Your Room-By-Room Unpacking Guide

Moving is stressful. Packing is drudgery. And unpacking? Doing it right can help you settle into your new home quickly and comfortably. Doing it wrong can be, well, unsettling.

People have been known to move boxes into their first homes that were never unpacked from the move into their last apartments. Others have buried a previous owner’s cleaning supplies and shelf paper in hastily stocked cupboards.

Planning for unpacking can help ensure a smoother landing and more organized space.


It starts with packing

The best moving experiences are organized. Boxes should be packed by room and numbered or color-coded accordingly.

Don’t wait until the last minute to pack. Don’t hurriedly throw dusty mementos or closets of old clothes into boxes when cleaning and selective donation can help lighten your burden on the other end.

Remember, while many people have help getting the right boxes in the right rooms, fewer hands unpack the boxes. Inventory sheets that identify the contents of each box can help you decide which of a dozen or so kitchen boxes to open first. Beyond packing by rooms, consider packing by areas within those rooms. That first night, getting to glasses, plates and silverware will be more important than uncrating the waffle iron.

No matter what, pack an essentials box (or boxes) of items necessary to get your house running in the short term: toilet paper, a hand towel, soap; basic cleaning supplies; kitchen utensils to cover simple food prep; medications; phone and computer chargers; necessary paperwork; perhaps even the bedclothes you’ll need for that first night’s sleep.

Getting there

First thing: Clean if you can. Once a closet is full, you’ve lost your best opportunity to give it a thorough scrubbing.

Next, get the essential spaces set up with items from the essentials boxes — which should be the first to come out of the truck (or, better yet, be among the items that travel with you in the car).

Now it’s time for the big load out.

Space race

If you know the layout of your house, you can load a moving truck with an eye toward your path through the new living space. If everything has to come through the front door, best not to unload the front room boxes first.

That said, unpacking is usually a two-stage affair that starts with unloading. Once all the boxes are in the right rooms, the real work begins. Some folks find it best to break after the unloading, saving the unpacking for a fresh start in the morning.

Regardless, you’re going to want to tackle the rooms in a sensible order. Here’s one way to prioritize your unpacking by room, and by the items within each:

  1. Bathrooms: These rooms will need to be used before the unloading is finished, so best to start here. Essentials first (toilet paper, soap, toothpaste and brushes, towels). Leave the rest for later.
  2. Bedrooms: Skip the guest rooms unless they’re going to be used the first night; set up the sleeping spaces for residents right away. Furniture first, then assemble the beds and dress them. Clothes can wait.
  3. Kitchen: Get the big stuff hooked up, then unpack smaller appliances (microwave, toaster, coffee maker), and then the pots, pans, dishes, glasses, silverware and cooking utensils.
  4. Living room: Place the furniture, then the electronics, then décor.
  5. Home office: Place the furniture, get your computer and other equipment online, if possible, and save the desk items for last.
  6. Other rooms and storage: Guest rooms, bonus rooms, the entryway, closets, and basement or garage storage areas should be prioritized by which rooms and gear will be utilized first or most often. Is it time for lawnmowers and bikes or snow throwers and winter coats? Unpack accordingly.

Appreciate the adventure

Whether you wanted to move or had to move, you get to choose the way you approach it. So, while considering the practical things — such as breaking down boxes as you go or waiting until everything else is done before unpacking the remote controls — remember to set some time aside to enjoy your new space and get to know your new neighbors.

AUTHOR BIO: Adam Warner is Content Strategist Manager at Moving of America. Previously, Warner wrote short stories across different magazines.

This infographic was created by Moving of America, apartment moving services

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