How to Pack for a Move Like a Pro and Stay Organized

Use these super simple tips for packing up your house to make the big move all while staying organized!

Moving boxes and packing supplies

I had forgotten.

It has been over seven years since our last move, and I had forgotten what a big job it is. I mean, packing up every single thing you own into boxes while trying to maintain some semblance of order so that you can unbox it all and have a chance at finding everything you need? That is a tall order. It may be one of the biggest organizational challenges I’ve had to date.

And that’s saying something.

At the beginning I was all, “Well, I purge stuff all the time and we only live in a tiny townhouse, so surely it won’t be that bad, right?”

And then reality set in and I went into panic mode and started thinking, “Well how am I going to pack THAT fragile thing, store it for two months, and have it arrive at the new house in one piece?! I have tons of painted furniture. Can we move it all without chipping and scratching everything up?! And mirrors. I have a slight obsession with mirrors. Will ANY of them actually arrive in one piece?!”

Thankfully before I went into full-on hyperventilation I called my mom, who just happens to be the world’s most skilled mover. Seriously, the woman is a moving ninja. She assured me that moving would not be as hard as I was making it out to be, and that we could tackle it with not too much trouble at all.

Deep breaths.

Fortunately, she was right. We made sure we had all of the supplies we needed and put systems into place to make everything go more smoothly. Before I knew it, the townhouse was packed up. And we were even out a few days early! It was a miracle!

Our Moving Situation

A huge thanks to Scotch Brand Products from 3M for sponsoring this post! My favorable opinion of high-quality packing products that make our move easier is 100% my own. 🙂 For more information, see my disclosures here.

Obviously, every moving situation is different. We are actually only moving a few miles down the road. BUT there were almost two months between when we had to be out of our townhouse and when our new house will be ready. Because of this, we chose to load up all of our belongings in pods to be stored during that time. (We are renting a furnished apartment in the interim, so we didn’t need to bring any furniture there.)

storage pod sitting outside

Using the storage pods also meant that we had to be extra careful while packing. Forklifts are used to move the pods on and off the trucks that haul them, and everything gets jostled around like crazy.

Needless to say, we put extra padding on everything. And we were sure to use the Scotch Heavy Duty Packaging Tape to tape all of the boxes up tightly!!

Scotch tape on top of a moving box

10 Tips for Packing a House to Move

Since the system we used for packing up all of our stuff ended up working out so well, I thought I’d pass along the tips and tricks we learned along the way. Hopefully they can helpmake your next move a little easier too!

Here we go:

1. Gather your materials.

tape, bubble wrap, and boxes in the living room.

We made a few trips to the store to gather things we needed to make the moving process as easy as possible. Here’s what we used to pack up:

  • Scotch® Heavy Duty Shipping and Packaging Tape (seals seams with one strip and keeps boxes closed!)
  • Scotch™ Cushion Wrap
  • Moving Boxes- we used small, medium, large, and extra large sizes. We used about 75 boxes total.
  • Packing Paper (like newspaper, but without words so the ink doesn’t rub off on your stuff)
  • Roll of Foam Sheets (great for in between plates and dishware)
  • Stretch Wrap
  • Permanent Markers
  • Scotch™ Scissors

2. Start with the items that aren’t everyday staples.

various decor items stacked against the wall ready to pack up

Once we had our materials gathered, the big question was, “Where do we start?!” Since we packed up here and there over the course of a few weeks, we started with the things that weren’t necessities.

Sadly for me, that meant that my decor items were some of the first things to be packed. Next I packed up the family china that I only use on special occasions. 

I gave my two boys each one bin that they could fill with toys they wanted to bring with us to our temporary apartment. Then all of the other toys were packed away.

Out-of-season clothes and outerwear were also at the beginning of the process. Any “luxury items” that I knew we could do without were packed away first, not to be seen for a few months!

3. Declutter as you go.

empty shelving units in the office that have already been packed up

Now, I am a declutter-er by nature, but I was still able to fill several bags with things to throw away or give away.

It didn’t make any sense to move things to the new house that we never use anyway. And moving gave me the perfect excuse to thoroughly clean out every single space in our home. I was ruthless!

Decluttering as I went along may have taken me a few extra minutes during the packing process, but it will certainly make unpacking a lot easier. AND we can start our life in the new house with as little clutter as possible. That is such a freeing feeling!

4. Use items you already have for extra padding.

showing how to use garments that you already have instead of bubble wrap to move

We definitely used our fair share of bubble wrap, packing paper, and foam sheets during the packing process. But we also used items we already had (and that already would need to be packed) to give some extra cushion to our moving boxes.

These items included things like cloth napkins, towels, sheets, pillow cases, blankets, throw pillows (I knew my obsession with pillows would come in handy someday!), table cloths, and any other soft materials we could get our hands on.

5. Use drawers as boxes.

a blue dresser with decorations on top with a mirror

There were so many items– like clothing and DVDs– that could simply be packed in the drawers they already “live” in. It didn’t make sense to move them into a separate box. 

We simply wrapped stretch wrap around each drawer a few times so it wouldn’t slide out of the dresser during the move, and the piece was good to go.

6. Write details on every box and/or pod.

You probably won’t be surprised, knowing my love for labels, but I was a bit neurotic about labeling EVERYTHING. 🙂 My worst fear is that we’ll get to the new house and won’t be able to find anything. So I tried to be as clear as possible about where everything was located.

side view of a labeled fragile moving box

The boxes we used had a place to write down everything that was inside, and they also had checkboxes we could mark off to indicate which room the box would be going to. (I may have even gone a smidge overboard and used star stickers to indicate fragile boxes as an extra precaution… 😉 )

I also taped a piece of paper to the inside of each of our storage pods. As Donnie loaded them up, he made a list of what was inside each one so that it would be easier to unload them.

a moving pod with the door open with stuff packed inside

7. Have two teams– packers and haulers.

chairs and boxes packed in a moving storage pod

If you can convince a few friends or family members to help you, this strategy worked really well for us! My mom and I worked together inside to pack up boxes while Donnie and my brother-in-law carried items out and packed the pods.

We had a staging area inside our house where we would put any boxes that were ready to go. And the guys would make trips in and out with the boxes and also any furniture that could be packed away. The process went quickly and smoothly!

8. Think through what you’ll need in the interim.

If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to move out of one house and into the next on the same day, you may only need a few essentials by your side. If your in-between time is longer like ours, however, it was really helpful for me to make a list of everything I might possibly need while the majority of our belongings are packed away.

a packed suitcase and bag sitting on the bed

Clothes are an obvious one, as are toiletry items. As I mentioned earlier, each one of the boys got to pack up a small bin of toys that we’ll be taking with us.

I kept things like our printer and my craft cutting machine because I know I’ll have projects to do with them before we move into the new house. I put together a caddy of cleaning supplies to use at our temporary apartment so we wouldn’t have to buy all new ones.

We were staying in a furnished apartment, but it didn’t have kitchen staples. So it was helpful to pack some of my most commonly used spices and baking items to have with us.

Everyone’s needs will be different, but think through every possible situation you may face while you’re between houses and try to keep out any necessities– it will save time and frustration for sure!

9. Leave out camp chairs and mattresses/sleeping bags until the end.

I would love to say that we were able to pack everything up all in one day, but that was not the case for us. It was a process.

Since we had help with the heavy lifting items a few days before we actually moved out of the townhouse, there were a few nights where we slept on camp mattresses on the floor so that our actual mattresses could be packed.

(Thankfully I remembered that we’d need the mattresses at the last minute and left them out! Otherwise we would have been right on the hard floor!)

the kids on the floor in sleeping bags

Our living room furniture consisted of camp chairs and a cardboard box as a coffee table for a few days. And then at the very end, we were able to throw those last few items in the storage pods and send them away.

10. Help out the next owner.

Finally, we made sure to help the next owner make a smooth transition into their new home as much as we could.

We checked to see if they would be keeping the same paint colors and left sample pots of each color along with a list of the exact paint colors in each room. We left extra flooring and wall tile in case they would need to replace anything in the future. I used Scotch Expressions washi tape to label all of the keys so they could easily tell what went where.

Along with leaving the items mentioned above, we also patched any holes in the walls and did a final thorough cleaning of the house from top to bottom so everything was in the best shape possible.

an empty room in the house after packing up to move

Not only are these simple gestures an act of good will, but they’ll save phone calls/emails and hassle down the road.

Whew! That was a lot! Moving is definitely a lot of work, but with the right supplies and the right systems, it doesn’t have to be painful!

By taking the time to get organized and pack everything securely, we can be sure that everything will arrive at our new house safe and sound (and easy to find!). And that gives me incredible peace of mind!

Packing to Move: Frequently Asked Questions

If possible, it’s helpful to start packing at least 6-8 weeks ahead of time. It’s surprising at how many things we acquire over time, and it is a big task to pack up everything in a secure way!

This timeline leaves enough room for decluttering and being able to organize everything before it’s placed on the moving truck or in pods.

This will differ for everyone, but in general, the garage and kitchen can be toughest to pack. Most garages house tools that are weirdly shaped, random things (as a catch-all spot), along with larger items like golf clubs, bicycles, and sports gear.

The kitchen, of course, contains tons of breakables which can be hard to pack. We also use most of those items on a daily basis so it has to be packed near the end, but kitchens can hold so much!

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin the image below so you can find it easily!

Packing for an Organized Move

Have you moved recently? I’d love to hear your best tips in the comments! 

Thanks so much for following along! Have a wonderful day!


A huge thanks to Scotch Brand Products from 3M for sponsoring this post! My favorable opinion of high-quality packing products that make our move easier is 100% my own. 🙂 For more information, see my disclosures here.


  1. I have moved a lot in my lifetime and wish I had this post years ago!! Still loved reading it. Were those photos of your actual items? If so, you have the cutest things!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thank you, Jackie! Yes, those are our items! We haven’t seen them in a little while, though, lol. Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Thanks for those tips, now I have started thinking about my moving plan (probably for the next month) so any advice is welcome 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Best of luck with your move, Esther! It can seem like a daunting task, but when we took it one space at a time, it was actually easier than we expected! Hope you have a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  3. Erin @ Very Erin says:

    My husband and I just purchased our first home and moved in this June! It was definitely an undertaking. Luckily we were able to move into the house and had our apartment for another two weeks, meaning the transition was super easy and we weren’t rushed at all! Our home’s previous owners did the same thing you did with the paint, and we appreciated it so much!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Congratulations on your new home, Erin! That is so exciting! And that is awesome that you had a little overlap to make the transition easier. I bet that made things a little less stressful! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Done this so many times have lost count and no you didnt teach me anything I didnt already know or do…. must be on a par with your Mum I know Im old enough to be your Grandma!! tee hee

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Sounds like you’re the pro by now, Ann! 🙂 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Beth Ingle says:

    This is so helpful Abbey! We are actually in the process of packing up our house. We’ve sold it and the closing is rapidly approaching in about 4 weeks! We also will be staying someplace temporarily until we decide on our next home so hearing what you decided to have temporarily on hand is so helpful! thanks for sharing!

    1. Same here….Moving cross country – still deciding if we will rent un empty apartment or furnished one until we will buy a house.
      Thanks Abby for the post!! 🙂

      1. justagirlabby says:

        Ooh I’ve done the cross country move thing before (from Pennsylvania to Arizona and back)! It is definitely a process, but totally doable! Best of luck with everything, Gabriela!

        ~Abby =)

    2. justagirlabby says:

      Sounds like our situations are very similar, Beth! It was at about 4 weeks out when I started thinking, “Oh my, what have I gotten myself into?!” 😉 But when we took it one step at a time, it really wasn’t as daunting as it seemed. Hope you’re having a great week! Best of luck with your move!

      ~Abby =)

  6. I recently moved from a 3,300 square foot house to a 1,030 square foot house, so I had to do a ton of purging as I packed. Now I am in my tiny house (I love it!) and I still have room on ALL of my shelves and in all of my closets. So much better than being stuffed with unnecessary things in my big house!

    Great tips, Abby!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I hear you! We are in a small apartment in the interim with just the basics and it is pretty freeing! Best of luck in your new place, Randi!!

      ~Abby =)

  7. Kristen @ Making Home says:

    Great tips!!! Wish I had a read this before we moved a few weeks ago, we were not half so organized haha..Good luck with the transition to your new home! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You can send me all of your unpacking tips since you’re ahead of me in the process! 😉 I hope you’re enjoying your new home, Kristen!!

      ~Abby =)

  8. Why am I so sad? I spent several years enjoying your home. I’m sure you have a sadness in your heart too..
    I know you will have some great posts of your new home to come.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, you are so sweet! Thanks so much, Barbara! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  9. So fun! This makes me want to move!

    Our last move we moved out and put everything in storage for 5months. I numbered every box and wrote out generally what was in each one (on an index card). We had NO IDEA where we were going so we didn’t know if there would be a dining room or an office. We also didn’t know if we’d be in a 2 bedroom apartment or a 4 bedroom house. ? Also the number/index card trick served us well because we moved out in July not even THINKING about winter clothes. We didn’t close on our new house until mid December so we had to go back to the storage unit and find our clothes! Also we only used 2 huge units and put all furniture in 1 and all boxes in the other- knowing that if we HAD to fish through the boxes (which we did) that we wouldn’t be climbing over our washer or table. Haha! What an experience that was.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh, wow! Sounds like quite the experience, Caroline! Thanks so much for sharing! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  10. Christina says:

    Sounds like Caroline and I have done the same thing. For my second house-to-house move (translation: way more stuff than our first apartment!) I used to index card system with great success. Two years ago, we moved across the country and used a super-helpful app called Moving Van, which gave us the inventory per box like the cards, but adds the option to include a picture for each item you list as contained in the box, as well as a search feature, which was OUTSTANDING! No fishing through boxes at any point this time, which was great when our house closed mid-winter–4 months later than expected!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Wow! A search feature would be SO helpful! Thanks so much for sharing, Christina! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  11. Abby,
    First let me say that I just discovered your blog and have been obsessively reading all of your posts 🙂 I love how encouraging you are and you write about some of the most insightful topics. Thank you so much for your transparency and willingness to share! I have been day dreaming about starting a blog for over a year now and I think I just might take the plunge (with the help of some of your resources, of course :)) My husband and I are actually about to be in the middle of a move ourselves – we close on our first house at the end of September! eek! We have set up our budget to allow me to stay at home to be a homemaker and *hopefully* a stay-at-home mom, Lord willing, and I cannot express how EXCITED I am to finally come home from my full time J.O.B. I feel like I have found your blog at such a perfect time as this life transition for us is going to allow me to have more time to invest into my passions, one of which I hope to be blogging! Anway, I just wanted to say ‘hi!’ and a big thank you for following your dreams while helping others to do the same!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Aw, thanks so much, Ashley! You are too sweet! Sounds like you have so many exciting things coming up in the next few months… SO fun! I’m so glad the posts have been so helpful for you and appreciate you stopping by and introducing yourself! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Sarah @ The Teacher's Wife says:

    All your tips are spot on, although I love your last one! I have never thought to do that, but it’s very thoughtful and helpful (especially since your house is so pretty and they may want to keep some of the same colors!). We also left a notebook with info regarding repairs and upgrades we had made to the house. That way they’d know exactly what we had done to improve the home and when those repairs had been done. I can’t wait to see how y’all decide to decorate your new home! 🙂

  13. I moved for the first time when I got married. In the months before the wedding I packed up things I knew I could do without and took them to his house when I went to hang out. I also took over anything I had in my “hope chest” like lamps and things that I wasn’t using but that he needed. I took what I needed for the honeymoon on the wedding day, and got everything else when we got back. I’ll probably never have it that easy again but it worked out perfectly for us.

  14. Pinning this for when my husband and I move to Canada in a few months’ time! We’ll be letting out our flat here in Scotland and leaving most of the furniture here, so we don’t need to that up, but we will need to ship some things, which means that like you we’ll need to decide what we need right away and what we can do without for a couple of months.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it will be helpful for you, Nicola! Good luck with your move!

      ~Abby =)

  15. Derek Hines says:

    These are great tips! I particularly like that you mentioned leaving paint for the next owners. I would also recommend leaving a folder or box full of the manuals for the appliances that you leave behind like the fridge, dishwasher, microwave, furnace, etc. When we moved into our new home, none of this stuff was left and it was frustrating. Thanks for writing!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      That’s a great idea! That would be EXTREMELY frustrating!

      ~Abby =)

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