How to Stay Organized While Moving

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This spring, we jumped on the “let’s sell our house” bandwagon, and as with most local real estate transactions in 2021, it sold in a hot minute. Now we find ourselves starting our summer with a move to a rental while we build outside of Carrboro. And I’ve got to say, nothing will put a professional organizer to the test more than a move! This should be my moment to shine … but I still find it to be stressful, emotional and completely overwhelming. I’ll share with you a few tips and tricks that are pulling me through.

Book your mover right this minute!
Summer is the busiest time of the year for movers. Before you do anything else, call your mover of choice right now! I mean it – stop reading, and make that call. I have several movers I use for work so I had a good list to choose from. Since our move is local, and we’re storing many items, I wanted to use a mover who could hold our furniture until our house is ready. I also wanted the move team to pack the kitchen and some of our other fragile items so I needed multiple days on their schedule. Book early for the best selection of dates and services.

Declutter first, pack later
My golden rule of moving: Do not pay to move stuff you don’t need, use or love. If you recently sold a home, you probably did some decluttering during the staging process. If you stashed your not-so-special things in drawers or closets while your home was being shown, now is the time to pull that stuff out and get ruthless. Sell, donate or trash anything that isn’t worthy of heading to your next home. If the idea of decluttering before your move overwhelms you, consider hiring a professional organizer to come in and help! Having an objective person hold you accountable to a schedule and a decluttering gold is worth the investment. 

Pack by room
Going through rooms, one by one, and keeping those items together in well-labeled boxes, will make your life so much easier on the back end. If your next home will have rooms with similar functions, be sure to label each box by the space where it should be unloaded. You can do this by name, or color code boxes with duct tape and assign colors to each space so movers can get boxes to their correct spot. 

A label is an organizer’s best friend
There is no such thing as too many labels when it comes to a move. Label which room the box is going to, and include the general contents of each box. This allows you to prioritize as you unpack. For example, it may be more helpful to unpack bed linens before decorative items or books when setting up bedrooms your first night. Knowing what is in each box will be a lifesaver!

Pack a “first night” box
Consider the essential items you might need on your first night in your new home and pack those items together in a box. These boxes might include medication, general toiletries, towels, bedding, water bottles, a first aid kit, and more (see below for other ideas!). Be sure to label this box clearly and load it last on the moving truck, or even carry it to your new home yourself, so it’s the first thing you open when you arrive at your new home. 

Prep your new home
If you’re able to arrive before your movers do, there are several things you can do to make sure your space is move-in ready. Wipe down surfaces, measure drawers and cabinets for organizing tools/products, line shelves and drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms, stock the bathrooms with toilet paper, hand soap and towels, adjust the temperature so it’s comfortable for the movers, and stock the fridge with beverages and snacks. Happy (well-fed!) movers make for happy homeowners. 

Create an unpacking schedule
Moves are exhausting and emotional! If you’re leaving a home where you raised your family (as we are!) you need time to process all that is happening. And there is no rest for the weary/teary once your things arrive in your new home. Prioritize spaces that need to be set up functionally for your family first, such as the kitchen and bedrooms. Living and play spaces can be set up a little later. If you have young children, be sure and create a safe space for them to play and hang out while movers are rushing around or while you’re busy unpacking. If you’re working from home, set aside time to set up the essentials in your home office so you’re ready to work. Create a holding pen for things that you aren’t sure about and can be dealt with later. But be sure and get to those boxes within the first two weeks! I can’t tell you how many clients’ homes I’ve been into that had entire sections of their attic filled with boxes of who-knows-what that they never unpacked from years ago!

Moving is a big deal and it’s a lot of work. Find a way to celebrate … both the home you are leaving and the one you are moving into. Pop some Champagne or sparkling cider, order in your favorite takeout, and find a comfy spot to sit, rest and enjoy your new surroundings. Picture hanging can wait for another day! 

Keep neat!
Perri Kersh

First night box ideas

  • 2 rolls of toilet paper
  • 2 rolls of paper towels
  • A small roll of garbage bags
  • Coffee pot & accessories
  • Dish towel and small dish soap
  • Medicines and vitamins
  • Snacks
  • Beverages
  • Chargers for any electronics like cell phones
  • Lightbulbs (in case any new fixtures don’t include them)
  • Small first aid kit
  • Clean set of sheets for first night once your bed arrives (plus pillows and a blanket)
  • One set of towels/washcloths/hand towels for each family member
  • Liquid soap
  • Toiletries including:
    • Toothbrush, toothpaste and floss
    • Deodorant
    • Soap
    • Hair products
  • Shower curtain
  • Paper products for light meals
  • All-purpose cutting knife
  • Small tool kit with basics (hammer, screwdriver with multiple heads, pliers)
  • Box cutter and scissors
  • Cleaning supplies including:
    • Windex
    • 409 (or general cleaner)
    • Sponges
    • A small broom and dustpan
  • Vital records file (insurance paperwork, passports/Social Security cards/birth certificates, important medical papers, copy of bank and credit card account information)
  • Checkbook
  • Any valuables such as silver and jewelry you don’t want the movers to have access to
  • Several changes of clothing
  • A book to read while waiting

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Perri Kersh

Perri Kersh is the neatest, and sometimes freakiest, at Neat Freak Professional Organizing, LLC in Chapel Hill. She works with individuals, families, small business owners and students to help them get and stay organized. When she’s not organizing for others, she frequently shovels up after her husband and children. You can read more about Neat Freak on the website above or reach Perri at 919-824-8196.
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