Pack Like a Pro: 7 Ways to Simplify the Moving Out Process

Make packing simple and straightforward.

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7 ways to simplify moving out in college – moving tips for college students

If you get to stay in your apartment or dorm for next year, congrats! You’ve managed to escape one of my least favorite elements of college: the last-minute move-out. 

For me, it always feels like moving out isn’t a big deal until I wake up one day and realize I have exactly two weeks left before your apartment has to be empty and spotless. The next week is fueled by procrastination and panic, as I wonder how I’ve managed to accumulate so much stuff.

That last week is when I kick into high gear, moving boxes back to my parent’s place or to my new home. But by then the goal is simply getting everything out, not getting it out in a smart way. As you can imagine, this strategy isn’t ideal.

After several years of spinning my wheels, I’ve finally improved my moving technique (yay!). Here are my top tips to help you be a smart, savvy mover:

Pack by location

Don’t worry about putting unlike objects together in boxes, unless there’s a serious fear of breakage. Instead, pack by location in your apartment.

Say you have a bookshelf, for example. Chances are you will still want everything on that bookshelf to stay together in your new place. So instead of moving the nail polishes on the shelf to your cosmetics box, your favorite novels into a books box, and your lamp to a box called “lighting,” consider putting it all in one box labeled “bookshelf.” Now you don’t have to run around unpacking things from different places!

Label your boxes

labeling boxes while moving

Seems obvious, right? I somehow manage to forget this in the chaos of moving. Take those extra five seconds to scribble down where this box belongs or what it includes

Your labels don’t have to be orderly, either. “Fancy dresses and Harry Potter books” is more helpful than wondering in two weeks why you have no clothes to wear to a party. 

Create a priority box

The last thing you want to do after moving out is move in. Unpacking can take time, so make a box or two with the essentials you’ll need that you don’t want to dig for

Include a few plates and utensils, basic clothes (jeans, a few t-shirts, a dress, shorts, leggings), things you need daily like glasses or medicine, toilet paper, a towel, essential toiletries, and your wallet/phone. 

Use unconventional boxes

dog in suitcase packing

At some point you’ll probably have to get a few of those large cardboard boxes from U-Haul. But why not use what you have? You’re going to be moving these items anyway, so fill them up.

Have your own luggage set? Fill it with items that you plan on bringing with you. Same goes for duffel bags, laundry baskets, backpacks, etc. 

Avoid keeping items you don’t need

This is where being proactive counts. When you only have a couple weeks left before moving out, you might be tempted to just throw everything into a box and deal with it later. 

Newsflash: you won’t deal with it later. That’s why I still have clothes hanging in my closet that I said I would never wear again two years ago. 

Have furniture you no longer need? Get on your university’s buy/sell page, post it on Craigslist, have a garage sale, donate it–get it out of your apartment. Same goes for old clothes, things you never use, etc. Purge it now — don’t move a mess to your new place!

Be wary of liquids

packing liquids in bags

Life has a way of causing every liquid you packed to spontaneously explode during move-out. I’ll never forget helping my roommate sophomore year unpack, only to realize a bottle of lotion had been crushed and was now dripping onto my legs while I carried an extremely heavy box. Ugh.

This is a good time to decide which shower items are necessities, and to finish off any beverages you can before moving. If you do pack liquids, either keep them in waterproof cases or wrap them in saran wrap. 

Don’t throw small items in big bags

I’ve lost at least several pieces of jewelry throughout the years while moving. 

Usually I have the majority of small items organized into pouches and cases. But every now and again, I’ll be moving my bed and will find a necklace underneath. Or my roommate will remind me of a hair clip I lent her that she never gave back. This leaves me with small, lonely items while the rest of their kind has been packed. 

If you’re in this situation, do not just throw these items into the top of the box or in a garbage bag and assume you’ll sort them out later. They will fall out. They will fall through. Instead, keep a separate pouch handy for any “last-minutes” that you want to protect.  

What are your best tips for being organized while moving?

You’ve seen my strategies — now I want to know about your moving day tips. How do you stay organized? Anything you’ve learned the hard way? Comment below and let’s discuss!

2 thoughts on “Pack Like a Pro: 7 Ways to Simplify the Moving Out Process”

  1. I am in the middle of moving to a new apartment and was laying on my couch procrastinating when I read this. Thanks for getting me off my lazy a**!


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