5 Steps to a Stress-Free Move Out

The ultimate guide to moving out of a dorm room. Learn how to make a moving plan, pack your closet, use self-storage, and much more.
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Well, it's that time of year again. It seems like only last week that I was struggling to move my inexcusably large moving boxes up a narrow flight of stairs to my dorm, and now I'm gazing hopelessly into the cavernous 9' x 12' space of my room, wondering why I ever thought I'd need so much stuff.

As I'm sure is the case for most CF readers, finals week is also the week that I'm expected to have all of my belongings packed away and ready for checkout. Trying to juggle daily exams, final papers, and tackling the monster that is my closet is daunting, to say the least.

Thankfully, with a little organization and a written plan, it looks like I'll be able to balance studying and packing up my room, with time to spare for saying goodbye to friends for the summer.

Are you moving out of your dorm or apartment soon? Read on for five easy steps to make move-out day smoother!

1. Clean your room.

There's no getting around it. Having everything organized before you begin packing makes it a whole lot easier -- and who knows, you might find some long-forgotten notes or accessories that had been wedged in a corner!

Don't worry about big clean-ups now, like mopping or cleaning the walls; that will be more easily accomplished once your room is emptier.

2. Storage or not?

Figure out whether or not you're going to put certain things in storage. There are plenty of self-storage businesses, especially if you live in a college town, that may offer reduced rates for college students. Your university may also offer storage options, which will most likely be cheaper than going to an external company.

If you're planning on putting things in self-storage, follow these helpful hints:

  • Avoid putting textiles like comforters, pillows, and linens in storage. Chances are, they'll be musty and dank when you take them out of storage, especially if the storage site isn't air-conditioned. If you absolutely must, try to air them out outside before putting them in storage, to make sure they're completely dry.
  • Box all of your electronics if possible to keep them dust and moisture-free.
  • Try to keep everything in large boxes, which will make it easier to move them out later on. Bonus points if you get boxes with handles! I personally used large moving boxes that I saved from move-in in the fall.
  • Label all your boxes.
  • Try not to pack items in sealed plastic bags, which may cause mildew growth due to humidity.
  • If you're storing a fridge, de-frost it and make sure it's clean and dry before storing.
  • Wrap mirrors, lamps, and other breakables in bubble wrap!
  • Avoid packing photographs in storage. The edges might curl, and they may suffer temperature damage.
  • Seal your boxes with packing tape to keep everything contained!
  • Don't lose the storage receipt they give you!

If you're planning on bringing everything home with you, keep bedding and other "soft" items out of the boxes. Once the boxes are packed into the car, it will be easy to stuff pillows and comforters into nooks and crannies.

3. Make a plan.

I made the mistake of trying to pack everything at once, which didn't make the process any easier (and created a horribly messy room!). Planning to pack certain parts of your room every day will help you stay organized, and will make it easier to unpack the boxes later on!

  • Tackle the easy-to-pack items first, like wall decorations, Christmas lights, and anything on the outside of your door (i.e. whiteboards).
  • Then, re-box electronics and appliances like your printer, music speakers, and/or computer, if you plan to keep those in storage.
  • Wash your dishes, put them in their original boxes (or similar-sized boxes stuffed with cushioning material), and store them near the top in your larger boxes.
  • Go through your textbooks, and figure out if you want to sell them back or keep them. Try to avoid packing books in larger boxes, they can get ridiculously heavy and make the boxes difficult to lift. Smaller boxes are best for books.
  • Open your closet. This gets its own step (see below).

4. Pack your clothes.

This is the part I've been putting off the most. When you're going through your closet, see if there's anything you can donate -- lots of colleges have clothing drives at this time of year, to take advantage of people moving out.

Some helpful hints for packing your closet:

  • Have bulky shoes like snow boots? Chances are, you won't need those in the summertime, so see if you can store them. (See Step #2.)
  • As you're taking your clothes off their hangers, pack your hangers neatly in another box.
  • Keep your clothes folded and stacked in their respective boxes, and do your best to sort them by type (i.e. all jeans and pants in a pile, t-shirts in another, etc.).
  • If you're taking all your clothes home with you, try putting some in your hamper to take advantage of that space.

5. And finally... move out!

Make sure your room is clean, vacuumed, and dusted. At this point, all that should be in your room is what it came with, plus your (neatly organized) boxes.

Also, be sure to know your check-out protocol, and follow all of the necessary instructions (i.e. getting your room inspected by an RA) as early as you can, to beat the rush. Close and lock your door, and you're all set!

Congratulations, you've packed up your room! Now you can daydream about summer on the long car or plane ride home.

What do you think?

Did these tips help you in the move-out process? Do you have any more advice for CF readers moving out of their dorm or apartment, perhaps for the first time? Have you used self-storage facilities before? Let us know with a comment!

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