Much Ado about Moving: How to Ensure a Successful Moving Experience

Today’s blog post was written by Jessica Johnson from


Are you stressing over your moving day? Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce the toll that the physical moving process can take on us and the most powerful tool is simple: preparation!

This step is never more valuable than in the process of transporting your belongings from one place to another. You have to acquire your packing materials, box your things up, engage a moving company and ensure your possessions arrive at their new destination, safe and sound. The good news is that no matter where you are in the relocation process – from merely thinking about a change, to house-hunting, to putting in an offer on your dream home – it’s never too early to start getting ready. Here are a few tips to help you on your way.

Do Your Moving Company Due Diligence

When it comes to moving companies, the proof is in the pudding; rather than hiring the first company in the phone book, be sure to get references from your friends. Ask them specific questions about the company they hired:

  • What was your overall experience with them? If your friend was less than satisfied, for whatever reason, find out what it was and decide if you think that will be a problem for you.
  • Did they bill you what they quoted you? Many times companies (in every field, not just movers!) will “charge” you one figure, but when you receive the bill, it has lots of little extras that add up to a substantial sum, considerably more than the initial total. Most of the time, you can find out if the final invoice reflected the quoted amount from your friends without ever asking them to disclose specific numbers.
  • Did you have any issues with the condition of your belongings when they arrived at your new home? Sometimes moving companies are “one stop shops” in the sense that they will not only move your stuff, but they will also box it up beforehand. If your friends mention broken or damaged items, you may want to reconsider that particular company.

Even if your friends handled the packing personally and the moving company merely transported the boxes, if their belongings arrived in a different condition than when they left, you should bypass those movers and continue on with your search.

Purposeful Packaging and Packing

Whether you hire a moving company to complete your move from start to finish or you choose to pack up your home yourself, there are several things to keep in mind regarding the packing materials you use and the manner in which you use them.

Materials Matter.

Be sure to use good quality boxes and appropriate packing materials. Although it may be a “traditional” packing material, newspaper is not recommended: not only does the ink stain your hands and clothing, but it also transfers to your belongings – not a good thing! Instead, use butcher-type paper for the majority of your items and bubble wrap for your breakables. Finish off the boxes with a good serving of packing peanuts to make sure no items jostle and shake in the boxes during transit.

Additionally, use appropriately sized boxes for what you are packing. For instance, kitchen appliances (toaster, coffee maker, etc.), books, DVDs, tools and picture frames are good examples of items perfectly suited for small boxes. Not only does this keep down the total weight per box for heavier items, but it also makes them easier to handle and carry.

Medium sized boxes are good for stereo equipment and larger kitchen items. Large boxes work well for pillows, stuffed animals, bedding and other linens, as long as you don’t overload them with heavy blankets.

Moreover, there are specific boxes for certain items. Wardrobe boxes are large and contain a metal rod upon which you can hang your clothes. Dish packs are designed to keep your fragile dishes snug in transit. Mirror boxes can carry mirrors, glass table tops and large framed artwork. Finally, lamp boxes are perfect for those tall lamps with full lampshades.

Plan of Attack.

Once you have your materials under control, you are ready to move on to the packing itself.

First, make sure you pack one room at a time. This will make it easier to keep your things in order and will facilitate easy re-location of entire rooms from one home to the next. Along those lines, clearly label everything based on room and contents.

Whenever possible, take your most valuable items (both with respect to monetary worth and sentimental value) with you and do not leave them for the moving company. If you are moving across the country and carrying all of your most prized possessions is not an option – i.e., you are flying and everything else, including your car, is being shipped – you might consider labeling the boxes in code. These codes can be as intricate or simple as you like. For example, a complicated system would involve numbers and letters whereas you could simply label all of your expensive items as “old.” Think about it: if you saw a box labeled “good china” with a giant star on it and a box labeled “old dishes,” which one would you guess holds grandma’s antique silver set? The point is to avoid drawing unwanted attention to priceless possessions; only you should know which boxes contain special items.

Finally, you’ve heard “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket?” The same rings true for packing expensive items. Separating semi-valuables into different boxes spreads your risk around and minimizes the possibility of losing all of your “goods” in one fell swoop.

Now that you have your moving “plan of attack” ready to go, you can get back to finding that dream home to put everything in!

What are some of your favorite moving tips and tricks? Any stories you can share to help others who are standing where you once stood?

Jessica Johnson takes a keen interest in organization as a result of her experience working at She contributes to the Extra Space Storage blog, exploring various aspects of organizing and storing possessions. Extra Space Storage has over 900 locations across the United States, including a Sacramento self storage self storage facility.

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