Zak and I are getting ready to move from our current apartment to a new, larger one; like many college students (seniors in particular) we are getting ready to pack up everything we own and take it somewhere new. We have done this every year, sticking to the college student moving schedule: on/off campus housing from August-May, then home in the summers.
It can be really exhausting to move this often, but I like to look at it as an opportunity to mix things up and improve my living space. I've also acquired more and more knowledge about what makes moving easier, and what makes it a total pain. At this point in my life, I can honestly say that I kind of enjoy moving.
I'm not usually a detail person, but I become a total planner when I'm getting ready to move. I think the excitement of a new environment gets to me; I start daydreaming about where my furniture will go, doodling floor plans, and even making lists for how I will pack (that I almost never stick to). Call me crazy, but with the right skills and attitude moving can actually be fun.
Today, I would like to share some things I've learned about moving and packing with you, based on my experience of the past four years. Even if you're not moving any time soon, maybe some of these ideas can inspire you to change up a space or reorganize your storage.
1. Save ALL the plastic bags.
You may already save plastic bags to use as grocery liners, or just because you feel like you're supposed to, even though your collection is getting way out of control. Well, I found out last year that plastic bags work pretty great to help protect breakables or prevent items from tumbling around in a box. While plastic isn't as thick or protective as paper, you can wad them up to create maximum cushioning.
2. Use a system to pack, in a way that makes sense to you.
You don't have to come up with the perfect packing system, but it's good to have some sort of logic to how you are packing your boxes. Some people are really precise about their system: only pack items together that will go in the same room. I tend to be more disorganized, packing based on what fits most efficiently in each box I use. Then, I label the outside of the box with what's inside. Regardless, think about the way you function and pack based on that, not based on what you think the "right" way to pack is.
Buying cardboard just feels like ripoff. It's not too difficult to find extra boxes, since a lot of businesses/ grocery stores have tons of them waiting to be recycled. There are also a lot of products that come in boxes; cereal boxes, granola bar boxes, and shoe boxes may be small, but they can really help you keep small items organized and contained. Plus, you don't need to use just boxes when you move; clothes and many other items can go in big garbage bags or suitcases.
4. Need new furniture and don't want to spend a lot of money? Don't buy new.
I admit that this takes a lot more work, but you'd be amazed at the deals you can find by working directly with people looking to sell. I am a huge fan of Facebook Marketplace; it's like craigslist but a little more user-friendly. I've found really nice furniture on there for incredible prices: for example, I just got a cozy new reading chair and side table for $25. Going to yard sales and checking out thrift stores like Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity ReBuild stores is also a good idea.
5. Pack backwards.
(sorry, that's just a really funny gif)
This is when it can be helpful to write a list: what will you want/need first when you go to unpack? these items should be packed at the top. It is also helpful to pack the big things first, even though small items are easier to squirrel away over time. While it is really tempting to try and pack in small increments, you may not think through your packing organization as well if you aren't doing it all at once. I recommend picking a room at a time to pack or unpack, so you don't get too overwhelmed.
6. Make sure you keep food/ water readily available throughout the packing and unpacking process!!
It might be smart to put glasses/ food items at the top of your unpacking list, or pack yourself a snack box. There is nothing worse than trying to move heavy boxes and decided where things go when you're hungry or dehydrated. I am the worst at drinking water, but even I try to keep a water bottle close when I am packing or unpacking. Zak and I even established a tradition of getting pizza when we move, as a reward for our hard work and a way to avoid getting hangry.
7. Don't forget self-care: do things to keep your spirits up.
What makes you feel at home and happy in a living space? Maybe it's fresh flowers, warm lighting, or a cozy blanket readily accessible. Whatever that is, make sure to keep that mood booster around when you're packing or unpacking; even if it seems a little illogical, make that comfort item a priority when you unpack. It can keep your mood up during the slow process of putting away clothes or dishes.
8. Keep a notepad handy.
It's incredibly easy to become forgetful in the middle of moving, or have intrusive thoughts distract you from getting things done. Keeping a notepad nearby will allow you to keep track of what you've done, as well as write down the thing you don't want to forget later. I also like to start writing shopping lists while I'm unpacking; items like nails, command strips, or cleaning supplies are nice to have but easy to keep forgetting.
9. Get at least one space done so you can chill out.
Let's be honest: it takes a lot longer than a day to fully unpack. That is part of what makes moving stressful: living in an incomplete space can feel really unsatisfying. That is why I like to focus on having at least one space completely done by the end of the day. This way, I have one area I can go to and feel totally at rest, and maybe forget about the work to be done tomorrow. I recommend making this "done" room the place you plan on spending the most time in.
10. Everything is better with music!
When I know a big moving/ packing day is ahead, I'll take some time to create a playlist specifically for that day so I can have awesome music the whole time. Not everyone is a music lover, but music really helps a boring process feel more manageable. I recommend a lot of songs you can sing along to, with upbeat or catchy tunes so you are more likely to stay in a good mood.
However you feel about moving, it is definitely worth it to invest in your own packing skills to make it easier. But the most important part of the process is your attitude: if you are feeling positive and optimistic, even the repetitive tasks of moving can become enjoyable. Take care of yourself, and you are more equipped to take care of everything else.