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How to Pack and Move Like the Pros Do

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last updated: 20 Sep 2016 report a problem

Luggage bags piled together

If you’ve spent the last few years in the same property, you’d be surprised how much belongings you’ve hoarded without noticing. Moving all that stuff is not an easy job. Without some preparation, your move will become really horrible really fast. In the end, you will face broken or lost luggage and tons of stuff you need to order and organise into your new place. In this post we’ll give you some tips and ideas about how to organise all your luggage; how to pack it for safe transportation into the new property.

Reduce your possessions, so you have to move less

clothes pile

In our recent blog post – Moving out in 6 steps, we discussed how you can ease your move by getting rid of all unnecessary possessions. You’ve probably bought dozens of clothes you no longer wear. Or, you’ve been given Christmas and birthday gifs you’ve never even taken out of the box (Thanks, aunt Christine! That sausage making machine is just great…).

Needless to say, the less stuff you have to move, the better.

Obviously, you should refrain from new purchases. One, you’re going to need the money. Two, you’d have enough items to have to pack and move. You can always buy your new..thing..after you move. And if you don’t want it anymore, great ! We’ve just saved you a bit of money.

Anyway, rummage through your clothes and separate a donation pile and a garbage pile (you shouldn’t donate torn or barely usable clothes). If you’ve not worn it the past year, you probably won’t wear it the next year as well. Exceptions make very official gowns and suits.

You’re left with the furniture and valuable possessions, like electrical equipment, expensive decorations, paintings and similar things you can’t throw in the bin. These things you should treat according to your situation. If you’re moving from an unfurnished to a furnished property, you’ll be in excess of quite a lot of furniture. It’s best if you can sell it and ease your moving expenses. If you can’t, maybe your family and friends will want to take them in storage, or make them their own.

It’s about time to stop buying supplies and food and use up your inventory. The last thing you’d want to be moving are cans and frozen french fries.

Stock up on packing supplies

packaging kitty

For your move, you’re going to need a lot of packing supplies, but mainly:

  • Various sized boxes
  • Packing tape
  • Bubble wrap
  • Old newspapers
  • Stretch wrap
  • Marker
  • Labels

You can buy 30 boxes for 20 pounds. Or, you can try going on a scavenging run to your nearby supermarkets, department stores, courier offices, etc. You should be able to get enough decent quality boxes to last you through the move. It doesn’t cost too much to buy some, but believe us when we say you’re going to need those 20 quid.

Professional packing companies will have you believe you need specialised moving boxes in the face of wardrobe and corrugated boxes. They are useful, but if you move on a budget, you can DIY a replacement solution.

Wardrobe boxes you generally don’t need. Such a box can easily be replaced by a garbage bag. You just grab half a dozen of your hangers (with the clothes hanging on them), and you just slide them in the bag. Puncture a hole in the top and pull the hooks out. Done.

Liquor stores can offer you some corrugated boxes, which are designed specially for packing bottles. However, you can also use them to store similarly sized items like, vases, decorations, glasses, etc.

Otherwise, you can also make a corrugated box yourself. All you need is 4 equal sized pieces of cardboard. Then you need to make two markings which form three equal sections. Cut on the markings till you’re halfway through the cardboard piece and then just slide them in one another. Done.

Packing wisely will make everything faster and smoother

packing suitcase

Packing is underestimated, but quite important for an easy move. You see, packing is more than just shoving all your items into the back of a van. Packing’s main goal is to protect your breakable possessions during the trip. If you ever shipped something internationally, you’d know how important the packaging quality is.

The second goal when packing is to introduce an organisation system that will allow you to find everything once you move it into your new property. Without good packing, you are bound to lose a lot of stuff. Especially if you have arrays of jewellery, arts and crafts materials, mechanical or electrical bits, and any other small items.

Packing tips for easy moving

  • Use a jar to store your small bits and pieces
  • Use pill cases to pack your earrings and rings
  • Roll clothes to save space
  • Use vacuum bags to compress seasonal clothes and save space
  • Use big cloth items – blankets, curtains, linens, etc as padding for other items in the transport vehicle
  • Wrap the neck of your shampoo or conditioner bottle with plastic wrap to prevent nasty leaks
  • Use toilet paper rolls to store cables and cords. Label them with a marker
  • Photograph your electronics while completely setup and connected as a reference when putting them together
  • Use rolling suitcases to pack heavy items, like books
  • Pack breakable items with multiple sheets of newspaper. Use T-shirts and pillowcases as wrappers as well
  • Use socks as wrappers for your glasses
  • Pack breakable items like plates, mirrors and pictures vertically. The load from boxes on top of them will be less likely to break them this way
  • Use empty cavities to store smaller items. Fills as much of the volume as possible for efficient loading
  • Organise and pack your documents really, really well. Take all needed precautions to not lose or damage them
  • Don’t overfill large boxes. They can get impossible to carry when filled with dense heavy objects, like books
  • Keep your boxes between 20 – 30 pounds for easy carrying
  • Make triangular slides on the sides of the boxes and fold the flaps to the inside. This will create comfortable handles to carry
  • Use an organization system – labeling, colour coding, numbering. As long as it allows you to remember which box holds what, it works
  • Try to pack your luggage on a room by room basis, rather than grouping items of the same kind. It will make it easier to put them in their proper place in the new property.
  • Make an inventory. Spread around a copy for each person involved in the packing and moving

Prepare an essentials bag

So, let’s say you’ve just moved all your stuff. You have huge pile of boxes in the living room and no idea how to get to a screw driver or even toilet paper. That’s where the essentials bag comes in handy. You need to pack everything you need to survive through your first day. Think of the basics first – a bar of soap, toothbrush and paste, toilet paper.. Then pack a handful of clothes for a day with extra underwear (just in case).

Additionally, you want to bring in a set of eating utensils, cans and snacks. Alternatively just buy pizza for everyone, especially the friends that helped you move.

If you’re moving with your furniture, it’s most likely going to need some dismantling and assembly. In such a case, you will need all the tools for assembling the furniture in your new property. It’s unlikely that you will go on an assembly frenzy on the first night, but you might need a bed to sleep on.

Practice your tetris skills loading the van


Considering you only have your car or a small van at your disposal, you want to be very efficient with your loading. You don’t want to make more trips than you need to, especially in London.

Before the van arrives, you want to take all of your boxes outside. If you have a garden, just pile them chaotically around. Having all your stuff around will allow you to make better decisions about which goes where. This will save you time, space and effort.

If you haven’t, now is a great time to label all your boxes according to their contents and designated room. Your memory will fail you if you trust entirely on it.

Before you start, line the floor and sidewalls of the cargo area with your blankets. While loading, you need to put the bulkiest most heavy items on the bottom. That way you will make the van more stable due to the low center of weight and you will better preserve your fragile items. Try to order your boxes in such a way to fill all the space, without nooks and crannies. If there are some cavities left, fill them out with smaller NOT breakable packages. Your fragiles should be well lined with soft padding. Try to strap everything together when finished. The less your cargo moves and sways, the bigger the chance to avoid damage and broken equipment.

What tenants forget about when moving

Just moving all your possessions doesn’t mean you’re done with the soon to be ex rental. Your tenancy has not ended and you still have obligations to your landlord.

You need to repair any damage you’ve caused ! Otherwise, when the check-out inventory highlights problems, repairs will be deducted from your deposit. You also must perform the end of tenancy cleaning for the same obvious reason. It will be much easier now, when all the luggage is out, so spend a few hours before the inspection to clean the property well.

Be sure to properly change your address. For this to happen you need to notify the following:

  • Employer / HR department
  • Bank / Finance provider / Mortgage holder
  • Utility services – Water, Gas, Power, Cable, Internet, Mobile
  • Clubs and memberships
  • DVLA, Car insurance, Vehicle registration

Finally, when you’re done with all your affairs, it’s time to return the keys to your landlord. Don’t forget to also send them a written notice, requesting your deposit in full. If you failed to return the property in the same condition as it was when you moved in, you can preemptively offer a portion of your deposit to be contributed towards the repair bill.