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I’ll probably regret asking this, but do you have any moving advice?

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A month from now I will probably be neck-deep in brown boxes and packing tape, sniffing a Sharpie marker to relax. I’ll be moving to North Carolina at the beginning of July, and while I’ve moved across town and moved 70 miles away for college, I’ve never moved out of state. Well, not on my own. My parents moved us out of state several times when I was a kid. My only part in those moves was the “game” my parents had us play afterwards where my brothers and I competed to see who could collect the most packing inventory stickers off the furniture. At the time I seriously thought this was a game, and not a clever way to get your kids to do slave labor gleefully.

My memories of former cross-city moves include several last-minute carloads of crap piled into the back seat that I ferried across town, all while saying, “I think we can get the rest in just one more trip!” Ha! Since I don’t see myself driving 12 hours back across the mountains to pick up a forgotten toaster, I’m trying to figure out the best strategy to move what I need and leave behind what I don’t. Here are the tips I’ve accumulated so far:

Ditch the furniture
Unless you have an antique chair or a highly-valued piece of furniture, it’s not worth hauling it across the country. For the price you pay moving the item, you can probably buy a new one at your new destination. I’ll be ditching my office chair, which has doubled as a scratching post for the past 8 years. I’ll be saying farewell to my awesome Steelcase desks, which I adore but probably weigh more than I did at my fattest. My bed is 10 years old and should be replaced anyway. If anything, moving is a good way to get rid of stuff I should have trashed years ago.

Pack your necessities in your car and ship the rest
I have to drive my car out to North Carolina anyway, so a couple friends have recommended that I pack my automobile full of necessities like clothes and the coffeemaker (definitely the coffeemaker) and ship the rest. I have no desire to drive a U-Haul across the Appalachians, so I don’t see myself renting a truck or hiring one for the rest of my stuff. Right now I’m debating between shipping everything ahead via the postal service or getting a PODS service. PODS is a company that drops a metal shipping crate in front of your house which you load up with stuff. Then they put it on a truck and ship it to your new destination. PODS is the name of one company, but there are competitors too, like U-Pack. I need to get estimates on these and also consider if I’m willing to risk losing everything in one of these crates, or being without it for a month if the crate gets lost.

Other questions I’m pondering right now include:

  • Where do I get lots of boxes for free or on the cheap? Craigs List?
  • What is the most efficient way to pack everything so I can still use my necessities up until the day of the move, but don’t have to pack a lot of things the day of?
  • Will I be so exhausted by the end of this that I’ll give up all my possessions and live as an ascetic monk?

When I start to think about all the work ahead of me, I think of friends of mine like Kyle and Shauna who have moved to different continents. If they managed, I’m sure I can handle a 12-hour drive across a corner of the country.

So, if you’ve made a big move or know someone who has, take advantage of this rare opportunity to give me advice without invoking my ire. What’s your moving advice?

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shana • May 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Long time lurker. Congrats on the move and I wish you the best of luck!

not sure if you are aware of flylady. This is her moving tips. it really helped me in my last move. Link below.

I was always a fan of liquor store boxes. they are on the small side which makes it easy not to over fill and end up with boxes and you can’t carry. You might check on craigslist or freecycle in your area also. You can also use social media to check in your local area…facebook netted me some great boxes last time I moved.



NoCeleryPlease • May 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Boxes from the liquor store are usually either free or super cheap. Bonus – they are of a size that even if you are packing books in them, they are not big enough to get too heavy to lift.


Beth @ fatbustermack • May 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I just moved from Maryland to CO last year, it’s tough but leave the clothes you wear every day and one of everything you use daily in the kitchen. Other than that go to town. Grocery stores have TONS of boxes as do avon employees and liquor stores. We used UPACK to move cross country and it was awesome, they were so great so I highly recommend it!


Thumper • May 28, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Look to Freecycle for boxes…I’ve given away all my post-moving boxes there, but you have to jump on the offers because they go fast…


Jen, a priorfatgirl • May 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Moving advice: make a vacation outta your move, visit Minneapolis! Just sayin’!

Okay, maybe it isn’t what your looking for but you asked! :)

Have a great weekend lady!


Lisa • May 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Furniture is only replaceable for what it’d cost to ship if you have cheap, crappy furniture and want to replace it with more cheap disposable furniture. The good stuff is worth moving.

If all else fails and you need more boxes, moving companies will sell you a bunch of boxes, enough for a one-person household, for around $100 including delivery. (If you want to move hanging clothes on their hangers, at least consider getting one or two of the hanging boxes.)


jen • May 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Liquor store and grocery store for boxes—at the grocery, ask for produce boxes. They’re usually a stronger cardboard.

Re planning, a few days before you’re due to leave, set aside a suitcase with clothes and toiletries to get you through the home stretch and your first day at the new place. Everything else should be bundled up by then, and you can just toss the bag into the car (with the bonus that you won’t have to go digging through boxes for these things when you arrive).

And it’s great to get rid of (almost) everything—that was one of the best parts of my impulsive move from GA to NYC 6 years ago.


Kate • May 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Used bookstores are also a great source of free boxes–people being in boxes of books to trade or sell then leave the boxes. Just ask the folks at the back who do the trading/buying!

And I like the idea of stopping off somewhere along the way that you’ve been meaning to visit. When else would you be in the area w/o having to buy a plane ticket or drive for-freakin-ever?? :)


josephinetomato • May 28, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I have moved about 15 times (so much so I used to save my boxes!) because of work and have a couple of suggestions:
-number your boxes and keep a notebook with a key as to the contents. This will help save you time rushing to find the necessities (leave the winter clothes for a while :) and helps if you have to find something quickly.
-pack an ‘open first’ box with tp, sheets, pillow, towels, soap, coffee pot & coffee, set of silverware, plate, favorite non-broken cup :), bowl etc. Depending on the time you arrive, nice to know you can just rest a little before the organizational part begin.
-pack a little kit of supplies like scissors, markers, box cutter, garbage bags(for newspaper wrapping) etc that you will need for unpacking and take in your car
-before you put all of your kitchenware away in cabinets, use post-its on the cabinet doors to plan and organize where all will go. It helps visualize the best way to organize and ensures you will have the things you need most most convenient.

Those are my top tips – agree with the other poster, treat like an adventure and have a great road trip too.


karen • May 28, 2010 at 1:37 pm

1. DO NOT PACK BOOKS! They weigh a ton and you can replace them easily. Donate them
2. Craigslist is a good place to find quality boxes with lids – LIDS ARE A MUST – so you can stack
3. Ask yourself “Will I die if this gets lost, stolen, broken”? If the answer is “YES” it probably will – so take it in your car.
4. Pack your entire kitchen except one disposable plate, one fork/knife/spoon, one glass, and the microwave….you will probably be eatting out most of the time anyway. Forget cooking.
5. Pack your personal/bath/linens stuff last….a hot shower with all the nice, fluffy, smell good stuff is an absolute must before you leave and as soon as you get to the new place.
6. PODS is good – but very, very expensive. There are cheaper alternatives.
7. Mentally section your house into zones (kitchen,bath,bedroom,dinning, living,office, etc.) and declutter one zone a day. Take all the non-essentials to Goodwill/garage sale pile, etc.
8. Packing order: Living Room, Dinning Room, Bedroom, Bath (except items #5), Office, kitchen
9. HIRE A CLEANNING SERVICE!!! to do the final cleanup – you will be too exhausted to even bother with that.

Okay – that’s my 2-cents worth of moving wisdom…good luck – glad it’s you and not me!!


lynn • May 28, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Boxes tip: Raid your local recycle. I’m in the process of moving too and around here, most companies seem to smash their boxes. So, we’ve taken to raiding the recycle center in the evenings. Just some quick tape to reassemble and you’re good to go. Although, this won’t work if you can’t reach into the receptacle.

Good luck and happy moving!


Shannon • May 28, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Having moved in and out of college dorms, university apartments, and two of my own apartments in the past six or so years, here’s my advice:

I’d go to a liquor store or grocery store for boxes. Often times, stores will have extra boxes lying around that they’re going to throw out. I’ve found the liquor stores are particularly useful when moving (although you may look slightly like an alcoholic when you move into your new place…).

I’d also pack a bag of clothes and toiletries that you can use up until you move. If you don’t want large toiletries out, buy travel size things that can easily be thrown away. If you need dishes out, only keep one of everything. For example, one spoon, bowl, mug, etc. If that annoys you, just by paper or plastic utensils.

I hope that helps! :)


Caro • May 28, 2010 at 2:01 pm

A friend used 1-800-PACKRAT instead of POD. might check on the prices there.
(Check Retailmenot.com for coupons)

And I’ve heard good reviews from 1-800-GOT-JUNK. Not totally cheap, but apparently worth it. Depending on how much you need to throw away. Good, solid furniture can sometimes be given to Salvation Army and they will come pick it up. But I’ve heard that depending on the time of year, they are more or less picky about what they accept.


Curvy Jones • May 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I moved from Washington State to Atlanta in 2003. While I’ll never do it again, it was relatively painless.

You’re definitely on the right track. If I think of any AMAZING tips I’ll get ya know. I think my advice only applies to driving– i survived on NODOZ, Mountain Dew and candy. REAL food made me sleepy and I couldn’t drive…. then I got here and couldn’t sleep. HAHA.


Jen • May 28, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I didn’t move far but I had 11 years of stuff to move the last time I did it. I actually bought boxes from the moving company — they weren’t that expensive. There was a moving kit and they were willing to buy back unused boxes. Also buy a tape gun and packing tape — it made taping up the boxes a lot faster than continually finding the end of the tape, cutting it, trying not to let it stick back to itself — oh, F__ — finding the end of the tape again.

I have stuff I never unpacked from 2 years ago. I feel stupid for moving it. So be merciless with getting rid of stuff you really don’t need. At the same time, don’t throw stuff away that you really would want to just buy again when you get there. I’d get a quote from movers and ask about those Steelcase desks, because they would be expensive to replace, and if you are going to have to get a truck anyway, it’s worth putting them in. If all your other stuff is crap, I think you’re right to ditch it.

What about sorting out the stuff you would need for your last week at home as if you were taking a plane trip? What stuff would you absolutely want to have out with you? This would be where I’d use up the odds and ends of shampoo, soap, toothpaste, etc. that I have around the house. Make sure you keep garbage bags handy in case you realize that some of your last-minute stuff is really junk.

How are you dealing with the cats? Driving just 40 minutes with ours was torture, so I hope yours are more mellow.


Rebecca in SoCal • May 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Mark which box your silverware is in. It will be on the bottom (because heavy), and unless your kitchen is small enough to be unpacked in one day, it will be a lot of looking for it!


Carol • May 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm

My Mum’s top moving tip (and she’s moved house 32 times in 40 years):

Make sure that you make the bed as soon as you move into your new place. Absolutely the first thing. This means that when you’re exceedingly hacked off, you’ve got somewhere to crash out.

Other top tip (from me this time – and I’ve move house lots and lots too):

Pack all your last minute stuff in a suitcase as if you were going on holiday for a couple of weeks.


Jessica • May 28, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Kinko’s printing shops is a great place for boxes – they’re the perfect size, not too small or too big, and they have lids. They unload the paper overnight, so try to call or stop by early in the morning. (Or call the night before and see if they’ll hold the boxes for you.)


Debbi Does Dinner Healthy • May 28, 2010 at 2:58 pm

I have never moved out of state so my only advice is just to eat the delicious looking cupcakes.


Shea • May 28, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I’ll echo the liquor store boxes. Another advantage to them is that, if you get wine boxes or other boxes with cardboard grid inserts, it’s an excellent way to pack your glassware and other fragile things with a lot less fuss.

I moved cross-country a few years ago. It looks like you covered most of the big tips in your list. I went with the “if I don’t absolutely love it and it could possibly replaced if I miss it, get rid of it” rule. So far, I haven’t regretted anything I left behind. And tax time was great after so many donations (check the IRS site to make sure you get the right kind of itemized receipts- the laws changed a few years ago)!

The only thing I underestimated was just how thoroughly exhausted I was when I got to the point where I was hopping the plane to come out here. Thankfully, I had some incredible friends to help with the things that were left undone. Looking back, though, I’d have padded a few extra days before leaving. Better to overestimate how long it will take to do things than underestimate, in that case.

Good luck! Sounds like a fun adventure.


Bullwinkle • May 28, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I found it easier to move continents than ‘across town’. (Just sayin’!) Pretend you’re traveling for a few weeks – take what you need. Then add a bucket of cleaning supplies (or hire cleaners (or is this an apartment and should be clean?)) Pack a couple of things for cooking/eating in. (Eating well will keep you sane, be good for your health and eating out too often is just plain tiring and $$.) Ship only what you want to keep forever – if it isn’t loved, get rid of it.

p.s. Maybe, ignore everything I just said: my last move was very local and very stressful.


kat • May 28, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Just remember- your car is nowhere near as big as you think it is. find a specific place (a box, closet, section of the rug) and pile everything you are planning to put in the car. Don’t forget to include the suitcases of the clothes you will be bringing and the cat carriers. Also be sure to keep close at hand one article of clothing for each season. Yes you’re moving to NC in the summer, but if you don’t pack your favorite fleece jacket- you’re sure to wish you had. I’m not saying go crazy-you just need that 1 long sleeve shirt you like, 1 rain jacket, 1 pair of running shoes… And at least 2months worth of any prescriptions you’ll need. My last 3 moves I paid to have the movers pack. It was fantastic. They did a more efficient and effective job than I ever did. definitely worth the coin. Good luck.


shauna/dg • May 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

I have been staring at those cupcakes for ten minutes now. Dang! what was the question? :)

I disagree with the commenter who said do not pack books. some books are precious! those worn spines are like old friends. It is a pain in the arse to replace some, and some are out of print now.

I’ve moved three times in the past year and ended up doing a big book purge to cut down the moving volume – asking honestly, “will i read this again?” then taking the rejects to the charity shop. I did that with all my posessions – would i honestly ever use that item of clothing, plate, cake tin, pen, shoe… again? a brutal purge is very invigorating!

also scanned a lot of old paperwork that i thought i might need.

i also read somewhere if you really can’t bear to part with something but you know it’s rubbish or utterly useless, take a photo of it :) so at least you can look at it and go “awwww”!

(that might work for old boyfriends too ;)

i agree with jen re just buying some moving boxes. here in the uk we found a online store that sells nothing but moving boxes. they also send you the tape and sharpies if you like. saves so much time running around hunting down boxes :)

also re moving your cats long distance… when my mum moved a long distance she went to the vet who gave her some sort of mild tranquilliser for the dog so he would settle down for the long car drive. hehe! :)

when I left australia i basically sold off most of my possessions! especially the furniture. but if you have a piece of furniture you really love, it might be worth getting it shipped. i still mourn this groovy 1950s formica table i had and this lovely old 1930s armchairs i got in a garage sale. they were worth all of $50 but never found anything i loved that much again :)

good luck dear PQ!


Maureen • May 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm

My biggest move was from Chicago to Anchorage, I packed everything I owned into the back of my Ford Ranger truck. For years I lived with the assumption that I was going to have to move myself, so I kept my furniture purchases to a minimum, and usually just left it behind for Salvation Army or Goodwill. So unless you love the furniture, leave it-go for the minimalist look!

Borders Books has really nice used boxes, they are only too happy to give them away. Helps to call first and tell them how many you need, they can put them by the front register for you to pick up.

Make sure you have a good tape gun, and plenty of refills for the boxes-it is amazing how fast you can run out when you get going.

Like others said, it is a great time to spring clean your possessions-be ruthless. Just don’t do what I did in one move-there were some boxes I hadn’t opened in years, and I tossed them. Like an idiot, I didn’t go through them first, and unhappily they contained old photos and other personal stuff.

Good luck!


Lesli M • May 28, 2010 at 4:32 pm

This has probably all been said:

1. Get multiple quotes from moving services. Include packing in the quote. Most interstate moving companies quote by the estimated shipping tonnage. And no, it’s not cheaper to throw everything out and start over. (See #3)

2. HAVE SOMEONE PACK YOU. Trust me. You do not want to pack for a cross country move. I did it twice and hated every millisecond…both times. Packing services usually will include boxes, tape, markers, etc. This service is worth every penny you own. Unless you already live in boxville or know exactly how to pack your breakables, hire someone.

3. Be ruthless (but smart) in your decluttering. After the moving/packing quotes. If I had truly gone ahead and decluttered before move from IL to TX, I would have probably been able to fit in a one-bedroom apartment rather than a 2 bed-2 bath. Plus, decluttering after the quote means you have a better chance of actually coming in UNDER the quote which is 100 times nicer than over the quote.


Erin • May 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm

We’re in the process of moving right now…Home Depot boxes are cheap, and VERY sturdy.


Lisa • May 28, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I’ve moved 14 times. If you’re super organized, I think Josephinetomato has great advice above. If you’re more lackadaisical like myself:

* run through an average day in your mind. Then pack everything you need to use on a basic day (tp, shower curtain, toiletries, immediate clothes, bedding, at least one lamp, TV remote, alarm clock, cat food/toys, basic dishes and silverware, for instance) in a few boxes and lable them all with a number 1.

* pack everything else whatever the hell way you feel like, but try to keep the boxes from being too heavy.

* unpack all number 1 boxes upon your arrival. Commit to unpacking at least two boxes a day every day after until they’re all gone.

Ta da! Took a while for me to develop this system, but I find it to be very calm and stress free.


Andrea Lee • May 28, 2010 at 6:20 pm

1. be merciless
2. if you can’t sell it, just give it away
3. be orgainzed. a list on a clipboard with each box numbered and a list with a general idea of contents. It’s never perfect, or foolproof, but honestly, it does help.
4. I color coded a lot of our boxes, highlighters of different colors work or magic markers (the big ones) or even dot markers (like the bingo kind) – then go w/previous poster’s idea about having them organized by room and/or content (br, lr, dr, bathroom, clothes, kitchen, etc.).
5. I would also recommend having just your suitcase/duffle bag in the car, and one box of first night stuff (bed stuff, tp, toiletries, clothes, clock, coffeemaker, mug (that new blue one!), cell charger, laptop, all that stuff).
6. Get your happy face on, and KEEP it on. It’s one of the MAJOR life changes that brings a ton of stress (marriage, birth of a child, death of a family member, moving – and b’nai mitzvah if you’re jewish). Keep your outlook +++ and it’ll be easier to handle the bumps in the road.

I have moved a LOT, big x-continental, x-country (a few times) type moves, and smaller, up and down the coast moves. It doesn’t matter a whole lot, except that w/the big ones, you can’t really get back easily for a 2nd or 3rd trip. Otherwise, you still have to box and unbox, and get organized before, during and after. Good luck!


Lily Fluffbottom • May 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm

We always got our boxes from grocery stores. They just sit there until they’re thrown away… unless you live in a eco-friendly town, and then they probably recycle them.

Other than that though, I got nothing. I’ve lived all over the country these last 5 years or so, and if it didn’t fit in my two suitcases and a carry on, it was given away or donated to the trash bin. All I owned until December was clothes, a handful of dvds, and my laptop. (I don’t plan on moving for awhile now, so I actually own my own bed and television as well, and am about to buy my first car.)

Good luck with your move!


Quix • May 28, 2010 at 6:40 pm

My best tip:

Number each box and spend time typing out what’s in it. Save on the laptop that you’re bringing with you in your car. You will be so over everything by the time your stuff gets there you’ll just want to unpack the things you need right away and this way you’ll know EXACTLY where everything is.

And realize that no matter how you plan and think you’re packing and ahead of schedule, you WILL spend the last 2-3 days throwing things in boxes/bags haphazardly and cursing yourself for not doing it sooner. :)

Good luck! Moving is scary but exciting!


AquaMarine • May 28, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I’ll try not to make this too long. I moved from NJ to FL 21 years ago. The “stuff” in the moving van (we used a national moving company) and us (my husband and I) left the same day. We were told our “stuff” would be in FL in 4 days. Great, we took our time and got to FL in 3 days. We were still waiting for our “stuff” on the 14th day when it finally arrived on a Sunday evening…..

So whatever you use on a daily basis, such as clothing (duh), toiletries, coffeemaker, etc. pack in the car. Some things that you might also want to pack in the car could be a blanket or sleeping bag, pillow, towels, perhaps a shower curtain (or at least the plastic liner if it’s needed), shower curtain rings. I never wanted to take the sleeping bags, but after 10 days of sleeping on the floor, I was glad I did.

Oh, and the moving company provided us with free boxes. They had these neat wardrobe boxes that had a metal bar across the top for all you hanger-ed items. I’ve hear U-haul sells some speciality type boxes for items like glassware and they’re fairly cheap. But if you ask at Wal-Mart or the local supermarket, they’ve usually got tons of boxes in back that they’ll be happy to give to you for free.

Good luck. Can’t wait to hear more of the moving saga!


Astrid • May 28, 2010 at 7:15 pm

I actually moved from Illinois to Massachusetts by moving truck recently (two months ago). We donated most of our furniture to a needy family, donated a lot of clothing we didn’t need anymore to the local Goodwill, and turned in a lot of our old books for a few really expensive ones at the used bookstore. Driving in a big truck across the country isn’t as bad as you think. I’m terrified of the highway and of trucks, but I still managed! Really, though, get ready to leave a LOT of stuff behind. Think about whether you really need it or not. If you simply can’t go without it, then bring it. We learned the hard way that a lot of things we thought we couldn’t live without, we could…When they wouldn’t fit in our truck.


BridgetJones • May 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

I usually end up buying file boxes at Staples or some such. They are about $6 for 6 of them, which is expensive compared to free, but I like that they are a useful size, and easy to lift because of the handles.

Don’t skip this step: label the boxes.

You’ll probably remember to bring something to sleep on in the new place, but will you remember to bring a light? Sometimes there’s a glitch getting the electricity turned on before you move in.

When you do move in and buy more furniture, consider buying folding bookcases. I have moved 3 times with my 2 flding bookcases, and I love them for it. My computer desk is also folding.

Good luck with your move! It’s such a great thing to have a change of scenery. I believe it’s good for the soul.


Melissa • May 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Freecycle.org is a fabulous resource for moving boxes. It is also great for getting rid of anything you don’t want to move, but that you think someone else might use. The general point is to keep stuff out of landfills.

Pack your bed linens, a set of towels and a pillow in the drawers of your dresser, so when your belongings arrive, you can easily locate those items, instead of searching for the one box that says “Linens” on it…

Good luck! Moving is a chore and an adventure, and the promise of a new town is so much fun!


Bionic Librarian • May 28, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Without wanting to repeat needlessly but my top tips (and I’ve moved back and forth across Canada a number of times)
– Def get boxes from Liquor store BUT buying a set of boxes in the same size (maybe same 3 sizes) has its merits – easier to stack and place into cargo
– China barrel is very helpful for dishes – extra sturdy (more than liquor store)
– Do ask yourself if you really, really want it. I have moved stuff that we never used and have always regretted it afterwards
– You prob need less than you think as necessities but be realistic! Now is not the time to sleep without earplugs if you use them several times a week and remember to keep something for the cats handy
– Do up a whack of labels with contact info/new address to put onto each and every box that gets put into the cargo/truck… so that your box doesn’t get accidently sent to someone else’s house
– Doesn’t hurt to keep like with like and list on box – easier to unpack
– OPEN First Box is really key – esp with TP, lightbulbs, first aid, cleaning products
– You will probably eat out but keep some granola bars, fruit cups, canned soup, some quick, easy food

REMEMBER to breathe :)


Nicole • May 28, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Along with your necessities, pack a shower curtain (or liner) and rings so you can actually take a shower.

If you decide to have someone pack up your stuff and move it – be there and do the inventory box by box (so it makes sense to you) and be there to check the boxes as they come off the truck and are put into your new place.

Spend the money to buy good boxes -they will be nice thick cardboard. If you move your self make them small boxes so they are easier to lift. Use a wardrobe box (or 2) nothing more wonderful than unpacking those (can put bulky light things in the bottom too!)

Pace yourself packing, unpacking and decluttering.

If you pack your self, then clear a spot in your current house to put packed boxes -the goal is not to have to shift them again until you actually move.


sidney • May 28, 2010 at 8:40 pm

Bring a phone book from Indy with you. If you want to find the address to your old vet or Dr. it will be easier than it is online. Sometimes they list a different addy than the internet.


Elizabeth • May 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm

We got great boxes (for free) by checking the dumpsters behind large chain bookstores like Barnes and Noble. When we were done with them we just put up a “Free boxes” ad on Craigslist and they were gone in minutes.
When we packed the last time I left an empty box by the front door and every time we had a cable or a cord or an electronic something or other, it went in the box – really nice to have them all together when we arrived.
Finally, save every single receipt from everything. We got to deduct a ton of moving expenses on our taxes the years we moved.


PastaQueen • May 28, 2010 at 9:21 pm

How serendipitous! A dozen cardboard boxes were leaning against the dumpster outside my apartment this evening. Now the ones that didn’t smell like tuna are in the back seat of my car :)


Rachel • May 28, 2010 at 9:59 pm

RE boxes, try a bookstore. I work in a bookstore, and we recycle hundreds of boxes every week. They are a good size and sturdy, too – have to be, to put 40 pounds of books in!


Cyndy harkins • May 28, 2010 at 10:35 pm

I would highly recommend boxes from a local print shop. They all have lids or can be closed up. Paper boxes are mostly the same size and not too heavy even when full of books. Most shops will give you quite a few boxes for free. Grocery and liquor boxes often don’t have lids.


Lisa • May 28, 2010 at 10:57 pm

BUY unprinted newsprint from a moving company or Kinko’s or Staples–don’t just use the local newspaper to wrap breakables. You do not want to have to scrub smudged ink off every glass and plate you’ve packed.


Amy • May 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm

I’ve used U-Pack pods for several cross country moves and they have been great…. highly recommended. They actually have quite a bit of room in them, so if you do have furniture you like you could take it with you.

I like to cook a bunch of food pre-move so that I can pack up my kitchen and just re-heat in the microwave.

I also pack a suitcase like I’m going on a trip, then live out of that for a few days and box up everything else.

Good Luck!


Dolly • May 28, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Love alot of what josephinetomato said,

My best advice:

Keep a few food items for a quick out of the can/boil water/ nnuke it meal. That way you will not have to find the local pizza place or make a food run for a day or two. This really helps. You don’t spend even more $$, you eat better and your not starving and weak!

Welcome to the Mother Land (NC)


Carbzilla • May 29, 2010 at 12:22 am

You can totally do this. Doing the harder thing is always better than sticking with the status quo.

I moved my whole life from LA to NYC and then back to Seattle and each time was hard but worth it. IN NYC, I built IKEA furniture IN my 5-floor walk-up and they pretty much didn’t make the move out. You’ll just get creative. Hope you get a chance to sell the good stuff (Steelcase desks – oh my) before you go!

I’m so excited for you!


Carole • May 29, 2010 at 2:45 am

It seems you are not going to hire one of those interstate / national moving companies. This is smart. I used two different ones for New England->Florida and Florida->Virginia, and they were both terrible. They also lie to you a lot. They say, “no, you don’t need the insurance, you don’t have anything too valuable” and you are tired and frazzled and not in your right mind and you believe them, and then they completely ruin your bed. Then you have to pay full price to buy a new one, because they only pay by weight if you don’t buy the $100.00 insurance policy. They also lie about the weight of items. Either get the insurance policy, which is totally worth it, or don’t take big expensive items like beds and TVs with you at all, or use UPACK instead.

Also, big question, are you doing a one day or two day drive? I found that my cats didn’t like being cooped up for more than 8 hours or so. Even if you do the drive all in one day, you won’t have room for a big, normal cat litter pan in your car, and the PetSmart will NOT be open when you roll into town. Therefore, you need to take a couple of those flat little single-use disposable litter pans. These have saved our lives many times. They fit in the trunk on top of that last suitcase of clothes, in a narrow space otherwise wasted.

Also, I found it useful to pre-pack the car with the empty suitcases and some boxes, and the cat carriers, and, and, and … Do it before they are full and heavy, so you will know EXACTLY how much fits and what the geometry will be (what goes where), and write it down or photograph it. This helps so much in understanding the realistic amount of room in the car that still allows you to safely see out the rear view mirror and to make sure the cats are comfortable.

Also, if you are driving by yourself and it is a hot day and you have to pee, and you have an auto-start, leave the AC knob on, turn off the car, lock it with the remote lock from outside, then auto-start. This gives the cats AC while you are peeing. Since we traveled as a couple, someone always stayed in the car w/ the cats for security and AC reasons while the other person peed, and all food was obtained via drive-throughs.

Someone else mentioned the receipts, definitely keep everything, it adds up to a lot and I think you can deduct at least $1500 on your taxes.


lulu • May 29, 2010 at 4:46 am

This is a touchy subject for me as I moved countries two years ago and if I had known then what I know now I would:

* get rid of anything I couldn’t fit into the car
* absolutely not put anything into store
* get rid of anything I couldn’t fit into the car
* arrange to stay with friends while looking for a new place
* get rid of anything I couldn’t fit into the car
* seriously prune my book collection before moving
* get rid of anything I couldn’t fit into the car

With very few exceptions, most things are a waste of space and everything is replaceable. Just because you once bought something does not mean you are obliged to be its carer for the rest of its life. Seriously, get rid of anything you cannot fit into the car.


Annalisa • May 29, 2010 at 7:37 am

My advice is the same as some others’ — pack a bag to get yourself through the first few days of moving and use liquor store boxes.

However, I also recommend craigslisting the stuff you’re not taking.


weightlossguru • May 29, 2010 at 9:29 am

I too am moving. I live in England and moving 120 miles. I have already started packing and I don’t even move until the end of june.

I was up at 4am this morning packing boxes but managed to fill large full bags of clothes that i have just taken to the charity shop.

I wish you well with you move. I would love to have been in North Carolina in the 80’s to watch my hero Michael Jordan playing at NC university.

Take care



Rose • May 29, 2010 at 10:27 am

Boxes from grocery or liquor stores might have pests hiding in them (roach eggs are common). I would advertise on craigslist: say you will pick up someone’s used moving boxes for free. Or look on craigslist for moving boxes for free. Every time I have moved it has been a pain to get rid of the boxes, and I would gladly have given them to someone who would pick them up.


~liz • May 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

Well it looks like you’ve gotten all the advice you’ll need. I’m moving too and reading your blog about your move process has helped me stay sane. Like I’m not alone. I’m moving because the owner is selling the house to his son. Moving bites IMHO no pun. I got a lot of boxes from work and Coscto probably a good thought. I also printed how todo list on how to move via Google. I didn’t think of flylady as one of your commentators (word) suggested. I just printed it. Bleh, have fun.


Deb • May 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm

If there is a U Haul store near you, they sell used boxes that people have returned after they moved. Not sure what they charge for them.


Suzie • May 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

When my hubs and I got married we moved from Lafayette Indiana all the way to Los Angeles! We did the U-pack thing and it arrived about a week after we did. We wish that we would have taken less with us because we ended up selling off a bunch of stuff once we got out here and we could have saved a ton of money if we’d sold it in Indiana first.

Good luck and congrats on getting out of Indiana!


Kyle • May 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm

Thanks for the shout out! Don’t feel too bad for me, I have never had to drive my stuff anywhere. My own plan of action was throw away/sell/give away anything that couldn’t fit in two suitcases.

Stuff is definitely just stuff. You can always buy more when you get where you’re going, but after you get where you’re going you’ll probably realize you don’t miss most of it.


Natalie • May 29, 2010 at 8:16 pm

I agree with Shane in the very first post, check out Flylady. She has a whole section on moving and LOTS on de-cluttering.
I DON’T agree with Karen about not taking any books. Arg! Easily replacable??? I don’t think so. I have 12 bookcases full of books and it would cost an absolute fortune to replace them. Much cheaper to pay moving costs. And some would be very hard to find again. And yes, I still re-read them. I love my books.


Amy • May 29, 2010 at 8:21 pm

I love using Chick-Fil-A french fry boxes to move, because they are all the same size, so they stack easily. If you don’t have a Chick-Fil-A, then I am sure any fast food place would do. I have always been able to get plenty of them for free, since those places go through a lot of fries. Also, they are not too big so you don’t end up with any crazy heavy boxes.

I also recommend that you not only label the room that the contents will be going, but also some general information about what is in the box. If for whatever reason you need to get back into one that is packed, then you will not spend time digging through several boxes.

Good luck!


Amy • May 29, 2010 at 8:23 pm

With the books thing. I take them! I just make sure to mix the box of half books half pillows or something very very light.


Leigh Ann • May 29, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I agree about the books….get rid of some, but not all! That would be like giving up old friends. I could leave behind lots of stuff, but not my books. They’re not all easily replaceable!

I did recently sell a hundred or so online. I didn’t make a lot but it helped unclutter some. I have plenty more! But I wouldn’t want to part with the remaining ones.

I used cash4books.net
I didn’t make a LOT but it was easy and they pay postage.


Mom Taxi Julie • May 29, 2010 at 11:35 pm

I helped my friend move from California to Texas. She got her boxes at Costco (big kit). I’m cheap and would probably hound the grocery stores etc. They had a moving truck move all their stuff. When she was packing things up she numbered the boxes and then wrote in a notebook what was in each numbered box. This would have helped a lot IF she would have remembered to bring the notebook to TEXAS haha.


Bevin • May 30, 2010 at 1:09 am

My one tip/caveat about moving is to be leery of boxes from grocery stores – I’ve had friends who have had nasty experiences with unwanted stowayas (spiders, roaches and various other six-or-more-legged creatures). You might want to try pharmacies instead – or the local dollar store. Their boxes tend to be clean and broken-down for easy disposal…added bonus: you’re not picking rotten lettuce out of your linens. If that doesn’t work, I’d definitely go with buying boxes from a company like UHaul. Those hanging wardrobe boxes are a lifesaver!


Bevin • May 30, 2010 at 1:10 am

*um, I meant stowaways *L*


Sinead • May 30, 2010 at 3:24 am

http://Www.freecycle.org for the free boxes. Folks giving them away all the time. Plus great way of getting free furniture when you move. Sign up for your local zip code.
I’ve moved 17 times including three different countries. Pack a bag for two week vacation that you live put of till you’re unpacked other side. This way not scrambling for where’s the shampoo etc. Good luck on move. Husband from NC and it’s beautiful area


Lisa • May 30, 2010 at 11:26 am

My best advice is for when you arrive at your new place. Set up the bed first. This is absolutely essential so that when you are ready to fall over from exhaustion you have a soft place to land.

Welcome to NC!


scone • May 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

PODS! We used them to move from Oregon to New Hampshire, and they were fabulous people to work with. They were very accommodating, including some unforeseen changes in plan. The whole system is very easy, you can order as many PODS as you need, and call them whenever you are ready. The whole thing came to about 9k for the move, much cheaper than 25k for a full service mover. In fact this mover suggested the PODS system to us when I balked at his quote!


Psychsarah • May 30, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Not really a moving tip per se, but related, start eating the stuff in your freezer/fridge now. I never seem to think about this until too late and the frugal part of me dies a little when I have to throw away food.

Good luck. I feel for ya-although it’s exciting to start a new adventure, moving sucks! When we bought our house 4 yeas ago, I told my husband that we’re never moving again. He thought I was kidding. I wasn’t.


Texas Diva • May 30, 2010 at 10:19 pm

http://www.freecycle.org…..there are always posters there with moving boxes AND folks who will take away your unwanted stuff. I mean serious takers on that site ……. post it on http://www.freecycle.org and you might think you’re offering junk and it will get snapped up.


Rebecca • May 30, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I’m sure I’m just repeating stuff here but here’s my advice:
We generally go to the LCBO (where we can buy alcohol in Ontario) to get free boxes since they have piles and piles available. I would imagine any store you go to would be happy to unload their boxes on you since then they don’t have to recycle them or otherwise deal with getting rid of them.
Here in Canada a big scam lately is small moving companies who give you a quote and then, when you arrive at your destination, increase the price and essentially hold all your stuff hostage until you pay them the new increased price. I believe the government is currently trying to come up with some sort of legislation to fix this and I’m not sure if it’s the same deal in the States but I would say if you have to use a moving company, pick a reputable one instead of a small outfit, even if it means you will pay a little more in the first place.
In terms of packing, try and pack all the stuff from one room (i.e: kitchen, bath, living room, etc.) in the same bunch of boxes so that when you get to your destination you can just plunk ’em in the room they belong in instead of trying to sort. Don’t pack the boxes too heavy, and take the opportunity to purge and de-clutter.
Good luck with this new adventure!


nita • May 31, 2010 at 3:13 am

Seconding the pest hazard of boxes from grocery/liquor stores.

Books: prune, sort, pack, ship. Give yourself a limit of X number of shelves if necessary. Beg boxes from stores that sell new books, as the box size/shape will be perfect for book. Slip a sheet or an unpeeled sticker near the top with as much notetaking you need when you put stuff away. Ship them slowly and cheaply–USPS media mail or parcel post. When they arrive, open them and slap your premade label on the outside. Then unpack when you hit that point in the process.

In the settling in laundry you’ll drive with, include at least one office casual set of stuff and one set you could get away with at an interview or a funeral.

Set aside your travel and settling in laundry. Take the rest to a wash-n-fold service. You’ll get it back clean, wrapped in carry-able plastic bundles, and ready to put in the moving pod/truck/whatever.

I loved U-Pack. It might have changed in the 10 years since I last used them.

To prevent your furniture from slamdancing in a truck, you want to pack tightly both horizontally and vertically. Use rope for odd shaped items, furniture, and stuff you can’t cram in so that friction holds it securely.

If you ship the mattress, buy a mattress protector. Just don’t get one of the flimsy plastic bag ones from U-haul.

If you can replace an item with one of comparable quality from the dollar store, ditch it (craigslist, yard sale, friend, freecycle), and buy it on the other end. Keep a list if you’re worried you’ll come up lacking suddenly.

Freecycle is excellent for ensuring even the most bizarre, ratty items don’t hit a landfill. I have had people pleading for my garbage.

When you pack the car, remember that cats are bulky (carriers) and you need access to them, and to make sure you can see your mirrors and actually use your rear view mirror. If you think your cats, will need sedatives try them out before you hit the road. That way, at least one cause of barfalicious cats can be ruled out.

Never ever ever let the cats out of their kennels until you’ve closed the car door or the door to your nightly stopping place. Check twice or three times escape hatches to the outside world are secure.

Similarly, get them microchipped if you haven’t already.

And if you really are ditching your furniture, and are willing to acquire the good stuff slowly, freecycle can provide an excellent stop gap. And sometimes, you can acquire good stuff there too. Check around for classifieds that are organizationally based. My former workplace had internal classifieds for its employees. (Tell your friends you’re keeping an eye out for certain things, and ask them to forward listings.) My local University has a listserv classifieds, and non-university folks can subscribe.


fd • May 31, 2010 at 7:36 am

In the past 10 years I’ve moved 9 times and lived in 4 countries. My experience is:
1. get the packing done WHICHEVER WAY works for you but focus on as fast as possible.
2. expect the whole thing to be sweaty and stressful.
3. prepare for the latter by :
-working on your back, shoulder, thigh and arm muscles
-spending as much time beforehand with fun friends and loved ones so that you have lots of good humour and happy memories to get you through it. take loads of photos of these get togethers/leaving parties etc.


Rah • May 31, 2010 at 8:10 am

Echo Josephinetomato’s tips above. I letter the boxes according to room (L living room, B bedroom, etc.) then number them, so my list shows what’s in K4, or which box has the drinking glasses in it.

Idea: set a date, say 2 weeks beforehand, and pack your suitcases for living at home the next 2 weeks, then start discarding and doing the serious packing of everything else.

I wouldn’t plan to pack overmuch in the car. You’ll have your cats with you, right? And when you get there, you can probably replace your steelcase desk and many other things from a Goodwill/Salvation Army/DAV thrift store.


Courtney • May 31, 2010 at 10:55 am

Liquor stores are a good place to get boxes that are all the same size (easy to stack) and not too big (you can’t overstuff them). :)


Stephanie • May 31, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Also a long-time lurker, but one who has made big moves many, many times: PAPERS. Buy an accordion filer or something, keep all of your important papers and bills and etc. in it, you will then always know where you have your essentials and you can continue to manage life while you settle in. CLOTHES: Pack a suitcase like you would for a trip to France, with extra socks and underwear. That way you will have clothes for every occasion at your fingertips. KITCHEN: Pack a box like you were going camping, with a pot and pan and knife and flipper and plates and silverware and paper towels and coffee maker and any condiments that are essential, so you can manage life. Pack your favorite breakfast there too so you can start your day, any day. OTHER: bring a small container of dish soap and laundry soap. With all of that, you can live amidst boxes for a long time. FURNITURE: It’s just stuff. If you love it, keep it, otherwise, new stuff is always nice. MOST IMPORTANT: Be prepared for culture shock. There is predictable pattern to moving. The beginning is a honeymoon, everything is new and different and neat. Then the disconnection starts, feeling lonely, thinking about all of the things the old place had that the new place doesn’t. That low happens around 6-9 months, which will be the middle of winter for you. Don’t give up! This is a natural part of the process. Things will be great, and by a year you will be happy happy, and by two years, your roots will be very deep. Your instincts to move are right on. You are making a great decision for YOU. Have fun!


Maggie • May 31, 2010 at 2:58 pm

This may be irrelevant since I seem to recall you’re leaving a roommate behind, but my best advice is to allot money in the moving budget to outsource your final cleaning duties.

By the time you’re exhausted and stressed from the packing and final details, cleaning up a space you won’t even be living in anymore is sheer folly. You’ll do a crappy job of it and it will put you in an angry frame of mind — not the preferred attitude for starting a bold new adventure!


Caitlin5588 • May 31, 2010 at 3:46 pm

I’m not leaving a tip, cause I’ve never moved. I’d rather not bore you with details. But, have fun, get a couple books on tape (well, not really a “tape” more like an ipod) and have a safe drive!


Jenni • May 31, 2010 at 6:49 pm

I have moved several times last time was Texas to Scotland,my top tips are
1. Pack 3 boxes each and everyday, it dosent take long and the back will be broken of the packing very quickly
2. Get rid of as much junk as possible.
3. get banana boxes from Kroger or walmart, go early in the mornings before they have been flattened. The banana boxes stack very well , though you need to use the heavy duty paper to fill in the hole in the top.
All the best ,its a very exciting but daunting time for you. Go for it girl. xxxx


Rhonda • May 31, 2010 at 8:56 pm

Wow, lots of good advice so I hope you’ll indulge me as I am 22 year veteran and spent my whole career moving.

If you know anyone in the military, they are always moving and looking to get rid of high quality boxes that the government paid for. Just sayin.

Video tape of take a photo of everything you own, stuff happens and it’s good to have a record. Insurance companies rarely question photos/videos.

Look for companies like 2 Men and a Truck, you pack they move, it’s worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Keep in mind most companies will not transport cleaners, batteries and light bulbs.

To save on packing paper etc. use your towels, linen, clothes, etc to wrap up fragile items.

Obviously dispose of any perishible food. Place tape over salt and pepper shakers, seal boxes with tape and so on. No need to get rid of all food items when non-parishables pack so well. It’ll save you money in the long run (trust me, I got rid of all my spices on a move to England and spent $300 replacing them).

Be prepared to do some “house camping”, think about what you would take to “survive” on a camp trip and there’s your basic list of needs.

If your new place has a garage or basement put every box (except the super heavy ones) in there and take one box at a time to unpack. You will will feel sooo much better and less pressure to get everything upacked right away.

Unpack the kitchen and bathroom first, everything else can take it’s time.

Good luck!


Di • June 1, 2010 at 4:42 am

Jenette, you’ll probably be surprised to discover what you can live without.
After deciding to move from Australia to the UK:
I left all the household goods with my ex, including the car.
Sold or gave away all my replaceable books (some are signed, or irreplaceable, so I kept about 6).
Parted with almost my entire wardrobe, keeping only expensive items like jeans and quality dresses.
Gave my old PC to friends.
Parred down my carbon copy photos to a few hundred less than I had.
Freecycled my sewing machine and art gear.

This left me with some clothes, my childhood soft toys, my important papers, some photos, letters from my childhood, some special mementos, my camera, and two cats. The camera and clothes I travelled with, the rest I posted in just three boxes. The cats were shipped using an animal transport company.

It is an extreme example of how far you can go with moving, and it has taken me three years to replace things (and I still don’t have an easel), but some of the things I have now are infinitely better that that which I left behind (ie NEW). And that includes my new husband…

The things that I found I ‘needed’ the most and could not live without? The cats. I discovered I would rather be left with nothing than lose those two. It was an interesting lesson, as I thought I wasn’t that person.


Hunter • June 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

Good luck on your move. One of my packing tips was to use plastic grocery bags as packing wrap. I’ve moved probably 4 times and have never had any broken glassware or knick knacks. They are so versitile you can really wrap small items and give them a lot of cushy space. When you’re done with them, you can take them to the nearest grocery store for recycling. (Unless you use them as I do for lining garbage cans at home.) You might want to invest in some feline spray (Feliway) to keep your kitties calm. Boxes are easy. Just peruse your nearest 24 hour Wal-mart (I know, not your favorite) after hours when the stockers are out in force. Usually the boxes are already collapsed for you and they are more than happy to see you lugging them to your car rather than them lugging them to the stock room. Hope this helps. =^..^=


Cathleen • June 1, 2010 at 9:06 am

Smartest thing I ever did was to load the fridge with cold drinks for the movers and put a package of paper cups on the kitchen counter. It made them like me more, and they were wonderful to deal with.


Lisa • June 1, 2010 at 9:22 am

My daughter moved from Indiana to NYC last year, and we shipped everything but the suitcase she took on the plane. We found that UPS was cheaper for shipping than USPS.


Dyan • June 1, 2010 at 10:09 am

Do not forget to have a shower curtain, soap and some towels with you. Believe me, after being on the road that long, you are going to want a shower.


Kityluvr • June 1, 2010 at 10:58 am

My best advice…throw a packing party! Invite all your hard working friends over…you supply the food, music, tape and boxes..assign a couple people to every room and pack away! We have done this for a couple families in our neighborhood. We packed rooms that weren’t personal like kitchens, playroom, den, garage, etc….they concentrated on their bedrooms and bathrooms….we placed all the stuff they didn’t want in the garage for a “free sale” for all who helped pack…the rest was donated to charity….


Carrie • June 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I’ve moved more times then I care to count. Only once did we ditch everything that didn’t fit in our car and pick-up and at that time it was worth it. If you have anything of value it’s much cheaper to rent a truck and drive it. When I moved from IL to PA I found a couple of guys to pack up my rental truck and had a friend drive it for me. Even his flight back to IL was cheaper than paying a moving company. If you can’t get the boxes you need for free from the liquor or grocery store you can contact a self storage company and see if they have any used boxes. I’ve gotten boxes for $1 each before and sometimes you just need bigger boxes than you can get for free. If you are anything like me, you will be super tired when this is over because I can’t stand to live with unpacked boxes, so I typically unload and unpack in 24 hours without sleeping until it’s done! Good luck with your move.


Dana Lynn • June 1, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Sorry if any of this is repeats.
I have moved from MI to KS to AZ in the past four years. 20 hour car rides are a normal part of life for us. :)

Numbering boxes is great but colored tape is WAY better. You can find colored electrical tape at any hardware store. You simply give each zone a color. Bedroom=Green, Kitchen=yellow and so on. When all your stuff gets there it is super efficient. You just put a sign on the bedroom that says green and anyone can help. Green taped boxes in green room.

I always pack for the 3 days before and for a few days after arrival. If you use these services for your belongings they certainly won’t be there when you arrive. SO my must haves for in the car.

-Air mattress, sheets, pillow
-suitcase with clothes, and other personal necessities
-cleaning supplies- new places can be full of surprises
-basic kitchen stuff, plate utensils, bowl, pan

Hope this helps. It has always worked well for us.


Deirdre • June 1, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Free boxes can be found at the grocery store and liquor stores. They always have spares hanging around all you need to do is ask.


Axela • June 1, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Hi there. I have moved like 15 times. Here is my advice about the boxes: go to the mall and ask in the stores if they can give you some of their boxes, they will be glad because they need to get rid of them anyway.
Advice two: Try to have most of the boxes in the same size so they stack neatly.
Advice three: Read the book – It’s All Too Much from Peter Walsh. I used his advice before I moved from AZ to MA. It worked well. Also, plastic containers work very well but special stuff like your important documents if you have any to bring with you.
Advice four: I had a moving party and had 4 friends over to help me pack once I knew what was coming with me. Gave them general instructions and was done in two days. Be sure to have drinks and finger food for the helpers!
Good luck to you!


Suz • June 2, 2010 at 2:52 am

Using other people’s boxes might bring bugs. I like office paper boxes w/lids. I bought 4ftx2ftx2ft boxes and they hold a ton and you can use your clothes & towels to wrap dishes and breakables. I moved from LA to NYC and Bekins did a nice job and stored the stuff cheap til I found an apt. The POD idea sounds good. Go with a big co. so you don’t get ripped off for more money as they hold your stuff hostage like a woman I read about…or “lose” your stuff.


Lindsey • June 2, 2010 at 5:10 am

Starbucks and Barnes & Noble – great boxes. Also apple boxes good for lighter weight stuff. I do agree though that you want to be careful of boxes that have been outside, there’s a definite risk for silverfish. yuck.

I used u-pack moving from NY to CA and my brother did from AZ to IL, both good experiences. We’ve used both the pods and the trailer. Keep stuff you like, especially if you can’t afford to replace it now.


Trish • June 2, 2010 at 8:38 am

Packed it all in a car two years and 5 months ago to move to another state. Still struggling to replace all I left behind materially but the relationships I have made certainly outshine anything I had to leave behind!


Joanie • June 2, 2010 at 10:46 am

Talk to the IT departments of local colleges. They get a lot of computers shipped in, and those are nice boxes! We’re always giving them away to staff members moving; otherwise, they just get crushed and recycled.


Deanna - The Unnatural Mother • June 2, 2010 at 3:14 pm

Don’t pay for boxes!! Go to the grocery store, or any local business and ask for boxes….they always give them away!! It’s cheap and easy!


Mymsie • June 2, 2010 at 3:38 pm

Sweet Jesus, I’m not reading through all these comments but in case someone hasn’t already suggested this: you can get tons of free boxes from grocery stores. Ask the produce manager and he/she will usually set aside boxes for you. Also, banana boxes are the best because they have lids. Good luck!


Mymsie • June 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

P.S. I always keep a box marked “last minute” and pack it with things I’ll need right away once I’ve moved like, silverware, phone chargers, sheets, towels, scissors, tape, vodka, etc. ;)


Jeanelle Ray • June 3, 2010 at 1:40 am

Ooops..I put my comment under the wrong blog. How dumb…sorry about that. Moving gave me brain fag, among other bad things. I’m the Moving Queen, so here are suggestions:

We made a HUGE move in December. 3600 square feet of collecting for lots of years and had it all in storage until we bought a house in another city. Moving boxes: Craig’s List was a bad place for me when I was wanting to give away boxes. The people selling them on Craig’s List were charging high dollar. I gave mine away on my local freecycle. If you haven’t done it, just google freecycle, and you will find your local one. After signing up, you can post your request for moving boxes. I see them offered quite often. This is also a great way to get rid of things you don’t want to pack. Yes, you will be exhausted and you will at least want to fall on your sword. I have had a headache for 5 years, and moving put me in the hospital for a week. I also gained 20 pounds. We lived on fast food. If I had been mentally prepared for that problem, maybe I would have avoided that pitfall. Or not. Now I’m going back to bed and reading another chapter of your book. Well done!


featherz • June 3, 2010 at 9:00 am

Just thought I’d put in a pitch for upack. We didn’t use their pod-like service because we were too rural for them to deliver the pod, but we did the other service they had where you fill up a large trailer truck and pay by the foot. They then put a divider in and fill the rest of the truck up with other cargo and off it goes. We were happy with the service and it was MUCH cheaper than using a mover. Of course, you have to pack everything yourself and unload everything yourself when they drop the trailer back at your house, but I too did not take any furniture so it was easy!


featherz • June 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

Oh, and we used ‘usedcardboardboxes.com’ for the boxes. Free boxes would have been better, but it was nice knowing that we were using recycled ‘corporate’ boxes – they weren’t free, but they were cheaper and much thicker than the equivalent ‘mover’ boxes.


Denise • June 3, 2010 at 12:29 pm

I echo the liquor store boxes. I collect them to use to deliver food to the needy. Liquor stores are all too glad to give them to me. And they’re always getting more in. Assuming you’re ok with boxes that size if you hit up 5-10 liquor stores I bet you’ll get enough for your move (if you go soon I bet all the stores have extra boxes on hand since we just passed a booze holiday) For bigger boxes what about appliance stores?


Nanc in Ashland • June 3, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Having last done the move to another state thing 15 years ago things might have changed but: call and get estimates from moving companies. You might be surprised at how reasonable they are. They’ll also provide free boxes and for a long move you want good, professional quality boxes. They can also give estimates for doing the packing. I packed most stuff myself but had them deal with breakables and art. I’m a firm believer that your (my) sanity has a dollar value and I was willing to pay for the peace of mind.


Denise • June 4, 2010 at 8:12 am

When I wrote yesterday I hadn’t read the comments so I had no idea how many times liquor store boxes had already been suggested. Whoops! I didn’t stop to think about insects in the boxes but I guess it depends on a. where you live and b. the store you go to. I live in Northern NJ which is very urbanized and not buggy at all which has increased my luck in obtaining bug free boxes. I have now read ALL the comments (don’t judge me) & I have a new thing to suggest along with someone else’s sightseeing/travel idea. This website: roadsideamerica.com. You can plan out quirky things to visit along your route. Or maybe even find some things you want to see before you leave the state you’re in! Also I doubt you’ll have enough junk to use 1-800-JUNK but I used them a year or two ago and their service was reasonably priced and amazing! Hope I provided you with a useful post this time :)


Marie • June 5, 2010 at 11:41 am

Dude, don’t get a PODS get an ABF U-Pack. I moved from Bama to CO and got to cram a shitload of stuff on the relocube. They charged me 900 bucks and had not problems with pick-up, delivery or broken belongings!


anji • June 6, 2010 at 11:58 pm

Place all your “necessities” into one box but don’t close it… just leave it somewhere accessible.

Keep one set of sheets out and pack everything else. Leave one towel out, etc…

Boxes? I ended up (over the moves) buying crates for most of my stuff, mostly because too much of my crap was ruined by floods, mice, etc…. so I usually put the “good stuff” into crates. The boxes, you can go to stores where they put their stuff out back for recycling. Just buy some packing tape to reinforce.

And… label everything on the outside of the box so you don’t have to unpack everything right away when you move… you can quickly find things and you can just unpack when you feel like it!


js • June 8, 2010 at 2:39 pm

I don’t know how large your local library is, but like bookstores, libraries also receive shipments of books. Your library may also be a good place to check for boxes that are clean and sturdy.

(I’ve always found grocery store boxes oddly sized – but still useful in a pinch.)


schmei • June 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

My only advice: it’s never too early to start packing, because you always have way more stuff than you thought. Start now and you’ll thank yourself in a few weeks.


Jamie • June 10, 2010 at 8:16 am

Another vote for liquor store boxes! They are really strong since those bottles are so dang heavy! Good luck and happy moving!


Stephoodle • June 10, 2010 at 8:24 am

Okay, I’m late in the game for this one, but I thought I’d chime in anyway.

I moved from San Diego, CA to the south east of England back in October 2009 (a bit north of London).

It was seriously the hardest move I ever made. You’ve covered most of the easy things in your post (ditching furniture, etc), but I thought I’d add something as well…

Don’t get rid of anything you love unless you absolutely have to or you really don’t need it (i.e. make sure you take the important comforts of home with you). There are things I’ve gotten rid of (but had to, as I had to fit everything in my luggage on the flight over) and regret, and there are things I’m really happy I brought with me, because they made me feel a bit better about being in a new and strange place.

Hope your move goes well!


Kelly • June 21, 2010 at 11:45 am

I am a committed lurker but seeing as my husband & I just moved as well I couldn’t pass up the chance to offer you some free box gathering advice.

Try Borders or any other large chain bookstore. They recycle (toss in a dumpster) most of their boxes at the end of the day and are happy to give them away for free if you ask. Book boxes are great for moving because they are really sturdy but small enough that you cannot over-pack them to the point where they are immovable.

Try signing up for the website Freecycle. Most cities now have local branches of this group. It is a Yahoo group that allows you to either request or donate items for free. We used it to get rid of all our boxes once we had moved, but you can use it for almost anything from boxes to furniture.


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