Between shopping for new furniture and checking out your new neighborhood, preparing for a move gives you a lot to look forward to. But when it comes down to the act itself — actually, physically moving — the whole process loses its charm. Whether you’re hiring a crew of movers or more of the do-it-yourself type, we’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite moving tips to make your big day (and all the days leading up to it) a little easier and a lot more enjoyable.

1. Obtain quotes from moving companies

Moving is expensive, especially when you hire help. In order to avoid paying an arm and a leg, make sure you get quotes from at least three reputable, insured companies. By comparing several quotes, you’ll ensure you can work with the company that best suits your needs — both financial and personal — and rest assured that your belongings are moved safely and securely.

2. Find free moving boxes

Check your local recycling drop-off points for free boxes, and be sure to stop by book stores, liquor stores, and local offices; you can find free, extra-sturdy boxes at all of these locations. You can also browse websites like Nextdoor and Craigslist for free boxes that neighbors are looking to get rid of. Lastly, check out U-Haul’s Box Exchange, an online program that U-Haul started to help reduce moving waste and connect locals in need of moving supplies with one another. 

3. Schedule a donation pick-up for free

If you’re looking to clean out belongings or donate old furniture, schedule a free pickup with Goodwill, Salvation Army, or Habitat for Humanity before your move. These charitable organizations will pick up your donations free of charge — all you have to do is leave them outside!

4. Color-code your moving boxes

Before beginning to pack, get organized by color-coding boxes according to room. This will make it easy for your movers (or you) to unload each box in the correct room of your new home. But don’t stop there — label each box with a thorough list of what’s inside, so you know exactly what to expect when you start unpacking.

5. Use foam pouches and extra towels for plates, bowls and glassware

Save all your Amazon packaging from here on out; these little padded envelopes make great packing materials for fragile items like glassware and dishes. And set aside any extra towels, bulky clothing, blankets, and pillows to be used as padding around valuables and breakables.

6. Place heavy items in small boxes and books in suitcases

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to handle heavy items is to pack them in small boxes rather than large ones. This makes it easier to carry the boxes, but also helps prevent items from shifting around or falling out and breaking. If you’ve ever tried to carry a box of books, you know how quickly the weight seems to add up. Set aside your suitcases for heavy duty, wheeled book transportation; your back will thank us later.

7. Pack a moving day essentials box

There’s nothing worse than sitting down to dinner in your new home, only to realize you have no idea where the utensils are packed. Pack one or two boxes that are essentials for moving day and the next morning: toiletries, paper plates, plastic utensils, toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags, pajamas, pet food, bottled water, and a small tool kit are all essentials. And one innocuous item you’ll be glad to have handy on move-in day: a door stopper!

8. Check cabinets, drawers, appliances and closets one last time

It’s so easy to leave things behind during the chaos of a move. Be sure to double-check every cabinet, drawer, closet, and appliance (don’t forget to look in the fridge and washer/dryer!) one last time on your way out the door.

Preparing for a move can feel hectic, but it doesn’t have to. Follow our tips above for a smooth transition between homes, and tell us your favorite moving tips in the comments below!

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