Steps to Pack a House to Move in a Week

When moving home there are many things to think about and organize and it is best to prepare around a month ahead of the moving day to ensure everything goes smoothly. But what happens if something unexpected comes up and you find yourself needing to move quicker than expected?

This guide was created for just that situation. By being more efficient with your operation, you really can slash the time it takes to organize, pack and move your belongings. moving-electronics-home-officeHere’s How to Pack a House to Move Within a Week:

Initial Preparations

Few house moves will really happen within a week of notification so if you have any time at all before that final frenetic seven days, you can save yourself a lot of stress by de-cluttering your home and changing your address with the most important companies and organizations.

Whether you have two days or two weeks spare, use that time to go from room to room creating piles of things you want to sell, recycle or donate. The more ruthless you are, the easier and cheaper the final pack will be as you will be buying fewer boxes and taking up less moving time and truck space. If you are downsizing you will also find it easier to find homes for your belongings on the other side.

Use whatever time you have to gather these unwanted items together and arrange a garage sale and a trip to the charity shop and tip.

Next, make a list of everything important that will need to be canceled or redirected to your new address (bank statements, utilities, cable package, magazine subscriptions, milk delivery, medical records, etc.)

You may be able to change some of these details online but others will require a phone call or even a letter. Make sure utilities and cable companies know the exact date you are moving to avoid billing or supply issues.

Finally, if you are having a moving company do all the heavy lifting, obtain some quotes and book the service. If you are self-driving, book your vehicle in advance and make sure you add hand trucks to your order for those heavy items of furniture.

Set up and Stock your Packing Station

To streamline your packing operation, first select one room in your home to be your packing station. It should be easy to clear out and access this room as you will need to pack it up first before using it to store all of your packed boxes and supplies. The garage or a rarely used spare room are often best for this purpose.

Although it may seem more efficient to race to a homeware store and collect all the packing supplies you need, this may not be the case. With many moving supply firms now offering next day or even same day delivery, you will usually save money by ordering professional supplies. It may even be worth losing a day’s packing time so be sure to weigh this up.

Packaging Supplies you will need to include a number of new and unopened marker pens, box sealing tape and dispensers, scissors, bubble wrap, plain newsprint, labels and, of course, boxes.

Don’t Skimp on Boxes

We’ve already mentioned that ordering packing supplies may be better than rushing out to buy them yourself. This is even more the case when it comes to your packing boxes. Unless there is really no other way, you should order plenty of new corrugated cardboard boxes rather than picking up second-hand ones from the grocery store.

Professional moving boxes are strength tested and will not collapse during loading. Weak and damaged boxes will lead to delays in packing and loading and risks damaging your possessions through breakages and spillages.

Decide on a Labeling System – and Stick to it!

Clear and consistent labeling is one of the keys to a fast and stress-free move. Some people use a numbering system, others create elaborate color coding systems. Whatever labeling method you use, bear the following in mind:

  • Simple is usually better. Remember, you are going to have to explain your method to the movers.
  • Marking on all sides of each box means you don’t have to worry about which way they are loaded.
  • Regardless of how well you have packed your delicate items, you should always mark them ‘Fragile.’
  • Use clear arrows to mark which way up the boxes need to go (good quality moving boxes will often have arrows pre-marked).
  • Ensure there is a system for matching boxes with the rooms they are destined for.
  • Your ‘Essentials Box’ (see next section) and any other boxes you expect to need soon after moving in should be clearly identified.

Pack Strategically

As far as possible, look to pack up your least used items first. There is nothing more inefficient than having to rummage through a packed box in order to retrieve something you need.

Organize your packing methodically by focusing on one room at a time. It doesn’t really matter where you start. Some people prefer to get the more daunting rooms out of the way first while others like to start easy to get the ball rolling.

We have written other guides for more detailed packing advice but as a rule of thumb, heavier items should go in smaller boxes and lighter ones in big boxes. Try to eliminate all spaces when packing, including those inside, between and around items. Your goal is to prevent as much movement as possible.

When you have finished a box, label it and move it to your packing station. Stack boxes neatly with the heavier ones on the bottom.

As you pack up each room, leave aside anything you are going to need urgently in the first couple of days at your new home. See the list at the end of this section for an idea of common essentials.

At the end of the process, you should be left with a room full of packed boxes with every other room stripped down to the big items of furniture plus those essential items you set aside for your first couple of days. Choose an appropriately sized box and go from room to room collecting these essentials together in an ‘Essentials Box.’

There are no hard and fast rules about what goes into this box but common examples are:

  • Cleaning supplies. Leave a few items out to carry out a last clean before leaving.
  • A small toolkit (spanner roll, screwdrivers, hammer, torch, pliers, box cutter, etc.). Leave out any tools you will need to break down big items of furniture.
  • Dish towels and rags
  • Paper or plastic plates
  • Set of cutlery for each family member
  • Small saucepans
  • Bottle and can opener
  • Tissues
  • Paper towels
  • Small hand towels
  • Flannels
  • Toiletries (soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, shaving foam, deodorant, etc.)
  • Toilet roll
  • Pajamas
  • Bed sheets
  • Two full changes of clothes (as light as possible taking into account the weather)
  • Toys and games
  • TV remote control
  • Batteries
  • Snacks
  • Drinking water

Final Preparations

Finally, it’s time to disconnect and break down those big pieces of furniture for easier transportation. Where you have had to unscrew or unbolt anything, place the fixings in a Ziploc bag and tape it to the furniture itself. Give your old home a final spruce and pack away your tools and cleaning supplies in your essentials box before sealing it.

When the movers arrive, resist the urge to rush the loading process. A professional moving company will ask you plenty of questions before touching any of your possessions. You should at least make sure everyone is clear on the details of the warranty and how the boxes are marked.

With all of your boxes neatly stacked in one room and clearly labeled, your movers (if any) will be able to keep loading time to a minimum.

Congratulations. You have packed up your house within a week and are now ready to enjoy the experience of your new home.

Extra Time-Saving Tips

Here are some bonus time-saving tips to help make your move go even more smoothly:

  • Keep important documents together and bring them on your person. Paperwork can easily get lost in a rushed house move.
  • Take an inventory of your important possessions. Tick items off as you pack them (some people even mark them on the box itself).
  • Consider a shoulder dolly to make lifting heavy items much easier. (view demonstration on “How to Use Shoulder Dolly“)
  • Pack books spine to spine and dishes vertically.
  • Consider a wardrobe box for transporting your clothes. These include a rail so you won’t need to fold your garments.
  • Use specialized telescopic picture boxes for mirrors and paintings where possible.