While there’s no way to make moving completely stress-free, with some forethought, you can keep the move manageable. There’s a lot to cover, so we’re going to talk about moving in three phases:

Planning Ahead

Start Packing

Moving Day & Beyond

Part 1: Plan Ahead & Start Early

This is probably the biggest key to managing the stress of a move. Having enough time to organize all the moving parts (pun intended) and stay on top of details keeps you feeling in control. Often the timeline of a move will feel like a ball rolling downhill, picking up momentum and going faster and faster – the closer you get to the move date, the shorter each day will feel. You can’t start too early!

Identify A Mover

Ideally, a minimum of 2-3 months before your move schedule movers and start to tackle problem areas, room by room. You’ll need to decide whether to use them for packing or plan to pack yourself.

Prep Before You Pack

Decide how much packing and moving you’re doing yourself vs. hiring help. If you’re going the DIY route, allow for more time. Whether or not you get help, editing and sorting BEFORE packing is essential. Use your energy now to save yourself later – trying to unpack boxes of mixed-up items with no designated home is exhausting. Sort things to pack by their location in the new home and label boxes clearly by their room destination.

Consider the Costs

Moving isn’t inexpensive! If you hire help for packing and moving, even for a local move, expect to pay a few thousand dollars. Hiring help can be well worth the value of letting you focus your energy on decision-making rather than physically wearing yourself out.

Decide Now, Not Later

Remember that everything you bring costs time and money to pack, move, and unpack. Know the limits of your new space and let that guide your purging, especially for items such as photos, memorabilia, and books. Floor planning ahead of time gives you the exact reality of what furniture and storage will be available to hold whatever you bring. Choose wisely!

Donate & Discard

Think about what to do with everything you won’t be taking with you. Decide if you want to sell anything through consignment, estate sale, or online. Identify local donation places and find out if they do pickups. You will have leftovers that can’t be donated; identify haulers or determine your city’s policy on bulky pickups as part of your trash service.

This first phase of moving is about getting a handle on the big picture and getting through as much sorting and purging as possible.

Even if you’re considering a future move, the process of sorting through things and paring them down will make you more nimble if/when you do decide to move.