The easiest move to pack up, move and then find and unpack from was one where I color-coded boxes and then put stars (hand drawn) on each box to let me see how critical the stuff in the box was. This is how I did it.
About two months beforehand, I packed up all out-of-season stuff and color-coded the boxes so I could drop them in their areas without any need to unpack them. So in winter, window fans, beach towels, etc. were packed. This box did not get stars on it, as the urgency level to unpack was a zero on a one to ten scale. In my color code, kitchen was red, bedroom was blue, den was green, bath was orange, etc.
Next, I packed up all the "backups" and put them into color-coded boxes. I did simple things like packing up the stuff that would not be needed for at least three to five weeks and labeled and coded the boxes. This merited one star. It was needed but not critical. This is also when I packed up decorating items. It's not critical to have pictures for the walls.
Then I packed up the stuff in the rooms that I seldom used for anything that was critical. I labeled and coded these boxes with two stars. It would be nice to unpack these boxes as soon as possible, but the lack of these items would not force a visit to a store to buy another one.
By this time, pretty much all that was left was clothing, pantry items and home linens. These were easy to box up and label. I did make sure to set up two boxes for each person with one for a week's worth of everyday clothes and one with a week's worth of work clothes to be unpacked and hung up (hangers in the box with them) immediately. And everyone had two sets of "grubbies" or clothes that could be worn for nasty, dirty work without any worry about damaging them.
We ate from the pantry as much as possible in the weeks leading up to the move. The day before the move, all unused bulky or heavy food items were donated to a local food pantry. So there was little food to pack. I also gave away all opened bottles/boxes of cleaning and laundry supplies. It is cheaper to buy new than to have damage in shipping from spills. I also threw away the old broom and mop heads and had brand new replacements for the new home.
I just don't have time to keep up with more paperwork. The markings were right on the boxes. I put a big piece of paper with the color code for that room on each door and it was easy for the teenage boys I hired from the local grocery store to carry each box to the right room. And they put the ones with no stars to one side to be dealt with last in each room. I had very few problems finding things. The one thing I would do differently is to have an "office in a bag" with return address labels from both the old and new address, my box of unused checks, postage stamps, a map of the new town, and phone books from both places.
"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by mailto:MyStory@stretcher.com.
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