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Five Tips for a Stress-Free Move

By Tiffany Owens

There’s no doubt that moving is one of the most stressful experiences we can undertake. The number of logistics to plan, items to pack and the inevitable messiness makes moving feel like a necessary evil…an unavoidable rite of passage into adulthood.

But it doesn’t have to be this way!

With a little planning and strategizing, it is possible to transform moving from a despair-inducing event to one that’s orderly and maybe even a little bit fun. If you’re planning a move anytime soon, here are some tips to make it easier on you and your family.

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Make it a team event 

Like any do-it-yourself project, moving is much easier if you’re able to transform it into a team affair. When discussing moving as a family (especially with little children), it can help lower the stress and uncertainty about the move if you’re able to frame it as an “all-hands-on-deck” adventure. Moving is full of uncertainty, so these family conversations help keep stress low by outlining the moving timeline and clear expectations about the move and deciding on everyone’s role. You could also treat this conversation as a brainstorming session…asking your kids to contribute ideas for the move helps them become more invested in the process.

Lastly, don’t forget to make time to come up with rewards for hitting certain packing milestones and be sure to decide on a way that you’ll celebrate the move once it’s over. Having something to look forward to at the end of the experience is sure to keep morale high. If you’re moving solo or if you don’t have children, talking about the transition with friends and communicating practical ways they can help is a creative way to transform moving into a social experience. Not only will it ease the workload, but it will give you a meaningful opportunity for conversation and memory-making with people you might not see that often.

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Have a plan for packing 

Packing is perhaps the most daunting part of moving, which is why you’ll want to waste no time writing a clear packing strategy that works for you. Not only should this strategy include your supplies list (tape, sharpies, Ziploc bags and trash bags), but most importantly, it should outline your packing timeline. Working backwards from your move date, you’ll want to identify weekly or daily packing goals. Having a clear daily and weekly task list will help you stay on track and lower stress. This packing schedule will also allow you to fit the process in around other responsibilities like working, saying goodbye to friends (if you’re moving across cities or states) and visiting your favorite spots in the neighborhood. 

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Choose your packing strategy 

Once you have a packing timeline, you’ll next want to decide how you will pack. For some people, it’s easier to pack one room at a time, while others prefer to pack by item type or by season. If you’re going to pack by item type (i.e., books, dishes, knick-knacks), you’ll want to go through the house and pull out all of these items and put them in one central place. Do the same if you’re going to pack by season.

Lastly, you’ll want to decide how you will fill boxes. Will you pack primarily by item type or will you mix items together and keep each box room-specific? The best way to answer these questions is to think about unpacking. For example, if unpacking room by room is easier for you, then you may want to pack that way rather than by grouping similar items together.  

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Layer and label your carefully  

One common moving mistake is to overfill boxes so much so that they’re hard to actually move. Avoid this by packing mindfully, layering items together in a way that distributes weight evenly while protecting your fragile items (clothes and towels make for great protectors). You’ll also want to pack together items that make sense to unpack together. If you won’t need your knick-knacks out of the box right away, it’s probably best to not mix them with kitchen supplies or the books you’ll want to unpack instantly. Otherwise you’ll just end up with a bunch of half-unpacked boxes. 

Another common mistake is to forget to label boxes clearly. Some brightly-colored tape and a few sharpies is all you need to avoid this error. Try using a different color tape for different rooms and be as specific as needed with your labeling. If you know you’ll want to find your hammock the minute you arrive, then it’s probably a good idea to write “hammock” on the outside of that box!

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Keep essential items separate  

Showing up at your new home is a huge milestone worth celebrating. All that’s left now is unloading, putting furniture and boxes in the correct rooms and then unpacking. But the unpacking will take a while, so you’ll want to keep easily accessible items that you need for the first three days at your new home. Pack a “go bag” (or box) for each person and make sure it gets loaded last and unloaded first. Alternatively, you can pack those essentials into suitcases and pack food in reusable grocery bags. Transporting these items by car instead of the moving truck makes it less likely they’ll get lost in the shuffle. 

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While stressful, moving can easily become a meaningful and enjoyable experience (like all home DIY) simply by investing time in building a team, writing a timeline, choosing a packing plan and organizing boxes in a way that makes them easy to unpack at your new home. Most importantly, having a roadmap for moving will allow you to invest time in the less visible but equally important parts of moving such as taking time for reflective journaling and spending quality time and with people and places that have made your home special. 

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