Lately, so many people I know have told me that they’re planning on moving soon, and ironically, I also just got done moving into a new apartment here in Chicago. And as most of you know, I have made two big cross-country moves in my life: from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, and then from Los Angeles to Chicago. I’ve moved so many time sin my life, I could probably add “Professional Mover” to my resume. (Jk… kind of).

A local move is MUCH less stressful then a cross-country move, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to plan for it. I’ve taken a blog post where I shared tips from my cross-country move, and have altered and added to it for a shorter distance move. So if you’re one of those people who will be moving soon, I hope this blog helps!

(One note: I have never hired movers to help me with my moves, so these are tips that I have accumulated through moving all on my own with help from family & friends.)

1. Leave your clothes on the hangers and cover them with garbage bags

This might be one of the best tips I’ve learned – it honestly was the BIGGEST time saver. For an in-city move, there’s really no reason to take your clothes off the hangers, fold them, and put them in a box just to have to take them out again to put back on hangers. All you need to do is take maybe 6-10 pieces of clothing and leave them on the hangers. Then, take a garbage bag and you can either a) put the hanging clothes in the bag and then tie at the top OR b) poke a hole in the bottom of the bag and insert the hangers through that hole to tie at the bottom. Either way will work and this will save you a ton of time and stress once you’re moved in.

2. Downsize – Keep, Sell, Donate, Trash

Moving is the perfect opportunity to totally Marie Kondo your apartment/home before moving into a new space. I would recommend starting this process at least 1-2 months prior to moving, depending on how big your apartment/home is and how many things you own. Start with one room and go through each and every single item you own and decide if it’s something you want to keep, throw away, donate, or sell.

When going through your items, you’ll likely get stuck on a few (or many). Maybe it’s a shirt you bought 2 years ago and haven’t worn yet, but you’re saving it for a ‘just in case’ moment. Maybe it’s a childhood item or a gift you received from a family member. I want you to go through each item and really think about why you would want to keep it. Is it something YOU want to keep for yourself, or is it something you think someone else wants you to keep? Are you keeping it for a “rainy day” that likely will never happen? Does the item bring you joy? If not, it’s time to get rid of it.

After you’ve done this a few times, it gets easier. You learn to let things go and I promise you’ll end up feeling SO much better after. I think memorabilia, collectables, and childhood items are the hardest to go through. My mom kept literally everything from my childhood in boxes – every report card, every art project, every school tshirt, etc. When I got old enough, she gave me the boxes containing all of this stuff. Before moving to Chicago, I went through each and every item and made the decision to throw away nearly 80% of the items. If there were things that were tied to fond memories, I took a picture of the item but then threw the item away.

We tend to hold on to things for absolutely no reason. It’s not until you ask yourself, “Why do I want to keep this item” that you can finally realize you’ve been holding on to so many things for no real reason. If you don’t know why you’re keeping something, it’s probably time to let it go.

3. Pack by area

It’s likely that the things you have in your current bedroom, will likely stay in your new bedroom. The same goes for your living room, bathroom, closets, etc. So when you pack, do it by area. Everything that is on/in my vanity will be packed together. All of the clothing that I keep in my dresser will be packed together. Packing by area will make unpacking much easier.

4. Label things correctly

I cannot tell you how many times I have taken apart my bed or my TV stand and just threw the screws in a baggie thinking I’d be able to remember which screw went to which item. Boy, was I wrong. Throw all screws that go to one item together in their own zip-loc baggie and label it.

Same goes for boxes: unpacking will be much less stressful if you know exactly what’s inside each box. Also, when labeling boxes, be specific! I’ve been guilty of throwing a bunch of random things in a box and labeling the box ‘Random’. How helpful do you think that was when it came time to unpack? Lessons learned.

5. Invest in space saving vacuum bags

You can buy these bags at Target or on Amazon, and I promise you’ll be so happy you did! They are a lifesaver AND you can continue using them after your move! Any clothes that aren’t already on hangers, I’ll place in one of these vacuum sealed bags before putting them in a box. You end up being able to pack so much more in each box. These bags also come in handy for storing blankets or heavy coats during the summer months, etc. 

6. Create a to-do list

When it comes to moving, there is a lot to remember and keep track of. Having a handy list will make your life easier. I kept mine on my Notes app on my phone. When something would come up that I would need to do or remember for later, I would put it in the note. Here’s an example of my recent moving to do list:

  1. Cancel all utilities (Electricity, cable/internet)
  2. Mail/return cable equipment & cords
  3. Reserve freight elevators for moving day
  4. Find out where your moving truck can park while moving
  5. Forward mail through USPS
  6. Change address where applicable (i.e. credit cards, insurance, bank accounts, with your job, etc.)

7. Start packing ASAP

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s not to procrastinate. Anything that can be packed away sooner than maybe the week of/before your move, do it! Get started! The worst feeling is when you realize you totally underestimated how much stuff you have and you’re racing to pack the night before the move. Pack away your dishes and leave out a few you might need OR use plastic/paper plates/utensils. Leave out the clothes you might need and start packing the rest. You can likely start packing all of your household decor sooner than later. Again, you’ll be so happy you didn’t save it all for the week of your move.

8. To clean or not to clean

If necessary, find out from your building/landlord if you are required to clean prior to moving out. Sometimes, the building will charge you a cleaning fee regardless of whether you clean, so why bother? Other times, they’ll ask you to clean and if you don’t THEN they will charge you a fee. 

9. Pack a personal/overnight bag

Pack a separate bag of everything you’ll need for the first one or two nights in your new apartment. This will allevate any stress you may feel when you’re settled into your new place. After a long moving day, the last thing you’ll want is to rummage through boxes trying to find your toothbrush.

10. Load heavy items into the truck first, then boxes, then odd items (lamps, chairs, etc.)

I learned this lesson the hard way: I was living in a small studio and felt like I barely had any belongings/furniture. I rented a 10′ moving truck thinking it would be plenty big for everything. We started to load everything at once, not sticking to any sort of strategy. All of a sudden, the truck was nearly full and we still had several items left to pack. Later, I ended up having to move those exact belongings into another moving truck, but did so much more strategically and everything fit perfectly. There’s no surprise I’m not great at Tetris I guess haha.

11. Store dishes/plates vertically

This will help your dishes stay in tact!

12. Use blankets/towels for fragile items

13. Use all bins/suitcases/backpacks available

To save on boxes, be sure to use any available bins, suitcases, bags, etc. I also had been saving any boxes I received from online orders and stored them under/behind my couch until my move. If you do need more boxes, I would check with your local grocery store, your office, or even the building you live in. My building had a recycling area where people would throw away boxes.

14. Wrap or put tape on top of anything that might spill

After my last move, I opened up a box just to find that a bottle of shampoo had spilled ALL over everything inside the box. It was a mess to clean up! Now, I wrap the tops of bottles with Saran Wrap and then put moving tape on top of that.

15. Have plenty of water and snacks available

I learned this lesson during my most recent move because there came a point where my friends and I were so dehydrated we literally had to stop and take a water break. Next time, I’ll plan on having water and snacks available to keep us energized throughout the move.

There you have it! I have moved SO many times in my life, I honestly feel like I’ve got it down pat, but with every move I learn something new. I think the biggest takeaway here is DON’T PROCRASTINATE! Start organizing as soon as you know you’re moving.

Have you made a big move? Do you have anything to add to this list?

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