Ultimate 3 Step Guide to Packing for Your Move

Far too easily, stress levels can rise on the day of your move due to subpar packing and planning of belongings. For this reason, we wanted to make a guide on how to pack for your move! While some of these ideas may seem elementary, when not paid attention to, these simple tasks can cause a cataclysm of headaches that can be felt weeks after the move is completed. By following this simple 3 step guide, you can insure you move will be smooth and enjoyable!


Step 1: Planning Your Pack


The first step and often most overlooked in the packing process is to establish a realistic packing plan. I say realistic because in an ideal world, you would pack all your belongings up weeks in advance to ensure the day of your move goes as smooth as possible. But I get it; even when prepping to move, you still have to live your life normally up until the day of your move and need your daily-used items readily available. It’s hard to make dinner when your pots, pans, and dishes are all packed up. The solution is to formulate a plan of attack to tackle your packing and doing so in a way that limits inconveniences to your daily routine. I would suggest having your packing gameplan together at least 2-5 weeks before your move, depending on the size of your home and amount of belongings you have.


The best way to figure out where to start is to create a list of rooms/areas in your house and rank them on how regularly you use items in those rooms. For example, rooms such as bathrooms and the kitchen would rank higher on the list than the home gym in the basement that may have turned into a clothing rack over the years! This serves two purposes: 1) you can see where to start packing and 2) you make sure no areas of your house are forgotten. Rooms such as storage closets and sheds tend to be overlooked and usually require significant time to pack up. Once you have a list together, start packing all the items in those rooms that aren’t frequently used, and work your way up the list.


Next, in the rooms you use more frequently, figure out what is in these rooms you don’t typically use or can afford to have inaccessible for a week or two. For instance, we all have a few small kitchen appliances in the back of a cabinet that haven’t seen the light of day since ‘08; pack those away first  By doing this, you will begin to chip away at the more trafficked rooms, which will prevent more headaches down the road in case you underestimate how much time packing the kitchen will actually take.


The last step in the planning stage is to create a timeline/schedule to keep yourself accountable, as procrastination will keep rearing its ugly head around every corner. Below are two examples of timelines you could use for your packing schedule:


Example Move Date 6/30


Step 2: Gauging Supplies


Before you can get into all that packing, you’ll need to know what supplies you’ll need and how many to purchase. There are tons of specialty supplies that can be purchased for your move. Some of these specialty boxes and wraps can be costly and when shopping for them, you may be overwhelmed with thoughts of ‘do I really need this’? Now, it is common for supply companies to offer ‘box buy back’ programs so you can purchase extra boxes worry-free because you can return them if unused. While this can be beneficial, this requires an extra trip back to the supply store to return the boxes and the offer usually doesn’t apply to other supplies. Even if this doesn’t seem like an inconvenience, it’s still nice to initially know approximately how many boxes to buy. The main variable for gauging your supplies is knowing how much stuff you actually have. We’ve seen four bedroom houses with thirty boxes and one bedroom apartments with close to two hundred. Don’t fret, these are extremes, and we’ve found there are average numbers of supplies. Below is a list of common supplies broken down to show what is typically necessary for your move and how much of each supply to buy.  


Boxes & Tape

Below are two charts: first is the average number of boxes broken down by room, and second is the average number of boxes per home:


BedroomKitchenBasementLiving RoomDining RoomBathroomOffice


4 Bdrm House3 Bdrm House2 Bdrm House2 Bdrm Apt1 Bdrm Apt


These average box counts for your home may vary. If you have a library full of books, multiple sets of china or other collectibles, well-loved children (aka lots of toys), or an extensive wardrobe, your box count may be higher. This chart provides a base for your box needs. As for tape, we prefer brown shipping tape (although clear packing tape is more than okay) and roughly one roll of tape is enough for 10-15 boxes.


Newsprint Paper

Newsprint paper is our go-to for non-sentimental breakable items. This includes items such as plates, bowls, glasses and other kitchen items that are used on a regular basis. Newsprint can also be used to wrap non-breakable items you simply don’t want scratched or marked up (such as plaques, watch display cases, and jewelry boxes). Or ball it up and use it to fill awkward, empty spaces in boxes to ensure nothing will move. Newsprint is typically sold in boxes of 200 sheets and you can be expect to use 1-2 boxes of newsprint for a typical kitchen and an additional 1-2 boxes for the rest of your home. One frequently asked question is ‘can you just use newspaper instead’? The answer is of course! With that being said, there are two things to consider if using newspaper: 1) typically newspaper is thinner than newsprint so you may need up to double the amount and 2) newsprint paper is guaranteed to be clean, whereas newspaper has the possibility for ink or other residue to be present.


Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is used in a similar manner as newsprint paper. It does offer an additional level of protection for wrapped items, however it comes at a much higher price (bubble wrap can be $0.40/ft verses newsprint at $0.03/ft, making bubble wrap over 10x more expensive). When it comes to very delicate items or items with glass such as figurines, pictures, and delicate china, it’s recommended to wrap them in bubble wrap to ensure protection. As outlined above, less valuable breakables such as kitchenware will have more than enough protection with newsprint when packed in boxes correctly. While case dependant, one 200 ft. roll of bubble wrap is usually enough for an average 3 bedroom house.


Specialty Supplies

The only specialty supplies we typically use and recommend are TV boxes for flat screen TVs (over 30 inches, anything under may fit in a regular box) and wardrobe boxes for any clothing you don’t want wrinkled or to have to rehang. You will need one TV box per TV and wardrobe boxes depend on your individual needs. Wardrobe boxes usually fit 24 inches of hanging clothes; to calculate how many you will need, measure how many inches/feet of hanging clothes you have and divide by 24 inches. Other specialty supplies such as dish/glass packs, picture boxes, and mattress covers add additional protection if you wish to spend the money. From our experience, it is case-by-case dependent on whether they are necessary or not.


Step 3: Packing, Marking & Labeling


As you begin packing, there are a few cardinal rules that should be followed. When done correctly, you can be assured your items will be transported safely, while also aiding in the smoothness of the entire move.


Packing Rule 1: Don’t Overpack Boxes

The first rule of packing your boxes is do not overpack/stuff boxes. It can be tempting to see if you can pack all your belongings into as few boxes as possible; that’s called efficiency, right? Technically yes, but where you’ll wind up paying for this false sense of efficiency is in the safety of the items in the box and the practicality of actually moving them. If boxes are overpacked, there will be more weight and pressure on every item that is in there. In this situation, any breakables have a significantly higher chance of being compromised even when prepared property.


The next issue comes with the practicality of moving an overstuffed box. While you can take an XL box with books or weights and fill it to brim, from experience, that box may not be moving anywhere. Even if it can be picked up, the amount of weight in the box may cause the box itself to fail as many boxes are not meant to hold an exorbitant amount of weight. A simple rule of thumb is to keep the boxes under 10 lbs if containing fragile items and under 40 lbs if not fragile to prevent any unwanted damage.


Packing Rule 2: Fill Open Space

The next packing rule is to fill any vacant space in boxes. You may be thinking, ‘Hey! Didn’t you just tell me not to over pack them?’ And that is correct, however that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve both of these goals. Once a box gets close to it’s maximum weight (see previous paragraph) any empty space should be filled by a light, voluminous item such as a towel, drape, or balled up newsprint.


Packing Rule 3: Like Packs Like

The final rule in packing boxes is using the rule ‘like packs like’. What this means is similar objects should be packed together. Light fragile items should be in a box together, books should go together (in a small book box, of course), and so on. Issues can arise when heavy items are packed together with light fragile ones, such as packing the crockpot in the same box as your wine glasses. By keeping like items together, boxes tend to pack better and the safety of the items is increased.


Marking & Labeling

Next, you’ll want to label boxes to avoid playing the ‘let’s guess what’s in this box’ game over, and over, and over again. How they are labeled is completely up to you, and there isn’t necessarily a correct or incorrect way to do so. Here is a brief list of methods that can be utilized in marking and labeling:


Room Name

Boxes can be labeled by simply naming them. Some examples are ‘kitchen’, ‘storage’, ‘Alex’s Bedroom’, etc.



Unique colors or numbers can be assigned to each room in your house as can the subsequent boxes that are packed from each. This practice can be useful when using movers so you don’t have to worry about accidently putting boxes for ‘Brian’s Bedroom’ into ‘Billy’s Bedroom’. When using either the color or number method, it is a good idea to put a label on the doorway of each room to aid in figuring out which room is which.



Boxes that contain breakable or fragile items should be obviously marked. Generally speaking, this is done instinctively by the majority, but keep in mind over marking fragile boxes may lead to the marking losing its value. All boxes should be handled with a normal level of care, and the ones marked as fragile should be handled with extra care. Marking as fragile also indicates to your movers where the these boxes can or cannot be packed in the moving truck.


Moving is an orchestration with many moving parts. Many of these parts are preparatory and, when done correctly, can significantly impact the experience in a positive and enjoyable manner. This guide can be used as a resource for moves of all sizes to help you properly plan. After planning, the next step will be either renting a truck for your move or hiring a mover. If you are moving yourself, watch this video on how to rent a moving truck. If you are looking for a mover, click below to get your free estimate!

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