Minimalist Moving

So you’re thinking about hiring a moving company like United Van Lines and are looking the best way to do it. Some of you have been asking about tips and tricks on moving, so here they are!

As for my credentials, I’ve moved at least twice a year, and in 2010, I think about 10 times, which includes only changing domestic addresses and not commuting to other cities for work.

Update: I wrote this a while ago in 2010, I actually moved 19 times in 2010.

1. Plastic Wrap

It isn’t eco-friendly, and I’m pretty sure I’ll burn in plastics hell for this, but wrapping your plates, cups and even your iron in plastic wrap has been one of the best moving tips I’ve shared with colleagues and friends over the years.

When you wrap things in plastic wrap, they don’t shift when you pack them into boxes (they stick together, plastic + plastic) and it creates an immediate cushioning effect by trapping in the air.

If you’re used to wrapping with newspapers, you will notice that when you unwrap everything, it leaves newspaper printed smears that you will have to wash or wipe off after unpacking. Very uncool.

If you really feel bad using plastic wrap, then instead of newspaper, use your clothes and towels instead.

2. Use garbage bags

Again, plastics hell. Me. Burning.

If you have a wardrobe of freshly ironed shirts that you are dreading having to pack and end up creasing, try this:

Grab a whole hunk of your shirts on hangers (not more than you can carry at one time), and tape around the necks of the hangers to keep them neat and in order. You can also try tying rope or wire.

Take a garbage bag, and poke a hole through the bottom with the hangers. Voila, instant garment bags.

You can also use garbage bags to put in your clothes and towels, but I’d suggest using them to pad out your shoes or other things that might shift or get scratched when left uncovered.

We like to wrap our futon in garbage bags and then use moving straps to hold it all together because we can’t seem to find a sturdy enough, big enough bag on wheels to carry our futon in when we move.

(Yes, we’ve even tried hockey bags, but they’re too small, unfortunately).

3. Stalk grocery stores early for good, and FREE boxes

Start stalking boxes 3 months early and start packing things you know you won’t need to bring out again.

The best kinds of boxes are the ones that hold pears or delicate fruit. They have a double layer of corrugated cardboard on the sides, and the covers aren’t just flaps, but they’re another half box that fits securely on top and secures everything into a tight fit.

These are the best kinds of boxes because anything you put in there (liquids, and so on) if packed tightly enough, won’t shift or bulge out on the edges as you are carrying them.

What’s even better, is it usually comes with handles (very sturdy handles) on the sides and they are just as good as the boxes buy and you pay for.

The good boxes look like this:

Good places to find these boxes are independent grocery stores, places that provide boxes in big bins to use for your groceries, and so on.

They are also nice because they have their own inherent space limitations, and you can’t really overpack them to the point where they are too heavy to lift.

And these are BAD boxes that are flimsy:

4. Place like items together

Trust me. Take the time to round up all of your toiletries on the sink, and place them into the boxes in groups, like: “hair stuff”, then “face stuff”, and so on. Don’t mix items into groups that don’t make sense, because you will get frustrated and confused.

Not only will this save you the headache of searching for the conditioner that goes with your shampoo, but it just makes packing sense.

5. Pack as though you will be living in an empty space

ONE essential box for each room. Not two. ONE, so that you know which one to break out and unpack first.

A suitcase with personal effects for the next 2 weeks

– Clothing for work
– Clothing for the weekend/unpacking/cleaning
– Toiletries
– Makeup
– Important papers

You get the drift.

A box for the kitchen with:

– Dish soap and brush/sponge
– Plates, Bowls, Cups, Forks, Knives, Spoons — enough for whoever will be there
– Pot
– Pan
– Spatula
– Anything you use regularly to make quick meals with

I really suggest the kitchen box because a lot of people will tell you to buy plastic or paper plates and just use them for 2 weeks while you unpack, but if you can be organized and avoid wasting or using plastic as much as you can, you should.

It also saves you a bundle.

A box for the bedroom with:

– Pillows
– Blankets
– Freshly cleaned sheets
– An Iron (if you have clothes that need to be ironed)

A box for the living room:

– All the wires, cables and gadgets needed to set up your TV, telephone, laptops, computers
– Remote controls
– Keep your tools in here too, like screwdrivers, wrenches, or anything that you might need to put furniture together

Label all of these important boxes in big, bright red marker with the word: ESSENTIALS

Or just use the same type of box (with the same designs on them) so they are easy to spot.

If you have kids who are moving, ask them to pack a bag that they can carry with their own essentials as well.

You do not want to be looking for Mr. Fuzzy Bunny in the hundreds of boxes you have at midnight after a long, exhausting day of moving.

6. Invest in a dolly and some elastic as well as plastic ratchet moving straps

This is especially helpful if you are moving on your own. A dolly can be used for anything — if you buy big electronics, or just have a lot of stuff you need to keep shifting back and forth.

Stack those super sturdy, fruit boxes ontop of each other, and strap it all in with some elastic ropes.

If you are moving things with your truck, strap down everything with those thick plastic, fiber ratchet moving straps that have tighten & release snaps on them.

This is handy even if you don’t move. We like to have a portable one stored in the car, with a big recycling box strapped to it at all times.

Then if we have a lot of heavy groceries or just things that are quite heavy to carry, we put it in there and wheel it up. It has saved our backs and our sanity.

7. Keep the original boxes

This may be something you cannot change or help, but if you have things like a rice cooker or a TV that are kind of delicate, and would be best transported in their own boxes, then keep the box and the stuff that comes with it.

I didn’t do this for my immersion blender for example, because the box was much too big, and I could just wrap my blender in the little cotton bag and carry that with me instead.

Those are my main tips. Any others from other movers?

About the Author

I'm a 20-something year old girl who lived out of a single suitcase in 2007, and now I'm living with less, but only with the best. You don't have to get rid of everything to become a minimalist! Minimalism can help simplify and organize your life, career, & physical surroundings. You can read more about me as a minimalist. Or come and visit my other blog Fabulously Broke in the City where I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months, earning $65,000 gross/year.