This spring, we jumped on the “let’s sell our house” bandwagon, and as with most local real estate transactions in 2021, it sold in a hot minute. Now we find ourselves starting our summer with a move to a rental while we build outside of Carrboro. And I’ve got to say, nothing will put a professional organizer to the test more than a move! This should be my moment to shine…but I still find it to be stressful, emotional and completely overwhelming. I’ll share with you a few tips and tricks that are pulling me through…

Book your mover…right this minute!

Summer is the busiest time of the year for movers. Before you do anything else, call your  mover of choice right now! I mean it…stop reading, and make that call. I have several movers I use for work so I had a good list to choose from. Since our move is local and we’re storing many items, I wanted to use a mover who could hold our furniture until our house is ready. I also wanted the move team to pack the kitchen and some of our other fragile items so I needed multiple days on their schedule. Book early for the best selection of dates and services.

Declutter first, pack later!

My golden rule of moving: Do not pay to move stuff you don’t need, use or love. If you recently sold a home, you probably did some decluttering during the staging process. If you stashed your not-so-special things in drawers or closets while your home was being shown, now is the time to pull that stuff out and get ruthless. Sell, donate or trash anything that isn’t worthy of heading to your next home. If the idea of decluttering before your move overwhelms you, consider hiring a professional organizer to come in and help! Having an objective person hold you accountable to a schedule and a decluttering gold is worth the investment.

Pack by room
Packing up rooms, one by one, and keeping those items together in well labeled boxes, will make your life so much easier on the back end! If your next home will have rooms with similar functions, be sure to label each box by the space where it should be unloaded. You can do this by name, or color code boxes with duct tape and assign colors to each space so movers can get boxes to their correct spot.

A label is an organizers best friend

There is no such thing as too many labels when it comes to a move. Label which room the box is going to, and include the general contents of each box. This allows you to prioritize as you unpack. For example, it may be more helpful to unpack bed linens before decorative items or books when setting up bedrooms your first night. Knowing what is in each box will be a life saver!

Pack a “First Night” box

Consider the essential items you might need on your first night in your new home and pack those items together in a box. First night boxes might include medication, general toiletries, towels, bedding, water bottles, a first aid kit, and more (see side bar for other ideas!). Be sure and label this box clearly, and load it last on the moving truck, or even carry it to your new home yourself so it’s the first thing you open when you arrive at your new home.

First night box ideas include:

  • 2 rolls of toilet paper
  • 2 rolls of paper towels
  • a small roll of garbage bags
  • Coffee Pot & accessories
  • Dishtowel and small dish soap
  • Medicines and Vitamins
  • Snacks
  • Beverages
  • Chargers for any electronics (cell phones)
  • Lightbulbs (in case any new fixtures don’t include them)
  • Small first aid kit
  • Clean set of sheets for first night once your bed arrives (plus pillows and a blanket)
  • One set of towels/wash cloths/hand towels for each family member
  • Liquid soap
  • Toiletries including:Toothbrush & toothpaste, floss; Deodorant; Soap; Hair products
  • Shower curtain
  • Paper products for light meals
  • All purpose cutting knife
  • Small tool kit with basics (hammer, screw driver with multiple heads, pliers)
  • Box cutter and scissors
  • Cleaning Supplies including Windex; 409 (or all purpose cleaner); sponges; small broom and dustpan
  • Vital records file (insurance paperwork, Passports/Social Security Cards/Birth Certificates, important medical papers, copy of bank and credit card account information)
  • Checkbook/Credit Cards/Cash
  • Any valuables such as silver and jewelry
  • Several changes of clothing
  • A book to read while waiting

Prep your new home

If you’re able to arrive before your movers do, there are several things you can do to make sure your space is move-in ready. Wipe down surfaces, measure drawers and cabinets for organizing tools/products, line shelves and drawers in the kitchen and bathrooms, stock the bathrooms with toilet paper, hand soap and towels, adjust the temperature so it’s comfortable for the movers, and stock the fridge with beverages and snacks. Happy (well fed!) movers make for happy homeowners.

Create an unpacking schedule

Moves are exhausting and emotional! If you’re leaving a home where you raised your family (as we are!) you need time to process all that is happening. And there is no rest for the weary/teary once your things arrive in your new home. Prioritize spaces that need to be set up functionally for your family first, such as the kitchen and bedrooms. Living and play spaces can be set up a little later. If you have young children, be sure and create a safe space for them to play and hang out while movers are rushing around or while you’re busy unpacking. If you’re working from home, set aside time to set up the essentials in your home office so you’re ready to work. Create a holding pen for things that you aren’t sure about and can be dealt with later. But be sure and get to those boxes within the first two weeks! I can’t tell you how many client’s homes I’ve been into that had entire sections of their attic filled with boxes of who-knows-what that they never unpacked from years ago!


Moving is a big deal and it’s a lot of work. Find a way to celebrate…both the home you are leaving and the one you are moving into. Pop some champagne or sparkling cider, order in your favorite take out, and find a comfy spot to sit, rest and enjoy your new surroundings. Picture hanging can wait for another day!