Create a 5-Step Packing Timeline

When is it too early or too late to start packing? In general, most moving tips suggest the average household should start packing one to two months before the moving date. These packing tips organize your packing timeline into week-long phases.

5 to 7 weeks before moving day: gather supplies

  • Get new boxes, used boxes in good shape or reusable containers
  • Buy packing tape and packing tape dispensers
  • Use medium-tipped permanent markers for labeling
  • Get packing paper or other padding that will fill boxes completely; in some cases linens, towels or old clothing may suffice
  • Buy, borrow or rent dollies, dolly straps and moving blankets for larger items

4 to 6 weeks before moving day: downsize

  • Downsize your stuff and declutter your garage
  • Sell items of value you don’t want or need, online or in a garage sale
  • Donate unsold and gently used items to charity
  • Give away things you can’t donate or throw out. Surprisingly, a handy or thrifty neighbor may be interested in things like leftover gasoline or engine oil
  • Dispose of any leftover hazardous materials safely by contacting your local community to find a drop-off center or event
  • Throw out the remaining unwanted or unneeded items

3 weeks before moving day: pack infrequently used belongings

  • Pack all seasonal or rarely used items, like holiday decorations, fine china and off-season clothing. Pack tools or other items you won’t need before the move
  • Stack the marked boxes in the rooms where you packed them
  • As with all your packing, label boxes according to where they’ll go in the new house

2 weeks before moving day: pack the rest, and identify essentials

  • Start packing kitchenware
  • Keep a plate, silverware and glass for each family member aside, along with essential cooking gear like a skillet, saucepan and utensils
  • Identify “Open Me First” items like favorite kids’ toys, tools to set up your new home, toilet paper and paper towels, disposable dinnerware and one set of linens
  • Identify items that will travel with you instead of the movers, like valuables, important papers, clothing, toiletries and pet supplies

1 week before moving day: finish packing

  • Pack and label the remaining “Open Me First” items you’ve been using up to the last minute
  • Do a final check to make sure all of your boxes are taped shut and labeled

These packing tips aren’t hard and fast rules, but they’re based on many homeowners’ experiences with successful moves. Even if your packing plan isn’t perfect, having an imperfect plan is far better than none.

There are different types of packing services available if you’re looking for help. Feel free to contact us to talk about full, partial or do-it-yourself packing options for your next move.