The UfYH Guide to Moving

So, you’re moving. Fun! No, wait. The opposite of that. Moving sucks, but there are things you can do to make it suck maybe a little less.


  • If you can, start early. Don’t think, “Oh, my move is ages away. There’s nothing I can do this soon.” That is not good thinking. That is the kind of thinking that leaves you crying in the middle of your half-packed kitchen an hour before you have to load up the truck. If you know you’re moving, start now. Yes, right fucking now.
  • Gather supplies. Don’t worry if you can’t acquire ten zillion boxes all at once. For now, make sure you have at least a few boxes, some large garbage bags, a few permanent markers, packing tape, paper for wrapping breakables, more garbage bags, and plenty of water. Seriously. Stay hydrated.
  • Figure out your system. Lots of people will tell you to color code your boxes, or make a master list of box numbers and what’s in each one. However, we live in the real world where that kind of bullshit is just not going to happen. You do want to know what’s in your boxes, though, so my personal system is to write the room the box goes in on the outside of the box, and then a quick inventory of what’s in it, right on the box. So, rather than ten boxes that say “Kitchen,” your boxes will say, “Kitchen: gadgets drawer, plastic containers, wine accessories,” and “Kitchen: wine glasses and sangria pitcher.” Or whatever.
  • Because you’ve so awesomely started as early as you can, you can actually sort through stuff as you pack. DO NOT PACK ANYTHING THAT YOU KNOW YOU WILL NOT WANT OR USE. Do not move what will eventually become garbage. Toss, recycle, or donate those things that will not be coming with you to your new place.
  • Start with the stuff you don’t use often. If you can survive without it until your move, pack it up.
  • You can pack dishes and glasses and such before the last minute. Leave out one set of dishes, silverware, and glasses for each person in your household and pack the rest. In your final packing hours, pack all of that into one box and label it so you know to open it first so you have something to eat off of in your new place.
  • Work methodically. Start in one room, with one surface, shelf, or cabinet, and pack until the box is full and ready to be sealed and labeled. If you jump around a lot, you’re going to get frustrated and overwhelmed.
  • Garbage bags work great for soft goods (pillows, clothes, whatnot); HOWEVER, make sure that they are clearly marked so they don’t end up in the trash. If you can get your hands on clear bags, even better.
  • TAKE BREAKS. Let me repeat that. TAKE BREAKS. Moving is overwhelming and shitty, so make sure you’re taking care of yourself throughout the process.
  • Once a box is packed, taped, and labeled, move it to a designated spot that’s near where the boxes will exit your current home. No sense in moving stuff twice.
  • Clean as you go. Once you have an area packed up, clean it, so you don’t have a last minute, total-home cleaning frenzy.
  • Work on packing every single day. Even if your move is far away, make it a goal to pack one box or work for 20 minutes every day. When you start missing days, it’s really hard to get back into the habit.
  • This is pretty common advice, but in case you haven’t heard it yet, pack a box that’s all the stuff you’ll need when you first arrive in your new place. Cleaning supplies, toilet paper, shower curtain liner, sheets, soap, etc. You don’t want to have to be tearing through boxes looking for that stuff after you’ve just moved. Trust me.
  • Once you’ve moved, unpack as thoroughly as possible. Avoid having boxes that stay unpacked for two years after you’ve moved. Just like when you were packing, work every day on unpacking. Aim for a box a day, and that means fully empty it, and break down and recycle or store the box.


You can do this. It’s a totally shitty process, but everyone goes through it, and if you’re prepared and give yourself time and a system, you’ll survive it. But you have to start now. Right now.

No, seriously.

Glitter text reading "Right fucking now"

[This post originally appeared on Unfuck Your Habitat]

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[E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

5 thoughts on “The UfYH Guide to Moving”

  1. I move on Sunday. I am bypassing a lot of this moving stuff and splurging for movers. Why the splurge? I live in a 5th floor walk-up in NYC, moving from downtown to uptown. Can I afford it? Kind of. Maybe. Barely.

    This will be the most decadent move I’ve done yet. I’m so excited to point out my boxes and watch others move them up and down stairs for me.

  2. Where were you six months ago!?!? You would have shaken your head at the packing charade that went on at our apartment. Mr. Nonsense and I lived on beer, water, and gummi bears for a solid two days.

    Also, if you book a POD or any other moving van online call them and talk to a REAL person to confirm. EVEN if you have a confirmation number. Finding out your moving apparatus is not coming the day it’s suppose to have come is not fun, hence the beer and gummi bears. :)

  3. This is SO well-timed! I move in a week, and I’m already wishing it were over. I have started packing, fortunately, and even doing some sorting/tossing, but there’s still so much to go. Especially books. Damn I have a lot of books.

    I love the advice about having a box or two of stuff you’ll need right away. I hate feeling half-moved, so I do tend to unpack really quickly, but it can still take a day or two.

    And going back to books, here’s my advice: NEVER pack a box full of books, unless it’s a pretty small box. That shit is heavy to move, and you will hate yourself. I’ve packed a bunch that are about half books, half clothes or towels and sheets. You can also do half books, half DVDs – they stack well, but the DVDs keep the weight down. It’s a little more of a pain to organize, but you will thank yourself when you’re carrying box after box up and down stairs.

    1. I move in a week too! And I also have somehow accumulated a small library. I did indeed pack a box full of books in part one of my move (we’ve been doing it in bits and pieces, which may in fact be worse than one fell swoop), and it was most certainly a mistake. Good, good advice.

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