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5 Ways to Stay Sane While Moving


This week, we’re preparing for our sixth move in 11 years. We’re not quite as adept at this as some of you military families who move like 10 times every two years or something (!), but prepping for this move has gone so smoothly and I really think a lot of it has to do with tips and tricks I’ve learned from multiple moves.

For those who may be in the midst of a move or may be planning a move later on this year, I wanted to share five ways we’re staying sane while moving:

1. Start Early

As with most things in life, starting early can be the key to your organization and success. Back in November, when I found out we were moving, I started to mentally think of everything we’d need to do to prepare for this move.

In the past, I’ve made a notebook with sections for three months before, two months before, one month before, three weeks before, two weeks before, and then each day of the week of the move. This time around, I’ve relied more on Google Calendar to keep track of all the big and little tasks.

As I think of tasks that need to be done, I’ve added it to my Google Calendar and assigned each task a due date. I haven’t always gotten everything done on the specific day a task was assigned to, but the beauty of Google Calendar is that I can easily move things to a different day, if need be.

Figure out whether paper or paperless system will work best for you. Then, start brain dumping all of the tasks into your system. Getting them out of your head and assigned to a date will take a load off your shoulders and will help you stay on track.


Read my guest post on Living Well Spending Less on 7 Ways That Google Calendar Simplifies My Life.

2. Clear the Clutter

Before you begin packing, one of the best things you can do is get rid of as much excess clutter that you can. For the past four months, I’ve been slowly going through our home from top to bottom evaluating everything in our home and deciding what to keep and what to pass on, sell, or get rid of.

This time around, knowing we were moving cross country, I was highly motivated to let go of anything I wasn’t absolutely sure we loved and would use after we moved. Truly, it’s been really freeing for me!

And best of all, I’ve been surprised and encouraged with how simple packing has been. The effort to pare down and keep things pared down has paid off in big dividends.

Struggling to know what to keep and what to get rid of? Here are 5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Clutter.

3. Break Tasks Down

Instead of approaching tasks in big chunks, break them down into bite-sized pieces. Think of the steps you need to take to get to the finished task and then assign a few pieces of those steps to each day.

This is one of the benefits of starting early — you don’t have to cram a bunch of projects in at the last minute. You can just do a few bite-sized pieces of tasks and within a few weeks, you’ve accomplished a LOT.

I’ve been breaking up the packing by room and area. So for instance, instead of tackling a whole room, I’ll just tackle a closet, a few cupboard, or a section of the room at a time. By doing a few of these areas every day, we’ve made quick progress on packing — and it’s not felt overwhelming or exhausting!

4. Accept Help

If someone offers and you can use the help, take it! We’ve been blessed to have family members and friends help us with packing, getting our yard ready, hauling off large items, watching our kids, having us over for dinner so we didn’t have to mess with cooking, cooking dinner for us, encouraging us, and praying for us.

We feel so blessed to have such a great support system around us here… and it didn’t just happen; it’s because we’ve intentionally sought to foster community here and to be available as we were able to help and bless others, too. Relationships are about give and take and it’s such a gift when you have these kinds of friendships!

We are looking forward to planting roots and plugging into a new community where we’re moving to so that we can hopefully develop deep friendships and relationships there, too.

5 Ways to Stay Sane While Moving

5. Pack With Unloading in Mind

When packing, think strategically about unloading and unpacking, too. For instance, we’ve not seen the house that we’re moving to, but I’ve taken time to study all of the pictures and videos we have so I can get a very good grasp of where we’ll put most of our furniture items, which rooms we’ll need to switch around, and what is going to go where. This makes unpacking so much more efficient and organized.

In addition, I cannot stress the importance of labeling your boxes well. We’ve been labeling boxes not only with details on what room they are from, but also with specifics on what’s in them.

I mentally know which rooms are getting transferred where in our house so I’ll be able to make sure the correct boxes (mostly!) end up in the correct rooms. This alone saves a lot of time. Plus, if the contents of the boxes are clearly labeled, it makes it much easier to find what you need quickly after you have the correct boxes in the correct rooms.

Finally, I try to think ahead to what we’re going to need as soon as the moving truck pulls up. We always pack a few boxes that have cleaning supplies, toilet paper, rags, and other essentials and put that box on the truck last. That way, it’s the first box unloaded when we arrive.

This solves so much frustration and guarantees that you’ll have at least some basics on hand right away. Life is always better when there’s toilet paper and cleaning supplies handy! 🙂

What are your best tips and tricks for staying sane while moving? I’d love to hear them!

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  • Can I ask how you found your house in TN if you haven’t seen it in person? We are getting ready to move in August, but I’ve always found a house through military websites, etc. This time we’re moving to a non-military area, and I don’t even know where to start when looking for a house! Also, are you nervous about renting it without seeing it first? That seems very scary to me!

    • We saw pictures online, have talked extensively to the landlords, and had some good friends of ours who live there go check it out and take videos for us. They live in the same area and we trust their judgment, so we feel really comfortable about it. I don’t know that we would have felt comfortable renting it had we not had friends check it out for us ahead of time. Otherwise, that could be somewhat risky!

      • Trish Pickel Curry says:

        I used Zillow initially, but then discovered that many of the homes listed were actually scams. If you find properties you like do a separate search on that address–you need to confirm with an agent that the home is truly being rented.

    • Alison says:


      Have you thought about having a Realtor help you out? Since sellers/landlords generally pay the commissions, it wouldn’t cost you anything to use one. Even if you are just planning on leasing, I promise you there is a newbie agent in the town you are moving to that will bend over backwards to help you out and they are going to be 1000x more accurate than the info on, etc.

  • Danielle says:

    This is so my life right now! We have moved our family of 4 six times in the last 18 months -including cross-country moves and one international move! Starting May 1st we are preparing for another move, and hopefully this will be our last one for at least 12 months! Moving this much, we have really pared down what we own.

    This is a great list, Crystal, about writing out the paln way in advance, with tasks staged for months/weeks/days in advance, and really thinking throught the process (visualizing) to make sure you pack things in a logical order.

    I would just emphasize that on top of all the cleaning supplies you’ll want to make sure you pack last (so you can get them out first) be sure to think about what kitchen and personal items you need to leave out or pack last so you can get to them first (e.g. make sure you set aside suitcases of clothing and personal items for all people, maybe activity bags for the kids, and any utensils or food storage containers you’ll need). This is mainly in the case of a long move.

    Good luck to us all!

    • WOW! My hat’s off to you! I cannot imagine! I think you need to write a book on how to move… because it sounds like you have some amazing experience under your belt!

      And great tip on the suitcases! We’re going to be living out of suitcases as of Thursday of this week and I plan to just wash everything and re-pack it the day before our move. This will help so that we don’t have to worry about personal items as the basics we need will already be packed.

      I’m still debating on how I’m going to do the final kitchen packing. I was considering keeping out a box worth of essentials and packing it the last day — I think you may have just convinced me to do that! 🙂

      • Carol says:

        I am right with you! Just sold our house in 1 day, and have to be out by May 16th. Since it’s the 5th time we’ve moved in the last 7 years, I have things pretty pared down too 🙂

        There are a few boxes that always get put in truck/storage last, because I want them out first.

        1. Kitchen “startup” box. (Coffee maker, frying pan, paper goods – because I don’t want to do any dishes those first few days, etc.)
        2. Cleaners/vacuum/garbage bags
        3. Bedding ****Very first thing I do when I move in anywhere…is make our beds! I learned that the hard way. First 2 times I forgot, and then was so tired at the end of the day, I just collapsed on top of a bare mattress. Sleeping well is really important! LOL
        4. Bathroom Box: Towels/toiletries/shower curtain/toilet paper. ****

        Once our beds are made, I get the bathrooms ready. Then, set up the basic kitchen box.

        Once I’ve made sure that we can sleep, shower, eat and drink, I can do everything else at my leisure. I just make sure not to unpack too many things at once. (Rule of thumb: fully unpack and place all items before opening another box 🙂 )

        Off to pack some more……..Good luck with your moves, too, ladies 😀

  • Jenn says:

    My best tip is this. In addition to listing EVERYTHING that is in the box on the box, I put the rooms on colored paper (I just print a bunch on the computer, but you can write them too. So for example the kitchen is orange, so then you easily spot the color and know orange is kitchen. I have even then put piece of that color taped on the wall of the new room for rooms that were not as obvious (personal bedrooms, dens, etc) so those carrying in the boxes knew where they should go.

    Also, on our last move I cleaned out the dining room of everything first and that became the box room. I had a spot in the room for boxes for each room, so they went onto and off of the truck together.

    • Brilliant — you’re so organized! What an inspiration!

    • Busy Mama says:

      Or colored dots work great, too. When we moved cross country, I just slapped a dot on each box to indicate into which room it should be carried when we arrived at our destination.

      • Trish Pickel Curry says:

        I did something similar with our last move–used washi tape, different color for each room. It made finding what I was looking for SO easy, and since we put all our boxes into the garage to start with I was also able to group them right off the bat.

  • Donna Downey says:

    Crystal, do that last box from the kitchen! I had one move where we were packed by the moving company (hate that). I couldn’t find my nice coffee maker for 3 weeks and obviously, had to go buy another one before then. That last box needs to have the coffee maker in it if you use one! You may laugh, but it was a problem 😉

  • Kamila says:

    Before our first move we’ve purchase close to 50 Rubbermaid plastic boxes with lid that have served us well. We pack all fragile stuff, books, electronics into those boxes. We started packing two months in advance and when done we just carry the packed boxes to the side of the garage. I’ve sold close to $1000 worth of stuff on a FB buy/sell/trade page and on Craigslist. We are getting rid of most large furniture (becuse it’s really not worthy to move it 3000 miles). In our new destination I’m planning of getting some second hand furniture and other things we will need for the house.
    A good advice for packing. Use everything you have in your house to pack with. Your clothing, socks (for glasses, fragile trinkets), new diapers are great to pack drinking glasses in them), jeans are great for glass, Amazon packing boxes and packing material. Recycle everything. Put leftover clothing in large kitchen trash bags and upon destination, patch the small tears with some tape and use them to put trash in. You really don’t need much packing materials if you use everything in your home that you already have and have to move anyways.
    (7 do-it-yourself moves in 7 years)

  • Lisa wall says:

    We just moved from Canada to Lawrenceburg Tennessee three weeks ago, we also only saw our house online and we were very happy with it when we arrived. It’s been a big culture shock for us. So far we love it here in TN.

  • Jen says:

    We moved 7 times in the first four years of our marriage.

    This last move was back to the city we both grew up in where we had a lot of friends want to help get us settled. In addition to unloading the trucks, they wanted to help unpack the boxes and get rid of the cardboard at a family business nearby. In order for things to get unpacked quickly without requiring my constant oversight, I put post it notes on all of the cabinets in the kitchen with a list of what should be in it. It may not seem like much, but it completely freed me up to be helpful elsewhere. We actually left the post it’s up for a few weeks at my husbands request so he would have time to orient himself in another new place!

    • Sissy Sweet says:

      I did that too on our last move. It helped a lot, and kept things very close to how I usually have them (plates, bowls etc over top dish washer for easy unloading ….coffee pot near sink for easy filling of water, you get the idea).

      We are in the process of moving to another state, and it is much more difficult for me now, with my disability. I am making very slow progress, but keep chipping away at it.

      I gleaned a lot of great moving tips off Pinterest. I love your idea of the google calendar, Chrystal. Thanks for sharing.
      Thanks for your sharing your ideas, Chrystal.

  • Jen says:

    We moved 7 times in the first four years of our marriage.

    This last move was back to the city we both grew up in where we had a lot of friends want to help get us settled. In addition to unloading the trucks, they wanted to help unpack the boxes and get rid of the cardboard at a family business nearby. In order for things to get unpacked quickly without requiring my constant oversight, I put post it notes on all of the cabinets in the kitchen with a list of what should be in it. It may not seem like much, but it completely freed me up to be helpful elsewhere. We actually left the post it’s up for a few weeks at my husbands request so he would have time to orient himself in another new place!

  • Lisa wall says:

    Where did you move from?

  • Kim says:

    I am weird and love moving. I enjoy change and think of it as an adventure. For the packing I also color code. I use colored sharpies and each room is assigned a color. Each box is given a number written in the room color and then on a tablet of paper I write down specific contents. This allows to me to find things easily if there is a pile of boxes. I look for the numbered box and know exactly what is in it. At the new house I also use color paper so the people helping us move know which room to plop the boxes in. Good luck in your move.

    • jenn says:

      Oh i am so using the numbered list with my color system next time i move! (of course i have vowed that will not be for 15 years lol)

  • Karen O'Keeffe says:

    Purchase used boxes on Craigslist. Splurge for the high quality ones. They will make your move easier and you can sell them again once you get unpacked!

    • Sissy Sweet says:

      We were able to get free apple boxes from the grocery store. They are very sturdy. We used apple boxes a few years ago, when we moved, and they all held up wonderfully. Those were all donated to the food pantry, once empty.

  • Debra says:

    I have moved so many times overseas and stateside. One major thing i do know keep your renter’s insurance current to cover your items while you move. You will be surprise what movers or military will pay for. Do not pack any boxes let the movers pack them, if they pack it and damage it then they pay for it. Memories, scrapbooks, cds, dvds and any other vauble non replaceable items you pack and take with you. You cannot pack or have pack items like nail polish, perfumes, hair spray or any other flammable items. Seal and tape shut canisters of flour, sugar etc and spices. Pack your suitcases on how many days you will be living out them. always pack one for just the road trip. Make surprise bags for kids from items at dollar store. let kids take their fav item in the car. when traveling with pets make sure their kennel has something from the old house in the kennel. Pick up vet records and rabies cert. Do not pack can goods donate to food bank and any other non perishables. Carry laundry items in car so you can wash clothes if need be. Wow i can go on and on….

  • Court says:

    Number the boxes by room (Kitchen 1, Bedroom 2, etc). Then make a binder with a section for each room, with the contents of each box listed. When you need to find something post move, you go to the binder instead of having to dig through boxes to see what’s on the sides. Just figure out which number box you need from the binder and then look for it – much easier, and has the added advantage of not advertising to the world what’s in each box.

    Good luck!

  • MommaMo says:

    This is very timely for me, as my family is about to move for the 5th (6th if you count when I moved after our honeymoon) time since we got married, less than 4 years ago! This time, though, we have an interesting challenge since we are leaving a bug-infested apartment building are REALLY don’t want to take any unwanted pets with us to our first house. We are treating with boric acid like crazy and planning on ditching several things (like our printer and microwave that have been nested in), but I’m curious if anyone has additional tips on how to leave the pests behind. (We will also have the new place treated before moving in and regularly after that.)

  • Becky says:

    Are you selling your house? Renting it out?

    I wish I didn’t procrastinate as much. It has been my years long project to pare down. Instead I’m crying in the final days as friends help me sort. It’s very stressful to make decisions under those circumstances. Also I’m not sure everything went to the best place, if it’s more random stuff life used school supplies and magazines. And a nice chair set accidentally got split up because the thrift store was closed when we went on the second run.

    The tl;dr is yes, start early. At least I moved two times six months apart before crossing two state lines, getting rid of half my stuff each time.

    • Sissy Sweet says:

      Don’t beat your self up about it. Take a deep breath and try not to stress. You could always pare down once you get there, as you unpack.

      • Becky says:

        I wish. There’s no going back. We only shipped one U-box, so there wasn’t a lot we could take with us. Mostly it was getting rid of a lot of stuff. I may have some stuff that I would have gotten rid of if it meant keeping stuff I donated. I also can’t go back and make sure ask the donations go to the right places. Thrift stores don’t take everything. I found a place that says they use everything, whether they sell it or use it in their missions. I hope so. I hate waste. With more time I could find good homes for everything.

  • Ashley hooks says:

    The MOST important moving tip: Don’t Stress! Everything will get done and be fine. Really it will.

    (Former army brat and now a frequent mover with 5 kids ages 8 to 1 1/2)

  • I especially like your tip of accepting help. When we moved last time (about 4 years ago with 4 children age 5 and under), I sought out a lot of help and even paid for babysitting a number of days. We were downsizing and I needed to actively clean out and yard sale more than 1/2 of what we owned. (Even at that, I should have gotten rid of much more.) I called on everyone I knew to help with childcare and accepted any and all help I could get. God knew I was going to need all that. Right in the middle of all of this, we found out that I had thyroid cancer because of my baby head-butting me in the neck. Praise the Lord that I already had so much help lined up!

  • Lana says:

    When we made our big move over 20 years ago I used red, green and yellow spot stickers on every box. Green stickers meant this box gets opened the first night. Those boxes had bedding, towels and essential kitchen items. Yellow stickers meant that those were everyday needed items that could wait a day or two. Red stickers meant that they were non essential items that could be stored since we went to a rental until we found a house to buy. Those boxes were not unpacked for 6 months. My husband has bragged about my sticker system ever since then!

    Moving to the south can be quite a culture shock. We have our own set of rules down here and I sure did not know them when I arrived in SC. The biggest thing I can tell you for the first few days is that if a neighbor comes to your door you need to invite them into your home no matter what you are doing or how big a mess you are in. It is the way we are and relationships can really be based on that first meeting and whether or not you opened your door and asked them in. I wish I had been warned!

    • Thank you so much for that tip on inviting people in! I really appreciate it!

    • MommaMo says:

      I love your sticker idea! I think I will use that for my family 🙂 And I totally agree about inviting people in, a “good southern gal” always has fresh sweet tea, lemonade, or coffee ready to offer guests and will often have some munchies to offer as well. If you come to my house I will offer you tea, coffee (in the morning), cheerios, carrots, and/ or pretzels 🙂 People care about the personal connections and (usually) don’t mind stepping over blocks and the laundry basket to sit and chat (and a really great neighbor will help fold the laundry while you chat).

      • Lana says:

        Ah, I see that you are one of us 🙂 But, I would not expect sweet tea if you were just moving in. We just like to see that you would invite us in because we can be suspicious of anyone who is not a southerner. Inviting us in shows us that you are open to being neighborly and if you allow us to come in we know that you are not hiding anything. It is the way we are, y’all.

  • bberg says:

    Hate to see you leave Kansas. Have enjoyed hearing local notes in your blog! Why are you renting in TN?

    • Gretchen will still be sharing her grocery shopping trips from KS, so you’ll still be hearing quite a few local notes. 🙂 We’re renting right now for a variety of reasons — one of the biggest of which is because it makes the transition of moving to another state much less complicated for us.

      • Anne says:

        We just sold our condo but rented a house in the same town before we put our condo on the market. We also had a number of reasons renting made more sense for us. With a toddler, we didn’t want to have to be flexible with showing the condo during nap time, etc. But we are renting mainly because it is significantly less expensive in our area (like $600 less a month); real estate prices in our area are inflated right now due to low inventory. We are really disciplined savers and learned from our condo that owning a home doesn’t always equal equity. Renting has a lot of benefits.

        Hope you have an easy, uneventful move and enjoy your rental home while figuring out the different neighborhoods in the community!

  • Mona says:

    We recently move across the country. We got rid of so much stuff! Not enough though – after we moved, we got rid of more stuff. It was frustrating to think that we paid to move stuff that we just ended up throwing away. One of the biggest blessings was our church helped us load the truck. All of our big furniture was loaded in one day as well as all the boxes were moved into our garage so they would be easy to load. People offered to come back and help the next day too. We labeled boxes by where they would go in our new house so it was easy for whoever carried the box in to know where to put it. We used paper plates & plastic silverware for our last couple days in our old home and our last night we spent in a hotel since everything was packed.

  • I love the tip to pack the cleaning supplies last (and several other tips throughout the comments!)

    We’ve got 4 weeks until our move, and my husband’s company is paying for a moving company (which I’m veryso for!) But, after having a moving company on our last move, I know that they pack EVERYthing, so starting this week I’m going to go through every single spot in our home one last time to get rid of anything that I don’t want to go with us in the move. I cleared out so much to put our home on the market, but I think one more big de-cluttering will make the move go more smoothly.

    And I can’t imagine moving either without seeing the house, but the fact that you’re renting is probably a great idea. The process of selling and purchasing a new house has definitely been overwhelming (but I’m so glad that part’s done!)

    Thanks for your tips!

  • Carmen Bowen says:

    Congrats on your move! I have been reading your blog for about 6 years now, and it seems like you just bought your house – lol! We moved to TN a year ago and love it! What part of TN are you moving to? It’s a beautiful state, with lots of outdoor activities! Good luck! 🙂

      • Amanda says:

        We just got back from a family trip to East Tennessee. I highly suggest taking a trip over to the Smoky Mts. … beautiful! We had an excellent breakfast with stunning views at Carver’s Apple House in Cosby, TN.

      • Kate Spackman says:

        We moved to Franklin at the end of June. It’s been great. I was reading your post about moving in and the way the neighbors had blessed you. So crazy…I kept thinking I wonder if she moved around here? And sure enough, after some poking around – Nashville! LOL

        We moved from Southern CA so the culture shock was incredible. The neighbors were FRIENDLY and waved, the people seemed to just be in less of a rush everywhere – willing to stop and chat, and everyone would ask us if we had found a church yet? That alone was something that I just couldn’t get over….the sense of community I guess. In CA the LAST thing anyone would ask you about is church. It still trips me out to this day….

        Well, I hope you are getting settled in and enjoying the whole move in process. Welcome to TN :o) I’m sure you’ll love it.

  • Sarah says:

    Thanks for sharing all the info! We’re getting ready to make the move from Boston to Hawaii in the fall. Soaking up all the tips/info I can find right now! I have moved quite a bit in my lifetime but I’m sure this will be way different.

  • Great list! I’m a military wife on my 7th move in 12 years. We are lucky. We don’t have to pack anything. We are unlucky in that we can’t book anything until we have orders. We are 2 months out from moving from DC to California: no orders yet. ugh. But you are SO RIGHT about Google calendar. Life saver. My best tip: feed your movers, if you have movers! I’m enjoying reading your posts right now b/c I can so relate!

  • We’re actually moving soon, too (although our miles traveled will have significantly fewer zeros than yours!) and I’m grateful for these tips! (Keep ’em coming! I haven’t done this in a decade, either, and I need all the help I can get. 🙂 )

  • Kathleen says:

    One little tip my mom always has told me when I first moved into my college dorm was to ALWAYS have your sheets/bedding on hand and make that the FIRST thing you do upon moving in. We have done that the three times we have moved in 7 years, and it has been invaluable. We are preparing for an out-of-state move now…our first with children (3 under 5) which will be interesting. Having the beds done first will help tremendously as I know time can get away from you when you are moving in and organizing. The kiddos will be able to get in bed as needed…and when you are ready to collapse, you don’t have to wait the extra 10-15 minutes to make a bed while tired.

  • Kathleen says:

    One other question: How long (or how short) should one plan to rent if moving to another state? We are looking to move out of state within the next 2 months, and although we have been looking for a house to buy, it may not work as we need to use the equity from selling our house to buy a new one. I hate the idea of renting (we already know and love the area we are moving to as it where I grew up for the first 17 years of life – so no need to “scout” out the good/bad areas) when we are so buy-with-cash and don’t waste your money type of people. But…I do see your point about renting being so much easier when you move initially. How long do you plan to rent (or what would you suggest we look for)? Also – do you have tips on the best sites to find rentals? I have searched Craigslist, and (there is a rent option)…but I know the best rentals and landlords are hidden treasures. I am blessed that my folks have lived in the area their entire life – and know several people – so they have their feelers out for a place for us to rent. Is 6 months too long? Or is 1 year better? Month to month? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! 🙂

    • I think it really depends upon your situation as to how long you should rent for. We’ve seen people buy houses just because they felt like renting was wasting their money and then they got stuck with a housing situation that became a real burden to them and one they couldn’t sell when they needed to because they didn’t take time to really scout out the market, etc.

      If you’re in a position to pay cash or to put a big down payment on something and you know the area well and you find a house you love and you’re planning to stay in the area long-term, then by all means, I think you should definitely go ahead and buy something.

      But if you’re not familiar with the area, don’t know if you’re staying there long-term, don’t find something you love and that’s in your price range, and/or don’t have the money to pay cash or put a big downpayment on a house, then I think that renting can be a wise option to go for.

      I think it’s always better to weigh your options and make sure you’re really happy with a house you’re going to buy than to just rush and buy something because you don’t want to waste money renting.

  • guest says:

    My sanity saving tip is to hire packers and movers. 🙂 IF you are able to afford it (and I understand not everyone can), it is worth more than what you pay.

  • Julie says:

    We will be moving to our first home in about a month. Thanks for all of the great tips! Does anyone know where to get the best deals on some Rubbermaid type tubs? I would love to use them for moving and storage after.

  • sheryl says:

    I’m looking forward to reading everyones ideas as we will be moving again soon. I like to make a last things box and a first things box. Last things is for the old home and first things for the new home. I use plastic storage tubs for these to easily get in and out of the boxes. In the last things box I put in paper plates, cups, napkins, utensils and can throw in whatever is left in the house before the final farewell. This time I’m buying some laundry pods that I can use for the last loads and also use when we are staying at hotels a long the traveling way. In the first things box I put in essentials like toilet paper 🙂 but also fun things that will make it feel like home right away: like a new candle (with matches), a favorite hand soap, special drinks, something new for the kids, new hand towels or something made by dear friends. We also move with a freezer full of food and plug it in at stops. Then when we arrive at our new destination I pop out a freezer meal and pop it into the oven first thing when we get to the new place. 🙂 Happy moving! Thanks to the rest of you for sharing your wisdom!

  • Katie DeMonja says:

    Crystal, I hope everything works out for you guys! This was a great post. Sorry to be nosy, but why did you decide to move to TN? Did Jesse get a new job there?

    • Thanks so much! Some great opportunities and doors opened up for our family there (for Jesse and for our family as a whole), so after much prayer and discussion, we really felt a peace about making the move. We’re excited about what the future holds!

  • Colleen says:

    My big tip would be to leave enough money in the budget for incidentals and to feed everyone the first night in the house. Moving buddies love to be paid in pizza ;). It’s been my experience that even the most detail oriented person can miss a lot in the moving chaos. What if your curtains aren’t the right size for the windows in the bedroom or bathroom and now the neighbors can see in? What if you run out of cleaning supplies or need different ones depending on differences in the house (linoleum vs. hard wood cleaners, ect.)? What if all of the light fixtures worked when you did the walk through but magically one of them doesn’t anymore and all of your light bulbs are the wrong size? And no matter how carefully you pack up there will always be SOMETHING that doesn’t survive the move and was pretty important and will need replaced quickly. I have learned my lesson and always leave a spot in the budget for the unexpected (and I always expect to run to the store at least once that first day for the unexpected). Murphy’s Law reins supreme in my house lol!

  • We had 3 weeks to pack up and move from Texas to Oklahoma. I envy your months of planning and ability to gradually pack! Because our move was so rushed (buyer of our house wanted it almost immediately), our new house wasn’t ready for closing. (I should mention we had to make an emergency trip to OK to find a house in ONE DAY. Worked out, as we found the perfect house for us in the very first one we looked at.) My husband works for The Voice of the Martyrs, and they have housing on campus for their volunteers. We were given an apartment on campus to live in until we could move into our new house. Such a blessing! Even though the place was furnished, I still wanted several of our own things there, like my own pots and pans. Most of our belongings went into a storage unit. When packing, I put polka-dotted duct tape on all boxes that were intended for our temporary housing. That worked out beautifully, as our movers were able to quickly ascertain what needed to be put back on the truck to deliver to the apartment. Just wish I’d been smart enough to put that tape on the baby’s big stroller, rather than relying on my husband’s tired-from-moving brain to remember to leave that out. It got buried in storage…

    Just throwing this out there, as there may be others with an odd moving situation in which some things go with them, and other things end up in storage for a while.

  • MomofTwoPreciousGirls says:

    For our last couple of moves my husband marked by room and numbers and then created a note in his iPhone/iPad with the number and a list of every item that went in the box. So the box would say Kitchen 1. Then his note would say dinner plates, cereal bowls, utensils. It was very detailed so we knew exactly what to open to get whatever we were looking for. Once a box was sealed the list was emailed to both of us so we both had a copy and there was no chance of it getting deleted. Worked really well.

    Also, to build on what others said about making beds, with the kids we have found its best to get the kids rooms totally set up (we actually try to achieve almost exactly the same arrangement) so that they can feel safe and secure. This has been important with my oldest child because she has a LOT of fears and sleep issues. Making her room feel just like it always is makes her comfortable.

  • Jennifer C. says:

    Next year will be our 8th big move since we were married in 2000. My husband creates a database of all the boxes and their contents. I really hated it at first because I did not like taking the time to enter everything, however, I have grown to truly appreciate knowing where every item is. Usually we take a stack of index cards (each with a box # on it) with us into the room that we’re packing & fill them out as we pack. We later take all our index cards & enter them into the database. The database lists the box #, the contents & its location (storage unit, bedroom, garage, etc.). It needs to be updated again as you unload/unpack but & we usually have a laptop up as we unpack & edit as we go. It’s not for everyone but is particularly helpful if you are frequently in temporary housing/renting.

  • One thing that really helped us with our big move into the bus was renting a storage pod with free delivery and pick up. Being able to get the stuff that was packed actually OUT of the house right away was very nice!

  • Jen Hasseld says:

    Perfect timing! We are hoping to move this summer and I haven’t packed a thing yet! (In my defense, we haven’t sold our condo yet, nor have we found a home.) Crystal, can you please share your two-months-out, two-weeks-out, etc. lists? Might as well start packing up things we don’t need while I have the time!

    • I’d love to share the lists, if I had them. But, I delete everything when I finish it on my Google calendar… which may not be the smartest thing, but that’s the system that works best for me to keep track of what I have and haven’t done.

      Maybe someone else has a link to a list they’ve blogged about or a blog post they’ve seen on the subject?

  • theresa says:

    One box…clear plastic…screwdriver, tape, band aids, birth certificates, get the idea…..everything you need and what you cannot lose!!!

  • Dani says:

    A great tip I learned from my friend is more about once you travel to your new home. If you are driving pack a ‘hotel’ bag with a little clothes and personal items for everyone in the car. That way you only have to grab one bag out of the car after a long day of driving.
    When she told me I was so happy! Last time I accidentally packed my bag at the bottom of the trunk and just bought new clothes because I was to tired to pull it out. 🙂

  • Heather says:

    Hi Crystal – So happy to hear you are moving to my neck of the woods! It isn’t near Pleasant View, by chance, is it? (I’m guessing it is the Mt Juliet or Franklin area.) I’m 30 min outside of Nashville and would love to meet you in person some time. I’ve been an avid reader of your blog since 2007. I love it so much and am so inspired by all you do.
    Welcome to the Volunteer State – the best state in the Union! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    So many great ideas… we just found out yesterday that we have to be out of our rental in a month.. we decided to build so we will be in an rv for a few months… I’m definitely trying the binder, sticker ideas. Last time we moved was 18 months ago. I packed my stuff in kitchen and bathroom towels.. socks, t-shirts etc… it worked great, except I’m still looking for matches to socks and my favorite t shirts

  • Jenna says:

    Welcome to Nashville! I’d love to have you over for sweet tea, but we’re moving to KY on Monday! Thanks for the great tips, and I hope y’all love it here as much as we do!

  • Melvina says:

    I will be moving from NE Ohio to Henderson, NV in about 15 months. While that does give me a LOT of time to get ready, I am doing this move with my husband and 6 homeschooled children… Yes 6… home all day, under foot… Trust me we have had our share of melt downs when it comes time to par down… I mean how many one legged Barbies do my girls NEED right? and I swear, if I see on more Hotwheel without a wheel getting put into the keep pile… Mind you it’s not that they are hard on toys, it’s just that there are 6 of them and most are hand me downs, so OLD…. I have stepped back and decided to just let them have them a while longer and start on my husbands and my stuff… We are using the sticker idea with a number, then in our moving binder we write what is in each box by color and number. so far we only have his books done and half my kitchen, but I figure if we keep plugging away we should be done with it all except the last bare necessities by a few months before… we can live with doing the laundry a little more often, and since it will be summer when we move, homeschooling items can be packed and waiting for our new school room! Also for the move itself we are driving (yes I know we are crazy!) we will have one larger bag with a few change of clothes for each of us, and a toiletry bag for all of us… This will be what we take into motels when we do have to stop for the night so that we are taking in and out a bunch of things and running the risk of forgetting something. Also, each kid has a “bag of tricks” to keep them busy. the bag has stuff like a binder with different dry erase games, dry erase crayons (I don’t want markers in the car…) a throw blanket, extra socks, travel pillow, dry erase board, travel journal that we made in “school” this week, small toys, disposable camera, you get the idea. We are also going to have our “bag of tricks” with extra chargers for our phones, camcorder, snacks etc. and a cooler…. I can’t think of anything else… hope this wasn’t too long, but helped…

  • Amy says:

    Anyone had experience using a POD type container? We’re making our 11th move in 16 years from NV to TX this June. No budget for movers this time, and we may have to store our stuff until a rental is available. Any tips on using and packing a POD are greatly appreciated!

  • We just moved two weeks ago!! And we only moved two doors down (an opportunity for a larger house with our two adoptive girls coming home soon!)

    I pray you have an easy transition all around! 🙂

  • Darcy Evers says:

    I highly recommend NOT waiting until the last minute to pack your kitchen, at least not the bulk of it. My husband and I have been together 7 years, and collectively have moved 6 times. The kitchen was always something I waited until the last minute to tackle, after I’ve been packing for weeks and just need to get it done. I’m tired of making sure everything is organized, and there are so many bulky/funny shaped items in the kitchen. And you forget HOW MUCH STUFF you have in those kitchen cabinets–what I thought would take a few hours became us having the movers come in, and we’re still trying to wrap up baking dishes!

    Now, I pack the entire kitchen 2 weeks ahead of time. I keep out a pasta pot/colander, skillet, some stirring and serving spoons, and buy aluminum throwaway baking pans and baking sheets. (I also menu plan for 2 weeks, so I’m sure I have everything.) I also buy paper plates and plastic cups/utensils, and I use those on the other side of the move, too, until I can get my dishes unpacked. I’ve found getting the kitchen done with early makes life (and move!) so much easier. Good luck!

  • Jenni says:

    When we sold our house and moved into an RV, packing most of our belongings into a storage unit, my husband had the brilliant idea of just numbering each box then listing their contents in a spreadsheet. It saved us hours of box labeling (or mislabeling). I wrote a blog post about it and lots of people told me it was really helpful to them. Also, go to your local Chick-Fil-A for boxes. They have about 2 dozen boxes each day that are all roughly the same size and are absolutely perfect for moving. Not too big, not too small, and no playing Tetris with odd box sizes!

  • Heather says:

    We,ve moved with four small children more than once and internationally as we’ll. Definatly start early and de clutter! Also if it can be cleaned before you move clean it! It’s amazing the amount of dirt, oil and dust that accumulates in even just a few months of life! It’s never fun to move and feel like you need to clean something before you set up a new house! We always have a suitcase with seven days worth of clothes for each person so I don’t have to wash during the first few days in the new place. The kitchen is my very last room to pack, unless you can afford to eat out every day! But a good meal and snack plan will help with the “what are we going to eat today” questions. I always get wrapped up in packing when a child walks in and says I’m hungry! Lastly get some sleep! You can do more when you sleep and will have more patience with your family if you do!

  • vana marie ross says:

    I always start with a box room. Clear that room and start packimg boxes in different areas. Based on what area it is in, is how it gets loaded in the truck. The biggest thing is each room needs to designate an area otherwise the people helping move dont know where to put it and you have boxes in your living room. I also pack sheets and tolietries in a suitcase and bring in my car with our suitcase of clothes.

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