Stop Moving and Losing: An Organizer’s Guide to Saving Money When You Move

July 16, 2021

Learn how a professional organizer plans a move and the steps they take when packing, and unpacking. It’s time to stop moving and losing and it’s time to start saving money when you move!

Declutter unneeded items before the move.

Look, we get it. There’s SO MUCH happening before a move. The last thing you want to do is spend time going through all your stuff. I mean, you’ll go through it when you pack, right??? In our experience, most people are so exhausted with the whole packing process they throw up their hands and say “Just pack it!”. Why pay to move something that you no longer need? The longer the runway you can give yourself, the less stressful the decluttering process will be. Build clutter-clearing routines into your at-home norms so that you streamline over time. If you have a move coming up in the future, try to tackle one room at a time. Start with the spaces you use least frequently. (Has your Guest Room turned into a “Guess” Room?) Declutter with a critical eye— will that item really serve you in your next chapter? Imagine your favorite organizer on your shoulder, or ask an accountability partner to permit you to let that thing go.

Categorize and identify new homes for items BEFORE packing.

In organizing lingo, we call this solution a “pre-pack.” There is one main difference between organizer packing and mover packing. Movers pack items based on where they currently live. Organizers pack for where an item will live in your new home. Channel your inner project manager and walk around your house with a marker and a pad of sticky notes. Taking time to think about where things will live and how you are designating the function for rooms in your new space is well worth the time investment. This planning allows for a very smooth and efficient unpack, which = lower cost. It also helps if there’s a storage disconnect to be addressed before unpack. For example, you currently have your book collection displayed on built-in shelving but your new house has no built-ins. Where are the books going to go?

Move only items that can easily fit in your new home.

We see this mistake trip people up time and time again. Especially when moving to a home that has less square footage. Beyond moving a volume of household items that could overwhelm your new space, this also applies to oversized or excess furniture pieces. This mistake costs you time/money on your unpack because, to get everything to fit into your new space, your organizers have to rework items. It also means you paid to pack and move some things that you will move back out. In the meantime, they are dysfunctional and obtrusive. Or they simply live tucked away in their boxes until the end of time. Allow changes in capacity to be the incentive that you need to reduce and simplify!


Use a floor plan.

A floor plan is a great tool to help you visualize the layout of your new space. A floor plan will help facilitate decisions about the placement of key furniture and household items in your new home. When downsizing, we advise on layout objectives to ensure the volume of possessions is safe and appropriate for your new home. Preparing a plan helps you organize your thoughts before critical move-in deadlines. This keeps you from rashly deciding on move day to take items/furniture to your new home that were not considered in the original space plan. Lastly, having a floor plan will relieve stress (and time!) of the move by streamlining furniture placement and unpacking on the day of move-in.


Stick with the plan.

Making unexpected changes to the move plan can dramatically increase moving costs. Try to make decisions and get everyone to weigh in on timelines, item distribution, and furniture placement during the planning process. Work with your move manager on logistics. Ensure that there are clear deadlines and responsible parties for all important steps, e.g.: decluttering, transporting donations/trash, procuring packing materials, packing, supervising loading and unloading, etc. Once you have a plan, stick to it!


Use fresh, consistent moving boxes.

Many clients think that they can save money by using free second-hand packing materials. Reusing someone else’s old boxes or getting free boxes may seem attractive to reduce front-end costs. However, in our experience, costs— and the possibility of breakage— actually go UP. While the eco-conscious angel on our shoulder says “Yes!” to reusing things, second-hand boxes slow down the packing process. Cover existing labels with new labels. Remove old tape. Boxes need to be inspected for crush points or tears— anything that might compromise the box’s structural integrity. A box that might collapse will not protect your belongings from damage during transport. To properly secure the load and keep boxes from crushing each other, stack boxes uniformly by size. This means that all of your boxes need to be consistent, as dimensions can vary from vendor to vendor. We recommend you overbuy supplies all from one source and then return any materials you do not use. Lastly, if you use hand-me-down boxes, you do not always have the option to choose a box based on the item; you are limited to the quantity and sizes that someone else needed for their move. Our consultants are trained in packing techniques. This includes making intentional decisions on box size/capacity that will be best for the items being packed. Cardboard is a very green material; the American Forest & Paper Association says that corrugated cardboard has an incredibly high recovery rate of 96.4%, the highest recycling rate of paper products. Coordinating box removal and ensuring transport to a recycling center is a core part of our unpacking services. So please: include fresh packing materials in your move budget.