5 Smart Tips for Managing a Big Move

I’ve spent the last several weeks preparing my family for a move to a new house. Like other things, moving is a project we’re doing ourselves. It’s the first time I’ve ever needed to coordinate moving so much stuff, and it took a lot of work to plan. I know they always say you only realize how much you’ve accumulated once you’re in the position of moving it all, and it’s true, so to make it happen efficiently and in an orderly manner, I employed some moving best practices and got the job done well (and fast).

Planning a move for yourself or your family? Here’s a short video to help with timeline planning, and here are a few quick tips of my own:

1. Work ahead and take an opportunity to purge.

Don’t wait to start packing. Another video from DIY Network emphasizes the importance of pre-planning. Get the non-essentials boxed away weeks before the moving truck arrives (think: your second blender, extra towels, power tools). In the process, you’ll find belongings that you haven’t used in years, or ones that you know won’t work within your new dwelling, whether it be for spacial or design reasons.

Plan ahead and divide these unwanted items into separate piles and separate boxes, and donate or sell those items before or after the move. This time, we boxed up the unwanted items for a summertime garage sale. We’ll add to the garage-sale inventory in the next few weeks as we realize if there are more belongings that won’t have a space in our new home. When we unpack at the new house, we’ll immediately know that we don’t have to rummage through those boxes until we’re ready for the sale.

Organize for a garage sale while packing to move.

2. Be orderly when it comes to furniture deconstruction.

As table legs needed to be removed and bed frames needed to be disassembled, I gathered all loose hardware in individual sealed baggies for transport and organization. Each baggie is labeled, and was moved in the same small box so that we could readily find what we needed as we settle in.

Another tip (my biggest IKEA tip) is to label each component before you take it apart so that you have a plan for putting it back together (assuming you don’t still have those assembly instructions). I’ve had to move this IKEA Expedit shelving unit several times, and labeling it with painters tape makes putting it back together a piece of cake. With left and right clearly labeled, I tag the long horizontal pieces from A to E starting at the base of the unit, and the short dividing pieces as #1 – #4. This extra bit of organization helps, especially because the pegs used to secure the furniture often embed in one piece of wood, and putting it back together without reconfiguring wedged pegs can be like a puzzle. I can’t share the how-to with a smiley face and by pointing my fingers quite like IKEA, so here’s a quick guide:

How to disassemble IKEA furniture for a move and stay organized.

My labels looked more like this. Quick to apply, easy to remove after reassembly.

How to disassembly IKEA furniture for a move.

3. Be resourceful, use recycled boxes.

You can find cardboard boxes on Craigslist (check the free section) and at many retail stores too. Check the stores in the mall too – they often have cardboard boxes from large inventory deliveries that they can recycle to you. We saved all cardboard boxes from deliveries made to our home for the months before we closed, knowing that we would need to use them with the upcoming move. If you have the space to store such boxes, it’s worth your while.

In that same vein, use your home’s pillows and comforters to your advantage: employ them to comfort fragile home decor in place of bubble wrap.

4. Pack dinnerware smart.

Wrapping newspaper around my dinner plates and glasses individually always made me feel like I was dirtying them, mostly because the newsprint dirtied my hands so much in the process. Instead, opt for old magazine pages (they’re not necessarily much cleaner, but nicer to work with) to buffer your glasses, and paper or Styrofoam plates between each of your dinnerware plates to give your wares a cushion and keep them from rattling against each other.

How to safely pack dinnerware for a move.

5. In the moving van, sort efficiently.

No need to move all of your drawers of clothes into boxes. Instead, remove them one by one while still filled, and re-insert them into the drawer unit once the empty (lighter) unit is lifted into the truck. Do the opposite when you’re at your new home, and remove each shelf first.

Make use of pockets of space too, like how we fit small boxes and drawers and toys into the blocks of the smaller stacked IKEA EXPEDIT units in the truck. What we were able to fit in those 16 small spaces saved us an entire car load. Yes, for some reason we have not one, but two old-school Barbie Beetles. Caravan time!

How to move IKEA furniture in a moving truck.


Do you have more tried-and-true tips? Leave them in the comments!

33 Responses

  1. Albert Rojario says:

    Thanks for your great tips.Let us accept the fact; you will not be able to deal with this on your own. The whole exercise can be somewhat challenging without professional help. If you decide to hire professional moving services from reputable movers, you’ll surely be able to scare away the relocation stress.
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  2. rajgeen says:

    you’ll also find belongings that you haven’t used in years, or ones that you know won’t work within your new dwelling, whether it be for spacial or design reasons.

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About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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