My best moving tips and tricks.

military moving tips

I want to thank you for the kind words and comments from last week’s post. I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to me that you take the time to read what I have to say and leave sweet comments and messages.

I forgot to mention something in that post that I think is really important. Use your own judgement when it comes to making decisions about where you are going to live, send your kids to school, and everything else. It seems like when you find out where you are going, people love to tell you what to do.

Don’t live in that neighborhood.
That school is not as good as this one. (I never trust the school rating websites either, but that is for another post.)
That commute is terrible.
You know, there is a better place to do xyz…

They are coming from a good place, but they are not you. This is your experience. You know more about what you are looking for when it comes to finding a place that you want to live in and what kind of lifestyle you have than anyone else. We have always done our own thing and made our own choices and have never regretted it. As convenient as it is to crowdsource, this might be one of those times when you trust your own instincts more. PSA over.

Last week, I talked to you about how I feel about moving. I love it.

But if I am being perfectly honest with you, the actual move can be a pain in the ass.

We are 3 weeks out from moving to Cape Cod (our 9th move?) and deep in the throes of the process. I thought that I would share some tips that I have picked up over the years of military moves.

1. Purge, purge, and purge some more. I play a weird little game with myself every time we move. I try to make sure that we have less stuff than we did the previous move. I am particulary proud of our last move – 8,500lbs.

For me more stuff means more to take care of, more to unpack, and more to move again. I am fairly relentless, if I don’t use it or love it, it goes. If we have boxes with multiple moving stickers on them that have never been opened, chances are good we don’t need it. (FYI – A lot of Goodwills will come to your home and pick up.)

2. Go through your drawers and put the little things in Ziploc bags. The movers just can drop the bags into the box, and when you are unpacking, you can just dump it back in. Everything is together. This is especially helpful for junk drawers, utensils, underwear drawers.

3. Speaking of utensils, make sure that you check every closet, drawer, and cabinet to make sure that everything was packed. We had our utensil drawer missed once and we unpacked every single box hoping to find the forks. We never did. Our realtor was kind enough to go back to the house and send us the drawer that we forgot about. We also missed a shed once. That time we left a bbq and a lawnmower for the new owners. Once you sign off, it is not the responsibility of the movers, so make sure to double check.

4. About a month out, make appointments to have the utilities turned over or turned on. It is nice to have Internet on move in day, and not a few weeks later. It can be hard to get cable appointments during moving season. Also, call your current providers and let them know your move out day to turn off what you already have in your current home.

5. If you have school age children, make sure that you know what you need to register them at their new school (and sports if they are playing in the fall). It is easier to get physicals and their vaccinations before you leave than when you get to your new town. Most school districts have everything you need online or will send you the paperwork. This has always made the transition so much easier for me.

While I am filling out the paperwork, I also find a pediatrician and dentist and call to make sure that they are taking new patients. I keep a small file folder with all of our important papers in it and carry it with me.

6. Treat your movers well. This one should go without saying, but after some conversations lately, I am a little turned off by the way some people treat the people moving their belongings. I have had really good luck with movers. I keep the fridge stocked with drinks, have breakfast and lunch for them each day, and trust them to do their job. The nicer I am to my movers, the faster and easier the move is. They probably aren’t going to pack your things exactly as you would, but they are professionals. They pack and move people every day. They know what they are doing.

7. The night before the movers come to pack, I move us out of the house and into a hotel. I pack everyone for the road trip like we are going on vacation and pack up the car. It is too hard to do it while there is a moving crew in the house and I tend to get overwhelmed. Now, I do everything before they get there and it is more fun for everyone. And everything that doesn’t need to get packed is already with you. Only one person needs to be in the house with the movers, so one of us will take the kids to the hotel pool or do something during the day.

8. Don’t forget about your pets. I will be sending my dog to doggie day care. I don’t want her under everyone’s feet in and in the way. Also, make sure that the hotels or guest houses that you are staying at take animals. Moving can be traumatic for animals, so try to keep them as stress free as possible.

9. Same with the kids. I really play up the “adventure” aspect of moving instead of the leaving part. I unpack their rooms first and get them settled into the house before I tackle the other rooms. I make sure that the movers put their bikes on the truck last, so that they are the first things off of the truck when we get to our new house. The kids can ride bikes and play while the movers are moving us in.

10. Tape the remotes and cords to the backs of the televisions and electronics. And it is a really good idea to hand carry the “parts” box (the screws, bolts, and all of the little pieces to put everything back together). It is funny how many people have told me that is the one box that has gotten lost.

11. Pack a box of things that you know that you will need the first night. I make sure that there are clean sheets for all of the beds (I put the folded sheets into a trash bag), shower curtain, some towels, and a bottle of wine. Just kidding about the wine. (Not really. Have lots of wine.)

12. When it comes to unpacking, just get it done. We usually are “pictures on the walls” by day 3. Drawing it out makes me feel less settled, and once everything is unpacked and moved in, you can start to explore and enjoy your new town.

13. When we get to the new house, I try to get there a day before the movers come. I clean as much as I can. Inside of drawers, fridge, shelves, etc. After everything is moved in, unpacked, and put together, I treat myself to a professional cleaning. It is so nice to have a clean house after all of the craziness of a big move.

14. Be flexible. Stuff happens. Movers are late. Houses aren’t ready. Things break. Moving is going to cost more than you think it does. It isn’t the end of the world. Don’t sweat the little things. It isn’t worth it in the long run.

15. Have fun. Every moving season I think that my husband and I are going to get divorced. (We never do.) Being able to laugh and have fun with the move is so much better than being stressed out and unhappy. Everyone looks to me to see how I am dealing. My kids, my husband, the movers. If I am snapping at everyone and miserable, everyone else is going to be too. Take it in stride.

What moving tips do you have? Please feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

And if you know anyone moving soon, please share this post with them!


Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

raspberry orange pistachio ricotta cake slices on a wire rack

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This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Samantha C.

    I have averaged moving more than once a year for the last 10 years – I feel like an expert at this point! I have to totally agree about unpacking. I lived in the same home into well into high school and the first time I moved at age 15 I had my whole room unpacked and totally put together by that night. The feeling of comfort I got from having my space put together stayed with me – I have done this in each home, dorm room, and apartment I have lived in over the last decade. It became a sort of joke with my family and friends, but I cannot live out of chaos. It makes life better to suck it up and get it done instead of leaving boxes everywhere.

    My other tip is to always pack toilet paper, a bottle of hand soap, and paper towels in the car when you leave so that you aren’t ripping through boxes just so you can use the bathroom once you get to the new place. You only make the “oh $#!&, I don’t know where the TP is” mistake once! lol

    1. Bree

      We get made fun of all the time for it too. Our house looks like we have lived there for years after about a week. But it helps so much to make it feel like home. And yes, TP needs to go in the first night box!

  2. renee @ savoring life through the lens

    oh yes!! these are SO good. i LOVE the tips with the kids. the next time we move, my kids will be turning 5 and 8. i would have never of thought about those things suggested, since the last time we moved i only had my first and she had just turned 1 when we moved. so, yeah, LOVE those tips!!

    i especially love how you get everyone out and into a hotel the day before the movers come. GREAT idea!!

    when we had our dog, i didn’t even think about doggie day care. usually it was either me or the hubs holding him on the leash. oh man!! lol.

    these are all SO, SO great!! we always make sure to feed and have drinks for our movers, too. they definitely NEED it! I always feel SO bad seeing them haul all our stuff all day long…especially in the summer time and in the heat. i don’t know how they do it and it makes me appreciate their job, that’s for sure!

    again, those kids tips are priceless! things i wouldn’t have even thought about. it definitely feels weird that we aren’t moving this summer since we extended. but now i’m gonna print these out so I’ll have them to look back on when our move comes!! thank you!! the easier, the better!! right! that’s my motto! 🙂

    1. Bree

      Thank you Renee! I am glad that these are helpful. My kids do a lot better now that they are older and really get it. But when they were little they thought that the movers were never giving their stuff back. So when they saw them packing their toys and loading them on the truck, they couldn’t wrap their head around the fact that they would eventually get them back. It is easier when they can’t see it. 🙂

  3. Karen

    AND if you are a DYI-er……. use!!!!! (At least you’ll get something back!!) Check it out!!

    1. Bree

      Thanks Karen!

  4. Nathalie Lussier

    This sage advice couldn’t come at a better time for us. 🙂 I’m totally with you on the purge! And also loved the tip about packing the night before and the pet sitting. I hadn’t considered that but it’s a really important part of the move, for sure! 🙂

    Good luck!!

    1. Bree

      Yes, a good purge is incredibly helpful. Pets and kids can be really traumatized by the move. It really helps to have them happy and calm. Best of luck Nath!

  5. Johanna

    Hi Bree! Not moving anytime soon, I don’t think, but loved this post. I will pass it along. Thanks for sharing and best of luck with the move. I admire your spirit!

    1. Bree

      Thank you for sharing it Johanna!

  6. Lily

    I’ll add that having a really good cooler to store food and healthy snacks is a life saver, not only because the fridge has to be defrosted for them to move it, but also so you can stay well nourished and energized to handle all the stress. Great tips, Bree.

    1. Bree

      That is a GREAT tip!

  7. renee @ savoring life through the lens

    p.s. i forgot to mention…i’d LOVE a post on figuring out schools…you’re SO right!! i hear SO many of those same messages that you mentioned at the beginning of this post…it can make your head spin, but really, it all comes down to listening to your own inner thoughts on what’s right for your family. something i learned BIG TIME with this past move of ours.

    1. Bree

      I have hesitated to post about it because it is a hot button topic. Maybe that is what I will write about this week. Thanks for the push.

  8. Janice

    I’ve never moved with kids, but my tip is to always set up and make your bed as soon as possible. At the end of a long, exhausting day, the last thing you want to deal with is making up beds! Having your beds all ready for you at the end of the day is key! Good luck with your move…the Cape is awesome!

    1. Bree

      That’s a good tip! Sleeping in your own bed feels so good.

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  10. April

    I love this list, and even after 7 or 8 military moves myself, I got some new ideas. Thanks!

    1. Bree

      Thank you April!!

  11. Brenda T.

    These are great tips! We are moving soon–the first time for us in nearly 20 years! And while it is a local move (less than 2 miles away) and very little will change for us other than our actual house, I have found the whole process very overwhelming. Talk about a lot of stuff… even though I feel like I clean out closets regularly, there is still so much stuff! I hadn’t thought about some of these ideas, so thank you. Best of luck to you in your move, too!

    1. Bree

      It can be overwhelming. There are a LOT of moving pieces. Isn’t it amazing how much stuff you can accumulate? I think that it is one of the biggest gifts about moving as much as we do. We have to purge all the time. Good luck with your move!

  12. tamra

    hi! we are 3 weeks out of PCS’ing to Kodiak, AK from Cape Cod:) Your are going to love it here on the cape!!! we sure did:) we call each trip an “adventure” to. thanks for sharing. glad i came across your blog. A friend of mine shared it with me.

    1. Bree

      Welcome Tamra! Best of luck on your PCS. 🙂

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  15. Jessica

    What exactly is a mover? Never had the luxury! My tip is buy about four thousand big blue Ikea bags, they are great for clothes.

    1. Bree

      Yes they are!

  16. Trude

    Thanks so much for these tips! Helps put things in perspective for my move that doesn’t involve kids or pets. 😉 I’ve moved within the county many times, but never out of state! Oh, the paperwork. For local moves I recommend bundling hanging clothes, poking a hole in the middle of the bottom of a kitchen trash bag and slipping it over the clothes. Keeps them clean and easy to move, and you don’t have to re-hang!

  17. Lillian Campbell

    Lovely tips! I ‘m about to move in March and although I’m a mover for few years now, it’s quite complicated. Moving other people’s stuff is much easier, it’s just hard for me to organize all my things. This time I’ve decided to handle properly with the situation and that’s why I’m searching some fresh tips and ideas. Your suggestions are great for me and seem to be very helpful, plus I got some great new ideas from your post. Thank you for sharing!

    1. bakedbree

      You are welcome! The best tip I think is the big ziploc bags. So easy to move from one place to another. Good luck with your move.

  18. Nicole Osburn

    Great tips!

    We lost some forks also in the move when we forgot to check the dishwasher!

    I wish I purged like you did! I moved 4months ago and just unpacked the last box the other day.

    Next time we move I am making sure we can hire movers & possibly a professional organizer. 😉

  19. Aashi

    These are great and very helpful tips! My sister is going move next month and I’m definitely recommending your advises to her. I’m sure she’ll appreciate the ideas and and will deal with all her moving issues. Thank you for gathering all this nice info in one place. Greets!

    1. bakedbree

      I’m glad that you found them helpful. After our latest move, I cannot recommend the big Ziploc bags enough! It saved me endless hours of doing dishes.

  20. Elliott Georgia

    Are you moving yourself or hiring a professional moving company? If it’s the latter, it’s important to find a mover you can trust. Ask friends about their experiences, check out reviews and affiliations, and get a few in home estimates to compare prices. Thanks for sharing moving tips and tricks. i like your information. I really want to be thankful for the way you have put it here.

  21. David

    I need to have all of my things moved to my new home. It makes sense that getting everything packed correctly would help a lot! It would make organization a lot easier after the fact, as well. I’ll keep that in mind!

  22. David Cohen

    Well, this is my first visit to your blog! Your moving cross country blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done an excellent job! Thanks for posting something worth reading. Great work.

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