Pack your house like a pro

Here are some basic guidelines as you get ready to move, along with expert tips on packing everything from artwork to lampshades.

Two professional movers can pack up your 2,000-square-foot home in a day. But you? No way. Count on 50 to 60 hours.
A homeowner can pack about one room a day, experts say. But that’s a squishy rule: It really depends on how much stuff is in each room, on how quickly you work and on how easily you get sidetracked. Here’s one rule you can count on, though: You’ll inevitably underestimate the job. (Bing:Purchase packing supplies)
It can’t hurt to get going even months in advance, packing the rooms you use the least, says Christy Urdal, a professional organizer whose Seattle company, NextStep Transitions, helps people with their moves. If you pack storage areas first — the garage, basement, attic and closets — you can get a lot of the work done while leaving your home intact.
Think like a pro
You may not be able to hire a pro to organize your move, but you can still pack like one, says Urdal, who managed moving companies for 24 years. As packing experts work, they’re also thinking ahead to the unpacking. For example, Urdal uses a black felt pen to write on each box in big letters its destination and its contents. For example, “John’s room: top 3 bureau drawers.”  
You can’t always know what your next home will be like when you’re packing. But if you do, you can minimize work by following the advice of Laura Leist, another organizer and move specialist whose company, Eliminate Chaos, is in the Seattle area:
  • Label boxes with the names of rooms in the new place, not the old home. That way boxes can be unloaded from the truck and placed right where they belong.
  • Map out the location of furniture ahead of time. During unloading, Leist leaves the map in the room for movers to see, or she uses it to direct them where to place things. Boxes can be deposited where they won’t have to be moved again.
  • Post signs above the entrance to each room in the new house to help keep movers on track.
  • If you’re using movers but also are packing some items yourself, label boxes to say who packed them. 
This approach requires forethought. Organizing before moving day will speed and smooth the job. For example:
  • Suppose you have a hall closet with things that, in the new home, will live in closets in a guest room, the kitchen and the boys’ rooms. “Don’t put that stuff in one box labeled ‘hall closet,'" Leist says. Instead, get four boxes and label them with the names of the rooms these items will end up in.
  • If Jill and Sarah share a room in the old house but will have individual rooms in the new house, segregate their belongings in different areas before packing begins, so each girl’s belongings go into the correct boxes.
  • If your old home has a combined kitchen-great room-dining room and the new place has a separate kitchen, dining room and den, sort and plan well ahead of moving day.
To inventory or not to inventory? Many people assume they must inventory their belongings for a move, but that’s often unnecessary. If movers do your packing, they’ll make an inventory, numbering each box and labeling it with the room it came from. (It’s up to you to label it with its destination and detailed contents, which requires you to work alongside the movers.

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