How to pack for a move
Where and how do you start packing for a house move? Take the stress away with our packing tips, guides and moving checklist.
General packing guidelines and tips
To get you started, here are some handy tips for how to pack for a move.
- Declutter. Start by reducing your items. Less items equals less to pack!
- Collect packing supplies. Bubble wrap, packing paper, moving boxes... Everything you need to pack up your valuables.
- Pack your moving day bag. All the essentials like keys, important documents, snacks and plenty of water!
- Label your boxes to make unpacking easier.
- Don't forget to give your house a once over before you close the door for the last time.
The best way to pack boxes for moving
Keeping your belongings safe during transportation is an important part of any move. Here are some tips to help you when packing your boxes:
- Packing heavier items at the bottom and lighter items at the top will help when lifting the boxes.
- Adding padding to your boxes, especially for fragile items, will keep them safe and prevent them from moving around in the boxes.
- Don't overfill your boxes. This will make them harder to stack, secure and to move them in and out of the removal truck.
- Make sure to reinforce boxes using tape.
Create a kit of moving essentials
For an extra fee, most moving companies will provide you with packing materials (including boxes) and may even deliver them to you, however if you are looking to purchase them yourself, here is a good list of items to think about.
- Strong packing tape (approximately 40-50mm wide)
- Stickers or paper for labels (coloured paper helps if you choose to colour code)
- Permanent markers (get a whole pack!)
- Scissors (more than one pair)
- A couple of box cutters ( these can usually be found in the craft section of the dollar shops and often come in a multi-pack)
- Garbage bags (make sure they are the tough ones) come in handy for wrapping anything awkward to box
- Post-it notes
- Zip-lock bags
- A good supply of shopping bags, be they tote, re-usable or plastic
- Shoe boxes are great to organise small items within bigger boxes
- Boxes, boxes, and more boxes - we recommend getting an assortment of sizes and then buying more as you go
Bubble wrap or butchers paper?
If you are waste conscious, this question may weigh on your mind a little heavier. The balance between waste, cost and need can sometimes be difficult to achieve, especially when your main aim is to protect your fragile items during a transit that is largely out of your control.
Let's drill down on these two iconic packaging solutions and find out when and where each one can be most beneficial!
Protecting your breakables and surfaces (dinner wear, glass wear, dishes, mirrors, frames etc.)
Bubble wrap can be useful but it's a little bit of overkill on these items as butchers paper will work just as well, is more cost effective and recyclable. It takes up less space and can allow you to stack items, like plates, in boxes easily. While it might be tempting to recycle the Sunday newspaper, be wary that newsprint can smudge ink onto your belongings which can be almost impossible to clean from some surfaces.
However, if you are packing exceptionally heavy fragile items, placing a sheet of bubble wrap between paper wrapped items can give it a little extra protection without excessive plastic use.
Large items (Appliances, ceramics, artwork etc.)
Items that are large really do benefit from using bubble wrap as the nature of its design allows cushioning which protects from impact. You could provide a double layer of protection by wrapping them in butchers paper first though, as bubble wrap can sometimes tear. Use extra packing tape on these items too. It's hard to be waste conscious on these items, but if you are industrious, you will find ways to recycle the bubble wrap for other uses later.
Electronics (Computers and laptops, gaming consoles, etc.)
Sensitive electronic devices can particularly benefit from using bubble wrap, you won't need to use extra paper with these items either because they are light and generally have robust surfaces. The main protection they need is against movement and impact. When packing these items wrap them in sheets of bubble wrap and tape well, but most importantly make sure they aren't able to move around in the box. Pack them with lots of other soft items in between them, you can use towels or sheets for this - items that are not disposable but will stop items from floating around in the boxes.
Both do their job but only use what you need
Bubble wrap and butchers paper are both useful packing materials and virtually essential when you are moving, but you can be smart about the application of each. Overuse of either may add to the bulk of your items which could amount to extra space and extra money. You may even find that many fragile boxes can be packed using what you have in your linen cupboard.
How many boxes will I need?
Sometimes when you look around at all your things, you can't imagine them all condensed into boxes. Even harder to visualise, is how many boxes those things will fit into. Sourcing boxes is not always an easy exercise and buying them can considerably add to your moving budget so you don't want to get too many (although if you buy them from Bunnings, you can return your unused ones for a refund). In the same vein, you don't want to be left short when you are on the packing home stretch and time is of the essence.
We've put together a handy table with estimates of how many boxes you will need for packing up your home.
Number of boxes
Box types & key supplies required (estimated)
10 x Large tea chest 110L moving box
5 x Medium 61L moving box
1 x Roll of butcher's paper (2.5kgs)
2 x Packing tape
1 – 2 bedroom house or unit
15 x Large tea chest 110L moving box
20 x Medium 61L moving box
3 x Rolls of butcher’s paper (7.5kgs)
3 x Packing tape
3 – 4 bedroom house
30 x Large tea chest 110L moving box
40 x Medium 61L moving box
5 x Butcher's paper rolls (12.5kgs)
4 x Packing paper
|5 - 7 bedroom house||105|| |
35 x Large tea chest 110L moving box
70 x Medium 61L moving box
8 x Butcher's paper rolls (20kgs)
6 x Packing paper
Take a look at our explainer video on how much it will cost as a minimum to buy moving boxes, how many you'll need as a baseline and what sort of boxes are best for your move.
If you need further guidance on how much space your boxes will take up, pop your requirements through our online estimator.
Packing & Labelling Hacks
Colour code each room in your new home and use the corresponding colour to label your boxes, on move day you can direct the removalists to put the boxes in the correct room. This can save you time, but if you want to save money, have the removalists place the boxes all in one easy to access room, And use your colour coding when ready to work out where they should go.
Write on the label which room the boxes belong to and a brief outline of the contents. Label the top and the sides of the boxes, and be sure to mark which boxes are HEAVY so that the removalist is prepared.
Here are some great labelling hacks for your next move.
You may like to give your boxes a priority rating for unpacking. Star shaped stickers work well here.
Another great labelling hack is to put different coloured tape around cords and cables, such as the ones you use for your TV, so you know which goes where when you are setting up in your new house!
Whether it’s elegant wine glasses or massive beer mugs, opulent champagne flute or colourful juice tumblers, exquisite crystal bowls or beautiful glass vases, it’s likely you have plenty of glassware in your home.
Glassware is extremely delicate and fragile and very prone to damage during transit. Packing and moving them into your new house is not an easy task to accomplish. It can be a tricky process.
Nothing's more heartbreaking than the sound of glass breaking as you carefully transport it, but when you know exactly what to do and how to do it the right way coupled with excellent protection and great care, your glassware will survive the move in one piece.
Here's the lowdown:
- Take an inventory
- Double tape your boxes
- Place crumpled paper at the bottom of each box
- Wrap everything!
- Stack items appropriately
- Label everything!
We've put together a whole article on how to pack and move your glassware here.
Food packing tips
The better prepared you are with packing up your kitchen, the less you need to rely on expensive and possibly unhealthy options to get by during the stressful move. Especially as food is one of the last things on the list to get packed. Below is a quick list of forward thinking to transition between homes without food waste:
- Do an inventory of what you have in the pantry, fridge and freezer
- Eat what you can of the perishable items
- Toss things that are not likely to be eaten or won't survive the trip
- Donate any items that you can to community food collections
- Pack what is left to take on the move
In a previous post we've outlined a handy guide of tips for packing food when moving house.
Safely pack your artwork
Before starting to move your artwork or framed items, it is essential that you have the right packing equipment to be sure they will be safe during transportation.
Here is a list of equipment that should be considered when moving your art pieces.
- Bubble wrap
- Glassine paper or parchment paper
- Packing tape
- Styrofoam corner edges, folded cardboard edges would suffice
- Picture boxes, strong cardboard boxes, or wooden crates
- Marker pens or labelling equipment
- Moving blankets if necessary
Then, ensure that you set enough time aside to properly wrap and pack your artwork to allow yourself peace of mind knowing it will arrive safely to its next destination.
For a full outline on how to safely pack your artwork for moving house, check out this article.
Pack your moving day bag
Before you finish the packing, consider assembling an 'essentials bag' of things you want to access quickly and easily to make life a little bit smoother when you hit the new pad. You could include:
- Clean bed linen
- Toilet paper, hand soap and other toiletries
- Paper towels and tissues
- Snacks, water, coffee (long-life milk and sweeteners)
- Cups, paper plates and basic cutlery (maybe a sharp knife)
- All-purpose cleaners, bin liners, detergent, dustpan and sponge
- Scissors and tools for assembling furniture
- Medications and a first aid kit
- Pet supplies
- Enough clothes for the next few days
On moving day, don't forget to leave out the house keys of your current property, ready for handover to the real estate agent (if selling or leaving a rental).
To keep things simple and easy as you pack, we've put together a handy printable moving checklist to tick off as you go through your move journey.
How much will it cost to outsource packing?
If you are just too busy to do your own packing, there is an outsourcing solution!
The table below shows what you can expect to be charged to hire professional packers to do the job for you. Our providers use a work rate of 4.5 moving boxes per hour per person at a flat rate of $57.20 per hour.
Time to pack using professional packers
Cost to outsource (prices are approximate, can vary depending on requirements)
2 bedroom apartment/house
3 bedroom house
4 bedroom house
Downsizing and decluttering
There is no better time to get rid of the inevitable pile of excess stuff you've accumulated over the years. The sooner you start this process, the more time you have to consider what you want and what you don't want. If you can't part with items before you go, but know they won't make the cut, pack these items together in the one box and label as such so you don't unpack it.
Walk through each room and make a list of items to get rid of. Can you sell it? Online marketplaces are an easy way to sell item by item. Or you could go the full garage sale or flea market. Can you give it away? Re-gift? Donate? Can an arts collective or kindy use it? If you are going to the dump with a load, try to be thoughtful about recycling.
Only pack the things that you are sure you want to unpack again.
We've got some great guides on our blog to help with your downsizing mission:
How long will packing take?
There's no hard and fast rule for calculating how long it will take to pack up your home, as there are a number of variables to take into consideration such as level of packing experience, type and amount of items to be packed, however, our most important piece of advice is to start as early as possible. If you think it will take a day to pack your belongings, it's safe to say that it will likely take you double that if not more, so the more time you give yourself, the less stress you will have come moving day.
Another piece of advice is to start off with setting an ideal moving date. This sounds really simple, but you must have a plan to work towards. This of course will be subject to things such as rental agreements, house sales and settlements, job requirements etc. The more flexible you can be with your moving date, the more opportunity there is to save money and find a suitable removalist.
Pack the things you don't need now, first. That collection of knick-knacks sitting on your dresser? Pack that away. Those 50-odd pairs of shoes you have at the bottom of your wardrobe you've only worn once? Pack them away too. Then, make sure you pack the items that you use the most until last. Pack these into a bag or a few boxes along with items that you will use for the first two weeks in your new home. Mark these boxes to be packed into the truck last, so they're easy to access.
A good way to assess how long packing will take is to note down everything you need to move. You can use our online inventory to get an idea of what you need to move, then go from there.
Moving and Packing with Kids
If you are planning to have the kids present during your move process, be prepared for a mix of emotions and be patient. Factor the additional parenting time required into your moving day schedule from the beginning of the planning process.
Here are a few tips for moving house and packing with kids:
- Move Lego whole (i.e. in constructed mode, not in bits) if necessary by packing in between cushions.
- Kids toy boxes with lids can have the lids taped shut (to save re-packing into yet another box), you can reinforce this by wrapping it in a garbage bag (or plastic).
- Pack their bedroom last and unpack it first at your new home to get them settled as soon as possible.
- Be sensitive to their sentimentality while you purge, children have emotional bonds with material possessions that adults just don't get. If reason and bargaining don't work, is throwing out or donating that particular toy now really necessary if it causes them distress?
Plan and prep your meals for the next 2 weeks
You may not think of this as a priority but imagine how easy it will be when you are juggling day to day life with the unpacking, but you don't need to worry about the menu for the next fortnight. If you own an air-fryer you may have a devil may care attitude about this, but feeding a bigger family can take some thought when planning ahead for many and varied palates.
Ideas for planning for meals will be totally up to your taste and what you prefer to eat. If eating out is your thing, you may do this a couple of nights. You may choose to try out a new local take-out but buying meals everyday is just not practical and can become expensive.
Ideas for easy meal planning when you first move in:
- Pre-cook your family favourites and freeze for later
- Pre-prepared meals such as YouFoodz, or food delivery meal services such as HelloFresh
- Cheese on toast
- Microwave meals or easy oven baked meals
- Bacon and eggs
- Fresh cuts and cheese platters
- Sandwiches with easy fillings
- BBQ or sausage sizzle
If you aren’t moving directly into the next property, have you looked into storage options nearby? There are a number of storage solutions available, simply google “Storage Place” and Google will help find the nearest to your destination. This will need to be communicated with the Removalist company too. It may be ideal to hire a container which can be shipped and stored, as opposed to having to unload the truck into storage, then having to repack a truck to move into your destination property.
Our last few tips...
- Don’t leave the cleaning to the last minute! Clean as you pack. Even just doing bits such as inside closets, or rooms which have been cleared out, window frames, etc.
- A few days before move day, begin to disassemble everything you can that isn’t critical. Bed frames (it’s ok to sleep on a mattress on the floor for a few days!), bookshelves, lampshades from floor lamps etc. Anything that can be reduced will help save you space.
- On moving day, give your place on last once over - check all closets, storage and hiding holes, garage, shed etc - make sure nothing is left behind.
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