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Stress Free House Move: Step-by-Step Guide to Packing

No Comments    |    ,     |    September 4, 2023    |    Reading time 7 minutes
Planning a house move - image of a removals van full of cardboard boxes and furniture

This article is the first in a series about moving house. Whoever you are and wherever you’re going, whether you’re packing up to go just around the corner or whether you're putting your life in containers and shipping it across continents, our guides will break the relocation process down for you into bite-sized, digestible chunks.

The stress of moving house

Really this article should be called How to relocate and keep track of your stuff without losing your mind.

For most of us, at some point, moving is inevitable and it’s a process a lot of us hate. In fact, it’s cited as one of the most stressful life events a person can go through, right up there – if you can believe it - with divorce or the death of a loved one. 

And whilst this might seem a tad overdramatic, a perfect storm of factors probably explains the heightened anxiety levels. There’s the sheer amount of decision-making as well as often intense financial pressure and then, the lack of control when you’re part of a chain or subject to slow-moving solicitors.

Last but not least, there’s the organisation and the packing up of a house, garage and attic full of stuff whilst still going to work and getting through the trials and tribulations of daily life.

So that’s what we’re going to focus on with this article: how to deal with and pack up your stuff. We’re not going to provide you with a moving checklist because there are so many out there and there and there… and much depends on whether you’re a student, a couple, a family, downsizing, upsizing, dedicated pet owner, international jet setter, etc. etc.

But what we are going to do is to suggest a few basic ways to sort out the detritus of your everyday life, because do that and we guarantee you’ll feel a lot better about the physical move itself.

Number One: Get ahead of the game.

It pays to get ahead of the game. Don’t leave organisation and packing till the last minute or even the last month. Start as early as possible. Once you’ve identified the most appropriate moving checklist and adopted your positive moving mindset (apparently there is such a thing), just get to it.

declutter before you move home

Sort it

Don’t put off dealing with your belongings in place of – seemingly - more important things. All those possessions are waiting for you and as much as you’d like them to, they’re not going to pack themselves.

It may sound obvious, but the time to Marie Kondo and declutter is well in advance and not when the removal van is trundling up the drive. Once you have decluttered, start packing and take another hard look at your belongings. Be even more ruthless; purge and cull with abandon!

This might sound harsh, but what’s the point of spending your whole life bogged down with useless stuff, hauling it from loft to loft? If you’re a bit of a maximalist and you love every single thing you own, hooray (but we bet you still have a junk drawer that needs sorting).

Discard, donate, sell or keep - declutter your home before you start packing. Image of a lady with 3 cardboard boxes labelled discard, donate, keep - sorting items into each box.

Sell it

One man’s neglected stuff can be another man’s treasure. Items that are sitting in a box, unused and taking up space aren’t environmentally friendly. Items that are being used or recycled are. So fix anything that’s broken. Sell anything you don’t need on EbayFacebook marketplace or even, Etsy.

Pass it on (i.e. baby clothes and toys) or take it to your local charity shop (The British Heart Foundation will even collect items for you). If you’re getting rid of duvets and old towels (and even household items like pots and pans), there are retailers who have set up schemes to find them new homes. And don’t forget animal charities, the RSPCA and the National Animal Welfare Trust accept duvets, blankets, towels and bedsheets. Donate bicycles your children have outgrown or that you’ve never fixed and never will here or here

Dispose of it

If all else fails, recycle things properly at the tip. Make sure you throw away unused or old cleaning products in the right place; don’t just chuck them in the bin. Same goes for expired medication: not all chemists or pharmacies will take them, but some will. 

Number Two: Gather your boxes.

Once you’ve whittled down your possessions into things you need and love, then you can begin to amass a collection of cardboard boxes, that ideal and unsurpassed packing and transportation method beloved the world over.

Large cardboard box being carried by a young couple moving into their new home

Your boxes will serve you best if they’re all shapes and sizes and we’ve written a whole blog article detailing the really easy ways to get your hands on free ones in the UK: read that here.

But if you prefer, treat yourself and order some brand new ones. There are a few advantages to this: you’ll be getting top quality (our boxes have a double wall construction and are specifically designed to be strong and protective during transportation), you can choose the size (our boxes come in small, medium and large) and finally, they’re cost efficient and environmentally friendly but will last for decades (more on that in article four). In additional to cardboard boxes, consider getting a few cardboard postal tubes too; they’re especially useful for posters.

Number Three: Pack correctly.

The first items to pack are those that you don’t use every day, or even, every month. We’re talking about seasonal items (i.e. winter coats, ski jackets, Christmas decorations, etc.). 

When packing heavy items, like books, put those at the bottom, but also, consider using multiple, smaller boxes which are easier to handle (movers get bad backs too). Lighter items like duvets, towels, bed linen and pillows can be packed in bigger boxes and they can also double up as protective cushioning or wrapping.

If you’re taking apart beds or anything else that requires nuts, bolts, washers, etc. keep those bits handy. Our advice is to put any screws, etc. into envelopes or small plastic bags along with the appropriate Allen key, label them and keep them with you (see paragraph 5). In any case, your beds will probably be amongst the last things to be dismantled.

Number Four: Pack carefully.

Well in advance is also the time to pack items that are meaningful, valuable or fragile, like photo albums, record collections, knick-knacks or family heirlooms. Above all, make sure these items have the right protection.

People moving home and carefully packing their possessions into cardboard boxes.

For delicate items - such as those made out of China, ceramic or glass - a couple of old tea towels won’t do. Nowadays there are far fewer newspapers floating around, but this is an ideal (if a bit smudgy) form of protective packaging. Alternatively, use bubble wrap or honeycomb paper wrap and ensure there aren’t any empty spaces in your boxes. Pack tightly for safe, secure transit.

Seal your full boxes well. Use a strong vinyl tape to close both the bottom and top of your box and then wrap the tape round  the whole box a couple more times, just like professional movers do.

Number Five: Pack thoughtfully.

Anyone who’s moving house will need to hold a few things back from the removals van (kettle, teabags, a couple of mugs, those bits to plumb in the washing machine, cleaning materials, etc.).

If you have a baby or young children, you might well want to be able to access their stuff pretty quickly once you’ve got to your new place (we’re thinking nappies, feeding paraphernalia, toys, the bits that put their cots / bed frames together, etc.).

All these things can all be kept in the odd unsealed box for easy access and taken with you in your car but label them and said box well to ensure they don’t get swept up and stuck somewhere obscure in the last-minute rush. Which brings us onto labelling in general.

Number Six: Label, label, label.

lots of cardboard boxes stacked up with hand written labels

Label your boxes. You don’t need any fancy sticker system, just make it abundantly clear and obvious. Label your boxes by room (more on this in article number two) and if necessary, use words like ‘’Heavy”, “Fragile” and “This way up”. Write in bold and write clearly.

This will not only help your movers (if you’re employing any) to get on with the job and avoid asking the question, “Where do you want this?” a billion times, but it will also mean that you can see at a glance what’s what: what to unpack immediately or what to leave for later when you’re more sorted.


There you have it. Our six top tips for packing up your property as well as a lot of useful links to websites that are there to assist you in managing to pack only those items that you want to take with you to your new pad and you'll be happy to see making a reappearance.

It all starts and ends with cardboard boxes so, take a look at what The Packaging Club has to offer today. There's so much to organise during a house move: one thing you don’t want to have to worry about is the quality and cost of your packing materials and that’s something we can guarantee you’ll never have to do when you order from us.

This article was written by...

Jo Hilton

I studied at the University of St. Andrews and have an MA in French and German. For a number of years, I worked for a Swiss financial institution and lived in Hamburg, London, Zürich and NYC before retraining as a primary school teacher and settling with my family in Cambridgeshire. When I'm not at school, I write content for various blogs and edit academic research articles for clients at ETH Zürich and the University of Munich. I'm also in the process of completing a Masters in Crime and Thriller writing at the University of Cambridge, so behind me you'll find a trail of fictional dead bodies and actual biscuit wrappers.

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