Everyone’s moving situation is different, but certain similarities plague all parties relocating from one location to another. After all, moves tend to be complicated ventures that can result in frustration, especially when figuring out where to place certain boxes and especially during the notorious unpacking process as you settle into your new accommodations. While there are still likely to be unexpected quirks, movers who identify the real pain points of moving and address them with simple practical solutions tend to reduce the strain of their move significantly.
We tend to underestimate how much stuff we actually have until it’s time to pack up and move, and anyone who truly believes they will remember where they put everything after packing up an entire residence is kidding themselves or is way too ambitious about their great memory. One of the most underestimated solutions to easing the stress of knowing where everything turns out to be the most pragmatic of all: labeling moving boxes.
This solution is very basic and very simple, but with a high return on the time taken to actually do it. That’s why it’s surprising that it is not a part of every single move. While the solution might be plain, there are certain things that are important to consider before and during the labeling of moving boxes.
Before Labeling Moving Boxes
Before labeling moving boxes, it’s a good idea to do some easy, but worthwhile prep-work.
When you are moving, you will have multiple rooms to pack up. Packing everything from the same room in the same set of boxes makes practical sense. Where things get tough is distinguishing what box houses which room’s contents. For this reason, it is recommended that movers acquire multiple high-quality markers. While a pen will do in a pinch, instead of saving a couple of dollars, find a reliable set of markers to purchase. Splurge for the high quality kind, it will be worth your while.
While you can make do with one color in labeling your boxes, it becomes counterintuitive to easing the whole box labeling endeavor. Try to find at least 5 colors, or to be really clever, one color for every room in your home.
Finally, make sure that these permanent markers are waterproof. As these will be your primary method of identifying boxes before and after your move, you will want to make sure that there is no chance of the writing bleeding off or smudging.
Moving Box Labels
Writing on the side of a box is one approach, but writing on a label specifically meant for that purpose adds greater efficiency to the box labeling approach. Many boxes are specifically sold for packing during moves, and already contain pre-printed labels on the sides.
Alternatively, you can buy moving box labels separately. They are a very common item found at nearly all office supply centers, as well as at moving companies. If you want to save a few bucks here, you can always print packing labels from a number of websites that can be located with a simple Google search. If you are looking to have some fun with the moving process, you can even design your own box labels, if you have the time to spare of course.
Double Check Second-Hand Boxes
One of the best ways to lower your moving expenses is to simply use previously used boxes instead of investing in new ones. The key to using previously utilized boxes is that they may potentially contain other labels, or some markings that could end up leading to confusion for the movers or yourself. Luckily, the remedy to this very minor problem is to simply place your labels over them.
When To Label Boxes
Many people focus too much on how they will pack their boxes and how they will label them, often overlooking the key point of when to do the labeling. This is an error typically made due to often high stress auras surrounding moves, so here is the rule of thumb about when to label a moving box: right after it has been packed and sealed up.
Some people label boxes before packing them, not considering that it’s often hard to judge how much content will actually fit in those boxes before the box is packed. Labeling boxes long after they are packed is also a bad idea, as remembering the contents of every box packed after the fact will prove to be considerably difficult.
Once all of the items have been acquired and second-hand boxes have been checked, you will need to make a decision on the labeling method you will use. This should not be too challenging, as there are only two coding systems to select from: one based on numbers or one based on colors.
Color-Coding Moving System
The color coding system during a move is simple: every room gets its own designated color. This is an extremely simple, intuitive, and effective system to implement, resulting in the least possible number of errors during the move. The color-coding approach can be implemented via several easy steps:
- Assign each room a particular color. Picking colors randomly is fine. Some people like to add in colors that are closely associated to the particular room. For instance, bathrooms have water, and since the commonly associated color of water is blue, boxes with contents from the bathroom can be labeled with blue markers.
- Using the high-quality markers you purchased during your preparation stage, label each room according to its designated color.
- On the label, write down the boxes’ contents in the color of the designated room, the room the box is to be brought into, and any special handling instructions (ex. Fragile, glass, etc.) for the movers. It is advised that any such warnings be labeled in red, as it tends to draw attention. Any room labeled with a red marker as its designated color, should list the warnings and instructions in black to make these stand out.
- Prepare pieces of paper with the corresponding colors, and place them on the outside of the doors to these rooms.
An optional step is to use colored labels on boxes alongside colored text, as well as implementing the use of colored tape on the boxes as well. However, these are extra expenses and unlikely to be deemed worthwhile for someone trying to save time and cut down the cost.
Numeric Moving System
With this method, rather than using different colors to indicate the rooms the boxes are destined to arrive at, you will use numbers. Rather than listing out the contents of the box, all you need to do is write down a number on the side of the box. In that way, this system can help save some time. To put it into practice, all that is required is a set of the following easy steps:
- Using a notebook or a smart device, create a master packing list. Each number will correspond to the box and its contents once they are packed.
- Mark the box you pack with the same number on two sides. Then that numbered box can be designated as belonging to the same room. If you pack up rooms systematically, you can work out a range. In other words, boxes 1 – 15 are all bedroom contents, while perhaps 16 – 30 are for the kitchen.
- To make things easier for the movers, you can still include the room destination on the box.
- Each entry in your master packing list should list out all of the box’s contents, which will make it easier to cross reference the number of the box against the list.
- Keep the master list safe and nearby. If you misplace it or lose it during the move, the effort you have put into the packing method of this sort turns out to be entirely wasteful. Because papers can get lost, take a picture of it, or photocopy the list, then keep these copies in several different locations. You can also email it to yourself in order to have easy access to the list from your smart device.
Neither method is overall superior as some people will prefer one to the other. Typically, most people who utilize these methods prefer the more reliable safety net method of writing the box contents on the moving labels regardless of a color scheme or master list (especially if it gets misplaced).
Here are a few other helpful tips to apply during the move:
- Label boxes on the top at least one side (though 2 is better). No matter which way the box is carried into your new home, one of the sides will be clearly visible.
- If the box contains a particular valuable, perhaps you do not wish to write those contents on the box’s face. To that end, valuables should be packed separately, perhaps in boxes you can transport in the safety of your own care.
- Attach labels to the cardboard moving boxes by placing clear packing tape across them. This will help keep the labels static and be easy to see through for the underlying numbers, colors, or instructions. Those who prefer not to use tape can glue the labels on as well, though this will be a slower, messier option.
Most importantly, don’t be too proud of your own memory by avoiding labeling moving boxes altogether. You might remember some of the contents of these moving containers, but you will certainly not remember them all. Too many boxes will look similar (or even identical) leading to confusion and added stress, two things you are always seeking to avoid, especially during a move. As they say: The shortest pencil is better than the longest memory.