What to Open First When You Move

What to Open First When You Move

Misty Adair
Aug 3, 2010

Moving is considered one of life's major stress inducing events, along with divorce and a death in the family. We just moved and are still in the recovery stages, swearing to ourselves that we will never do this again. Even though we didn't do everything the easy way, we did one thing right.

What really saved us in the first week of moving was a tiered labeling system on our boxes so we had easy access to what we needed right away. These few boxes (labeled "open first") traveled with us in our car so we knew we could count on clean sheets and clean underwear when we arrived. The second tier of boxes were things we would want in first month and the third tier were items that could wait longer.

Think about your basic needs in the first week of your move, then pack 4-6 boxes with items that fill those needs. Also, don't forget to check these tasks off your "to do" list before moving. It seems obvious, but in the mayhem of moving the most trivial things are forgotten :

1. You have to eat, therefore you have to unpack the kitchen right away. However, you don't need serving dishes and china. Just the basics will do for a week or two.
When breaking down your kitchen, pack one box with the items that you use every day like a few glasses, coffee cups, utensils, plates, cereal bowls, a pot and a skillet. Mark this box with an "open first" label and be prepared to wash dishes frequently. You could use paper products but that wouldn't be the most environmentally friendly choice, would it?

2. Clothing is an important consideration, especially if you have to go be dressed for work right after your move. You don't want to be rushing to work with only a ratty pair of sneakers to wear and have to do an emergency shopping trip (which is exactly what my husband did).
Before packing your closet up, plan ahead for the week after your move. Do you have a work meeting? A party to attend? Will you be going to the gym? Pack a separate box or suitcase with a week's worth of necessary clothing. Ideally, the rest of your clothes can be packed in boxes that are labeled by season so you won't have to unpack sweaters in the middle of the summer to find your tank tops.

3. What do you take for granted but must have on a daily basis? Think simple (this isn't a philosophical question).
Pack a box of essentials with items like toilet paper, trash bags, clean sheets, shower curtain, kitchen and bath towel(s), paper towels, kitchen sponge or rag, multi-purpose cleaning products, pet food, medications and basic toiletries. Dr. Bronner's Magic soap is an efficient addition because you can use it as a shampoo, bath soap, dish soap and just about anywhere else. Don't forget to add power cords and chargers to this box and label it "open first".

4. Even though you won't feel like dealing with it, there will be paperwork and bills to attend to in the first weeks of your move. Save yourself the trouble of weeding through boxes of papers you should have filed before, trying to find the most vital, current paperwork. Learn from our mistakes. . . and headaches.
Sort your paperwork into two file boxes. One is for your current bills, calendar, and vital documents. The other box is for anything else that you can file and organize later. Label them accordingly, and just worry about the active items for now.

Of course, the key to an easy moving transition is the big "O"--- organization. This is easier said than done, as it requires time and planning in advance. We started out our move with all the best intentions and with a stellar organizational system. Then we ran out of time, threw things in boxes, and arrived at our new home in chaos. At least we knew where to find the toilet paper and toothpaste.

Which boxes do you open first?

Images: Cavitt on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons, file boxes on Apartment Therapy

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