Feb 24, 2022

How do I get organized for my move?

Nat Miller

As we’ve covered elsewhere, getting organized for a move is an important part of having a stress free relocation (not to mention one that is as cheap as possible).  While each move will be different, using the below steps will help you get a handle on your possessions regardless of whether you’ve moving across neighborhood or across the country. And if you love these tips, you might also love working with a professional organizer. If you've never heard of a professional organizer before, learn more about this incredibly helpful service here.

Start Early

The best thing you can do to get organized is to start early. Often times when people are relocating they’re moving out of houses that they lived in for decades, accumulating a lifetime’s worth of possessions. Going through all of these things can take a long time, especially where there are difficult decisions about what to bring to your new home. It’s important to give yourself plenty of time to go properly sort through and evaluate all of your possessions.

Write Things Down

One common mistake people make when decluttering is to dive into decluttering without ever making a plan or putting together a system for how to keep everything straight. You’ll want to be able to track the broader progress of your move. The best way to do this is to put together a moving binder. A moving binder is your master collection of all relevant items for a move, from contracts and receipts, to lists of items, to a list keeping track of all moving tasks. If you want to create a binder yourself, we suggest you include the following things:

  • Checklists - make sure you have written down when everything needs to be done before, during, and after your move.
  • Utilities - make sure you have a list of all the utilities at your current and future home.  This will make it easy to have everything lined up to be set up when you move in, and to be canceled when you have moved out.
  • Receipts - make sure to keep all of the receipts from all vendors like moving companies or professional organizers, as well as those connected to any repairs done in conjunction with moving in or out. If something goes wrong, or you need to dispute a charge, it will be important to have your receipts handy
  • Professional Organizers - keep a section with all relevant dates and contracts with your professional organizers
  • Movers - keep a section with all relevant moving dates and contracts
  • Real Estate - keep a section with all relevant information from your relevant real estate transactions. For example, if you are selling your home and moving into an active adult community in a leased unit make sure to keep all documents related to old home sale (like inspection documents and sales contracts) and your new rental (like the lease and any documents submitted in applying)
  • Inventory - make sure to keep an inventory of everything you’re bringing. While this may sound daunting, luckily technology can help with that!  Companies like Pinventory and Sortly help create digital inventories of your possessions, complete with pictures and descriptions to help keep track of everything you’re taking along. Along with these, simple computer software like Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Word can help keep lists of everything you’re moving
  • Master Calendar - print and fill out a month long calendar to put at the front of your binder will all major dates.  This will help you keep track of your move at a high level, and make sure you don’t lose any major dates
  • Personal records - it's important to have all major life documents ready for when you start your new life in your next home. For example, having relevant medical records handy will make it easier when looking for and starting with a new doctor. Documents related to any investments (such as local real estate) or donations will help make sure that you continue to manage these assets properly

While it may seem time-consuming, making a moving binder can make all the difference in the ease of a move. With so many loose ends to tie together, you’ll be happy that you took the time to make sure that you had a single source for all important documents. Don’t lose time and energy looking for that same document a million times over. 

Clear Out Unused Items

The most effective way to organize is to take it in steps, going room by room and deciding whether to keep items or not. A good strategy is to first throw out or mark for junking any items you simply no longer use. These are generally the easiest to decide to get rid of and help start your packing out with some easy wins. Common items that people have laying around, despite the fact that they no longer use them, include: baby items, old books, broken appliances, unopened or unused gifts, and old remotes and cables. Often times people hang on to these items because they think they’ll need them one day, but they will only add time and cost to your move.

Sort and Dispose of Unwanted Belongings

Next, continuing to go room by room, sort your belongings into categories: keep, sell, donate, junk. When deciding what category items fall into, consider things like: When was the last time you used this item? Is this item still useful? Will this item fit into your new life? Do you still like this item? Will this item fit in your new home? You'll be happy you spent the time really considering whether every item is worth the effort (and cost!) of bringing with you.

For those things you want to keep, put them to one side for packing. One good trick for keeping things organized, before you get to packing, is to digitize as much as you can. To the extent possible, it may be worth it to scan photos, music or old videos and maintain them in a digital manner. Likewise for records like utility bills that don’t necessarily require you to maintain the original. This can help cut down on what you need to ultimately pack. 

Sorting your things into what you want to keep, trash, or donate is a key step in keeping your move organized.

For the three remaining categories: sell, donate, and junk the important next step will be finding places to take care of each action. For the things you want to sell, many people chose to do it themselves in the most classic form of American capitalism - the yard sale. While this can be a good way to get rid of some belongings and see friends, it can often be far quicker and more effective to use online platforms to sell old belongings. All purpose platforms like Facebook marketplace, ebay, or Maxsold provide an easy way to sell old belongings. If you’re trying to get rid of clothes, companies like Poshmark, tradeUP, and Tradesy can help.  

For the things you want to donate, it often is easiest to use a trusted national brand like the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, or Goodwill, but local charities are often also very happy to take used items. It’s important to make a list of all the possessions you donate as you will receive tax-deductible donation receipts. These donation amounts can certainly add up quickly, particularly if you’re donating decades worth of belongings, and can provide a nice little tax benefit at the end of the year - provided you keep track of your receipts.

Finally, there are those things you’re going to get rid of. Depending on how much stuff this is, you may just be able to drive to your local dump. For more extensive declutterings, consider calling a junk removal company. 

Pack Smart

The final step is to make sure that you pack everything in an organized way so that it is easy to unpack and set up your home on the other end. One popular method of keeping everything organized is to use color coded labels to mark what room each box contains things from.  So for example, use red labels for everything from the kitchen, blue for the master bedroom, green for the living room and so forth. Then, going room by room pack items into the appropriate boxes.  

Keeping these tips in mind will help keep you organized and make sure that your relocation is as efficient and smooth as possible. 

Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living. If you want to learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for residents and easier to manage for communities, email us at info@sunboundhomes.com or request a demo here. Sunbound is on a mission to make senior living more affordable for everyone.

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