hire a professional organizer to pack and or unpack your house.”
If you’re choosing to handle the project yourself, then use this checklist for an organized moving plan that will have you settled into your new home in no time.
Step 1: Sort and Purge
Preparing to move starts with one of the most difficult tasks of the entire process — taking inventory of what you’ll keep and what you’re going to leave behind. Malinda Graves, home organizer and owner of Harmonized Spaces, suggests, “Begin in a room that holds the least number of items with sentimental value, such as the kitchen or laundry room. Rooms with a lot of sentimental items are harder to sort and take more time and emotional work.”
Once you’ve decided which room to tackle first, here’s what to do with six to eight weeks on the calendar before your move:
- Open closets and drawers, pull out boxes, and study your shelves.
- Make a purge pile of anything you no longer need or haven’t used in the last year.
- Pack non-essential and seasonal items as you go.
Step 2: Clear Your Spaces
Once you have some piles started and a few boxes packed, your space can actually start to feel more disorganized than before. As you’re learning how to organize a move, checklists are your best friend. The following list explains what you need to do next to keep your stress levels low around four to six weeks before your move:
- If you’re downsizing or need more space as you get organized, decide if you need to rent a storage space and begin moving items there if necessary.
- Box items for donation, and either drop them off or schedule a donation pickup.
- List any big items you want to sell, such as furniture, on Craigslist or in virtual yard sale groups.
- Trash anything that you can’t sell or donate.
- Designate the most unused room of your house as a holding area for the boxes you’ve been packing along the way.
Step 3: Handle Non-Packing Tasks
With three to four weeks to go, it’s time to handle all of the administrative tasks that come along with moving. Professional organizer Nancy Haworth from On Task Organizing says this is a good time to “contact and schedule necessary services, such as handymen, carpet cleaners, house cleaners, and pressure washing companies.”
Here’s everything that should be on your list:
- Contact the post office and fill out change of address forms.
- If you haven’t already done so, notify your children’s schools regarding records transfers and enrollment procedures.
- Call utility companies regarding service start and stop dates for both your current home and your new one.
- Schedule appointments for cleaning or repair services.
- Begin looking at furniture rental options for your new space if needed.
Step 4: Pack Essentials and Say Goodbye
In the days before your move, finish packing essential items, including important documents and an overnight bag that will travel with you — not on a moving truck — to your new place.
“Have a VIP box with things like important documents, toilet paper, soap, and paper towels, as well as a suitcase with medications, toiletries, and clothes, and a bag for your bedding to take in your car with you,” recommends Rogers. “This way, when you get to your new home, you won’t have to spend hours looking for your toothbrush and your sheets.”
Here’s what’s left to do as you enter the home stretch:
- Pack and label remaining essential items in each room.
- Pack your VIP box and overnight bag or suitcase.
- Pack and label bedding that you’ll need for your first night in your new home.
- Don’t forget overnight bags for kids and pets.
- Check in with friends and professional movers about your moving day plans.
These tips for how to organize a move should help you cross every item off your to-do list with as little stress as possible. To make move-in day even more convenient and comfortable, have CORT Furniture Rental outfit your new space with everything you need so that you can settle in right away.