Packing for a move – everything you need to know
Start with your supplies. You’ll need boxes, tape, scissors, paper (blank newsprint, old newspapers, and tissue if you have delicate china or glassware), a permanent marker, and some bubble wrap (your local book store may have free bubble wrap). Professional movers use four main sizes of boxes:
- 2 cubic feet – for packing books and other heavy items
- 4 cubic feet – for packing the kitchen, ornaments, etc.
- 6 cubic feet – for light but bulky items like lamp shades, pillows, linens, kids plastic toys and so forth.
- Wardrobe boxes – for hanging clothes, but also where you’ll put items that are too long to fit in other boxes or which are bulky but light.
You can order packing supplies from Canada Post’s online store, rent them from a company like FrogBox, or see if your mover supplies them (if your mover is packing for you, packing materials are included). Liquor and grocery stores are a source for free boxes.
Create a packing station. Turn your dining room table or a large countertop into your packing center. Put an old sheet over it, then put your sheets of blank paper in the middle, then scissors, packing tape, and marker to the upper right, wadded-up balls of newspaper in the middle right (making crumpled newspaper balls is a job kids enjoy) and the box to be packed at the lower right. Have the items to be packed on the left hand side of the table. If you are left-handed, reverse the arrangement.
Packing fragile items. The real key to making sure your fragile items arrive unbroken is lack of movement inside their box.
Start by padding the bottom of the box—either with a pillow, towels, or wadded up newspaper. Then start wrapping narrow parts (like a handle of neck of a vase) with tissue paper. Now lay your object down on your stack of newsprint sheets and start gently rolling at least three sheets of paper around it. Stand it up in the box and make sure it has at least two inches of clearance to the top of the box when it is closed. Keep filling the box with well-wrapped fragile items. Now pack wadded paper down the sides of the box (or a folded bathsheet or pillow/cushion) so that none of your precious and fragile possessions are touching the sides of the box. Stuff wadded paper or balled-up socks into any gaps and down the corners. Make sure that there is no way for your belongings to move. Finally, put a two inch layer of wadded paper or a pillow on top and then close and seal the box. Mark the top and all four sides as being fragile and draw arrows indicating “Up.”
Packing your kitchen. Make your kitchen one of the first rooms to pack, on the principle of getting the toughest job done first. Plan to use a site like recipematcher.com to cook your way through your pantry in the month before the move.
Start by emptying everything out of the cupboards and drawers. As you do this, decides what to move to the new home and what to get rid of. Restock a cupboard with just enough plates, cups, utensils, and pots and pans to get you through until your move.
Set up your packing station or move kitchen items to the packing station. Wadded-up newspaper is cheap padding, but the ink rubs off, which is why it’s good to use blank newsprint sheets for at least the first layer of wrapping. Appliances that don’t need to be wrapped should be put in a plastic bag to avoid getting stained by the newspaper. Take a visual inventory and decide what will be packed in the same box. Use plastic food containers for spices, powders, and small objects in need of extra protection.
Most glasses and mugs make the move safely if rolled up in two sheets of blank newsprint and then snugly nestled into the box standing on their bases. For a stack of plates or bowls, lay the first one in the middle of your paper, fold two sheets of paper from the lower left to the upper right over the plate, then put the next plate on top of it, pull another two sheets across, and so forth until the stack is too high for the paper to cover the plates. At this point, fold the remaining paper around the stack and tape it together. Now put it in your padded box standing on edge (Always pack breakable flat items standing on edge). Once the first layer of the box is filled tightly enough so that things won’t shift, put a layer of balled-up newspaper on top of it and start packing the next layer.
If you are moving liquids or cleaning supplies, make sure to label the box clearly with “Liquids” and arrows indicating which way is up.
Packing heavy items. There are two things to remember when packing heavy objects:
- The box shouldn’t weigh more than 50 pounds.
- Pack heavy items in a small box that is strong enough not to tear under the weight.
Don’t pack heavy objects in big boxes as the bottom of the box is likely to blow out, even if the movers are able to pick it up and get into the truck. Books are usually the culprits for a weighty move. Wean out the ones you are unlikely to read again. If the condition of your books is important to you, pack them flat and use wadded paper or bubble wrap to keep them from moving around inside the box, as movement causes tears and can crack the books’ spines.
Pack by room. If you pack up each room and label it as you go along, it will be much easier to reassemble your life at the other end of your move. Get a jump on the move by packing the least-used room in the house first. Then move on to the kitchen. Ask your children to decide what they won’t be taking fairly early, but leave their rooms for last to pack, in order to minimize their stress. Do the same thing in your kids’ designated homework nook or play area.
Packing your valuables. Don’t chance your important documents and jewelry in the moving van. These should go with you. Items like your moving contract, house deed or rental agreement, will, insurance certificates, passports, birth certificates, health records, small valuables, lap-top, chargers, etc., along with a change of clothes, basic toiletries, a towel, roll of toilet paper, and pillow and sheets should go into a suitcase that you will keep with you during the move between homes.
Go on a possessions diet. Movers charge by weight and distance. You can’t reduce the kilometres between homes, but you can rid of many expensive pounds with some pre-moving planning. Books are among the most expensive (heavy) possessions to move. Look through your books to see if you plan to read them again, or whether it’s time they were donated to charity. Old exercise machines, tools that you haven’t used in years, clothes that haven’t fit since college, toys kids don’t play with anymore—these should become donations or yard sale fodder. If you haven’t used something in 18 months—do you really need it? If a box hasn’t been unpacked since the last move, it shouldn’t make this move!