How to Move Stuff Without Breaking It

Girl planning her move

There is nothing quite as awful, no fear quite so absolute, as beginning to unpack only to find that all your clearly labelled “fragile” boxes may well have been through a tornado. What could you have done wrong? Worry not dear reader, for such a horror will not befall you on your upcoming move. Now just take a minute, just sit right there. I’m going to tell you how to move all your stuff without breaking everything.

Pack Early, Pack Often

For my last move, I had about a week to pack up my entire two-bedroom apartment – getting boxes, purging closets, folding clothes, getting more boxes, realizing I need a tape gun – all in the span of a week. It’s a miracle that nothing broke in the move, or at least nothing important broke, as my spirit was crushed by the end of it. Pack early, the moment you start seriously looking, or within six weeks of the move, you should have boxes ready to fill with your belongings, closets should already be purged, the nearest box selling location should be bookmarked in your browser. Why start so early? Simple, moving is every kind of stress imaginable. Start early so you can take your time to carefully pack everything.


paper shredder

Yes, I mentioned this before. Seriously, purge your closet. If you are having a team of movers come to load/unload your truck, odds are they are paid by the hour, and the heavier/more boxes you have the longer the move will take, and that’s the last thing you need. What clothes have you not worn in a year? Are you moving someplace where having forty T-shirts is overkill, as they only have a couple days above freezing this season? Pack what you will need, and what is important. What you don’t bring with you should be donated at the nearest Good Will or Salvation Army just because you don’t have use for it any longer doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have use. Take a little time to help those in need.

Labeling Something Fragile is a Last Step, Not Real Protection

Moving day comes and it is hectic, and honestly if you asked me what I wanted for lunch on a given moving day I wouldn’t be able to say grilled cheese, let alone form an opinion about the question you just asked. So, what makes you think that when the day comes to load the truck, you are going to be clear headed enough to read the boxes? Labeling boxes is a last level of protection, and is the first one to fail once the truck starts to get loaded. Bubble wrap, newspaper, packing peanuts, these are your protection bread and butter. If you suspect that driving conditions are going to be wet that day, be sure to error on the side of bubble wrap over newspaper and packing peanuts – packing peanuts turn to pretty much glue when exposed to moisture, not something you want to scrape off dinner plates.

Keep an Inventory

One of the main reasons stuff breaks during a move is because the box was moved too many times, dropped kicked, any number of a thousand things – even the fragile marked boxes. One good way to prevent this problem is to keep an updated inventory. This can be through color coded markers, red means kitchen plates, yellow means electronics for the living room. Or you can write whatever is in the box on the box. You can make your own inventory through an excel spreadsheet, or you can go to nearly any storage company and get a similar form to fill out by hand if that is more your speed. There are also companies that you can hire out to do this inventory for you, if you have the money to spare.

Nobody said moving was easy. In fact, I think I shared enough about my last move to prove two things definitively: I am an idiot for packing everything in a week and that moving is hard. Take the time to move, you do not need to spend hours and hours every day packing boxes. Take some breaks so you can work consistently. Donate what you can to those less fortunate and pack deliberately, this will take a little extra time now, but it’ll also mean that everything that was supposed to come with you on the move will.

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