How to Pack for Moving When You Move a Lot

When you're in college or in your twenties, you'll probably be moving a lot. Moving again and again to dorms and apartments can be a hassle, especially when you don't know how to pack properly. Keep these tips in mind as you move to avoid stress now and if you want to continue to move.


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    Figure out what you really need. You don’t need everything you think you need. When living in dorms and apartments, try to only bring the essentials. This is easier said than done and requires a bit of practice to get right. Clothes are a major thing that need to be downsized, which might require a bit of planning and strategy. Do you really need those 4 winter coats? Pick the most comfortable one, the one you wear the most, or the one that goes well with other items of clothing to take with you. You also won't need 15 of your favourite purses. You'll even need a bit of strategy when packing books (they’re heavy). Pick a few of your absolute favourites to bring with you, and borrow the rest from your local library. Think about where you’re moving, and plan realistically. If you’re closer to home, you can afford to leave things there. If you’re going far away, think about what’s cheapest to buy when you get there, and don’t waste valuable bag/box space on things like laundry detergent.
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    Make a budget of things to buy when you get there. As mentioned in the step above, don't waste room on things that you can easily buy once you move in. Instead, make a list and a budget of the things you'll need to buy once you get there. You’ll have to use your judgment, depending on how much money you’ll have when you get to your destination. When you’re moving out, it’s easy to get into “throwaway” mode. Everything gets so overwhelming, you reach the point where barely anything seems necessary. Scotch tape? Cleaning supplies? Those little things will add up. For a first move, it probably a good idea to buy those things when you get there. But when you choose to throw out all of your lotion, etc, with every move, you (and your wallet) will regret it. When paring down your supplies to the bare necessities, and make sure it’s the inexpensive stuff that you’re leaving out.
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    Sell, donate, and trade your stuff. If you have tons of clothes, but only wear half of them, what’s the point of lugging them everywhere? Trade them for some better pieces, or sell them so that you can afford to invest in some high-quality pieces in mix-and-matchable colors that you’ll wear all the time. When moving around frequently, the last thing you want is to lug around clothes you never wear, so find a consignment store/thrift store and donate all of the clothes you rarely wear. If you make money off the transaction, or get store credit, trade in/buy things you really want!
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    Figure out how much furniture you'll need. Do some research into the dorm/apartment you'll be living in. Some of them are fully/partially furnished. You can really get by on less than you need. For short-term living, use suitcases instead of having to bring a dresser for your clothes. When looking long-term, try Craigslist; there are tons of free things there. Utilize your space wisely, for example, use up wall space by putting up shelves rather than using tables or dressers to display your things.
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    Pack a couple pillows. Pillows are actually some of those things that you really need more of. They’re fairly cheap, they’re light (you can squish them into space bags and suck them paper thin), they’re cuddly, they’ll make even the most uncomfortable bed bearable, and they’ll prop you up while you’re trying to do work. For some, living with only one pillow can be a nightmare. Bring at least a couple on your first move, then decide if you need to bring them on future moves.
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    Bring only your beauty essentials. Beauty products suck at travelling. You know all the awesome makeup products you thought you had to have in high school? Or hair products? Or perfume? You’re going to hate all of them come moving time. They’re usually bulky, they usually leak, and they’re usually just not worth it. You don’t need four body sprays, you need one nice one that you’ll use all the time. A few weeks before you move, try to use up everything you have left — don’t go out and buy huge bottles of conditioner. If your move is getting closer and you're in need of something, buy a travel-sized item that can be used up quickly instead of a large item that you'll need to pack.
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    Be organized while packing. Pack things according to category (kitchen supplies, makeup, clothing, papers), and make sure to label the boxes. Make sure lids are closed, and bottles are enclosed in ziploc bags (when moving, ziplocs are your best friends). When you’re unpacking, you won’t have to deal with lotion all over your jeans, and if you decide to wait to unpack for a couple days, you’ll still be able to locate the essentials without tearing everything apart. Although it may take more time originally, it makes unpacking so much easier.
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    Don’t work out before you move. Do not attempt to lift weights the day before you move - BAD idea. You’ll be cursing the day you wandered blithely into the gym when you’re trying to lift boxes of 45,000 lb kitchen supplies. If you work out the day before, it will feel like you have too much of everything and you'll get very sore very quickly.
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    Keep your new place tidy and organized. Even if you’re settled into your new place, try not to get too comfortable. Don’t try to fill every nook and cranny with new things just because you have more storage, and don’t go out and buy tons of new clothes. Remember how hard it was to move your stuff before? It will be even harder if you’re wandering around town collecting stuff just because you can. Keep things organized, neat, and clean, and the next move won’t be so painful, especially if you’re doing everything yourself.


  • This is a list specifically from someone moving from a college dorm or apartment.
  • If you can't do it on your own, no matter how little you have, then try to get friends to help.
  • If you can't get friends to help, hire movers, but know that they can be expensive.
    • If you live in a metropolitan area, try hiring an SUV to drive, then pack it up yourself.
  • Once you've moved in, explore everything in your new neighborhood. Experience as much of it as possible!

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Categories: Moving House and Packing