How to Pack Up a Home & Move Like a Pro

Recently I posted about how we got our house staged and listed to sell on the real estate market. This post is Part 2: How to pack up a home which will cover additional details of our move including answers to FAQ’s I have received about our packing process and the logistics of the long distance move we made.

I will get right to it. :-)

How to Pack Up a Home When Moving

how to pack up a home on a budget

Since you DIY’ed the move, how did you keep track of everything that needed to get done?

I wrote everything down on one master list and then paper-clipped it to the cover of 3 folders I had.  One for the house we were selling, one for the house we were buying, and then one to keep track of the day-to-day living stuff like mail and bills.

The list had everything on it that I needed to do: move, buy, clean, dates for when it needed to get done and more. This way if I was focused on the checklist for selling our house, I would not forget to look at the folder with everything for buying the lake house that I needed to do, like call the Realtor in South Carolina later in the day to give her requested information.

We started the list by asked ourselves some questions:

  • When do we have to be officially out of the house?
  • What can we live without and get rid of before we move?
  • Where to buy boxes and moving supplies?
  • What needed canceling at house selling and what needed to be set up at the house we were buying: Utilities, Internet, address change for all accounts, doctors, medical records, etc.

I sat down and went over everything, and when I thought of something days or weeks later, I immediately added it to the list.

It might seem daunting at first when you look at the long list, but having a master list will help keep you sane plus you see progress as each item is checked off the list.

How long did it take you to physically move to your new house?

Moving and packing tips on a budget

Since we were using PODS Moving and Storage, we started packing up boxes and placing them in the first PODS to arrive in our driveway in September.

We slowly emptied the house of its contents over a 3 month period into 4 PODS. When one PODS was filled, it was taken to their local storage facility and a new empty PODS was brought back for us to fill up.

We placed the least used items in the first two PODS; the last PODS held the items we needed to live with up until the day we actually moved from the house on December 1st.

On the morning of December 1st, we drove in two separate cars eleven hours to South Carolina. We arrived late at night and stayed at a friend’s lake home there for one night.

Just to put a little extra complication into the move we had our oldest daughter’s dog and cat with us.  Long story, short. She was in the process of going on literally twenty-five medical residency interviews all over the country in December.

Her roommates and boyfriend were all in the same process and no one could watch her pets.  Time for Mom and Dad. :-)  We love Kindii and Trax (you have seen them mentioned in my posts from time to time) and they came on our journey. We each drove our car packed with what we needed for one week and our house plants. I had Trax and his litter box in my car and Ed had Kindii in his.

Our closing dates for each house were one week apart so we had some time on our hands.  We stayed in South Carolina that first night since it was pet friendly.

The next morning we left one car at our friend’s house and took off in the other car with the pets in tow and drove to Orlando, Florida.

We did this for two reasons. I was invited by Glidden to tour the HGTV Dream Home 2016 that was near Orlando and Ed’s best friend lives there and was happy to let us stay in his pet-friendly house. It is while I was staying here that I bumped my arm that caused me to get Shingles. :-(

review of Pods

The day before settlement on the lake house we were buying, we drove back to South Carolina and again stayed at our friend’s lake house.  We made settlement late the next day. The following day, the first PODS arrived in our driveway to be unpacked.

Since I broke out with Shingles down my right arm and hand and was in horrible pain, I was out of commission. Luckily we hired our friend’s neighbor’s son who was on his semester break and looking for a way to earn some extra cash. He is a football player, strong and reliable.

He and Ed emptied a POD a day while I laid on the foyer floor with my spinning head from pain killers and my arm propped up on a pillow telling them where each item they brought into the house went.

Would you recommend PODS?

As DIY’ers and a couple who have moved quite a bit when we were first married and that have also moved our parents out of their homes, we were pretty seasoned in what we needed to do to get moved.

We went with PODS since we could do everything ourselves.They had storage and let us to pack up months in advance. Now that we have been through the whole process with them, I can’t say enough good things about the experience. I would highly recommend using them.

PODS moving and storage review

If you have the physical ability to pack boxes and load them into the PODS containers, you will be saving yourself a lot of money.

If you don’t want to DIY, PODS will give you names of packers and people in your area that you can hire to do the heavy lifting for you for an extra fee.

The farther away you move, the more it will cost and the more time every aspect of the relocation process is going to take. We moved from southeastern Pennsylvania to mid-central South Carolina. Eleven hours by car.

If you are traveling out of state or over 100 miles you will need to avoid local moving companies and services. Long distance movers are needed.

The cost of using PODS is determined by the amount of stuff you have, distance and the unavoidable cost of gas to simply transport the contents and weight of your stuff.  PODS made it all doable for us. It certainly wasn’t cheap, but it was the least expensive option out there.

Moving supplies are expensive, how did you keep those costs down?

If you have moved recently, then you know just how expensive the supplies needed to get moved are. Early on, I searched online for “cheap moving boxes”, but didn’t find anything inexpensive about them.

I called local moving companies to see if they sold “used moving boxes” but none did.  I searched on Craigslist and did find a few listings, but again, they wanted so much $$$ even for used boxes.  Furniture blankets were needed and very expensive, too.

Moving and packing tips

To get the packing process started, we bought our first batch of boxes, packing paper and furniture blankets through PODS, but then I found a much cheaper option for all of it….Walmart.

They sell moving boxes in the office supply area. They were the least expensive I found.

Where to buy cheap moving boxes

They carry 3 sizes and 2 different weights. Regular and heavy-duty.  I bought both, but found the regular weight boxes did the job fine and were about 50 cents a box cheaper than the heavy duty ones.

I bought lots of packing tape and a tape gun, and two big black markers.

Free moving supplies

For packing paper, we had our initial purchase through PODS, but most of the packing paper we got was by asking our friends and neighbors to save their newspapers and send them our way.

I separated all of the newspaper into two piles, single page and double page. I used the single page to wrap up small items and the full double page for larger items.

How to pack plates and dishes like a pro

Stacking the paper makes the packing process go super quick especially when wrapping up dishes and glassware. For smaller plates, lay a plate on the center of the double paper stack, bring one corner of the paper up and lay it over the plate, place a second plate on top and then bring up the second corner of the paper to cover the second plate, continue adding plates until all four corners of the paper are used.

Place the wrapped item in the moving box and then repeat the process. For larger plates, you many have to use one piece of paper per plate.

For furniture blankets, I bought inexpensive twin and full size blankets that were on clearance at Walmart.

They were really ugly, but for $1 – $4 a blanket I didn’t care since they were just being used to pad furniture.  When we unpacked, I folded all the blankets neatly and donated them to the thrift store. WIN/WIN all around.

Do you have any packing tips?

I kept the packing process simple, no color coding boxes for me…too complicated.

budget relocation and moving tips

I used paper, our bedding, blankets and sheets to wrap up stuff. I found tall boxes and blankets worked great to pack lamps.

All the lamp shades were placed into each other biggest to smallest and placed in a big garbage bag. I then sealed and labeled each box…


…with what was in the box and the room it would go to in our new house.

Pro packing tips that any one moving can do themselves

To pack our hanging clothes we used plastic garbage bags.  It is a two person job to do it, but is the easiest way to move the hanging contents of your clothes closet.

  • Have one person grab a section of hanging clothes still on the hangers, the second person then puts a plastic garbage bag over the bottom of the clothes and brings the bag’s opening up to the hangers. Use the ties on the bag to tie around the hangers to secure them together.  In each of the PODS there were 2 rods that we used to hang each bagged group of clothes.


  • If your bags don’t have ties long enough to tie around the hangers you can still use this method, but in reverse. Cut a hole in the center bottom of the bag and place the group of hangers through the hole.  Bunch up the clothes to fit into the bag and then use the short ties on the bag to close the bag and secure your clothes.  The hangers won’t be secured together when doing it this way, but we found it worked just as well when we ran out of long tie trash bags.
budget friendly moving and relocation tips
  • The hardest room to pack up was my studioffice... so many supplies. I used painter’s tape and newspaper to secure the many storage drawer units I had.
how to pack like a pro

There are a million moving tips on Pinterest…especially for packing ideas. If you need moving inspiration, type into the search bar “moving and relocation ideas” and a ton of posts will show up, all with good advice and do-able ideas to help make your moving process go as smoothly as it can.

How did you find your new house since it was a long distance away?

When we started out to find and buy a lake house, we put the word out to all our friends and family to suggest places for us to look. Good friends of ours who used to live in PA and now Greenville, SC told us we should look at Lake Murray in SC. We had never been, but they assured us we would really like it.  We added it to our list of places to check out. We took two – week long trips in the fall. On our first trip we looked at houses on bodies of water in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and western Georgia. We stayed in budget hotels and at friend’s homes along the way.

We found many wonderful homes and towns that we could afford and then we came home to think more about where we wanted to live, pros and cons etc. After about a week we knew that Lake Murray, SC had everything we wanted. We then set out on a second week long trip to Lake Murray to concentrate our home search there. To keep costs down, we stayed at the summer home of a friend. On this second trip we found our house.

lake house

We had looked at many houses on Lake Murray on our first trip, but the realtor we worked with had many others for us to see. The house we bought had only been on the market for a few days. As soon as we walked into the house, we knew it was the one.

One of you commented that you know when you find the right house that you get anxious and want to get a bid in pronto since you don’t want to lose the chance to get it. That is what happened to us.

After viewing the house, the agent drew up the paper and presented them to the seller. It was a Friday and we had to wait over a weekend, but we learned late on a Sunday night that our bid was accepted.  After this we were super excited which gave us new energy to get everything that needed to get done to move easier.

I hope this answers all the questions, if I forgot something about how to pack up a home when moving, please just leave it in the comments section of this post.

I have one more moving post to share with you and a giveaway that all of use, even if we are not moving could benefit from.

You May Also Like:

How to pack up a home. If you are moving soon and want to save time and money on moving expenses this post will help you. | In My Own Style

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  1. I was just reading through your tips! I just wanted to throw another tip out here. Sometimes newspaper leaves black marks on things. We used newspaper paper without the ink. I went to our local newspaper and asked if they had end of roll scrap. I paid $3.00 for the end of a roll. There was enough paper there to pack up our entire house and also a friends house that moved after us.

  2. Thanks for sharing these tips! Using trash bags to keep multiple pieces of hanging clothing together is great. Being able to tie the bag from the bottom can save some vertical space in the moving vehicle while also protecting the clothes from everything else around them.

  3. great post. helpful tips.

    here’s some advice for others looking for extra tips.. When looking for boxes, you can most likely get some for free from your local grocery store. check the bakery and produce sections. Ask early in the day because most places compact their cardboard. But I can tell you there is a wealth of good boxes there.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Katie for sharing where you find boxes. We all love free and ways we can re-use and recycle.

  4. Sue Holloway says:

    You did a great job with packing your move! It is really great how well organized you are and how well you did all the packaging. I work at a house moving company and I usually stay at the office, so don’t have to see how all is done. The movers often tell stories about people who have packed their belongings in a horrible way and because of that the move becomes such a nightmare!

  5. Good post, but I do have a tip for boxes: recycling, and the garbage behind stores. It might seem gross to people, but when you have NO MONEY at all to spare whatsoever, it’s very useful.
    When moving my sister and brother in law from Florida to Iowa, we rented a U-Haul for four days. Flew down to Florida from Iowa, rented a U-Haul for three days, and then got packing supplies. We got bubble wrap and tape (they had a marker), then spent the next two days packing and carrying things down steps and into the U-Haul in July Florida heat. =( Nearly passed out from heat exhaustion, but we did it, and we did it as cheaply as possible.
    We drove around to dollar stores (General, Tree, and Family) and dug around in their garbage behind the building for our boxes. Wiped them down if needed, wrapped things in newspaper, recycled when we were all done.
    Shingles is horrible! I hope it goes away soon, that’s terrible. =( What rotten luck.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Zovesta – Florida to Iowa…that is a big move made even harder in the July heat! Great idea to go dumpster diving behind stores to find usable boxes. Very smart and a way to give them a second chance. :-) Thanks for sharing, I know many others will benefit from this.

  6. I’ve used newspaper a few times to pack and never have had a problem and I packed a lot of stuff. I am so happy for you and your husband. Time to ENJOY ……..

  7. Thanks for all of this, Diane. I hope to move in a couple of years to retire. I have three rooms of crafting and small antiques and I’m determined to get it pared down now, before we move. This was super helpful.

  8. When we moved eight years ago, Freecycle was a good source of moving boxes. I’m sure your luck with Freecycle or Craigslist varies with your location and the time of your move, but both are worth checking. Since we hired a mover—we had decided that our DIY moving days were behind us although I did all the packing—our moving company did give us wrapping paper and boxes but there’s never enough boxes.

  9. Beverly Beard says:

    Rather than using newspapers to pack china, you can contact your local newspaper and purchase unprinted rolls of newsprint paper. I made a donation to the school program and received a large role of paper. This relieves the worry of having print on your good china.

    1. Uhaul also sell sheets of clean news print paper that are easier to use than a roll. If you are on a tight budget and can’t afford the paper, use you clean tea towels and clean bath towels for packing dishes and breakables. Face clothes can be used between plates, or wrapping small thing.

      Never use news papers on dishes or white items, as the ink leaves marks that are hard to remove, and sometimes leaves permanent marks!

      Pictures can be slid into wardrobe boxes between clothes so they don’t have to be wrapped. I have lost count of how many times I have moved over the years… some years I moved two or three times!

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Pat – Three times in a year…WOWO that is a lot – you are a pro at moving. Thanks for sharing your tips.

  10. Sheryll $ Critters. says:

    I sincerely pray that I never need to move again. You gave great tips. One thing I did not like, that I used one time, was using newspaper to wrap my white plates and cups. I had to scrub all by hand to get the ink off and it was not quick to do. I so hope you do not have that with your dishes.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sheryll – Moving is a major undertaking and one that I hope I don’t have to do again either. :-) As far as using newspapers to wrap. In the past few years, many newspapers have updated the inks they use. Ones that don’t come off which make it OK to use. Most big city newspapers use this now. XO

  11. I too have moved many times, both instate and out of state. I bought unused unprinted newspaper. I never use printed newspaper because of fear of the print somehow getting on my things. I bought my boxes and paper, bubble wrap online. They delivered it very quickly and it was good quality.
    China was wrapped in two pages of paper and stood upright in the special heavy China boxes. Crystal was wrapped first in paper towels and then in two sheets of paper. Most of what I do is what professional packers did when we had paid corporate moves. It is a long process and being organized helps.

  12. I am going to save this in case I ever convince my husband that it is time to move. We live in Fairfield CT and it was just announced that General Electric has decided to move out of Fairfield to Boston MA. You can’t drive down a street without seeing a house for sale and it is just going to get worse. GE employs over 800 people and now their homes will be on the market or the owners will be looking for other jobs. It might be too late now and we may have to wait a few years but it is time to get out of here. Thanks for all the hints.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Patty – Sorry to hear about GE moving out of your town. :-( I hope when and if you decide to sell that you can do so quickly.