7 essential packing and unpacking tips to ensure moving house is stress free!


Moving house is as stressful as it gets. All the sorting and logistics to do, not to mention moving an entire house of “stuff” to another, less familiar house. Moving everything and everyone, children and pets included could be a recipe for disaster and stress overload if not organised properly.

Tip #1 – Declutter3

It sounds like the last thing you would want to do before you move house, but actually a good declutter can be a great thing at this time.

If you declutter every part of your home (and I’m talking about the loft, the garage, and the shed in this as well as the rooms inside the main house), then you get to grips with what you have.

You can see what you are going to be moving into your new home, and really decide if you need it at all any longer.

All too often we get blind to the things we have around us – so having a new beginning like a move tends to help us focus on what’s got to go.

Tip #2 – Plan what will go where

After a good declutter you should have a great idea of what’s in your home and what you will need to move into the new home.

A great tip here is to sit with a plan of your old house and a plan of your new house (a quick sketch of the floor plans is just fine!), and firstly write down what you have in your current house:-

Tip #3 – Colour code the plan

This is the fun bit!

From Tip #2 you will have created a rough plan of where you want things to be moved to on move-in day if possible. Now you need to make that a reality.

I find that colour coding can really help to do this quickly and easily.

I use sticky dots on my floor plan of the new house and colour code each room a different colour.

Then I go round the house and colour code the items I want to move into each of the rooms.

Tip #4 – Take labelling one step further

By this I mean that it’s all very well and good having a pile of boxes in each room that now belong there, but how do you find the things you need straight away vs. those that can wait if you don’t have time to unpack everything immediately?

The trick is to pack an “essentials” box(es) for each room and label it with a star or something so that it’s clearly visible. This means that you know that opening just those boxes will ensure you have what you need first open and ready to go.

Tip #5 – Keep the essentials and important stuff with you

On moving day itself, you don’t want to run the risk of not being able to get your hands on what you need when you need it.

You may be delayed actually moving in, and trying to find sleeping items and toiletries etc… in the dark in an unfamiliar house is the last thing you will want to be faced with.

As such, try and pack your own car with all your essential items – things like:-

  • Paperwork
  • Valuables
  • Bedding and a blow up bed!
  • Kitchen essentials box with tea bags, coffee, milk, cups, biscuits, bottle of wine and corkscrew – and the kettle of course! – at least you can make a drink as soon as you need one!
  • Kids essentials box – kids want to feel at home in a strange home as quickly as they can – so get them to pack their favourite toys, teddy, a blanket, nightie/pj’s etc… so that they can settle in and at least sleep in their familiar things if you don’t unpack everything on day 1.
  • Pets essentials box – pets will feel very confused at this time, and so the quicker you can familiarise them with the house, the better – pack things like food, water bowl, snacks, bed, favourite toys etc….
  • Clothes – a change of clothes for everyone for the following day so you can get going!
  • Toiletries for everyone

As soon as you arrive at the new house, you can at least have all the basics to hand – and out of the way in the car until you need them. If the removals are delayed/break down etc… then it won’t be a complete disaster as you can camp out together with bedding and essentials – it could be an adventure!

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Tip #6 – Prioritise

Now you have got all the boxes in the right rooms in the new house – it’s time to work out what you should do first.

This is where overwhelm can still set in if you’re not careful.

Prioritising can really help with this as you want to be sure that you don’t spend 3 hours on day one unpacking all the best china. You are better off spending time on what matters, and what can get you and the rest of the family up and running as quickly as you can.

My list of what I would do first would be something like this:-

  • Furniture is roughly in the right place (this means I can have somewhere to put my stuff when I start to open boxes)
  • Curtains are up in bedrooms
  • Essentials boxes are unpacked from the car (see Tip #5)
  • Essentials boxes for each room are unpacked (see Tip #4)
  • Start to open the rest of the boxes, starting with the most used rooms first (kitchen, bathroom, utility, bedrooms, living areas, storage areas)

At least then you are more likely to be able to function as quickly as you can, and are less likely to run out of time for the important stuff. You could work as far down the list as you can and then leave for another day.

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Tip #7 – Use momentum

Although leaving boxes for another day is very tempting when you have done so much already on move-in day, the trick is to keep going with unpacking while you have the energy and momentum from the move itself.

Leaving boxes for too long means they are likely to become invisible to you after a while, and you may find that you still have them there after months!

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