Unpacking After a Move

Your move has gone according to plan, I hope. All of a sudden you find yourself in the new home and you're surrounded by piles of freshly delivered boxes and all this stuff everywhere. What are you going to do with all that? You'll probably want to celebrate a successful house move but part of you will keep reminding you that it's just too soon to celebrate because of the task of unpacking. You're too tired to celebrate, probably anyway.

Unpacking can be an overwhelming, especially if you have no idea where to start after the move. You have all this pile of stuff everywhere, right? Hopefully, you won't worry too much. The worst part of the move should already be behind you. There are a few important things that you should do before rushing to open up all those boxes and take out their contents though. Starting this task the wrong way could cost you valuable time and probably a little frustration.

Take Account of Your Belongings

Before you rush to open up those boxes, take a few steps first. The first step is check the boxes against the inventory list if you prepared one. Some people don't make inventory list, but if someone else moved your items and you didn't have enough time to check the boxes as they were leaving the old house, do so now. Check and make sure all your boxes are there. Use the inventory list provided by your moving company or the one you created yourself. If you can't seem to find a box or something important, contact your movers as soon as possible so that they can get that located and/or investigated. You should have all your stuff.

Sort Out Boxes

The next thing you want to do is sort out the boxes. Having all the boxes in a single place really isn't going to work, so make sure all the containers are sorted out and carried to their destinations. Like I said before, color coding things really works well, putting that colored piece of duct tape or special designator on each corner of the boxes so they're easily identified.

That's where taking the extra time to label your boxes will really pay off. Best case scenario would be that the movers already sorted those for you and moved them to the appropriate rooms, but if not, at least you know how to do that more easily this way.

Prioritize Unpacking

The next thing you do is prioritize the unpacking job. What's the most important thing to unpack first? Unpacking after move doesn't have to be a race against time. You feel pressed for time when you're moving, and so you're having to pack all your stuff by a certain date.

It might be a high priority now, but focusing 100% on unpacking may not be the right thing to do. No one wants to be surrounded by huge piles of cardboard boxes but you may happen to have more important things to do. Maybe you have to return to work. Maybe you're going to do some urgent chores or have some utilities connected or other things. Getting groceries, getting that refrigerator filled up at the new house. You may not be able to do 100% unpacking right away, so prioritize things.

Maybe making a floor plan ahead of time or doing it now, you want to know exactly where each piece of the large furniture is going to be positioned before you start assembling it or unwrapping it, whatever may be the case. By knowing where you're going to put things and sorting it out, this will prevent you from having to move big, huge pieces of furniture all around the room unless it's already been set up for you. You'd be lucky if the movers did that for you. It makes things easier on yourself. Just save valuable time and spare your nerves by having the floor plan or having the idea of where everything goes ahead of time.

Then you should have an unpacking strategy. Having the right unpacking strategy is winning half the battle. Create a good unpacking plan and stick to it and you'll notice how the entire unpacking process goes fairly smoothly. Don't get me wrong, it's still quite a task, but it will go much smoother.

What Is Needed Now?

Unpack only what you need on the first day. Be selective in what you unpack first to save time and energy. You're probably very tired from all that packing and moving in the first place. The best thing about unpacking after a move is that you can finish that time-consuming task without feeling the pressure of the approaching deadline like when you're having to pack to move.

The key is to unpack only what you need the first day and possibly the second day after the move, and then unpack the rest of the household items whenever you manage to find more free time in the evening or on the weekends whatever makes you happy or maybe you took a bunch of time off and you can do it right now. Which room to unpack first? Most moving experts are unanimous that your first unpacking stop should be in the kitchen.

It is really important to get those perishables put in the refrigerator or freezer but beyond that, the room you start with depends on the time of day that you arrive at your new home I would imagine. If it's around noon or early afternoon, then yes, you may want to unpack essential items first. However, if you arrive late in the afternoon or in the evening, your top priority is probably just to take a hot shower, unpack some bathroom things and to go to bed. How about you pack some of your bedroom stuff? Maybe some sheets and some pajamas. One thing is for sure, you will be exhausted both physically and mentally the day that you move into your new home.

Hopefully, you have arranged for the transfer of utilities prior to the new move. I hate to be trying to do that stuff in the dark or without water. Am I right? Remember that the essentials box or boxes that you packed before should be the very first thing you unpack to keep things running smoothly. They have all your essentials to get you through that first day or two.

Here is an excellent room-by-room unpacking timeline to follow:

Bathroom. Unpack the essentials. In the bathroom, the essentials would be toilet paper, towels, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, your shower curtains which to avoid a mess, you do need that. Your toiletries, your medicine. Medication is very important to get to very quickly.

Kitchen. Your major appliances, of course. Get the major appliances unpacked and hooked up. You'll probably need the kitchen stove and microwave oven to be operational as soon as possible. If you've moved the refrigerator as well, it's very important to wait at least three hours before plugging it in and turning it on so that the oil inside the cooling system makes its way back to the compressor unit. Wait three hours to plug in that refrigerator.

For small appliances, you're going to unpack and set up the smaller kitchen appliances like your coffee maker and your toaster. Coffee maker will be especially appreciated during the first several days of a new home if you're a coffee drinker like me, very important. Essentials, remember that you need to organize your unpacking time very carefully. Unpack only the essential kitchen items first. The utensils, the kitchenware you may plan to use for the next few days.

Big tip, if you have disposable plates, bowls, silverware enough for a couple of days, you can put off unpacking all those breakables for a little while longer. The breakables, unpack the boxes that contain all the breakables on the weekend or later on whenever you have time. These usually take longer than you think and need to be washed before storage anyway.

Cupboards. Line the kitchen cupboards and organize the rest of your kitchen after you've unpacked all the priority boxes in all the rooms of your house. Unpacking and arranging the entire kitchen will take forever. Just think of the hundred kitchen items that took you to pack all that stuff, every little spatula, every little spice, and every little salt and pepper shaker. There's a lot of stuff. Wait if you can.

Bedroom. Unpack, assemble, and make the bed if you have chosen to take that with you. Regardless of the packing strategy you have decided to follow, you will desperately need to have a decent night's rest after that hardship of moving day. You're going to want to have your bed ready. Of course, unpack the bed linens and the mattress and grab a pillow and a blanket and call it a day on that one.

Then you're going to unpack your clothes. Open up the wardrobe boxes and the regular cardboard boxes that contain your clothes and arrange them in a closet or a wardrobe. Tip, only unpack the clothes you plan to wear in the next few days in order to save time and to prioritize.

Lamps. You can unbox lamps intended for the bedroom and set them up as well.

Furniture. Consider unpacking and setting up other bedroom furniture whenever you have free time on your hands. It's not that urgent. How about the living room? Furniture, you're going to unpack and reassemble and position all of the big pieces of furniture that occupy the living room. That'll probably get them out of your way if it's organized as well.

Electronics. You can unpack and set up the entertainment center or whatever electronic devices that you'll desperately need during the monotonous and never-ending task of unpacking and reorganizing in your new home. Having that music or being able to watch TV, having that might just make the process a little bit nicer.

Books. Do not bother unpacking books for now. You can do it later at a stage when you've already impacted and arranged the other rooms in your home. You're probably not going to have time to read a book unless you want to keep one book out, because that's just your routine, you read a little bit before bed. All those other books, they can wait.

Storage Spaces. Storage areas, tackle your spare room, garage, attic, basement, do that last. Most of the time, storage items don't contain anything essential anyway. Organize those storage spaces later after you've unpacked everything else. Don't waste time opening boxes that have storage stuff in them with items that are intended for storage because you probably aren't going to use them or you rarely use them.

Important note. Remember that which room you unpack first will always depend on your family's needs. It's not the same for everyone. If you have children, then the task of unpacking and setting up your children's room has a much higher unpacking priority. If you work from home, then unpacking and arranging the home office is going to have a more important priority than unpacking the living room and the entertainment hub. Am I right?

Unpacking your entire home can take weeks, maybe months, but the sooner you've unpacked and arranged the new place to your own taste, the sooner you can accept it as your own home.

Bonus Tips

Unpack one room at a time. The best way to unpack after moving is to do it in stages. Get rid of packing materials while unpacking. Packing materials will pile up as you keep unpacking and the supplies will slow you down and just get in your way.

Books and clothes can wait. Chances are you won't be in the mood for reading like I said and you probably won't have time to do so. So you don't need to unpack that stuff, especially the out of season clothing.

Make your new place your own. It won't feel like the new place is your own until you unpack all the miscellaneous stuff and have it all put away. Unpack and hang photos, pictures, paintings, decorate the walls. Also, don't forget to unpack the plants or the flower pots you may have moved to add that final little home touch.

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