Relocating? Here’s How to Make Moving In a Breeze

Moving guide, Part 2: Helpful tips for unpacking, organizing and setting up your new home

By Jennifer Phelps / Courtesy of

You’ve spent days or weeks packing your worldly possessions into boxes, bags, cars, trucks or even shipping containers. Your old house is long gone from your rearview mirror. You’re excited about your new life and home. Then the reality of unpacking, sorting your belongings and setting up furniture sets in and you cringe. 

But worry not. These tips will help you make sense of the madness and help you strategically organize your belongings and thoughts for a stress-free moving-in day. 

See Part 1: Relocating? Here’s How to Make the Big Move Better

Don’t get caught with your pants down. Utilities in some places can take forever to hook up, even basics like water and electricity. Call at least two weeks before your arrival to set up appointments with utility, cable, phone and Internet companies to transfer service or schedule hook-ups so you can be up and running as soon as possible.

Make a port in the storm. If you’ve ever misplaced the car keys or your cell phone amid mountains of boxes and paper and people coming and going like ants, you already know you’ll want to avoid the panic. As soon as you arrive, stake out one place as command central, a station where everybody can predictably find important personal documents, keys, phones, device chargers, medications, pet leashes, purses etc.

Keep your indispensable moving file in your command central, so it will always be at your fingertips. Whether it’s on a laptop or in a binder, your moving file should hold all the information related to your move, including your master packing list. 

Start a blank sheet for things to talk to the movers about, decorating ideas for your new home, neighbors’ names and numbers, local emergency numbers and cool things to do in your new locale.

Set up camp. Unpack the essentials that you kept separate for your first few days in the new place: cleaning supplies, toiletries, toilet paper, bedsheets or sleeping bags and bath towels. Also, set up the coffeemaker and find the closest pizza delivery place.

Designate an unpacking central near your command central; here you’ll keep box cutters, tape and other supplies. Remove the clouds of paper and wrapping. Break down boxes as you go and gather them neatly in one area. Keep just a few boxes and recycle or donate the rest.

Arrange your stuff. Best moving tip ever: Get a floor plan from your Realtor before you move. That way you can see in advance how your furniture will fit — or won’t fit — and you can more easily instruct the movers to save you the hassle of rearranging items yourself later. Assess closet and cabinet space before unpacking boxes, as the sight of homeless housewares and tchotchkes strewn across every available surface is overwhelming to even the most strong-hearted mover.

As an organizer, I am compelled to remind you that the moving-in process is another opportunity to declutter. As you unpack, ask yourself again: Do I really love it? Do I reallyneed and use it? Whenever possible, make room for new stuff, new styles, new flavors and new memories.

Involve the little ones.Moving with kids can be an adventure, to say the least. So involve them in setting up their new spaces by giving them tasks to do. Also make sure their most comforting toys and some healthy snacks are at hand.

Double check that your pets’ tags have the new address and your cell phone number on them. Introduce pets to their new home gradually and keep them in a secure place, so they aren’t accidentally let out in an unfamiliar neighborhood during all the commotion.

Don’t fall off the grid. Even in these days of online conveniences and automatic payments, you still have to tell banks and retailers that you’ve moved. Submit a change-of-address form with the post office, of course, but also remember to update your billing and mailing address directly with individual companies for all accounts and subscriptions. 

Also consider making a short and sweet video documentary of your move to keep your friends and family posted.

Put your feet up! At the end of your long day, soak in a nice, hot tub with a glass of wine or gather the family to relax and celebrate your new home. I promise, the rest of the boxes can wait until tomorrow.