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How to pack and move in less than a week without totally losing it

Einat Mazafi

Sometimes, life throws you curve balls you find yourself moving to a new house or apartment — fast. To help you deal with such an unexpected situation, here are a few tips to get you moving within a week, while maintaining your sanity and staying organized. To make the process easier for you, I’ve broken it down by each day to make your last-minute move a breeze.

Take a big, deep breath. Make yourself a huge mug of strong coffee. Then start making a list of the things you need to achieve.

Day 1: Planning and admin day

This is the day for you to deal with administrative tasks:

  • Contact your children’s school to have their records transferred to their new school
  • Get medical records forwarded to new providers if you are moving any distance
  • Move bank accounts to a new bank or branch
  • Ask for updated accounts from utility companies (electricity, water, gas, city taxes)
  • Ask inspectors to read meters a day or so before you leave so you can get as accurate a reading as possible.
  • Advise all your contacts of your new address
  • Arrange insurance for all your valuables and travel insurance for yourself and your family if you are moving abroad
  • Make plans for your pets. If they have to stay in a shelter for a few days, then make those plans now
  • Book a cleaning service both for your new home and your old one
  • If you’re moving abroad, make sure your passport is valid, that you can enter the country without a visa, and that you can apply for a visa once you are there
  • Hire a moving company
  • Buy just enough groceries, toiletries etc. to last you the week. Preferably plan on ordering take-out… or pop down to your local pizza place for your meals

Day 2: Materials day

Now that your administrative tasks are all taken care of, on day two you can start collecting packing materials (boxes, peanuts, tape, markers, labels etc.) Garbage bags are also good for emergency moves. Collect all your old newspapers, which make very good packing material, and ask neighbors for theirs.

Day 3: Sorting day

Sort through your belongings room by room and get rid of what you don’t need or haven’t used for at least six months. Call up a local charity if you have stuff that you feel they could use — otherwise it’s time to be ruthless. Those table decorations you got from your great aunt for Christmas 10 years ago, and haven’t used since? Time to chuck ‘em!

Day 4-5: Packing days

Now, you can start packing! Start with the kitchen, as this is the hardest room to pack and it is best to get it out of the way. First pack all the things you don’t use every day but maybe just seasonally; for example, the Thanksgiving turkey roasting pan and your electrical appliances. Then work your way down through the rooms according to their difficulty and the number of items you will need to pack — this way the job gets easier as you go.

This can be a huge job, depending on how large your home is and how much stuff you have, so be sure to enlist the help of everyone in your family. You can even make a kind of game out of it to increase everyone’s enthusiasm.

Make sure you have labelled all boxes clearly and keep a detailed inventory. You can use colored labels and/or pens to mark the boxes and keep a detailed chart with the same colors to keep things organized. It is best to label each box with the room it should go to and the belongings inside each one.

No matter if you’re moving abroad, long distance or locally, be sure to pack a day bag for the day of the move with your essential items: change of clothes, toiletries, medications, etc.


Day 6: Loose ends day

Now that you are all packed up, do a final walk through around the house or apartment checking for things that you might have forgotten. Check that all labels are intact and accurate. Get the cleaning service you hired up and running, say goodbye to your neighbors, and get everybody off to bed for a good night’s sleep in preparation for the big day.

Day 7: Moving day

Switch off the lights, hand over the keys and move!

While there may be some spill-over from day to day, at least you have a working plan that should help keep you organized, on track, and most importantly, sane.

Good luck and remember: don’t panic. It will all be over in a week!

Einat Mazafi writes for

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