May 25, 2022

The Ultimate Guide to Minimalist Moving: Experts Reveal Packing, Organizing, and Moving Tips for Your Smoothest Move Yet

Whether you’re neighborhood-hopping to your new Miami rental or planning a coast-to-coast move from Boston to the west coast, planning a move can be a stressful process. From packing up your things to loading up a moving van and transitioning to life in a new home, moving can quickly take over your daily life. But by embracing a minimalist approach to moving, packing up for a move can be the perfect time to start fresh. And what may seem like an all-or-nothing approach becomes a way to part with items that no longer bring you joy or have meaning, simplifying the process. 

To help you start life in your new abode with less stress, we reached out to the experts to create the ultimate guide to minimalist moving. Follow these tips and tricks to help you lighten your load and have your smoothest move yet. 

Getting started: create a moving strategy

Have a goal in mind before you start packing

Set a few minutes aside before you get started, and get clear on what you want your life to look like once you have moved. This vision will guide you as you decide what you want to take with you and what should stay behind. Having a clear vision is a game-changer in the packing process.
- Empowered Living Strategies

Get a headstart on decluttering and downsizing

You can never start too early to declutter and downsize before a move. Start in rooms and spaces that you visit the least: guest bedrooms and closets, coat closets, garage storage, formal dining, and living rooms. Pluck out anything you don't want to take with you to your new life/home, and leave what you want. This way, whether you're packing yourself or hiring packers to do it for you, you know that everything in this room, closet, etc., must be packed. You can also choose to pack as you go through each room if you're short on time.
- Organized by Ginger

How to downsize while packing for a move

Use an easy-to-remember system 

When downsizing or moving, keep these three steps in mind: 

  1. Sort and group like items to identify and remove redundant items. 
  2. Keep an empty box in every room or space to easily drop your discarded items that can be rehomed by someone else.
  3. Only keep the items that serve the present and future you and contribute to your goals, not wishes.
    - Simple Systematic Spaces

Don’t forget to tackle the “junk drawer”

Everyone who moves seems to have the infamous "junk drawer." Whether it's an actual drawer of junk – assorted papers, condiment packets, old tools, fruit, and vegetable rubber bands, twist ties, and matches, or limited to a couple of things, it must be packed. Ask yourself: "Do I want to wait until I get to my wonderful new home to throw away out-of-date ketchup and broken twist ties?" Hopefully, the answer is "no." Apply this question to everything in your home, and the amount of discarded items will grow.
- Organizing Associates

Pack items that you know will have use in your new home

Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of items you no longer use or haven't used in a long time. Pack items you know will be used in the new kitchen and think ahead to unpacking. You don't want to open boxes and be upset you packed items you don't need.
- Completely Organized Tulsa

Decide what’s clutter before you pack

Don't move with items that you no longer use or love. Go through each space in your house and sort like items together, then take a good look at what you have - do you want these items in your new house or not? Now that the things you want are already sorted, pack them up so that similar items are together and organized when you unpack.
- Organized by Kris

Minimalist moving tips for decluttering a kitchen

Host a pantry giveaway party

The kitchen pantry is often overlooked, and we end up stressed and left with a ton of food waste. Instead, consider hosting a pantry giveaway party. Check and declutter all the expired items, anything that's still new or in great condition, lay it out, and round up your friends to help take it off your hands. It's also a great chance to declutter your shopper bags - pass one to all your guests so that they can "shop" from your home.
- Spark Joy & Flow

Audit your kitchen

The first thing you should do before packing up your kitchen is get rid of unused and expired items. Sell or donate any gadgets or tools you haven't used in over a year (yes, I'm talking about that juicer.) Go through each cabinet and drawer and assess the usage of each item, and you'll be surprised at how much you can declutter.
- d'Clutter by D'Nai

Minimalist moving tips for decluttering a closet 

Give yourself enough time to declutter

If you're decluttering your closet before a move, start early. Tackle one category (i.e., shorts) or shelf at a time, so the process isn't overwhelming. Your future self will thank you when you aren't moving and unpacking clothes you don't intend to wear. When packing up your closet, try to group clothes and shoes in boxes based on season and label them appropriately outside the box. Then when you unpack, you can quickly get to the clothes you are currently wearing and leave the other boxes to unpack at your convenience.
- How Neat! by Dana

Use the hanger trick to help you decide on what to keep

Use this hanger trick to see what clothes you often wear to easily remove the rest: Start by turning all the hangers in your closet backward. As you wear an item, turn the hanger in the correct direction. At the end of the month, any remaining backward hangers will point out what you are not wearing. These are pieces you can remove without the risk of donating something you love.
- Declutter in Minutes

It’s go time - minimalist moving tips for packing up your items

Pack to unpack

Simplify your packing process by thinking ahead to the unpacking process. For example, take clothing on hangers in sets of 10 and fold the clothing over the hanger 2-3 times, then place the bundle in an extra-large box. Or wrap your silverware drawer organizer in saran wrap to make unpacking your kitchen a breeze and get the most important part of the home up and running quickly. And remember, don't pack your junk. Go through each drawer and decide what you want to keep, donate, recycle or throw away.
- Organize by Designe

Start an “Open First” box for the essentials

When moving a lot of belongings to a new home, you likely won't unpack everything all at once. I suggest adding one more labeled "Open First" in addition to labeling boxes by room. In this box, you want to put the things you'll need right away, like linens for your bed, some toiletries, a coffee pot or teapot, and any other essentials to get you through the days or weeks it takes to unpack fully.
- Hands of Time Concierge

Use the packing supplies you have on hand before buying more

People moving into homes for the first time should make the best use of what they already have before investing in supplies like bubble wrap and packing peanuts. Decide what you want to sell or donate, then invest in sturdy boxes, and label them accordingly. Next, rely on soft items like T-shirts and towels to provide extra padding. Finally, nest items inside bowls, pots, pans, and more to save space and cushion more delicate pieces.
- Legend Homes

Keep everything labeled and numbered 

It’s important to label your boxes to facilitate the unloading process. Label each box so the movers can place them in the correct location in the new house. For example, your labels can include "Living Room," "Dining Room," "Kitchen," and "Main Bedroom," with a brief description of its contents. If fragile items are packed in the box, make sure to label "fragile" on multiple sides of your box as well. Numbering your boxes is also very important. With the numbers written on the boxes, your packing inventory list will be simple and easy to understand, helping you to easily locate a specific box that you may need right away.
- Lunardi Moving Services & Storage

Use proper packing methods when securing fragile items

When moving fragile items, pack them securely in an appropriately fitting box. Be sure to tape the bottom of the box and add packing material such as bubble wrap or Styrofoam to help protect the items. If you must stack boxes with fragile items, keep these boxes on top of the others, appropriately labeled as "fragile."
- Relo Moving

Minimalist moving tips to stay organized 

Plan your timeline backward

First things first, plan your timeline backward. Identify areas that can be packed first and will not be required immediately, such as seasonal items - clothing, footwear, tableware, etc. Visualize how you will use what you have in your new home - especially furniture. If you don't use something, give it a second life by gifting to family members, donating, or selling it. It's costlier to move something you don't use at all.
- Declutter Bee

Use Post-it Notes for color-coding

Using color Post-it's on boxes can be very helpful to know what to unpack first upon arriving at your destination. For example, a green Post-it can mean, "unpack first; I need it." Yellow could mean "unpack to make a home feel like a home," and red could be for items in storage.
- Queen B Organizing

Avoid making this common moving mistake

Underestimating how long it takes to pack

The biggest mistake I see when clients call for organizing help with their move is that they call too late. Don't call two weeks before the movers are booked to arrive, but reach out to a professional organizer at least three months before your move. This leaves enough time for coordinating your schedules, sorting, purging, and packing, so that it's a breeze to unpack and set up your new home in a way that gives you that fresh orderly start you want.
- Living Harmony

Originally published by Redfin