Having the right packing supplies is essential to making your move go smoothly. No matter what, moving can be stressful. It will always feel like there are more than a million things you need to take care of; plenty of chores and last-minute hurdles will pop as you go along. However, by being smart in your preparations, you can keep frantic moments to a bare minimum.
Think of it this way: a fisherman doesn’t walk into the ocean planning on catching fish without his fishing equipment. In that exact same way, you shouldn’t expect yourself to be able to effectively and efficiently move without the right tools in your toolbox.
‘Bout Those Boxes
The first question everyone asks when it comes to buying packing supplies is: How many boxes do I need? The second question is: What size boxes do I need?
The key to moving efficiently is to keep everything organized and uniform — in fact, that’s pretty much what all your packing supplies are for. Part of this can be accomplished by getting no more than three different sized boxes. This will make it easier to maximize space when you start moving everything.
Of course, that still doesn’t tell you how many boxes you need. Unless you’ve moved dozens of times and already have a knack for eyeballing a house for how many boxes you’ll need, the best way to get a rough estimate will be with an online calculator.
Whatever number the calculator spits out though, don’t swallow it hook line and sinker. Depending on what kind of packer you are, you may end up needing a few more boxes or a few less.
However, it’s absolutely going to be better to err on the side of having extra boxes. You don’t want to end up scrambling to get more boxes — or any packing supplies — in those final moments of packing.
Coming up with Cushioning
For all your fragile items that will end up being packed in boxes or handled by movers, you’re going to want to get ample cushioning materials. The two most popular types are foam wrap sheets and bubble wrap.
Of course, if you’re on a really tight budget, you can always pack things in wads of newspaper. They’ll do the trick — most of the time — but certainly aren't nearly as effective as materials specifically designed to protect your most fragile items.
Picking Packing Tape
As weird as it might sound, don’t cut corners when it comes to packing tape. Buy trusted brands that are both strong and easy to use. Cheap packing tape can quickly cause more of a headache than it’s worth.
One alternative — though not the cheapest alternative — to packing tape is duct tape. The primary advantage of using duct tape, outside of its strength and ease of use, is that you can get it in all sorts of colors. This will allow you to color code your boxes while packing things up, instead of having to go back with labels afterward.
Learn to Label
Labeling materials are super important. There are dozens of ways to label your boxes when it comes time to pack everything up. And most of the time, any method is as good as another. However, the key is being completely consistent.
If you’re color coding with stickers, make sure you have enough stickers. If you’re just writing down what room the items in the box belong to with a Sharpie, make sure you have enough Sharpies.
Also, to make your life easier when it comes time to unpack, make sure you label all the same sides of the boxes.
Don’t Forget Furniture Pads
If you have nice furniture, padding is essential. No matter how “gentle” a moving company promises to be — or how careful you are if you’re doing it yourself — big pieces of furniture are cumbersome to move and can easily get damaged when you’re doing so.
So, when you’re packing up, put furniture pads to use. If you move often, you can just buy the pads for $10 to $20. However, if you don’t plan on moving again soon, you’re best off just renting them for a fraction of the cost from a moving company.
When it comes time to move out, having plenty of cleaning supplies on hand is essential. You’ll most likely want to give the house a good scrub in hopes of getting your deposit back if you’ve been renting. Regardless, it’s a common courtesy if you’re selling to a new owner.
Additionally, having plenty of trash bags on hand while packing can help you quickly dispose of anything you decided you’re not going to keep — bags of clothes can be neatly dropped off at a second-hand store in the final moments, if necessary.
Additional Packing Supplies
There’s a whole assortment of items you might want in addition to boxes, padding, tape, and labels.
This list might include:
Colored markers or colored stickers for room color coding
Hand truck or dolly
Bungee cords, rope, twine, and tie-downs
Where to Get Packing Supplies
There are plenty of places you can go to get all of your packing supplies. If you’re working with a moving company, it can be tempting to get all the supplies you need right there on the spot.
However, if you want to save cash, you’re going to be better off buying bulk from a store specializing in packing supplies.
Now, if you’re just moving a studio apartment, it might even be worth checking your local recycling center; sometimes they set aside good moving boxes for reuse.
Keeping costs down with your packing supplies can be harder than you might think. Most people forget to calculate the price of moving supplies when they figure out how much it will cost to move. The cost of supplies can really start to add up fast if you’re not smart about it.
If you are able to source free boxes, you might be able to keep the costs of your moving supplies down to as little as $50. However, that’s really a best-case scenario. Realistically, you could be spending as much as $500 on your moving supplies — most of that will end up being on boxes and packing materials.
Final Thoughts: 6 Packing Supplies You’ll Need Before a Move
Moving doesn’t have to be overly stressful. Yes, it’s going to be a big change, and there’s a lot of work to make it happen. However, if you plan properly, you’ll be just fine. Part of that planning really comes down to just having the right packing supplies on hand to ensure you get everything safely into the right box.
Moving your stuff into short-term or long-term storage before your new home? Talk to the experts about what options you have to keep your belongings safe and in pristine shape.