The art of packing to move to a new home

Moving home can be hard work but it doesn’t have to be stressful too. Here are some helpful tips garnered from years of experience to make the process go smoothly.


Moving home can be a very destabilizing yet also a very visionful process.

It can be destabilizing because we rest our consciousness on the things we keep around us in our home, so it can feel unsettling to no longer have them there after they’ve been packed away in boxes.

And it’s visionful because the packing process reveals so clearly how we really don’t use many of the things we own very much and can manage perfectly well without them. This is why people tend to pack the things they use the least first and leave the things they use the most until last. In other words, they pack their clutter first.

Declutter before you pack

It’s sounds so obvious to do your decluttering before you pack, but in practise it rarely happens. It is much more common for people to haul everything they own from their old home to their new one and then try to figure out after they get there what to keep and what to let go.

This is how some boxes can end up in basements, attics, junk rooms or sheds for years. They don’t contain anything you need on a day-to-day basis but you suspect there may be something in them that someday you’ll find you need. So there the boxes sit in limbo, waiting for you to eventually accept the contents as the clutter that they are.

If there’s any uncertainly about where you will be moving to and what will be needed, it’s understandable that you may need to keep some things just in case. But in most cases, it makes no sense at all. It just adds time and expense to the cost of moving. And if you’re the one who will be doing all the lifting and carrying, it will take a lot more effort too.

So the first rule of packing to move is to declutter first, and preferably well in advance. Moving home is tiring enough without adding all the decision-making and discarding process of clutter clearing too. If you have things you’d like to sell or give away, this will give you the time to do that. Be especially sure to let go of anything that came with you in your last move because you thought it would come in useful in your current home and never has.

How to pack

The key to packing is not to leave open or half-filled boxes lying all around your home. This disperses your energy and makes the job harder to do.

In the weeks before the move

Designate a packing area to keep all your packing materials and any boxes that are not quite full. When each box is complete, tape it closed and immediately label it with the room it is destined for in your new home (not the room it came from in your current home). Then stack it neatly where it won’t be constantly in view or in the way, such as a back room, a garage, or in the corners of rooms. That way your home will still feel as much like a home as possible, which will help you to remain focused and centred while the packing continues.

Two days before the move

Defrost your freezer.

The day before the move

Defrost your fridge and disconnect your washing machine.

Aim to have everything packed and your furniture dismantled by the evening before the move. Keep all the nuts and bolts in clearly labelled plastic bags in a Priority Box. Make this the last box to be loaded onto the removals van and the first box off at the other end.

Back up your computer to a password-protected and encrypted portable hard drive (your computer is replaceable, the data on it is not). Then take photos of the back of your computer and TV before you detach the cables. This will make it easier to reconnect the cables when you arrive in your new home.

Take with you in your car

We once saw a small van here in the UK with the words “Emotional Support Vehicle” printed in large, reassuring letters on each side. It was a special service offered by a removals company to its more anxious customers who were willing to pay extra to have certain items personally chaperoned from one home to the next.

You may not have the luxury of such a service when you make your move, but there are certain things it would still be wise to keep separate from your other belongings and take with you in your car. On the day of the move, keep them somewhere safe so they won’t accidentally get packed in the removals van with everything else.

In this category are important and hard-to-replace documents, the portable hard drive containing your computer data, essential paperwork, jewellery and other small valuables.

Also take with you in your car a first-night bag for each family member, including nightwear, a change of clothes, toiletries, towel, phone charger and medications. If you have young children, include a favourite teddy or toy. If you have a pet, include whatever they will need in the first 24 hours.

An essentials kit is also a good idea, containing first aid items, a basic toolkit (scissors, screwdriver, hammer, etc), cleaning equipment, drinks, snacks, cutlery, disposable plates and cups, garbage bags, toilet rolls, etc.

If you have room, take whatever bedding you will need for the first night. If you don’t have room, make sure the bedding boxes are clearly labelled so you can easily find them when you unload everything at the other end.

Before leaving your old home

Walk through the property one last time, including outdoor areas. Be sure to get down on your hands and knees to look under low shelves and other areas to spot items you may have missed packing.

Take a moment before you leave to walk around and say goodbye to your home, to complete your relationship with it.

When you arrive in your new home

Unpack the kitchen first, if you can. It’s the quickest way to make a new home feel like home. Also set up beds for all family members so that if you’ve had a long day and run out of energy, at least you’ll all have somewhere to sleep.

If you can, aim to be fully unpacked within a week: The art of conscious unpacking when you arrive in a new home

As soon as possible after you’ve unpacked, space clear your new home to clear out the energies of previous occupants and fully land yourself there: Space clearing when you move into a new home

That’s it. Enjoy your new home!

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The art of moving home
How to move continents without losing the plot

Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course
Online Clutter Clearing sessions with Richard Kingston

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fourth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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2 Responses to The art of packing to move to a new home

  1. My best packing tip is to take the things that you use last on the morning of the move and you’ll most likely need the first night at your new home — pajamas, toothbrush, phone charger, toilet tissue, contact lens solution, dental retainer, medication, etc. — and hand carry that box in your vehicle rather than a moving van. Make it the first box you carry into your new home and put it directly into the bathtub. You’ll know exactly where to find it at the end of an exhausting day, and as there are likely no other boxes in the bathtub, you won’t spend time trying to find one box in a sea of other similar boxes. Everyone I share this with asks, ‘now why didn’t I think of that?’

  2. Such great advice and some tips I’ve never heard before! I’m in the process of preparing to move. My landlord is going to sell the apartment where I’ve been living for the past 16 and a half years. I don’t have an actual date yet—it could be in a few months… or perhaps not until next year. Whenever it happens, I want to be ready well in advance of the actual move. Even though I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping my clutter under control over the years, I’m finding the process of going through my things rather overwhelming.

    I think this is the best article I’ve ever read on the subject, and so clear and succinct!! Thank you so much.

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