A Comprehensive Guide to Pack a House: Timelines, Tips, and Techniques

By: Harrison Gough Last Updated: Sep 20, 2023

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A Comprehensive Guide to Pack a House: Timelines, Tips, and Techniques

How long does it take to pack a house? It depends.

It can take anywhere between 3 – 6 weeks to pack and move your home, sometimes more and sometimes less. Fortunately, with expert help (and a useful guide) you can make moving quick and easy.

Moving and planning can be tough, but the team at Moving Feedback did the research for you. Read on to see how long your move will take, and get some expert advice on how you can move faster, move easier, and move for less.

In this article

The Pre-Packing Phase

The best way to reduce the stress of your move is to get started early. The pre-packing phase sets the tone for the rest of a move, and how you spend your time before moving day makes all the difference. Here are some important steps for pre-packing:

1. Create a Strategic Packing Plan

We’re going to be harping on this all throughout this article. Make plans, and make backup plans in case your first plans don’t work out. This means coming up with a (flexible) packing plan to help you stay organized.

A good packing plan goes beyond just a list of what you need to move. Remember to include important dates, and try to go room by room. Also, it really helps if you map out what kind of supplies you’ll need.

2. Inventory Management: Identifying What Needs to Be Packed, and When

Packing plan in hand, you can finally get started. But do you know what items you can pack up now, and what items you’ll need during your move? You’ve made a list of what you have to move, so now it’s time to strategize what goes in a box now, and what goes in a box later.

For example, you’ll need a toothbrush every day (we hope). Same goes for pants, underwear, toiletries, and all that good stuff. On the other hand, do you really need to look at that painting on your wall every day? What about the bookcase full of books you’ve already read? Start by boxing up the stuff you don’t use often. Speaking of not using certain items…

3. Deciding What to Keep, Sell, Donate, or Throw Away

Moving is a great time to downsize. Some movers charge by hour, and some movers charge by total weight. In either case, moving more stuff means moving more money out of your wallet.

If you have any items you don’t use, now’s your chance to pawn them off to family and friends. If you manage to sell that toaster or couch, it’s a nice financial break to soften the blow of your move.

Some movers offer junk removal services for an extra fee, but we recommend donating your stuff ahead of time to avoid the price markup.

4. Gathering Packing Supplies

Before you start putting anything in your boxes, get your packing supplies in order. Make sure you have everything you need: boxes, tape, bubble wrap, packing paper, and markers.

If you’re not sure what you’ll need, try to imagine the step-by-step process of packing up a box. What’s going in, and what needs wrapping? Do your boxes have lids, or do they need to be taped up?

Room-by-Room Packing Guide

You may be getting a little impatient to get started. We get that. After all, why waste any time when you can just load up some boxes?

Before you dive right in, it’s important to remember to go room by room. Keep everything organized, and it’ll pay off on moving day.

1. How to Pack the Kitchen

Packing Dishware and Glassware

Pack fragile items like dishware and glassware carefully, using bubble wrap or packing paper to cushion them. Nest similar-sized items together and use dividers for extra protection. Bundle utensils and wrap them with packing paper to prevent damage.

Packing Appliances and Utensils

Make sure your appliances are clean (or as clean as possible) before packing. If possible, use bubble wrap or packing paper. Chances are you don’t have the original box for your fridge or oven, but if you’ve got the original packaging for your toaster or other small appliances, that’ll make life a lot easier, too.

2. How to Pack the Living Room

Safely Packing Electronics

Do you feel like buying another PS5 or TV? No? Then pack your electronics up safely. Don’t just throw them in a box with your other living room stuff.

We recommend disconnecting cords completely so they don’t end up frayed or damaged (and if you’re feeling like an overachiever you can tape the cords to their respective electronic devices). Use anti-static bubble wrap and foam to protect your devices from damage, and again, use original packaging if you can.

Packing Furniture and Decorative Items

Furniture is one of the biggest pains to handle on moving day, but if you know how to disassemble your sofa, coffee table, or end tables that can be a huge help.

It’s a lot easier to move four or five smaller items instead of one big one. If you can dismantle the big stuff, wrap the pieces in blankets or bubble wrap. Pack your fragile and decorative items separately from the sturdier stuff.

3. How to Pack Bedrooms

Packing Clothes and Personal Items

Wardrobe boxes are specialized moving boxes that have extra space for you to hang your clothing. If you want to avoid a whole day of pressing and ironing out your clothes, use a wardrobe box and be done with it.

As for your jewelry, watches, and other expensive items, you may want to transport all of that yourself. Keep them in view, on your person, or close at hand throughout your entire move. This isn’t to say pro movers aren’t trustworthy – it’s just that a big moving truck may not be the safest place for your valuables.

Dismantling and Packing Furniture

Just like with the living room, it’s better to dismantle the furniture if possible. Some items like headboards or mattresses don’t come apart. But other large bedroom furniture may be easily taken down to smaller pieces. Don’t forget to keep the hardware together in labeled bags – preferably taped inside or securely to the items in question.

4. How to Pack Bathrooms

Pack bathroom items last since you’ll need them up until moving day. Dispose of expired or nearly empty products, and secure caps and lids of liquids to prevent leaks. Keep in mind, movers don’t typically transport any pressurized or flammable stuff. Toss the Aqua Net.

5. How to Pack Home Offices and Other Special Rooms

Pack office equipment and files securely, but keep any important documents with you on a moving day. Like jewelry and other valuables, it’s best to travel with your important paperwork on hand instead of tossing it all in a moving truck.

For special rooms like game rooms or craft rooms, pack similar items together and label boxes clearly. If you’ve got a man cave, be on the lookout for out of state movers who specialize in moving big items like pool tables and other bulky game room furniture.

6. Packing Outdoor and Garage Items

Nobody wants a dirty truck. Clean and disassemble outdoor furniture and large garage items. Pack smaller tools and equipment in sturdy boxes. Remember, movers don’t handle flammable stuff, so you’ll have to drain fuel from any gas-powered equipment.

Packing Specialty Items

From antiques to collectibles, you’ll want to make sure your specialty items are as safe as possible. Here’s how to pack up your fragile and hard-to-replace items:

1. How to Pack Fragile Items

Use plenty of cushioning materials and pack fragile items in smaller boxes. Make sure you label these boxes as “fragile” so your movers know they should be handled with extra care. If something has loads of sentimental value, take it with you personally if possible.

2. Packing Large or Bulky Items

Disassembly makes a huge difference if you have to move anything big and bulky. Dismantle large items if possible and wrap each piece separately.

For items that can’t be dismantled, use furniture pads or moving blankets for protection. Depending on your home’s layout, your movers may have to resort to lowering these big items from a window or balcony. Prepare accordingly.

3. Packing Valuable Items and Documents

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Keep valuable items and important documents with you during the move. You don’t want to risk loss, theft, or damage.

If it’s not possible to take your valuables and important documents with you, pack them very carefully in a separate box and label it inconspicuously. Be sure to mark it as fragile, just in case.

Time Management Strategies

If you’re a professional procrastinator, don’t worry. Here’s how you can keep ahead of your moving schedule without that last-minute crunch.

1. Set a Realistic Packing Schedule

It’s important to make a calendar, but it’s also important to be realistic about it. Sure, it may make you feel nice and responsible to plan out every day of packing, but are you sure you’re able to stick to the schedule?

If you’re always busy with work, life, and everything in between, break your move up box by box, and pack a little bit away every day.

2. Speed Up the Packing Process

One of the best ways to make sure you really get something done is to make starting (and continuing) as easy as possible. The last thing you want is to finally start packing, only to run into a roadblock right off the bat.

We recommend cleaning house ahead of time. This way you don’t have to stop and think about whether you want to take that old shoebox with you or not. To keep things extra streamlined, leave all the packing supplies within easy reach.

3. Know the Importance of Breaks and Rest

Packing can be physically and emotionally draining. Breaks are unavoidable (and essential), but the important thing is to make sure that the breaks you take don’t end up spanning several hours or days.

This is why you want to make your tasks easy to get back into. You’re going to have to rest up eventually, and you’re going to have to dive back into packing while you’re under siege by millions of distractions.

Enlisting Help

Moving by yourself is perfectly possible, but there’s a point at which even the most determined self-starter needs a helping hand. Studio apartment? No problem. Three-bedroom house? No thanks. Here’s what you need to know about getting some help for your move:

When and How to Hire Professional Packers

We get it. Packing is a pain. If you’re like us and get triggered at the sight of packing peanuts, consider hiring professional packers. Many best moving companies provide packing services at an additional fee, and it’s money well-spent for the packing-averse.

Professional movers have plenty of expertise when it comes to packing efficiently and handling fragile or bulky items. You can even shell out for full service moving so you don’t have to lift a finger.

Coordinating a Packing Party: Turning Work into Fun

Here’s a protip to find out if your friends are real ride-or-dies: Ask them to help you move. If you get a ton of excuses or noncommittal “yeah, I might be able to…”s, you need better friends. Or less stuff. Or both.

If you want some help with your move, you have to sweeten the deal a little. A packing party is a great excuse to hang out with your friends, enjoy some good food and drink, and get some stuff packed away. And if you’re feeling a little machiavellian, you can spin it as a going away party. Your friends wouldn’t want to miss their last chance to say goodbye, would they?

The Final Packing Days

You’ve made it this far. You’ve checklists, scheduled, phone called, and booked your way to moving day – but there are still some important steps.

1. Keep Your Essentials Separate

Remember when we said to pack up your bathroom last? This is why. Take all the toiletries you need on a daily basis, and put them in a backpack or suitcase. The same goes for your pajamas and a few changes of clothing.

We’re big proponents of the essentials bag. This is a handy bag that has everything you need to live comfortably for a couple days, much like a suitcase on a short vacation. You can live out of your essentials bag while you’re unpacking the rest of your stuff.

2. Prepare the House for Moving Day

Do a clean sweep of each room as you finish packing. It really helps to keep your boxes in a staging area so you can go through each room one by one to make sure you’ve got everything. Disassemble any remaining furniture and secure doors and drawers on wardrobes or dressers to prevent them from opening during transit.

Did you remember to call ahead about your utilities at your new place? Did you remember to call your old utilities provider to make sure you won’t get billed after the move? Make sure you clear up your water, gas, electricity, and internet before moving day. The first thing you’ll want after your move is a hot shower. The last thing you’ll want is a dry faucet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to pack a one-bedroom house?

On average, it takes about 1 to 2 weeks to pack a one-bedroom house if you pack a few hours each day. The amount of time really depends on how motivated you are, and how much stuff you’ve managed to cram into your home or apartment. If you’re Marie Kondo, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of days. If you don’t know who that is, start as early as possible.

What items should I pack first when moving?

Start with stuff you don’t use too often (if you haven’t given this stuff away). We recommend packing up decorations such as artwork and knick-knacks, books, and non-essential kitchen items first. A general rule of thumb: If you use it at least once a day, pack it last.

How can I pack my house quickly?

Start by downsizing and getting rid of the stuff you no longer want or need. Then, do a clean sweep of your home. The less trash you have to sort out, the faster your packing will go.

Next, make a room-by-room packing plan – and stick with it. If you can count on your family and friends, get them to help out. Otherwise, shell out for some professional packers to get things done as quickly as possible.

Is it worth it to hire professional packers?

Yes, definitely. If you’re short on time, overwhelmed by packing, or a nasty combination of the two, professional movers can help. And before you start complaining about the price, just ask yourself whether the stress is worth the savings. Some things are worth the money, and professional packing fits the bill.

How many boxes do I need to pack at my house?

On average, a three-bedroom house might require around 80 boxes, but this can vary significantly. The number of boxes you’ll need depends on the size of your house and the number of your belongings. More stuff means more boxes, so make sure you downsize before you plan out your packing.

How can I reduce stress while packing?

Stress management starts with time management. Doing a little bit of packing and boxing every day will help you avoid rushing to pack everything up in the week before moving day. Remember to stay organized and keep track of what you have to move, and when you’d like to have everything boxed up.

Remember to take care of your mental and physical health during the lead-up to your big move. Actually, remember to take care of your mental and physical health after your move, too. It’s a big change, and you don’t want to be any more stressed than necessary.

Packing Up and Moving On

You made it! Thanks for sticking with us through the whole article. Packing and moving a house is a Herculean task, but people do it every day. With a clear plan, realistic expectations, and a few helping hands, you can get packed and get moved with minimal fuss.

If you’re ready to get started, check out some movers in your area – and don’t forget to check back in with the Moving Feedback team for more tips and tricks to make moving day even easier!