Packing is one of the most dreaded parts of moving. How will you fit your entire life into a series of boxes? More than that, you have to make sure to pack safely for transport. It often feels so tedious, many of us end up cramming things in boxes just to get it over with

A close runner-up for the least favorite thing about moving: unpacking. You arrive at your new home, you’re ready to just unwind and live there already, but… ugh. Boxes! Time to unpack, but it feels like such a chore!

We empathize. Truly.

You’d be surprised, though, how smoothly – and quickly! – unpacking can go. With a good plan in place, you can unpack quickly and be on your sofa in your new home watching Netflix in no time.

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Pack with Unpacking in Mind

The best place to start with an unpacking plan is when you’re packing. The way you pack will have a huge effect on how you unpack. After all, how can you unpack efficiently if your boxes are all just full of whatever was within arm’s reach?

Take a little extra time and ensure you pack mindfully. Consider that future moment when you’ll need to find and unpack your boxes, and do yourself the favor of organizing.

Start by sorting through your house and ensuring that the things that are in each room actually belong there. If clothes have ended up in your office or you have books scattered around the house, collect them back into a single place. Then you can pack by room and clearly label your boxes. Making sure to pack sensibly and label clearly means your boxes will end up in the right rooms, and the stuff that’s in them actually belongs there. Want to do yourself an extra favor? Keep an inventory list.

Unpack with a System

Before you start tearing into boxes, make sure you have a system for your approach. Do a walk throughout your house to make sure all of your boxes are in their right place. It’s much easier to be systematic if everything is organized ahead of time.

Make sure you – and anyone else in your household who may be involved in the packing process – understand what the system is. Communicating well means you can all get into the unpacking flow together, and you’re not butting heads along the way.

Start with the Essentials

Here’s an important one to take into account when you’re packing: an essentials box is key to a good arrival at your new home. This box should have all you need for the first night or two in your home, so you’re not scrambling to look for what you need at the end of a long day.

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Your essentials box (or boxes) should have things like:

  • Bed linens
  • Pillows
  • Towels
  • Toiletries
  • Medication
  • A set of plates and cups
  • Coffee pot

Might we suggest tossing your Bluetooth speaker in there? Queuing up a nice playlist will help keep your energy high during the unpacking process.

Start with your essentials first.

Move on to the Kitchen

Next, head into the kitchen and start on those boxes. If you’re one of those people with a lot of kitchenware, you may not get through all of the boxes in a single sweep. Hopefully, you’ve labeled your boxes well enough to tell the difference between dishware and miscellaneous appliances.

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Hook up your major appliances, get them into place, and move on to the smaller ones that you use frequently, like a coffee pot, blender, or toaster. Don’t worry about putting everything exactly where it will stay forever – find a good space for it now and you can fine-tune it later.

Bedrooms Next

Now it’s time to get your bedrooms organized. Start with making the beds – hopefully, you have a set of linens for each bed that you’ve pulled out of your essentials box. Get your beds made so, at minimum, you have a place to fall into when you’re finished for the day.

Ensure your furniture is placed where you want it and if you have organizational items for the closets, get those set before you begin unpacking. By setting up shelving units and closet organizers first, you’ll be able to unpack the boxes directly where they need to go.

Tidy the Bathrooms

Bathrooms tend to be a relatively room to take care of. They’re pretty independently functional, so you won’t have to worry about furniture and a bunch of extra bits. That said, you’ll want towels, toiletries, and other bathroom items easily accessible. Start with the most important items first, but get your bathroom fully set and you’ll feel much more at home.

Arrange the Furniture

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Next, you have rooms like the living room, dining room, office, and any other space that has furniture arrangements to consider. Reassemble any pieces that needed to be disassembled for moving. Start by taking a moment and coming up with a plan for placement. Don’t make the mistake of assembling entertainment centers or bookcases only to need to move them around – or, worse yet, disassemble them again. Once you’ve placed the furniture, you can move on to unpacking boxes in each of these rooms.

Organize the Extra Spaces

The last spaces to worry about are utility rooms like storage closets, the garage, basement, or other places that house items that are used less often. Items stored in the garage tend to be less crucial, so take the time to organize before unpacking. Consider which items you’ll need to unpack to keep your home functional and running smoothly, like tools and garden supplies.

If you have a patio, balcony, or deck, unpack these things last. If you’re moving in summer, the barbecue and lounge set may be higher on your list than if you’re moving in winter and have an outdoor space.

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