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How to Pack Up an Apartment Before Moving | A Complete Guide

How prepared are you for your moving process? Regardless of how long you have left to move, thinking about packing up your old apartment can (and probably will) stress you out.

Usually, you have to deal with many moving boxes, supplies, large furniture pieces, and more. Everything becomes much harder if you do everything on your own. Thankfully, there are a few tips you can consider during your packing process. If you follow them, you’ll ensure everything goes smoothly from start to end.

Let’s get started!

man lifting box

How to Pack Up an Apartment and Optimize Your Moving Process – Step-by-Step Guide

First, let’s clarify that there’s no golden rule for packing. Not everyone has the same house, furniture, or items, so the time it takes to complete everything will vary.

Still, the five tips we’ll mention below will work in any packing scenario. All you have to do is adapt them to your situation, and you’ll be good to go.

#1 – Create a Timeline

Many people fail to do this step, which is why they struggle to keep their boxes organized or declutter their apartments.

Before you do anything, you must make a list of things to do and their deadlines. For example, if your living room is the most complicated one to pack, you must set a realistic deadline to finish the task. It could be one day, two, or whatever feels more appropriate.

Once you set expectations for each task you must do, you’ll have an easier time organizing yourself. Rushing things will only make things worse.

The first thing you must remember when creating your timeline is all the rooms you must pack. These rooms include:

  • Living/dining rooms
  • Kitchens
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Basements
  • Closets

Make sure to label each room separately. If you have many bedrooms, for example, it helps to tackle them individually.

After you estimate how long you’ll take to pack up a certain area, feel free to add some wiggle room. If you estimate you’ll take one day to pack up your bedroom, we suggest you set a two-day deadline. This way, you’ll feel less stressed when taking care of everything.

An excellent tip to remember is to start packing from “least important” to “most important” rooms. Usually, people leave the bathroom for last since you’ll probably need to use your toothbrush, towel, toilet paper rolls, and other objects close to moving day.

If you have a room filled with old items you won’t use for the next few weeks, start there.

fragile boxes

#2 – Gather All the Packing Materials You Need

Don’t start packing everything as soon as you finish your timeline list. Make sure you have everything needed to pack boxes efficiently.

The good news is that you probably already have a few supplies to get started, such as tape or scissors. However, other items may not be there, and it’s annoying to start packing only to notice later that you must stop because you’re missing something.

Common materials you will need for the packing process include:

  • Plastic wrap
  • Packing paper
  • Bubble wrap
  • Trash bag
  • Packing tape
  • Scissors
  • Boxes

You’ll find most of these items at many local stores so you won’t have issues with that. As for the moving boxes, you could try going to clothing and grocery stores. These places often offer boxes for free or at discounted prices.

However, ensure you don’t get random boxes and call it a day. Think about everything you must pack (particularly fragile items) and choose the right boxes based on that.

We recommend you also get a few cleaning supplies. As you start packing, you’ll probably notice how dusty certain parts of the apartment are. If you don’t want to get allergies while you pack your own boxes, it helps to clean your items before storing them.

Don’t pack your cleaning supplies, though. They will be helpful when you are finished packing everything up and need to clean.

#3 – Start Decluttering/Donating

Now that you have everything ready to pack, you “could” start the packing process right away. There’s a way to simplify the process: declutter the space first.

By decluttering, we mean you should inspect each room and eliminate anything you won’t need anymore once you separate what you will use (and what you won’t), get your important items into a designated pile.

Not only will this save you time, but it could also save you money in the process (fewer boxes to pack/move). Once you start the unpacking process, you’ll be glad you didn’t store any unnecessary stuff. If you want to do this process efficiently, make sure to tackle one room at a time. Trying to declutter multiple areas at once will only stress you out.

Be realistic about what you’ll throw away. On many occasions, we save old items because we think we “might” use them later, but that’s usually not the case. You probably won’t use something again if you haven’t used it in months.

You can sort your items into three: Keep/use, throw away/recycle, and donate. If there are any items in good condition that you won’t use anymore, it’s much better to donate them instead of throwing them away. Decluttering an apartment isn’t fun, but it will make things easier for you later. The “future you” will thank you for your efforts!

woman decluttering clothes

#4 – Start Packing and Labeling Boxes

You’re now ready to pack your stuff. Since you already did most of the work by decluttering, you’ll have to decide what you’ll pack first and get started.

We suggest you start with fragile items (or items you don’t use too often). In the case of fragile stuff, don’t pack them with other things. Give each item its own box (as well as an extra layer of bubble wrap. just in case).

Pack everything tightly. Your boxes will likely move around while on the moving truck, so you risk breaking some things if you’re not careful. Feel free to pack clothes in any way you consider appropriate, though, as any moving won’t damage them.

If you want to make things easier for you while unpacking, label every box. It’s a common mistake to throw a bunch of boxes without labels into the moving truck. The problem is that you will spend quite some time looking for specific items when you get to your new house.

However, if you label everything beforehand, you’ll already know where everything is. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use permanent market, and ensure the label is easy to read.
  • Label fragile items correctly.
  • Label each box as you pack it.

#5 – Deal with Large Furniture

Once you’re done with the smaller stuff, it’s time to plan for your large furniture. Even though the process may seem too stressful, it’s easier than it seems. First, make a list of which items you must pack first. We recommend you start with the most significant/heaviest pieces.

If possible, disassemble the furniture before packing it. As you start packing, try to protect the piece with clothing, towels, sheets, or similar items.

Hiring a moving company is excellent for those wanting to move large pieces of furniture. You can use the company’s trucks or vans to store the furniture instead of moving it yourself. It’ll save you plenty of time.

Make sure you don’t rush this part of the packing process. Some furniture pieces are dangerous to handle, so trying to get everything over with too fast could result in an accident.

furniture outside

Remember to Take Your Time and Seek Help

It’s normal to want to rush the entire packing process. However, doing this will cause you more harm than good.

In most cases, packing is a delicate process that involves handling fragile or dangerous items. If you try to rush everything, you risk making mistakes, getting into an accident, or damaging important stuff.

Also, rushing your packing process will only stress you out unnecessarily. Don’t leave this task for the day before moving. If you already have a moving date, prepare accordingly, and you’ll see how relaxing everything becomes.

Another thing that can help you a lot is asking for help. Packing and moving all by yourself can be a nightmare. Even packing with the help of a second person could be complicated.

If you have any friends or family that could help you during this process, give them a call. Not only will you be able to finish faster, but you’ll also save money on the process. The fun part is that when you’re finished moving to your new house, you can celebrate by having a party with everyone who helped!

About the Unpacking Process

Another common mistake people make when moving is trying to unpack everything on the same day they arrive at their new home.

Packing and moving were already stressful; don’t make it even more overwhelming by trying to complete the unpacking on the same day. Once you arrive, we suggest you take your time, relax, and start unpacking slowly.

Start with the essential items, then work through the rest. It would be best to deal with your utilities before doing anything else.

Do You Need a Backpack for Moving Day?

Even though unnecessary, you should have a small bag with your essentials. These include:

  • Chargers
  • Spare clothes
  • Food
  • Toiletries
  • Important documents
  • Medicines

This should be the last thing you pack before moving day.

moving day box

Bottom Line

That’s everything you need to know about packing before moving! As you can see, it’s not as hard as it seems. All it takes is a bit of planning, patience, and dedication.

Once you follow the tips mentioned above, you’ll have a much easier time getting everything done within your deadlines.

If you’re dealing with a large property or don’t want to tackle everything on your own, talk to a moving company. These experts are trained to make this process as relaxing for you as possible.


What Is the Best Order to Pack an Apartment?

Start with your non-essentials. Then, move on with seasonal items and clothing.

Once you’re done with those items, you can pack your extra kitchen supplies and small appliances.

Some things you should leave for last include everyday-use items, cleaning supplies, toiletries, electronics, and valuables.

How Can I Pack My Apartment Fast?

Plan ahead, make a list of everything you must do, and declutter your apartment before packing. This will help you organize yourself and get everything done faster.

How Many Hours Does It Take to Pack Up an Apartment?

It depends on how big the apartment is and how much stuff you have. Usually, it will take you from 15 to 20 hours to pack everything for a reasonably-sized apartment.

If you have a studio or one/two-bedroom apartment, you can expect the process to take two to five hours. Still, we suggest you set reasonable deadlines to pack everything. If there’s more than a week left before moving, you could separate the packing process over all those days.

How Do I Pack My Apartment in 3 Days?

We suggest you list everything you should do and set a timeline for packing each room. Tackle every room separately, pack similar items together, and label your boxes as you pack them.

Organizing yourself will help you pack everything in three days or less.

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