My Best Simple Moving tips and Advice After 30 Moves

Moving Advice

My Best Simple Moving Tips and Advice After 30+ Moves: How to get started when the thought of moving overwhelms you.

Yes, I have moved more than 30 times and I have learned that the hardest part is getting started. This post offers my best step-by-step moving tips and advice to get you moving in the right direction (see what I did there?) when moving can feel so overwhelming.

There are so many tips I could share about keeping boxes light enough to carry, but full enough to not waste space and the most affordable way to move cross-country. I could tell you about all the people and offices to contact to change your address and all the ways to save money on moving and starting your new home.

But I won’t do that here. This post is about how to get started when the thought of moving has you feeling overwhelmed.

My best advice is to just get started. But where? how? what?

The secret is in the prep work. Let’s get started!

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The Notebook

Your first step is to start a moving notebook. To help you keep all the moving parts contained in one place – your moving notebook. My favorite notebook for this purpose is this one by Mead. You can buy it using this link on Amazon here.

I love this specific one because it is small, has a pocket for holding stuff, and the spiral is covered so that it won’t snag. It has section dividers to keep lists and info organized. It has a pen holder, so you aren’t constantly on the hunt.

Whatever notebook or electronic method you choose, find a way to capture all of the information that will be flying your way. Buckle up!

What goes in the notebook? Here are some ideas…

Menu Plan
Your new address
Information about your moving company, the confirmation number and contact information, for example
Details for the kids like schedule, new pharmacy information or things to buy
Record people to whom you are giving or selling items to keep it all straight
List of what was packed in which box
To-Buy List
Things that pop into your head but you know you will forget if it isn’t captured somewhere
List of thank you notes to send
Utility and other contacts to notify them about your move

Now that you have something (shhh, maybe lots of things) on the way from Amazon, move on to your Exit Strategy.

Challenge: How much can you get rid of before moving day?

Important Documents

The next step is to locate all of your important documents and get them organized. I have a relative at works for the Department of Motor Vehicles. They regularly hear stories from customers that all of their important documents were lost while moving.

That is completely avoidable. Your important papers will stay in your possession during the whole moving process. Keeping them in something secure is a great idea.

We have a small fire-safe box like this one, linked below, or an accordion file like this one is another great option. Choose something large enough to hold everything you need, but small enough to be practical. It also must be sturdy and portable.

When I was young, single, and in college, all of my most important documents fit in one large envelope.

If you only have a few documents to carry, your moving notebook might be sufficient. Put what you need in a large envelope and secure it in the back cover, for example.

Which documents are important? Here are some ideas:

Driver’s license
Credit cards
Insurance documents
Warranty documents
Birth certificates
Adoption papers
Marriage license
Legal name-change documents or Divorce decree
Custody documents
Titles and deeds
Mortgage and loan documents
Contracts (movers, business, lease, etc)
Will and Trust documents
External hard drive or digital files

No matter the number of important papers you have and how you will steward them, get them organized, and execute your plan to keep them secure and able to locate when you need them.

Challenge: How are you going to manage your important papers?

Exit Strategy

Your Exit Strategy is the key to minimizing overwhelm and chaos during your move. You will be making many decisions about what will go with you to your new life.

Choose a location to temporarily store things that are not going to be packed. The things that will go here will be given away, returned to the owner, sold, donated, trashed, for example.

Sort by Keep, Donate, Toss. A great tool to help keep things organized is a laundry sorter like this one. Label the sections and then empty them regularly.

Here’s a tip if you have lots of busy, little hands around and a large category of items to sort. Grab a Pack and Play baby or playpen and put all of the items inside. It secures them until you can get them sorted and packed or tossed into you system.

Determine how you will get rid of things you will donate, trash, recycle, sell, give away, and so on. Find out all the details about how it works.

What are the hours, locations, and procedures for your donation sites? (These are great things to add to your moving notebook!)

Some charities will come to your home and pick up items. Find out who and how. Scheduling a pickup appointment can be a great motivator to get items ready because of the deadline.

Decide which pieces of furniture and large items will not be used in your new home. What is going on with you? Is there anything you are going to sell or donate? Start getting that ready to go now.

Do you have anything that you borrowed that needs to be returned to someone?

What is the best way to sell used items locally?

Do you know someone who would love to have some of the good stuff you have but can’t take with you?

Does your area have a Buy Nothing group where you can give away useful items that you are not taking with you?

Is there anything you need to know about bulk trash in your area?

Don’t forget to capture all of this great information in your moving notebook.

Challenge: What is your plan for all the stuff exiting your?

Place to Stack

Clear a space to stack packed boxes. In one home, we had an attached garage, in another, we had a guest room.

One home had a small corner in an oddly large bathroom. We cleared these spaces and used them to stack packed boxes as high as was safe. It is great if your stack can be out of the way and not have to be moved again until the truck is loaded.

Note: even if staging a home to sell, a stack of boxes is acceptable. When we sold one home, we stacked it in a guest room and closed the door during showings.

The rest of the house was staged and in immaculate condition. We sold the home in three days even with a stack of boxes piled in the guest room!

Where will your stack be? Is it ready?

Take out the Trash

Do not put unnecessary time and energy into moving trash. Let it go.

Get a trash bin or bag ready. Fill it with as much trash as you can find around the house. Recycle anything that you can. Repeat as many times as needed.

For ideas, start with expired food, broken items, things that need to go to recycling, damaged shoes, clothing, cracked storage bins, useless power cords, ripped boxes, stacks of unneeded papers (shred them), old personal care products, and unloved cosmetics, expired medication, old magazines, damaged books, worn out home goods, and so on.

Do the same thing, looking for things that are not trash, but aren’t going with you. Maybe they will be donated or given away.

Mark them with a Post-It note and lighten your load. Record some of these decisions in your moving notebook.

Challenge: Quick! What can you get out of the house right now? Look for easy wins!

The Way You Move

What will be the best way to move for you? You can hire moving companies to pack for you, move, and unload.

You can also pack yourself, load a storage container, have that transported, and unload it on the other side. For local moves, we have used a rental truck and did it all ourselves with the help of a few (amazing) buddies.

Choose your best move. Use this online glossary to clarify all the industry terms HERE.

Get several quotes for moving companies based on how you want to do it. Make the reservations and record them in your moving notebook.

Packing District

Stage an area to keep packing supplies and to do your packing. We have a small folding table that was great for setting items to be packed and the box at a comfortable level.

A small caddy can hold a tape gun, labels, and Sharpies.

Under the table, keep a stack of flat boxes and another box can hold packing material.

Below, are linked images of the table and caddy I like. You can purchase them in a local store or on Amazon here:

Challenge: What will your packing station look like? Where will it be located?

Gather Supplies

You will need more boxes and packing material than you think. So get plenty. You can buy moving boxes, but if you ask around, you can usually get all or most of them for free.

I love free! Liquor stores, grocery, and book stores, copy paper boxes from the offices, and friends have been my best places to get boxes.

Plus everyone gets boxes regularly from online orders, so ask around.

In 30+ moves, I have never purchased a box or packing material.

You will need Sharpies and LOTS of packing tape, too. Here are the links to what I love below.

Take Photos

Before you pack, take photos. It is a simple step that can add so much value.

If the electronics have a complicated setup – take a pic.

Do you have your photo gallery on the wall just how you like it and want to duplicate it at your new home? Take a picture.

Record valuables and take inventory of the number of items and boxes you have by taking photos. If God forbid, something should happen to your stuff, great records can help with insurance and replacement. You can always delete it later.

Moving Tips and Advice: Tackle the Packing

You have laid an excellent foundation for MOVING forward by gathering essential papers, getting rid of the trash, figuring out how you will move, clearing your spaces, lining up your system for things that are not going with you, gathering your supplies, and taking pics.

Now that you have those steps completed, it is time to get started with packing. Start with your easiest wins and take it item by item, hour by hour, day by day.

You can do this!

1. Storage

Start by packing items that you have in storage. If there is anything that you are not keeping, get rid of it now. Get them in your systems of donation, recycling, and trash.

Things like your seasonal decor and equipment, off-season clothing and gear, and keepsake items, for example, are great things to get sealed up and stacked to move.

2. Decor

Anything that is not useful for your daily life, but you love because it is beautiful or meaningful, pack it. Even if you are staging your home for sale, very few home accessories should be left unpacked. Personal photos and memorabilia are recommended to be out of sight during a showing, so those are a no-brainer.

Take some time to consider if this specific item will work in your new home. Often, I have found that wall art, certain accessories, and lamps for example did not work in our new spaces, so I ended up using all that effort to pack and move things that ended up being not useful later. I try my best not to do that anymore. Learn from me, the girl who has moved over 30 times.

Be selective about what you keep and only pack what you love and need.

3. Kitchen

The kitchen and pantry can be the most time-consuming areas to pack. I recommend starting here right after your easiest wins — storage and decor.

First, look everywhere in the kitchen and pantry for easy wins. Things that you don’t want anymore, get them in your exit plan system. Toss expired food and give away new items that you know you won’t use between now and your move.

Remove anything that does not belong in the kitchen, for example, tools and office supplies, and take them to the correct rooms.

Next, Determine what you must use up, such as food, freezer items, supplies, spices, condiments, cereal, and pantry goods. Make your menu plan surrounding this.

This use-up-stuff menu might be a little unusual because you are using up odds and ends and that is great! You will save money by having a plan and not ending up in the drive-through or tossing out food. One move, we had 4 partially used cereal boxes left in the pantry on moving day! Lesson learned.

Clear one area to keep the pure essentials. Here are some ideas: disposable cups, plates, flatware, napkins, a knife, a frying pan, a large saucepan, a spatula, a manual can opener, dish towels, dish soap, and essential cleaning supplies.

Now pack your kitchen.

Pack only items that you are taking, that are loved, useful, and are not needed right now.

Consider using dish towels to pad fragile items to save packing material and room to pack towels.

4. Bathroom

Start by preparing an essential care kit. Use a bag or basket to hold the essentials that you will use and keep with you during the relocation process. Each day, as you use something for personal care, add it to your basket and store it there (rather than the drawer, for example).

Remember to set aside a First-Aid kit, basic toiletries, medications, hair supplies, and a few towels. Then pack the other items that you love and are useful.

Get rid of the rest using the system you set up above.

Note: Keep the towels for packing fragile items like decor items, platters, and lamps.

What will go in your essential care kit?

5. Books and Media

If you are moving, you probably won’t have a lot of time to read. Pack your books and media for another easy win. This is a great time to do an honest evaluation of what you will keep or what you will send off into a new life.

Note: The best boxes for books are liquor boxes because they are small and sturdy.

Which books and media will you take into your new home?

black plastic hangers
Photo by Elina Krima on

6. Clothing

Pack a suitcase or two with the clothes that you need for the transition. Not only does this get your suitcases working for you, but you have your essentials ready and portable.

Next, pack up the clothing that is off-season, but you love and wear.

Now is a great time to go through your clothing as you pack. Decide which items will go with you into your new home – your new life.

I wrote a post, Decluttering: Stuff to Get Rid of Right Now – Part One: Shoes & Clothing, with powerful prompts to help you think through what to keep and what to get rid of now. Click here for the post.

During one large move, I chose to begin to start fresh with my style and curate a capsule wardrobe. I wrote about what I have learned about curating a wardrobe you will love called, Surprising Ways People Fail with a CAPSULE WARDROBE and the Must-Know Secrets. Get the secrets!

capsule wardrobe secrets

My best simple moving tips and advice after 30 moves

There you have it. My best moving tips and advice are to just get started. The secret is in the prep work.

If you have technical questions about packing, boxes or helping kids cope with a move, I would love to hear from you! Comment here, or send me a message. I love to help.

But from a girl who has moved more than 30 times, I know the hardest part is getting started. So my best advice is to follow the steps to lay the prep work and get moving!

About the Author, Jaime

Jaime Ragsdale
Jaime Ragsdale, Founder of Altogether Mostly

Here at Altogether Mostly, you will find grace, compassion, joy, and beauty. I use empathy and a little tough love to bring out the best in people. I live in the Midwest United States with my loving husband and awesome children. For more about me and Altogether Mostly, please visit my About page here.

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