7 Tips For A Successful, Organized DIY Move

- Tips from a road weary DIY Move veteran -


As my husband and I prepare for our 12th move (Yes, twelve moves in less than 12 years of marriage!), we decided to allow ourselves to be moved by a company this time, rather than moving ourselves.  BUT - Every other move up until now has been a do-it-yourself move!  Over the years, we developed our own tried-and-true methods for successful moves.  I'd love to share some of these tips with you!  So, grab your pencil and paper, or get ready to print these out... you won't regret it!



Packing paper is handy, but so are foam plates and bath towels! When packing up the kitchen, I always line the bottom of fragile-item boxes with a towel.  This provides a padded buffer for when items jostle around in the van. Also, use foam plates or several paper plates as padding in between your plates and china. As the stack gets taller, continue to line the sides of the box with the towel.  Use hand towels and washcloths, too,  if you want!  Personally, I like to pack the box as full as possible to reduce any unnecessary movement of my plates and china as boxes lean and sway on the road.  The double bonus – As you unpack, you'll have stacks of paper plates to eat from as you continue to settle into your new home and you don't feel like doing dishes! When you need more bath linens than the ones in your Essentials Box (Tip #5) , you’ll be forced to unpack a kitchen box for more towels.  Talk about multi-tasking!



Keep your hanging clothes on the hanger.  This makes for a much easier unpacking experience.  Open up your boxes, and hang up the clothes without having to hunt for the hanger box. Easy.  Some people will recommend wardrobe boxes (with the bar for hanging clothing), but I don't care for them, as they take up more space in the van.



Label boxes by room and include inventory.  This takes about 30 - 45 seconds, honestly.  It's a small step that will save you much frustration later.  I make a mental note of items I've placed in the box, grab my marker, and immediately write down the information.  For example - "FRAGILE! KITCHEN - DISHES. Currier & Ives Plates, Mason Jars, Silverware, Serving Utensils".  There's no need to rip open thirty boxes to find your coffee mugs when you have a marker handy. 

Extra tip - Label at least two sides of the box, just in case one side is covered up. 

For moves that require packing for multiple drop off locations - see more box organization advice in tip #6, below.



Also known as:  How to win the game of moving-van-tetris, or,  Maximize your space by putting stuff inside other stuff.

Pack soft, light items inside your furniture.  Large pieces like bookshelves, buffets, and cabinets are the perfect place to stash winter blankets, yoga mats, extra pillows for the guest bedroom, and those bulky winter coats.  When you'll be playing the longest game of real-life tetris ever on loading day (seriously), you’ll be glad you don’t have those extra boxes of bulky, soft items taking up your valuable space.  So, fold that comforter, wrap it in a garbage bag for protection, label it, and shove it in that bookcase.  You'll be wrapping your furniture anyway, so it won't slide out.  (That's #7, don't you skip ahead, now!)



Pack a "First Night Essentials Box" – Aside from necessities like toiletries ,chargers, medication, baby food, etc,  think about those things you’ll need or want before you have the time to find the box.  You'll be tired and glad to have that essentials box in the car! 

Here are some items we typically pack in our essentials box:

  • A couple of rolls of toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Paper plates and plastic cutlery
  • Shower curtain and hooks (we learned that one the hard way!)
  • A few towels and washcloths
  • Cleaning products to clean things like bathrooms and the kitchen before heavy use
  • Blanket



Multiple stops? Use sticky notes or construction paper to put a color label on your box.  We’ve had to move items to storage multiple times. We use a system of two different colored paper scraps to identify “storage” and “ house”.  The colored paper will stay on the box if you cover it with a strip of packing tape.  Keeping them organized - As you determine which boxes will go to each location, choose an area of the house for each color.  For example, stack green labeled boxes in the dining room and red labeled boxes in the spare bedroom.   Then, load your moving van according to which place you’ll stop by first.  You'll thank me later, when you're not having to unload your moving van at the storage unit, search through everything, and then reload it before heading to your new house.


Ok, Drumroll.......


It’s a tie for first place!

Plastic wrap for your furniture!  No, I’m not talking about that ugly, loud, vinyl stuff that your Grandma had covering her dining room chairs, I’m talking about that thing that looks like a giant rolling pin with saran wrap on it. Well, that sounds just as odd, doesn't it?!  We’ve used this for almost every move and I can’t even imagine how many scratches and dings it’s saved us.  We like to wrap it a few times around each piece of furniture.  Wood pieces like buffets and tables get wrapped as do couches and upholstered chairs.  Wrap whatever you want!  Furniture stays clean and doesn’t get scratched (as long as you treat your furniture with care).  We still like to throw a blanket between hard items when we can.  Here… just visit this link and check it out for yourself!  Who knew such a simple gadget could be so useful?!  http://www.homedepot.com/p/Pratt-Retail-Specialties-20-in-x-1000-ft-Stretch-Film-5005002/202029370


This convertible dolly.  You need this.  It works as an upright dolly and also swings out flat to carry larger items.  I like to load boxes on it when it's laid out flat so that I can move many boxes at once.  My husband uses it to do things like move the washer and dryer, and heavy furniture items when it's upright.  This is definitely an MVP at our house! http://www.homedepot.com/p/Cosco-1000-lb-3-In-1-Aluminum-Assisted-Hand-Truck-with-Flat-Free-Wheels-12312ABL1E/205035247


I hope these tips help you as much as they've helped us over the years!  Any other DIY move veterans out there?  What would you add?