After finding the perfect place to live, you’ll need to figure out how to get all of your belongings from your current residence to your new one and how to do so efficiently. Whether you are moving across the country or across town, these packing tips will simplify your moving experience.

Chart a course.

Once you know where you’re moving and when you’re moving, you’ll need to figure out if your leases overlap and you can move directly from one apartment to the next or if you need for your belongings to stay in a storage unit for a while.

If there isn’t a gap between when you have to move out of your old residence to your new one, all you need to do is pull up your GPS and find the fastest route from one place to the next. The fastest route in a moving van often means sticking to less crowded, wider streets, giving you more maneuverability and comfort when driving.

If you aren’t able to move your belongings home for the small window of time between leases, renting a storage unit near your new home during that gap can be a good alternative. Storage units are rented months in advance, so don’t wait to call about renting space. Electronics, candles, instruments, or paintings are examples of items that may require an air conditioned storage unit. Units with AC controls are a bit more expensive but will keep these items in pristine condition.

Make a list and check it twice.

Google spreadsheets or Excel are helpful pieces of software when creating lists. Both allow you to create new tabs for different kinds of lists like a list for last minute items and another for tracking what each container holds. Labeling boxes with a sharpie while packing can make it easier to track what is in each box. Use numbers or letters to label containers, and record that information on your list. This will keep you organized, ensure you don’t leave anything behind, and allow you to unpack more efficiently.

Don’t procrastinate.

Pack throughout the semester, especially within the last month before the move. Separate your common room items that are non-essentials for everyday life from your roommate’s belongings. If there are items that you know you won’t need, like winter clothes or extra shoes, put those in boxes early. Packing early will allow you to breathe easily the day of moving and will give you time to remember important items you left off your list.

Efficiency in packing.

When it comes to clothing kept in dresser drawers, roll, don’t fold. It really does save room. Use wardrobe boxes for clothes that are already on hangers. Simply hang your clothes on the rack, and close up the box. This will save you time trying to take things off the hangers and put them back on once you’ve moved in.

Compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize. Keep everything divided into sections to help you unpack room by room. For example, put all your socks and underwear in one place and all your bathroom products in another. This helps you know where to place boxes to be unpacked once you make it to your new home.

Boxes and totes and bags… Oh my!

When debating quantity versus volume of containers, opt for a middle ground. Having too many containers can seem burdensome. Consolidation can create order if you do so wisely. Picking an enormous box that fits your entire wardrobe consolidates your gear, which is the goal. However, if you aren’t able to lift the box, have you really made anything easier for yourself? Find that middle ground between number and size for the majority of your belongings.

Bigger boxes are perfect for lighter, bulkier items like bedding. Use medium to small sized boxes that fit easily on a dolly for heavier items like books. You can even divide your heavier items like books into the bottom of several different boxes with lighter items like socks on top, which will disperse the weight.

Use plastic or rubber tote boxes instead of cardboard for items that are going in storage. Plastic tote boxes provide more durability and keep water and dirt off of your valuables. If you do use cardboard boxes, place clothes or other items in extra large garbage bags and then place them in the cardboard boxes to reduce the chance of water or dirt getting on your belongings.

The week of the move.

Being prepared for anything will save you time and energy the day of the move. Run to the store to grab extra packing tape, sharpies, moving blankets, bungee cords, and a tarp or two in case of rain on the day of the move. Add extra large ziplock bags to that list if you don’t have a designated basket for your dirty clothes the week of the move. You can avoid having dirty laundry in random places by having bags to put dirty clothes in. While you’re out and about, fill up your car with gas so you are able to get to where you need to go without stopping to refill your tank on the day of the move. You should also clean out your car prior so you won’t mix up trash with your valuables.

Grab a friend… or two… or three. Having other people there to help you will cut down on the costs of using a moving service and on the time you spend moving. Promising to bake someone cookies or providing pizza can go a long way in convincing them to help. If you do want to use a moving service, there are some great ones out there, but use resources like customer reviews to choose the best service. The same goes for renting a moving van or truck. If you or your friends don’t have pickup trucks or larger vehicles with collapsible seats, check online to see which companies have the best rental prices and reviews.

Moving, even across town, can seem like a stressful ordeal, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these packing tips to increase efficiency and cut down on the drama of moving.

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