How to Move in 6 Weeks or 6 Days, and Keep Your Sanity


I’ve been through chaotic, last-minute moves, a few crazy DIY moves, and some that weren’t so bad. When we moved to a new apartment recently, it was our best move yet. We even had our entire apartment unpacked just two days later.

Most people’s feelings after moving are “I hope we live here for a long time. I don’t want to move again.” Moving can be really difficult, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier.

If you have 6 weeks notice:

  1. Commit to packing two or three boxes each weekday, or box up that same amount to donate to Goodwill.
  2. Don’t pack anything without a bag close by ready to fill up with things to donate.
  3. Buy more tape and collect extra boxes. It always takes more than you expect.
  4. Designate a moving staging area. I tend to procrastinate on packing because I don’t like the unsettled feeling of being surrounded by boxes at home. Find an area where you can stack boxes out of the way. (We rented a storage space at our apartment for a few weeks, and it was so nice to carry out a couple of boxes each day and get them out of the way.)
  5. moving-boxes-1251

  6. Label the sides of the boxes so that even when they are stacked, you can see their contents. Also write the room they will go in at the new house.
  7. Start eating the food in the freezer and pantry.
  8. Save packing the necessities for last. Doug had to buy toilet paper three times because I kept packing away the extra rolls, thinking we had enough. Keep a “last packed, first unpacked” box of cleaning supplies, handy tools, and other necessities.

If you have 6 days notice:

  1. Call in help. Most people spend too much time organizing and thinking about the stuff they need to pack (where it will go in the new house and what they hope to do with it). A friend will just put it in the box. Your goal at this point is to get everything into boxes to go on the truck.
  2. Take one morning to make phone calls and reserve the moving truck, transfer utilities, and other jobs. You don’t want to forget to have the electricity turned on at the new place, or pay extra for last-minute hookups.
  3. For local moves, resist the urge to make a few car trips over to the new home. It seems nice to take a few boxes over and unpack them, but it is so much more time-efficient to make just one trip with a truck and move everything at once.
  4. When you pack, reach for whatever is closest to you. Don’t worry about sorting books into one box and pictures into another. You can organize by location (such as “living room shelf”) instead of item type.
  5. Hire help. Consider hiring a cleaning service to take care of cleaning the old home. If a full move isn’t in your budget, perhaps you can afford movers for just two hours to help you load or unload the truck.
  6. Donate as much as you can. If you want to sell any of your stuff, advertise it as soon as possible so you don’t have to deal with buyers on moving day.
  7. Eat take-out. This isn’t the time to cook and clean up home-cooked meals.
Even the best-planned moves can be hectic at the end. What packing or moving tips do you know of?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. My mum (as an army wife) packed us all up and moved us around australia every couple of years for a while there. When I moved house she told me her number one rule : Make sure the beds go on the moving van last and come off first. Take the sheets etc with you and make the bed the very first thing before you do anything else. That way, if you’re halfway through unpacking and it gets late, you can just fall into bed.

    Also, take tea and coffee supplies and offer the hired movers tea and coffee quickly and often. These little kindnesses will make them more happy to be helping you and more likely to be careful with your stuff!

    Ness´s last blog post..Daily Motivation

  2. Hire movers!!!

    Elle´s last blog post..inspiration

  3. Purge. Your stuff that is ; )

    Juliet´s last blog post..10 Things SAHM’s should stop doing right now

  4. One thing I’ve learned through all of my moves is to always put a shower curtain and hooks in your “unpack first” box. When you move and fall into bed that night, the first thing you’ll want to do in the morning is have a shower, which is quite difficult (if not amusing) with no shower curtain! (Also make sure to pack an “overnight bag” with toothbrush, shampoo, etc, so you don’t have to hunt those down first thing!

    Beth@RedandHoney´s last blog post..Get Your Creative On: Homemade Sleep Sack

  5. Slackerjo says:

    I have moved 20+ times in about 25 years. I am really really good at packing. My moves are so well organized and efficient that people actually volunteer to help me.

    I do not use paper or packing material to cushion my fragile items. I use clothing. If you are moving in summer, then pad your goods with winter clothing. I have never broken a single item in any of my moves. Any damage during moving has been to my body, bumps, bruises and cuts. Nothing not cured by a very very hot bath and some aspirin!

    My biggest moving rule is to unpack everything. I did not have to be that day, but usually within a few days, I have unpacked every single item and assigned a home to that item. If you are leaving items still in boxes for weeks/months/years then you are not using these items. Find a place for them or get rid of them!

  6. We moved 7 times in 6 years, so we got pretty experienced at it. But now we’ve been here for 3 years and have no plans of heading anywhere else – it’s nice!


    steadymom´s last blog post..Out Walkin’

  7. I am currently packing for a move in a few weeks and have been searching the internet for tips on moving. Imagine how happy I was this morning when I saw one of my favorite blogs had posted about moving! The part about eating take-out made me feel so much better. I haven’t felt like cooking a meal and cleaning it up, just seems like one more task. I normally cook healthy and organic, but last night be had spaghetti-O’s!

    Angela´s last blog post..Goins Week In Review

  8. I love your blog, by the way, and have nominated it for a bloggy award. Visit my site for info –

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  9. Oh yes, we’ve moved quite a few times. And I’ve been moving for almost six months now to our new house. Having the old house for sale while moving three hours away to the new house has made it the longest move on record. We had movers take the first load, then we went back with two more U-Hauls to bring more. Downsizing was the trickiest part, trying to figure out what we could use in a house two thousand square feet smaller than our old house.

    I always say I NEVER want to move again. It is fun to find a new place, but I think I prefer the settled feeling. Moving is just so stressful, no matter how organized I thought I was in the beginning, by the end it just feels like chaos to me.

    Great tips and I hope I won’t need to use them again after this move! {wishful thinking}

    melissa @ the inspired room´s last blog post..Charming Details: Child-Sized Chairs

  10. danicalynn says:

    I move a lot (I even have three international moves in my history) and the main thing I’ve learned is the importance of buying boxes. Initially, this seemed like a waste of money–I would just collect them from the grocery store, liquor store–but in terms of the quality of the boxes, the ease of packing and moving the boxes, and not to mention the time saved not scavenging for the boxes, buying boxes is really worth the money.

  11. We’re getting ready for a cross-country move in just under three weeks. Rather than hiring movers, or driving our own truck 3000 miles, we rented a POD which will be arriving this weekend. That way, as we pack boxes over the next two weeks, we’ll be able to move them directly out of the house and into the POD. Hopefully, it will keep the chaos to a minimum.

    Nadia´s last blog post..Lists

  12. Whitney says:

    We have moved too many times that I care to recall in our short marriage (three years). Things I have learned:

    1. Put it in a box if at all possible. Put weird shaped things in a box – just a bigger box. It makes everything fit better and keeps it way less stressful.

    2. Put the shower curtain in the first unpacked box. Last time we moved, it was on the hottest day of the year (and I was 8 months pregnant). My motivation for that day was a shower.

    3. Don’t be afraid to ask friends to help. But feed them!

    4. Purge. You always have more stuff than you think – get rid of it. Stuff is just stuff. Moving is a time to be merciless about it.

    5. Start packing as soon as you know you’re moving. Start with books and Christmas stuff. And move it into a separate space so you can see that you’re making progress.

    6. Label the rooms in your new place with NUMBERS not names and then give each box a number that corresponds. That makes it easier for people, because each person has a different idea of what a room should be used for. Numbers make it simple and almost thought free.

    7. Have an extremely organized husband. ;-)

  13. I second the tip to put everything into boxes. I’m headed back to Seattle in a couple weeks to get our house packed up and I’ll have about 4 days to do it so I love the tips!

    Andrea @ The Train To Crazy´s last blog post..Frustration!

  14. I’m planning a move, so this is very helpful!!

    Jules @ Lovely Las Vegas´s last blog post..Lake Las Vegas Movies

  15. Great tips! We’re moving across town next month, and this is our first move with a baby. I’m going to have a ‘baby box’ full of last-packed stuff to help keep him occupied and out of the way.

    I plan on making one trip the night before to set up our bathrooms, transport some food and cleaning supplies, and whatever else I can pack in the car. That way, we’ll have some of the necessaries out of the way without making too many trips.

    We’ll have to go there anyway to do a walk-through inspection with the landlord.

    We’re hiring movers because we have some ultra heavy furniture that we just can’t muster by ourselves. It’ll make the day go much more smooth and it’s worth every penny in my mind!

    We’ll be eating out of our freezer and pantry and just getting take-out for those last few days in our current apartment.

    I’m really looking forward to getting rid of lots of stuff! That’s usually one of the perks of moving.

    Kacie´s last blog post..Our moving decision

    • Getting rid of stuff is a great perk of moving. Moving is the ultimate spring cleaning!

  16. Great post!

    We are in the middle of an overseas move and I echo the “PURGE, PURGE, PURGE” !!!!!!

    I still look around us in amazement (with 4 days before the movers come to pack us up) at all of the *stuff* that is STILL here even after all of the purging I’ve done!

    Naomi´s last blog post..Lessons Learned

  17. Great tips! I’d also add, do not underestimate ‘that last bit and stuff in closets.’ You might slack off because you feel like you’re done, but there’s nothing worse than going back to the old house to clean, and realizing you still have a lot of stuff in there!

    And, with kids, it’s good to have a box of toys, crafts, portable dvd player (with charger) and snacks, as well as a ‘safe’ room for them at each location.

    I made sure to move the kids’ rooms first, then the kitchen (on the first day). Also, anything in boxes in the garage after the first week or two is very likely to stay that way. Take everything out of boxes, and you will find a place for it!

    p.s. I hope I never have to move again :)

    Leigh´s last blog post..Little Allowances

  18. What a great list! I’ve moved quite a bit in my life, too. I definitely second the idea of an overnight bag – don’t forget to add things like toilet paper and hand soap to the list! I’ve found that I become really popular when I feed pizza to any friends who help us move. I also try to stock the fridges in both the old place and the new place with bottled water.

    One thing I’ve learned is never ask someone to help you move who seems unwilling. I had a friend volunteer her husband once, and he obviously didn’t want to be there, and his negative attitude brought everyone down. I didn’t need to deal with that stress! I always try to give people a way out now.

    We’ve always had pets with us, and I find that the best thing to do with them is to find alternative housing for the weekend of the move. Less stress for me, less stress on them, and no one has to worry about “letting the dog out”.

  19. Oh one other thing I meant to mention… this last time we moved, I marked all the boxes and furniture with colored construction paper that coordinated to the room they were going into. The bright colors made it easy to group things in rooms, and I wrote the room on the paper so you didn’t have to remember what color went to where. My friends who helped us said that it made the process much quicker, and it also was nice for me to not be asked where to put Every. Single. Box.

    The colors also work well if you have people helping you who don’t speak English well/at all.

    ashley@twentysixcats´s last blog day happenings

  20. Keep a small pad of paper with you at all times, and when something comes up that you need to remember for the move, write it down. There are a lot of details involved with moving that you may think of at odd times that you’ll forget later, but which end up being important.

    Do not underestimate how long it will take to pack up an entire house’s contents. We’ve moved twice internationally and twice within the US (military), and even though professional movers have packed everything for us and there are lots of them, it still takes a long time to get it all done.

    Heather´s last blog post..And Good Morning to You, Too

  21. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for posting this!! Both my daughters currently live out of town and are moving back “home” this summer. One is moving 300 miles and the other 1300 miles! I forwarded to them as a “gentle” reminder to start packing and planning NOW ;)

    I, however, made my LAST move last summer!

  22. Instead of an “un-pack first” box, I have a laundry basket that I put those things you need right away- shower curtain, towels, bedding, toothbrushes, cleaning supplies…
    It seems to work and then you aren’t looking for a box, it seems easier to find…

    Darcy´s last blog post..Grandma Annie‚Äôs Dress

  23. Heather says:

    You will forever be the most efficient, intelligent woman I know! And I am so thankful for your wisdom helping me move my mother recently! I will say it again and again and again. It is totally worth it to get a moving truck and movers, even if its just for an hour. Save up for it if its too costly. Having to take multiple trips in a pick-up is just not wise. Time Value of Money as they taught us in economics class! And no one needs to hurt themselves trying to lift that heavy stuff all day either! Tape up all the boxes so they are easy to stack. Label them. And I loved your idea to wrap the dishes with paperplates. That went so much quicker than overlapping newspaper over and over. I also love to wrap breakables with towells, sheets, etc so you avoid the messy newsprint. Wardrobe boxes are $5-10 at Uhaul and seem worth every penny when storing clothing. That’s my nickel of advice.

  24. Thanks so much for this post! I am hoping to be moving in the next couple of weeks, it all depends if I sell my place but I’m keeping my fingers crossed! I’m dreading moving and the thought of disorganization. Your tips are most helpful, thanks :) PS Love the blog!

    jenny @ thejennypincher´s last blog post..Menu Plan Monday week of June 7th

  25. Ah what a timely post. We are having to DOUBLE RENT for the next two months as our apartment complex won’t let us out of our contract (standard but still incredibly irksome) and we are changing school districts so have to move and have utulities going for proof of residence to get my daughter into the new district. Any money and time saving tips are welcome and the post and all the comments where chock full of em’ – thanks one and all – I like the numbers instead of names for rooms, the colour paper (I like colour for everything), the pack everything in boxes, the POD and the hire the truck for the nove just once or don’t do multiple trips – all so logical yet utterly valuable to read at this point in time for me.

    Miechelle´s last blog post..THE DEFINITION OF SUCCESS

  26. The one thing that always seems to be left out of these posts is to be sure to keep up with your home management binder- or make one when you start to pack. Aside from the day-to-day stuff, you should keep the info from your old and new place in it. It can be incredibly helpful if, say the movers decide to leave the truck on the side of the road and all your credit card/ old and new utility accounts/moving contract are in a box in the truck.

    It’s also handy to have around when trying to tie up the loose ends from your home location.

  27. WOW!My arents just dropped the bomb on me that we’re moving in 5 days…it’s close…but still alot of stuff to pack in that little time.I’m only 14 but I was born middle aged so of course I am the one planning everything…but this is VERY helpful…thank you so much