Moving is like death and taxes—there’s just no avoiding it eventually. It’s a big task that consumes a lot of time, involving planning, execution and clean up. Most people prefer it be handled by outside moving companies, which is certainly efficient, but can be quite expensive and (according to some horror stories) not always the best or most reliable choice. That’s why many people, especially resourceful ones like you, often turn to the do it yourself moving experience.

It takes a lot to wrangle all the threads of a moving plan together, but with some clear thinking and these tips below, you’ll pull it off with flying colors. And then, potentially, vow to pay movers the next time you have to do all of this again.

Start early. Earlier than you think.

Moving always takes up more of your time than you think it will. Starting 4-6 weeks out from your moving date is usually best, and in the case of arranging for the shutoff or switching of services, 8 weeks is an even better start date.

You’ll need to create a budget for your moving supplies, and formulate a plan for everything you’ll have to do. That’s where checklists come in real handy, and at the bottom of this blog, you’ll find some great ones. They’ll help guide you, keep you on track, and make sure you and your movers (this is, friends and family) have all the supplies and equipment they’ll need.

Clean, organize and purge.

It’s amazing how much stuff accumulates in your home, isn’t it? This is your chance to whittle down your possessions and make the do it yourself moving experience that much easier. Sort things by what you’ll keep (be sure to pack them away as soon as you can), what you’ll donate, what you’ll throw away, and what you think might earn you some dough at a garage sale (and hopefully pay for some of those moving supplies).

Start in the densest, most stuff-filled rooms, and work from there. This’ll keep you organized, motivate you to keep going, act as proof of progress, and keep you nice and chill. Consider being a cutthroat while sorting, because if you think you’ll be able to sort things after you move, think again. You’ll hunker down and hoard what’s there, and anything you’ve brought along with you will be there for the duration.

Don’t skimp on the packing supplies.

These are your possession we’re talking about, after all. They’re likely a mix of family heirlooms and things you’ve worked hard to attain. No one wants to see a generations-old vase leave its packed moving box in pieces. So, buy the good stuff, and buy plenty of it.

New corrugated moving boxes that aren’t compromised or damaged in any way. Lots of bubble wrap rolls for cushioning the valuable stuff and plenty of packing paper for keeping things like dishes and utensils from scratching and marring each other. Then seal it in strong carton sealing tape, and pick up a few handheld tape dispensers so you don’t have to spend hours taping up boxes.

The goal here isn’t just to protect valuable from colliding with each other, it’s also to hopefully damage-proof the boxes from whoever’s carrying them. Your overeager cousin means well, but he has a habit of moving too fast and bumping the boxes against door frames. Give your possessions the biggest chance of making it to your new home unscathed. And maybe get your cousin to simply direct people instead.

Pack an essentials bag.

Moving day is a long one—especially when it’s a do it yourself moving day. Once everything’s in your new place, everyone’s full of pizza and you’ve opened a bottle of wine to celebrate, it’s not likely that you’ll want to do even a bit of unpacking. You’ll be looking to head straight to bed, but with a quick brushing of your teeth and washing of your face.

An essentials bag will make the first night in your unpacked house an easy one. Fill it with a change of clothes, the toiletries you want easy access to (like a toothbrush and toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner), and maybe a good book to help you drift off into dreamy-dream land.

It seems like a small thing, but an essentials bag will feel like a godsend after that long day.

Color-code everything you can.

Grab some colored tape rolls, labels or markers and decide what color represents what room in the house. It’ll greatly speed up the unloading and sorting process if everyone knows green means living room and red means the play room. Like the essentials bag, it’s a small thing, but it’s got huge benefits—everyone will know where they’re going, and it’ll minimize feelings of stress.

Rent a moving truck or recruit family and friends.

If your vehicles aren’t enough (and they rarely are, especially when it comes to large furniture), make it easy on yourself and get a moving truck. It’s one giant rolling cube designed to fit as much stuff as it possibly can—and often comes with a two-wheeler, moving blankets and tie-down straps.

And since you’re on the do it yourself moving kick, you’ll need to replace the help a moving company would’ve provided you. That means asking family and friends (the ones you know you can count on, and usually the ones with a truck) to help, and using their help effectively. Get the strong ones working on the furniture, the fast ones on the boxes, and the puzzle lover in charge of packing the moving truck.

Then once you’re all done, it’s time to order enough pizza to feed an army, and dole out more thanks and hugs than you ever have in your life—and offers to help them with their moves down the road, too.

Play moving truck Tetris.

Here’s where that family member who loves puzzles comes in real handy. Moving trucks may be fairly big inside, but they’re finite spaces that you’re packing cube boxes and oddly-shaped furniture into. If you do it wrong, you’ll have gaps and wasted space and that can mean time spent unloading and repacking it up. No one will enjoy that.

So, have the puzzle lover directing the loading of the truck. They’ll find ways to get things nice and snug, without too much empty space to come back and haunt you. Here’s a few tips for maximizing space:

  • Keep things tight, but not too tight. Keeping boxes and furniture close reduces the chance of shifting or collision, but having them wedged and pressed against each other is a tactic you’ll regret when you start unpacking.
  • Use padding to protect furniture as you’re stacking and organizing them inside. Moving blankets are a big boon here, as are any extra blankets or towels you’re willing to use.
  • Load the heavier stuff in first so it doesn’t crush lighter objects, or make the truck top heavy.
  • Distribute the truck weight properly, front to back and side to side. You may be on a do it yourself moving trip, but physics isn’t going to give you a break today.

Finally, celebrate a job well done.

You worked hard today. Anyone who’s moved a home knows what it takes and you’ve put in some serious effort. You deserve kudos, a whole bunch of pats on the back, and a chance to kick up your feet for the rest of that first night. Hopefully, this isn’t something you’ll have to do again for a long while.

Until your cousin moves. Again. For the third time in three years. Have fun!

Don’t miss out on these FREE downloadable checklists from The Packaging Company. There’s a moving timeline to keep your plans organized, a moving supplies list to ensure you don’t forget anything, and a checklist used by moving companies that covers things you might not have thought about using.

Get instant access to our FREE Moving Timeline Printable Checklist—and stay up-to-date on all the great content and products we have to offer!

Get instant access to our FREE Printable Moving Checklist For Home—and stay up-to-date on all the great content and products we have to offer!

Get instant access to our FREE Moving Companies Printable Checklist—and stay up-to-date on all the great content and products we have to offer!