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Preparing to Move

Updated 4-12-2023

This Expert Adulting Module Will: 

  • Help you reduce the cost and stress of moving

Most Important Things To Understand

  1. Using the information here WILL save you hundreds of $$$ (or more), protect your most important items, and help your move go much more smoothly.

  2. Keeping track of your most important papers is something you may want to prioritize during your move. Examples: any form of money, papers you may need during your move, papers that will be difficult to replace or could enable someone to steal your identity (birth certificate, passport), certifications, insurance papers, Wills, Power-of-Attorney papers, etc.

  3. Protecting your most valuable items (whether that is sentimental value or money value) is also something you may want to pay special attention to.  

Checklist with Pencil

Questions For You to Answer

(see info below for how)

  1. What items / papers matter most to me and what am I going to do to protect them?

  2. What sources do I have to get free boxes and packing supplies so I don’t have to waste money buying them?

Tips & Tricks you can use before moving day to lower your costs and make the moving experience as pleasant as possible.

A Few Months Ahead of Time

3 calendar months

IMPORTANT: These items are in addition to those activities you will need to be doing as explained in Moving Out of a Rental, Renting Stage #1, and Renting Stage #2.  (This is why moving is so stressful – a lot of major steps that need to happen at almost the same time IN ADDITION TO your normal life responsibilities.) 😲 😨

Money Saving Tips

Piggy Bank with money going in

1.   Reduce the Amount of 'Stuff' You Have  

The less stuff you have, the less you will have to pack, carry out, transport, carry in, and unpack! It’s a good time to trash anything that’s worn out or broken and donate or sell (yard sale, eBay, Craigslist, FB marketplace, etc.) anything you don’t need, use, or want. 

This will also reduce your costs if you are using any sort of rented truck or moving company because you are charged by the amount of time you use their truck or services & the weight of the stuff they are moving for you. Less stuff = less time & weight = less cost!

Yard Sale

2.    Start Collecting Moving Supplies  


Piggy Bank - save money

Practically every moving / truck rental company sells boxes & moving supplies because they can buy them cheap and sell them to people who are in the stress of moving for a lot more. This makes selling moving supplies very profitable for them & costly for you. In this situation, their strongest marketing technique will be making them easy for you to get and buy. If you choose to buy your supplies from one of these companies, just realize you are paying a lot more than you need to just for the convenience. 

Moving supplies are really expensive if you buy them new.  Here are some ideas to help you save money:

a)  Moving Containers 

Take a look at what you already have that could hold things you want to move e.g., clothes hampers, laundry baskets, suitcases, dresser drawers, plastic bins, trash bags, trash cans (you’re not going to haul the trash with you so you may as well put something in them 😊), etc. 

Laundry basket

b)  Moving Boxes 

It’s time to start collecting some sturdy boxes. (No flimsy boxes for moving – having even one box break isn’t worth the cost of the stuff that might be broken or cause damage e.g., to the flooring it lands on). Used boxes that are in good shape are your least expensive option.

Sources to get used boxes: 

  • Yourself – collect any large, sturdy boxes you get from Amazon, Chewy, grocery deliveries, etc. 

  • Your friends & family, other people who have recently moved – ask them to save any boxes they have or receive for you to use

  • Online - Facebook marketplace, free exchange websites, Nextdoor, Freecycle, Craigslist (look for “Free” in the “For Sale” category on their home page), etc. 

  • Stores – book stores, grocery stores, office supply stores, liquor stores, pet stores, large beauty salons, etc. (more stores are recycling their boxes so you may want to ask them if they can save you some – they may be more willing if you are a regular customer there)

  • Box exchanges provided by some truck rental companies

  • Recycling drop-off points

Pile of moving boxes

c)  Packing Material 

Start looking around for what you (and friends / family) already have and may be moving anyway. Sheets, towels, clothing, rags, blankets, chair cushions, stuffed animals, etc. can all be used to protect your stuff during your move and then be returned to their original purpose. 

Newspapers can be used to wrap things in or crumpled up and put between items. Air packs saved from shipments you’ve received can be used again. You can even use partially-inflated balloons as quick & easy air packs. 

3.   See if Someone You Know has a Large Vehicle  

See if anyone you know has a truck, SUV, cargo van, or other large vehicle you can use on moving day either instead of having to rent a truck / hire a moving company OR to move the items you’ve chosen to move yourself. 

Protect What is Most Precious to You

Decide what stuff you are going to move yourself. Examples:

  • Legal papers & any information that could be used to steal your identity should probably stay in your possession / vehicle throughout the move

  • Priceless items – whether that is actual cost or sentimental value – could be moved by you

  • Electronics (in a local move) may ride better and be better protected in the back seat of someone’s car

  • Pets, aquariums, etc. 

  • Plants that won’t handle an extended temperature change well

  • Items that you absolutely do not want to take any chance of being damaged or lost

Red Heart

Once You Know WHEN You're Going to Move

Once you know when you are going to move, you can start taking actions that will save you money and frustration during your actual move. 

Taping Moving Boxes

1.   Double tape the bottoms of any cardboard boxes you have gathered using high-quality packing tape. (It’s better to be safe than sorry.) 

2.   Pack in every spare moment.  The more packing you can do, the more money &/or hassle you can save later. You can immediately start packing things you don’t use every day or are decorative – pictures, knick-knacks, off-season clothes, books, etc. In an ideal situation you would keep packing the least-used of what’s left to pack until you are literally living out of a box or suitcase by your moving day.  

Couple packing to move
Lightbulb Tip - Learn to pack properly

TIP:  You may want to watch a few different YouTubes on HOW to pack so you can do it in a way that protects your stuff from damage. (Search “how to pack to move.”)

The goal is to have as few things to move as possible because that will mean less trips out to the vehicle and back thus less time & effort. Think about putting smaller things inside medium things and medium things inside larger things but remember to keep the weight reasonable so boxes don’t break and people can still lift and carry them! 

Lightbulb Tip - Label moving boxes

TIP:  Label at least 2 sides of each box with what room it will belong in at your NEW place and a general label of what’s in the box. 

If the box is labeled, whoever moves it can put it in the correct room before ever setting it down. By labeling at least 2 sides, it’s more likely to be readable however it’s stacked. By labeling what’s in it, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for more easily during move-in. 

Labeled Moving Boxes

3.   Label your furniture too (a piece of scrap paper & tape usually works). Again, by telling the mover what room it should be taken to, you’ll save yourself work, time, & money by not having to move it again! 

4.   Pack a box (that you keep in YOUR possession during the move) with the bed and bath supplies that you, your family, and your pets will want your first night in your new place. (My mom always said that, at the end of a long moving day, all she wanted was to be able to get clean and go to bed. This box will help you get the sleep that you will desperately want at that point.) 

Suggestions: medications (Rx & pain relief), toilet paper, shower curtain & clips, pet supplies, and sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, soap, shampoo, flashlight / nightlight, & toothbrush / paste for each person

Pile of sheets blankets

5.   Pack a box / suitcase / clothes hamper with enough clothes & easy-to-eat food to keep you & your family going until you unpack those boxes.

Cleaning supplies

6.   Pack a container with the cleaning supplies you’ll need for the final clean at your current place and for the move-in cleaning at your new one – this way you’ll have them when you need them! 

Suggestions: disinfecting wipes, paper towels, cleaning rags, kitchen / bathroom / toilet cleaners, vacuum

7.   If you have the space, start moving your packed boxes & labeled furniture towards the door. It makes the move faster and, if you’re using a moving company that charges by the hour, makes it less expensive also. 

8.   If you have items that need to be disassembled before they can be moved (e.g., bed frames, shelves from china cabinets, cables on electronics) and you have the skills and tools to disassemble them, you may want to do that ahead of moving day. Again, it may save you time and hassle and potentially money on moving day. 

Caution Light -


Be sure each part is collected and properly labeled so you can find all the pieces again on the other end of your move. It’s a real pain if you don’t have the right screw or part or cable when you go to reassemble it! Plastic bags containing the small pieces can be taped to a larger portion to keep them together.

What To Do Now

  1. Find your own answers to the Questions for You to Answer.

  2. Review the Most Important Things to Understand.

  3. Ask anyone you know with a large vehicle if they would be willing to let you borrow it.

  4. Start packing!

  5. Can you think of anyone who might want to know this? If so, please share! 

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