Deciding What to Pack First When Moving

Moving is tough and you should start out at least six weeks in advance to plan the move. The sooner you start, the fewer details you forget. For example, when moving in Atlanta, it’s important to plan the move around rush-hour commuting, unless you want to spend hours in the moving van with all your stuff. However, if you’re moving in Memphis, you definitely want to avoid the traffic for its legendary music events during this time. Once you’ve determined when you need to move, next you need to know what to pack first when moving.

What to Pack First When Moving

Approach moving in a logical way. Pack the things you don’t use on a regular basis first. Start in your storage areas, such as the garage, attic or basement. Then, pack the nonessential items in the rest of the house.

Tackling the Storage AreasBig League Movers - pile of jeans

Your first job is to sort your nonessential belongings and decide what to do with them. Before you pack, get rid of anything you don’t need or want to lug along to your new home. Start with three piles:

  • Discard pile: Place outdated or worn out items you can’t use anymore.
  • Give away pile: Put knick-knacks, old furniture, decorations, specialty equipment, tools, craft supplies and other items that are in good condition but won’t be useful in your new surroundings here. You can donate them or give them to charity, so nothing goes to waste.
  • Pack for the move pile: Add non-essential items with a sentimental, practical or aesthetic value that you are taking with you to this pile. Pack and label these items in boxes as soon as possible for an early win.

Nonessential Items in Your HomeBig League Movers - decoration

Nonessentials in your home are the next items on the list of what to pack first when moving. A few weeks before the move, go through drawers in desks and side tables, and clean out the closets and cupboards to pack items you won’t miss for a month or so. Here is a list to help you get as much as done as possible.

  • Decorations and artwork: Pack away framed pictures, holiday decorations, souvenirs, figurines and vases. Many of these items are fragile, so get plenty of boxes and bubble wrap, since they will be packed up for a while. Some of them are not just beautiful but expensive. Family heirlooms should be stowed away safely in a quiet corner to avoid damage during the moving flurry.
  • Collectibles: You won’t have the time to look at old photo albums or to build train models in the weeks before you move. This means that any collectible items can be safely packed up before you relocate.
  • Extras: If you have extra linens and other items that aren’t essential, pack them away. This includes extra towels, bedding, office supplies, toys and other items nobody will miss for a few weeks.
  • Books: You might be the biggest bookworm on the planet, but you won’t be reading much while you’re packing up your household. Instead, use the time to sort through paperbacks and hardcovers at least three weeks in advance. What you don’t donate to the local library should get stowed away in small sturdy boxes that you can easily lift without breaking the box or your back. Store the boxes in a dry corner to avoid damage.
  • Off-season items: clothes, shoes, and accessories — pack up everything you’re not going to use for over a month, including seasonal items such as beach umbrellas or ski goggles;
  • Kitchenware: Even gourmands must take time off to move, so carefully pack up your cake plates, fine china, crystal glassware, dessert dishes, pie pans, cookie cutters, tongs and other kitchen utensils you don’t absolutely need daily. This extends to small appliances, dishtowels and other items you use rarely.

Big League Movers - Check listCreate a Last-On, First-Off List

There’s a wonderful concept in accounting that has a great application for the moving process. In LIFO (last-in, first-out), the last item on a shelf is the first one sold. This idea can apply to moving: after packing away the nonessentials, it’s time to consider what to pack first when using a moving van.

Ideally, the essential items you use every day will be the last items loaded. So, your boxes of nonessentials make great candidates for the first items in the moving van, where they should find their way to the back of the truck.

Here are the items to box up last so that you have them handy to unpack first. You can include the most essential items in your car or trunk to make sure they aren’t lost in the shuffle.

In Simplifying the Big Move, Martha Stewart offers a list of essentials to pack last but to have handy as soon as you arrive at your new home.

  • Curtains for the bedrooms for privacy
  • Lightbulbs
  • Coffee pot, coffee and mugs
  • A few dishes and utensils
  • Basic tools
  • Bath and hand towels
  • Bedding
  • Camera and charger
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Medications
  • Snacks
  • Toilet paper
  • Toiletries, including soap

Moving takes time, but careful planning ensures that things go smoother on the big day. It starts with knowing what to pack first when moving, but it also includes setting aside the items you need right away in your new environment. Be prepared to thoroughly scrutinize what you use and what you don’t so that you’re not merely transporting loads of junk.