As we pulled out of the stranger's driveway, I couldn't help but glance over my shoulder at the prized possessions now stacked neatly in the back of our car.
Used moving boxes…FREE. Dozens of them.
After running out of all the shipping boxes we had stored in our garage for a few weeks, I was in desperate need of more in preparation for moving and living in an RV year round.
During my last trip to Lowe's, I discovered new boxes cost over $1 each and, while that doesn't seem like much for one or two, the fifty I guesstimated we would need would certainly take a chunk out of our moving expenses budget…for nothing but cardboard!
So when I saw the post about free used moving boxes in a local Facebook group, I jumped on it STAT. Searching for free used moving boxes is now in my arsenal of moving tips and tricks that I've collected over the last five times we've relocated.
If you're in a similar transition phase and have a move coming up on the calendar, take a deep breath. Because in the middle of all the big life changes that are happening in your life right now, I'm about to make moving one of the least stressful parts!
The 8 Best Moving Tips and Tricks
1. Make a List of Everything You Need to Do
It sounds simple, but when you list a house for sale (or accept an offer), there are a myriad of tasks that pop into your brain at the most inconvenient times of day. Keep your notepad (or phone or bullet journal!) handy and jot down these items as you think of them.
Once we decided we were going to list our house, I made a list of everything that needed to be done before we ever called our realtor, including some home improvement projects that we kept putting off (but increased our home's value!).
I also made a separate list for everything we needed to do after the house actually sold. It's such a whirlwind phase between accepting an offer and signing off on the official closing paperwork, that I didn't want any to-do's to escape my brain during that stressful time!
Once you have an entire list (or two) compiled, you'll feel so much better—I certainly did! Just having it all down on paper diminishes a lot of the mental exhaustion you're facing. So make a list, check it twice, and work your way through it, line by line, aiming to accomplish one or two items every day.
2. Declutter, Declutter, Declutter!
Decluttering is something you should do on a regular basis, but never more so than when you gear up for a move. Moving is actually one of the best excuses to declutter because you never realize how much you own… until you must pack it inside dozens of boxes.
Here's the thing: when packing, you'll inevitably come across items you haven't used in months…or years (here's looking at you, Mr. Punch Bowl). Go ahead and set those items aside now in a Donate or Sell pile, rather than packing them away and making decluttering a chore for when you arrive at your new home.
The LetGo app has been a lifesaver for listing our stuff (it's SO much better than Craigslist!) and anything we haven't sold on there has been donated to our local Goodwill. It has felt so good to release ourselves of all this junk. It's also great tax write-off!
3. Collect Used Moving Boxes Right Away
If you have the slightest inkling that a move is in your near future, start collecting boxes yesterday. Months ago, friends offered us extra boxes and we actually said, “No, we don't really need them right now,” even though we were thinking more seriously about the RV trip than we ever had before!
This led to my sticker shock when I realized we did indeed need more boxes than our own regular Amazon orders could fulfill. Thankfully that Facebook post of free used moving boxes came across my feed at just the right time!
So how can you gather used moving boxes? Scour local Facebook groups; these are a great way to search for them (that's how I found mine), but you can also check these types of places:
- Medical offices – they usually have nice sturdy boxes
- UPS stores – make sure they are the used (free) ones!
- Car dealerships – they go through A LOT of paper
- Grocery stores – you'll need to call first
And of course, you should always ask friends and family to hang onto their boxes for you. The last thing you want to do is pay for…ahem, cardboard, especially when you're likely to have some unexpected expenses pop up during the actual move.
When you are finished moving, don't forget to pay it forward. Post that you're giving away used moving boxes or offer them to a friend who is moving. (Go ahead and send them this article if you found it helpful, too!)
4. Organize your packing system
You need tools to stay as organized as possible through the packing process–whether it's with post-it notes, labels, or my organizing system of choice: colored duct tape!
With the colored-duct-tape system, take note of all the rooms/areas in your home and pick up a different color duct tape for each room. Make a color/pattern key so it's easy to distinguish at a glance which duct tape goes with which items.
As you pack, close the box with clear packing tape to seal, and then place a strip of the color-coded duct tape across the top (this will help you not go through the roll as quickly). You'll still want to label each box with what's inside, but it's so much easier to tell which boxes go where when you get to your new place.
You should also “label” each room in your new place with the duct tape that coordinates with the boxes that you want to go in that room, and your friends who volunteer to help you move in will be more than grateful to have you so organized!
Bonus tip: Designate one box or bag to contain your “immediate needs” for your new home. Include toilet paper, cleaning supplies, plastic cutlery, and other necessities you don't want to waste time searching for on Move-In Day.
5. How to Start Packing to Move—Strategically
How do you pack fragile plates, home decor stemware, and odd-shaped items like lampshades? For that, I'll refer you to my friend Jackie from School of Decorating. She's a pro at this! Grab a big roll of bubble wrap and watch her videos (here's Part One and Part Two) during your lunch break.
My biggest takeaways from her are to fit smaller items inside bigger ones and always be mindful about weight. Sometimes it's better to pack multiple smaller boxes with heavier items than one large box that no one can pick up (and might drop because it's so heavy!).
Also, this clothes packing tip from Jamielyn is genius!
6. Get Creative with Meals
Whittle down the pantry and freezer as soon as you know you're moving so you have less to transport. This might mean you're eating hot dogs on hamburger buns or using 3 different kinds of noodles for mac n' cheese. But hey—whatever works, right? 🙂
Bonus perk: It also decreases your grocery budget!
I've been working my way through my deep freezer—some things have been in there for more than year and are freezer-burnt (oops!), but it's also been a treat to use up some of our frozen produce. We're currently enjoying the Best Blueberry Muffins. YUM.
7. Compare House Packers and Movers
U-Haul, Penske, and Budget Rental are the three main moving truck companies we usually think of (especially if you're DIYing the move yourself!) but there other options to consider, too:
- Hire a house packers and movers company to do everything for you. My friend Lauren recently did this as a way to make the move less stressful and had a great experience. My friend Jackie, however, did not. So read a TON of reviews before you make a commitment!
- Rent a POD or storage container. You fill these up yourself, then hire a driver to move them for you. This is more of a hybrid between the DIY route and the full service route.
- Enlist the help of friends and their pick-up trucks. If you're making a move across town, consider borrowing a friend's pick-up truck. Don't forget to pay for gas if you're switching vehicles, or enlist their help on Moving Day and pay in pizza and cookies! We did this for our move from an apartment to our current house and saved so much money, even with multiple trips.
Whichever option you choose, try to if you move towards the beginning or middle of the month, because prices will be higher at the end of the month when more people move to get into an apartment by the 1st. It's irritating to have moving companies take advantage of timing this way, but good to know if you can prevent it!
And if you are moving across the country, check out this comprehensive article on how to do it on a budget!
8. Change Your Address
When you move, you'll quickly discover you need to change your address in more places than you can count! Start with the Post Office and then fill in your Address Change Checklist (download below!) with the names of every other company that needs to be able to find you. An easy hack is to look through your password sheet or address book so you make sure you don't miss anyone.
MOVING JUST GOT EASIER
Even though you still need to change your address on file with each company, this is a great time to switch everything over to electronic statements if you haven't already and save on paper clutter. Sometimes you'll find you don't even need to hang onto an account anymore and can eliminate digital clutter too!
When you're finished, don't forget to send these cute DIY moving announcements to everyone you know. 🙂
Whether you're moving into your first home, upsizing, downsizing, or taking off on a crazy new adventure like we are, I hope these moving tips and tricks allow you to catch your breath on Moving Day and enjoy the fresh new start you have waiting across town or across the country!
Where are you moving from/to? Do you have any other moving tips and tricks to add to this list?
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