unpacking plan

Unpacking Plan After Moving Long Distance

One of the tougher parts of any move comes
when it’s nearly all over: getting unpacked.

cross country movers

Unpacking Plan After Moving Long Distance

The best way to keep your new home in order is to plan how you will unpack. Find out how to make your unpacking less stressful.You'd think this would be a happy event because it marks the completion of the actual move. However, whether the unpacking job is large or small, everyone tends to feel out of control when surrounded by towers of unpacked moving boxes. Even a moving expert like Sandy Payne, author of Move Your House, felt intimidated when faced with her first unpacking job.

Faced with a slew of boxes with vague labels like "kitchen" Payne employed the disastrous "take-everything-out-of-every-box-at-once" method. "In the end, after weeks of confusion, long hours and very intense work, we managed to get our house set up in time for the delivery of our second child," says Payne.

To avoid this type of mistake, use this room-by-room guide for a sane unpacking experience. And before you even start unpacking, set a packing game plan.

  • Discuss the process with anyone who is helping you so you follow the same process.
  • Gather pen, paper and designate "discard" and "donate" areas/boxes.
  • Prepare a system for noting any goods damaged from the move.
  • Begin with the first rooms you will use -- the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms. Each are essential to getting your normal life back in order.

Here are some tips for unpacking and setting things up in a way that make sense for your new life.

Throughout the House:

  • Make sure the traffic flow between rooms is free of obstacles -- it makes it easier to unpack everything and get around.
  • Create (and stay faithful to) an index card unpacking to-do list with a separate task on each card.
  • Designate how much time you need to complete the task in the corner of each card.
  • When you have some time to spare before rushing off somewhere, pull out a card and get something done.
  • Don't tackle everything at once -- take breaks often.
  • Discard each box after you unpack its contents - you can easily get new ones if (hopefully not when) you move again.

Living Room:

  • Make your space look neater by closing stacks of DVD's and other stored items behind cabinet doors or in decorative boxes.
  • We often underestimate the amount of storage space we need, says Payne, but imagining you have less stuff won't make it reality. Don't buy storage items until you're sure just how much you'll need to store.
  • Once they're in place, rotate your accents / decor instead of putting them up all at once -- this makes your space look less chaotic and eliminates the boredom of looking at the same thing as you're working. Plus you'll be less likely to spend money on new items.


  • Keep your countertops free of visual clutter.
  • Make sure your storage products accommodate hard-to-store objects, like that bread maker you never use.
  • On the fridge -- if it's arrived -- create a family message area with calendars, schedules and to-do lists that everyone can access and read.


  • To differentiate between owners of bathroom items, use a color code system -- each family member gets a different color basket, bin, towel or hanger.
  • Before unpacking, clear this room, starting with the ceiling.
  • Monogramming towels with initials is an easy way to mark ownership. This can be done cheaply.

Payne says dividing time between unpacking, sorting, and organizing can actually leave you feeling refreshed at the end of the day - or at the least, refreshingly sane.

Storage Locations

Los Angeles
5698 Bandini Blvd B.
Bell, CA 90201
P: 888-680-7200 Ext. 102
San Francisco
745 85th Ave
Suite L. Oakland, CA 94621
P: 888-680-7200 Ext. 135
New York
210 Meadowlands Pkwy d,
Secaucus, NJ 07094
P: 888-680-7200 Ext. 131

Business Hours(PST)

Monday: 8am - 4pm
Tuesday: 8am - 4pm
Wednesday: 8am - 4pm
Thursday: 8am - 4pm
Friday: 8am - 4pm
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed
Shannon L.
Shannon L.
Jan 5, 2024

Movers who packed my things up in NY were great. I was also very impressed with how clear everything was, how fast the move coordinator Eric was with getting back to me. Read more testimonials

Danielle Francisco
Feb 11, 2024

Terrific experience with Andres and his team. They were quick, efficient and very knowledgeable. Read more testimonials

Ria B.
Ria B.
Jan 10, 2024

Everything went smoothly with CA-NY Express Movers. They packed up my apt in NYC in no time, put it into storage for me while we found our new house. Read more testimonials

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