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When to Start Packing for a Move: A Week-by-Week Guide

Jul 14, 2023

Are you poised to make a major move? Research indicates that a typical American moves approximately 11 times in their life. Yet, no matter how many times you’ve done it, the thought of figuring out when to start packing for a move can induce anxiety.

You’re not alone. The transition from one home to another involves multiple moving parts, each of which requires careful orchestration. However, the secret to a stress-free move lies in strategic planning and systematic packing.

This comprehensive week-by-week guide is here to help you streamline your moving process, making it efficient, manageable, and maybe even enjoyable.

Week 8-6: Start Planning for Your Move

 The first step in the process of how to pack for a move is to make a plan. As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.” At about eight to six weeks out, your focus should be on logistics, organization, and planning.

Begin by establishing a moving timeline. When exactly is your moving day?

Once you have a concrete date, you can start working backward to schedule important tasks. This will help you stay on track and avoid last-minute stress.

Create a moving binder or digital folder. This will serve as your command center for the entire moving process.

Include all necessary documents related to the move like rental or purchase agreements, moving estimates, and receipts. You can also include your moving checklist and timeline here.

Inventory your belongings next. Taking stock of what you own will make it easier when you start to declutter, and it will also be beneficial if you decide to get moving insurance. Don’t forget to list valuable items separately.

After taking inventory, it’s time to start sourcing packing supplies. Start collecting boxes, tape, bubble wrap, and packing paper. You can often find boxes at local stores, or you can purchase supplies from a moving company.

In these early stages, it’s also a good idea to reach out to professional moving services for estimates. A well-selected moving company can make your transition smoother and less stressful. Remember to ask about what services they offer beyond just the move itself, like packing and unpacking, or storage options.

Also, consider creating a separate budget for your move. This will help you track costs and prevent overspending. Don’t forget to account for any potential additional costs like cleaning services or pet care for the moving day.

Week 5-4: Sorting and Decluttering

If you’re seeking some practical moving tips, one of the most essential is this: don’t pack what you don’t need. As you approach the mid-point of your countdown to moving day, it’s time to declutter your home.

Start by going room-by-room, evaluating each item. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need this?
  • Do I use this regularly?
  • Does this hold sentimental value?

Items that don’t meet these criteria are prime candidates for removal.

You’ll likely find items that are no longer useful but in good condition. These could be donated to local charities or sold online or in a garage sale. Not only does this lighten your load, but selling items can also provide extra funds to offset moving costs.

For items that are not in a usable condition, consider environmentally friendly disposal methods. Many communities offer recycling programs for electronics, furniture, and other household goods.

Decluttering may seem like a daunting task, but it’s a crucial step in your moving process. When you rid yourself of unnecessary items, you lighten your load and simplify your move. Plus, it’s a refreshing way to start anew in your new home.

The fewer items you have to pack, the easier and faster your packing and moving process will be.

Week 3: Beginning to Pack Non-Essentials

Now that you have a clearer understanding of what you’re taking with you, it’s time to start packing for a move. The key is, to begin with items you won’t need to access in the upcoming weeks. By starting early and packing non-essential items first, you minimize the disruption to your daily routine.

Consider what you use daily, weekly, and even monthly. The latter category is where you’ll want to begin. Holiday decorations, artwork, books, and off-season clothing are examples of items you can pack early without affecting your day-to-day life. Carefully wrap and box these items, clearly labeling each box with its contents and the room it belongs to.

While you’re packing, remember to use sturdy boxes that can withstand the weight of their contents. You can find these at local stores or purchase them from a moving company.

If you’re using secondhand boxes, inspect them to ensure they’re in good condition. It’s essential not to overload the boxes, as this can lead to them breaking and damaging your belongings.

Protecting your items is also crucial. For fragile items, use packing paper, bubble wrap, or old towels and linens for protection. And remember, the tighter the pack, the less chance there is for items to move around and get damaged.

When you pack a box, label it clearly on the side, not the top. Write a general description of the contents and the room it will go in at your new home. Also, consider using a color-coding system for each room to help speed up the unloading process.

Week 2: Packing the Bulk of Your Items

Now, it’s time to pack the majority of your items. At this stage, careful packing isn’t just recommended; it’s crucial.

Start with the less frequently used items in each room. These might include your formal dinnerware in the dining room or your DVD collection in the living room. Then gradually work towards the more commonly used items.

For the kitchen, pack pots, pans, and dishware that you won’t be using in the coming week. You might want to keep some basic items for simple meal preparation, as well as disposable plates and cups to avoid washing dishes.

When it comes to your bedroom, pack most of your clothes and shoes, leaving out just enough outfits for the next week or so. The same applies to bathrooms. Pack extra towels, beauty products, and toiletries, leaving only essential items for daily use.

While packing electronics, disassemble them if possible. Wrap each component separately, and if you can, use the original boxes for packing. It provides the best protection, and it also helps you keep track of all parts and cables.

For your home office, safeguard important documents by storing them in file boxes. Pack books and other supplies you won’t need in the immediate future. Be sure to backup essential digital files in an external hard drive or a cloud storage service.

Labeling is vital in this stage as well. Clearly mark boxes containing fragile items, and always remember to label the boxes on the side, not the top. This way, even if the boxes are stacked, you can still easily identify the contents.

Week 1: Final Packing and Preparations

The final week of your moving countdown has arrived, and it’s time to wrap up your packing. The end is in sight, but this week holds some of the most critical tasks. Now is the time to focus on essentials and final preparations.

First, you’ll want to pack an essentials box. This box should contain everything you’ll need immediately after your move and on your first night in your new home.

This can include toiletries, a change of clothes, essential cookware, and basic tools. Think of it as packing for a short trip. Having this box readily available will make your first few days smoother and more comfortable.

At this point, you should also pack a personal bag with essential items you’ll need on moving day. This can include your phone charger, wallet, keys, medications, and snacks. Remember to keep this bag with you throughout the moving process.

Next, disconnect and pack your electronics. Computers, TVs, gaming consoles, and similar items should be among the last things you pack. If possible, use original boxes and padding to protect these items during the move.

Now, you should prepare your appliances. Clean, defrost and dry your refrigerator at least 24 hours before moving day. Also, ensure that your washing machine and dishwasher are empty and dry.

Finally, do a thorough walkthrough of your home. Check all the rooms, closets, and cabinets to ensure nothing is left behind. This is also an excellent time to do some final cleaning.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help. Whether you need someone to watch your kids, or pet, or just lend a helping hand, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends or hire packers. The goal is to make your moving day as stress-free as possible.

Your countdown to moving day is nearing its end. With your belongings securely packed and your essentials at hand, you’re ready to make your move. It’s been a journey, but with your hard work and organization, you’re prepared for a successful move.

When to Start Packing for a Move? At Least 6 Weeks Out!

A well-orchestrated move begins long before the moving truck pulls up in your driveway. A gradual, methodical approach to when to start packing for a move can transform what would have been a chaotic scramble into a stress-free experience. If all this feels overwhelming or if you’d rather focus on settling into your new place, consider hiring a professional service.

At Moovers Chicago, we not only specialize in moving but also provide comprehensive packing and unpacking services. Contact us today for a free moving estimate and make your next move a breeze.



    Move Date*

    Moving Sizes*

    Stairs (Origin)

    Stairs (Destination)


    Mon 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Tue 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Wed 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Thu 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Fri 8:00 AM – 6:00 PM
    Sat 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    Sun CLOSED


    Mon-Sun 7:30​ AM – 8:00 PM 
    (or until we finish the job)