How To Unpack After Moving

Full article 24 min read
How to Start Packing to Move

Moving to a new home is different for everyone. But if you think that the move itself is difficult, wait until you have to unpack and settle in! There’s more to unpacking than just knowing what to unpack first, and following a system will help you get better at organizing and settling in. For some, it is exciting as it fills you up with feelings of joy, opportunity, and energy. While for others, it’s exhausting and not fun in the least.

However you may feel about the unpacking, there are a few steps that you may follow to get it all (un)wrapped up soon. Here are a few important things that will help you unpack quickly and efficiently in our guide to how to unpack after moving.


Follow The Rules

If you want smooth sailing with your unpacking, you need to follow some rules to begin with. You need to have a system in place that will help you stay organized and keep your cool through it all. You don’t want your unpacking process to turn into chaos and to land up with a clutter of random piles. A couple of these rules are listed below, intended to help you put things in place right from the packing process.

Packing Is Important

The best way to unpack efficiently is to pack your belongings correctly in the first place. If you have that sorted, unpacking will be a lot easier and more convenient for you. So, make sure you have all your belongings packed, labeled, and listed down systematically. The more rushed you are with your packing, the more of a task unpacking it all will be!

How to Use Packing Paper for Moving

Have An Inventory

Labeling your boxes is mandatory, and you know it. When creating an inventory list while packing, you may want to go the extra mile and list down what things you pack into which boxes. It can be a bit much to accomplish, but honestly, it comes in handy when you’re unpacking all of these things one by one. Make sure you label the boxes and number your lists so you know which box has what! This way, you don’t end up opening up box after box to find an item you need.

If you prefer going digital, there are several online apps that can be convenient and efficient for you to use. This way, you don’t have to sit with a paper and pen to make a list! Zoho Inventory, Adoo, Square, and ABC Inventory are some of the inventory apps that you can use to make life a tad bit easier for you. You can list out your entire inventory items in these apps to have them ready for you whenever you need them.

Classify Boxes According To The Rooms

Ideally, color-coding boxes and labeling them accordingly is a good idea. You can pack items that belong to a particular room in color-coded boxes i.e. designate one color to a room, and pack all its items in boxes labeled with that color. Try to not mix your living room items with your kitchen items or bathroom ones. Keep separate boxes for each of the rooms and label them correctly.

Once you’ve done this, move day becomes loads easier. You can later direct the movers to unload those boxes into their specific rooms and keep all the boxes separate when unloading. This reduces your time and makes your life easier when unpacking.


Have An Open-First Box

An open-first box is a box that contains all the items you’d need through your first few days of moving. A few extra pairs of clothes, a toothbrush, water bottles, chargers, medications, a first aid box, and other items that you’d require can go in it. It’s pretty much the ‘essentials’ box that you need to get your hands on first when moving to your new house.

If you have kids, you can add their special toys or their comfort blankets here. This can make them more comfortable in the new house, helping them settle in better in the beginning. The same goes for your pet’s essentials if you have one. However long this box/bag takes to unpack, make sure it’s the first task you tick off the list.

Labeling and keeping this box with you will prevent you from digging into a dozen boxes to get the things you need. Having a separate box, in this case, allows you to have all the things you’d need in one place, sorted out in advance. This reduces decluttering while unpacking and is one step towards having a less stressful unpacking session.

Cleaning And Organizing

Get Familiar With Your New Space

This may seem like common sense, but you really need to give yourself some time to get acquainted with the new space. Get used to the layout of the house, don’t immediately rush into unpacking and redecorating the house.

You’re probably wondering just how to accomplish this since sitting around with piles of boxes around you isn’t the wisest way to spend your initial days. But consider getting this step done before moving day. Make sure you take a nice, slow walk around the house the few times you head there.

Once you know what the layout of your house is, you will be more relaxed and comfortable to sort out your unpacking moves better. This can also help you pre-decide just what piece of furniture goes where, making your unpacking that much more efficient.

Clean Every Room

It goes without saying that moving and unpacking is all about cleaning, unfortunately! So, before you start unpacking, you’ll have to clean each of the rooms first.

You will have to start from scratch and deep clean every single room in the house. If this seems too challenging a task to do, make sure you hire professionals to do a full sweep a day or two before you move in. It definitely is an added step but will give you a literal clean slate when unpacking all of your belongings.


Put Boxes In Their Appropriate Rooms

When you are unloading the boxes, one thing to do is put these boxes in their designated rooms themselves. You have them labeled already, so you can go ahead and place them in their respective rooms, and not pile them up randomly across several rooms. This will save you time and effort of going through each box later on. You can then unpack each of them whenever you move along.

Things To Unpack On The First Day After Moving

Once you’ve cleaned your house and organized all the boxes as well, you need to now start unpacking and setting up your house. There are a few things you would have to unpack first before you start moving on to spaces that do not need immediate unpacking. Starting things off on a priority basis is the first step to easy-peasy unpacking, so read on!

Start With The Essentials

The first thing you should be doing is unpacking your essentials box. This should be the first box you will be unloading and unpacking. As mentioned earlier, this box has all of the things you’d be needing for your early days in the house. If the box isn’t too big, we recommend simply carrying it along with you and not sending it off with all the other boxes, especially if this is a long distance move.

Cleaning Supplies And Bedroom Essentials

Along with your ‘essentials’ box, you would also have to pack a ‘cleaning’ and a ‘comfort’ box. A box of handy cleaning supplies is always a bonus when moving into a new home, whether it is to spruce up a room before you unpack or to clean up once all the unpacking is done.

Your comfort box will be inclusive of your bedroom essentials. The bedroom essentials will include linens, throws, and some other random but important things that will make you a bit more comfortable. This can simply help you settle in much better.

Once you have these essentials in place, you will have some time to rest. Take a break and relax for a bit. You shouldn’t get right back and rush with the unpacking right after as you could exhaust yourself from the very beginning itself.

See Also: Where to Find Wardrobe Boxes for Moving

Perishable Items

This one is a no-brainer. You need to refrigerate all of the perishable food items that you may have carried along since naturally, you don’t want these items to go bad! Your dry items, especially packaged items like biscuits and chips, can stay in for a while but the perishable items need to be taken out.

Unpack Your Bathroom Boxes First

There are two reasons behind getting your bathroom set up first; for one, it is one of the smallest spaces in your house. This makes it easy for you to set it up much quicker. The second reason is, it is one of the rooms that you would need to use on a daily basis.

Start off by unpacking all your bathroom necessities. This would include towels, toilet paper, tissue rolls, soaps, shampoo, etc. These are some things you would need almost immediately after arriving. Make sure that you keep your cleaning products and hazardous products separately from your daily items of need. Have designated places assorted for each of your items to avoid cluttering things up.


Things To Unpack Over The Next Few Days

Once you have unpacked all of your essentials, you’re good to go for a few days and you don’t have to immediately start unpacking everything else. You can slowly start unpacking all of the other boxes and settle each one room by room.

Assemble And Arrange All Of Your Furniture

Give yourself a few days for the furniture placement in your house. It will be a lengthy and time-consuming process that needs to be done right.

You’d need to have a floor plan to ensure that you put all of your furniture in the right places and have fun with it. But remember, you don’t want to be wasting too much time playing around with the layout of your house for too long. Settle on a house plan in advance (preferably before the move) and discuss it with your partner before you start moving things around.

One option you have when it comes to assembling furniture is to hire a moving company that offers it as a service. Once the movers are done unloading everything, they can unpack and assemble certain pieces. You could also hire a separate company to come in and do this a day or two after moving day. This saves you the hassle of doing it yourself.

Once all of your furniture is settled, it gives you a proper setup to work with. You have your layout ready, giving you room to place all of your other belongings and set up your house more efficiently.

Also Read: How to Move Heavy Furniture by Yourself

Unpack Your Bedroom Boxes

Your bedroom is your relaxation space and getting that room sorted out will help a ton. Once you are done with arranging your furniture, you can go ahead and open the rest of your boxes.

At the end of the day, you want to be comfortable so ensure you set your bed up first. Then you can move on to unpacking other boxes that have your side table essentials and other decor items. Don’t rush into the big things, and begin with a few easy things. This will give you a hang of everything.

You can also give yourself some time limits. This is a good idea that will keep you in check of whether you’re wasting your time or if you’re rushing too much. Also, don’t forget to take small breaks as it helps to keep your mind and body afresh. Following these bits of advice will help you and within a few hours, you’ll be done unpacking and setting up your bedroom.

If you have children, you need to ensure their rooms are also unpacked in time. This will help them to get accustomed and comfortable with the new rooms and the house. If you can, you may also sleep in together for a few days until the entire house and the rooms are completely unpacked and settled. This will give your children time to ease in while making them feel comfortable as well.

Unpack The Kitchen Items

Most people would suggest you unpack your kitchen at the end, but we recommend you do it at the beginning itself. This is one of the most tedious tasks as there are layers to unpacking the kitchen, and the various compartments and sections make it a fairly complex job. Here are some tips that would help you get a better hang of things when unpacking your kitchen items.

The first thing, apart from cleaning, would be to know what you want to start with. Assuming you have all your utensils, pantry items, cutlery, and other kitchen belongings packed in separate labeled boxes, you can start with one category at a time.

If you plan on organizing your utensils first, do not touch or unpack any of the other boxes. This will help you to declutter section by section and box by box. Look at the layout of the kitchen and arrange your belongings accordingly. If you need help remembering what goes where you can use sticky notes to label the compartments and drawers.

This helps you stay organized and not clutter your space with things. Keep moving on from section to section, filling up your kitchen, and emptying the boxes. Likewise, do the same with your refrigerator. Make sure you stock it up with water, food, easy-to-cook food, and some fresh fruits for yourself.

Another thing to remember is if you have a dining room in your new house (firstly, congratulations on all the extra space), make sure you unpack the room alongside the kitchen itself. Both the rooms are quite similar and you will have a better idea of what things would go in which areas.


Unpack The Living Room Boxes

Once your bathrooms, rooms, and the kitchen are all set up, you can take a deep breath as your house is half unpacked and there’s only half the work left. Your next step would be to unpack your living room which is probably the hardest one so far. When it comes to the living room, there’s a lot that needs to be done. This is one room that involves a lot of furniture and decor pieces. Amidst all that, you also have to ensure that the space has a comfortable and cozy feeling for all. After all, it is one of the rooms that would be used the most in the house.

This is when you can take out all your entertainment units including your television, movies, books, and games. Unpack such things at the end so that you don’t find yourself distracted with them lying around the house. Add all of your decor pieces at the end, and make this space as wholesome and homely as you can.

Things To Unpack Last

Closet And Excess Items

Your closet items are the next in line that need unpacking. Set aside all of your off-season clothing that you wouldn’t immediately need. Keep those boxes aside and focus on items that need to go in your closet. This will probably take the longest time but will be worth it in the end.

You can start unpacking your closet first, then move on to the closets of your children and other members of the family. Alternatively, tackle your kids’ closets first if that’s the more pressing task. Whatever you do, do not try to multitask here as you will find yourself under a mixed pile of everyone’s clothes. Take this one person at a time and you will be sorting out the mess in under a day’s time.

Unpack Your Utility Areas Towards The End

Some of the last spaces that you need to unpack at your new house are the utility rooms, like the garage, basement, and attic among others. These rooms are not essential and are used sparsely around the house on a daily basis. So if you’d like, you can take a break from unpacking before you start with these ones.

Start unpacking after you have gathered a plan to organize all of your important but rarely used belongings. Prepare a rough layout of the space and know what things would go where. Try to keep these rooms as functional as possible without cluttering them too much. One good tip would be to use cabinets and shelving options to store things in one place.

Decorate Your New House

Once you have unpacked all of your belongings and placed them in their designated places, your job is almost done. All you are left with is decorating your space. This includes hanging up the art pieces and making some ‘crucial’ home decor decisions with regards to your macramé and more. This will be your final touch to the unpacking process and could take longer than you expect. But, that’s the whole point. You can take your time with such details and decisions. After all, this is your home and you want to feel comfortable living in it.


Tips To Unpack Efficiently

Unpacking will be a very lengthy and stressful process. To make it more convenient and easy, you ought to follow some pro tips. Thankfully, that’s just what we have! Here are some additional pro tips apart from the ones mentioned above that we think will nudge you along the way.

● Embrace The Unpacking Process

Take one day at a time when unpacking your belongings. Unpacking will be a lengthy process that you cannot and need not settle in a few days. Give yourself breaks whenever needed and do not rush with anything. Embrace it and enjoy it to the fullest.

● Plan Each Room

Before you get started with unpacking, make sure you know what you want to do with each of your rooms. Do not go in blindly without giving the unpacking and decor of the room any thought.

● Give It A Personal Touch

This is your new home, so try to make it as personal as possible. Adding pictures, and decorating with items from your previous home will be a good lead to follow.

● Work As A Team

Unpacking will be efficient and much better if you do it as a team. Let each member of the house lend a hand in the process. Plus, this will make everyone feel more comfortable and acquaint them with the new space they now call home.

Summing Up

Moving by itself is a very long and exhausting process. To ensure you don’t mess things up and get into a clutter, you may want to follow at least a few tips that are mentioned in the above article. While you need the time to enjoy the process, you also need to be efficient and work fast. We hope that the tips given above will come of use when unpacking your belongings at your new house.

FAQs On How To Unpack After Moving

How Long Should It Take To Unpack After Moving?

Ideally, unpacking takes longer than three whole days. If you have a lot of rooms to cover it may take longer and with a smaller space, it could take an even shorter time to unpack. It’s all relative depending on the size of your move.

Where Do I Start Unpacking After Moving?

You need to first start unpacking your bathroom and bedroom. Those are the two most used rooms in any house. You would be using them on a daily basis and unpacking them after moving is very important.

In What Order Should I Unpack After Moving?

When unpacking, you should first start off with your essentials and then move ahead to the rooms. When unpacking the rooms, you can prioritize which of the rooms you would be using the most. It mostly is your bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, living room, guest room, and so on and so forth. This will completely depend on what rooms you use on a daily basis and which ones you do not.


How Should I Organize My House After Moving?

Organizing will help you get your unpacking done faster. You can start off by cleaning the house, moving all the boxes to the respective rooms, and making a rough layout of the space. These are some easy steps to follow to organize your house after moving.

Written by

Alex Sherr is the founder of My Long Distance Movers, a blog that provides moving information and resources for people who are relocating. He has more than two decades of experience in the moving and relocation industry, and he is passionate about helping people relocate smoothly and efficiently. When he's not writing or blogging, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.