Is there a move in your future? Are you looking around the house thinking, “now what?” When you are moving, there are three main decisions you need to make—what to move, where to get moving boxes and packing supplies, and how to get your stuff from the old home to the new home. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

What to Move?

This first decision is really a thousand little ones. Sorting through a house full of stuff is a time-consuming task. However, you save time and money if you don’t pack things you neither need nor want. One easy way to tackle this task is using this 3-category system:

  • Keep
  • Give away (or sell)
  • Throw Away

What to Keep?

Keep items you use on a regular basis or that have deep sentimental value. Keep household staples, like bandages, screwdrivers, and emergency supplies. Even though you don’t use these very often, you wouldn’t want to start over at the new place. Keep seasonal items you know you will use again.

What to Give Away?

Consider giving away any good-quality items you have not used in the last year unless you reasonably expect to use them again. Someone will appreciate them and you probably won’t miss them.

If you are feeling ambitious or are in need of extra moving funds, you might consider putting on a yard sale with your give-away items. Larger or more valuable items can be sold at local consignment shops or online.

What to Throw Away?

Most items that belong in the “throw-away” category will be obvious. Sometimes though, it can be difficult to decide whether to give something away or throw it away. A good rule of thumb is this: if you would pick it up off a thrift store shelf and consider purchasing it, give it away. If it’s stained, junky, or just plain gross, throw it away.

Where to Get Moving Boxes?

Once you’ve sorted your belongings, you need to figure out where to get moving boxes. Again, you have three options:

  • Used cardboard boxes
  • Buy cardboard boxes
  • Rent moving boxes

Used Cardboard Boxes

You’ve probably have had at least one move in which you’ve driven around from business to business, begging for leftover cardboard boxes.


  • Cost (free except for all the gas money to run around town)
  • You can leave your stuff in boxes if you need to store it long-term


  • Lots of effort required driving around town
  • Boxes all different sizes (more difficult to pack a moving van or storage container efficiently)
  • Boxes not designed to hold-up during moves
  • Boxes might not be clean
  • Still have to buy packing supplies (tape, paper, wrap, etc.)
  • Have to figure out what to do with boxes when you’re done moving

Buy New Moving Boxes

A second option is to buy cardboard moving boxes. Local moving companies and home improvement stores carry moving boxes in sets or individually.


  • Boxes regularly sized (easier to pack than mismatched used boxes)
  • Boxes are clean
  • You can leave your stuff in boxes if you need to store it long-term


  • Expensive (boxes, tape, paper, wrap, etc. adds up quickly)
  • Have to assemble and break down the boxes
  • Large boxes can get heavy and hard to move
  • Have to figure out what to do with boxes when you’re done moving
  • Not an earth-friendly option

Rent Moving Boxes

A relatively-new option for those moving within a particular metro area is renting boxes from box rental companies.


  • No effort required—they deliver moving boxes and packing supplies to your home
  • Renting boxes is up to 30% cheaper than buying boxes
  • Rented moving boxes are clean
  • Company picks boxes up again after you unpack
  • Plastic boxes are stronger than cardboard
  • Plastic boxes can stack more efficiently in moving van so you can rent a smaller truck
  • The greenest moving option


  • Service currently available for local moves only
  • Not a good option if are putting your items in long-term storage

Getting the Stuff from Here to There

Once everything is packed and ready to go, you’ll have to move your stuff from here to there. Again, three options are available:

  • Self-move
  • Hire movers
  • You pack and load; they drive


This option usually involves lots of friends who are paid off in pizza, beverages, or other tasty treats. You can use friends’ vehicles or rent a moving truck. The self-move option is great if you are moving locally and/or you don’t have a lot of stuff. It becomes more challenging, however, if you are moving far away and/or are moving a larger household.

Hire Movers

Though significantly more expensive than the first option, hiring a moving company takes much of the stress out of moving. This service usually includes you packing your belongings into the moving boxes. The movers then load the moving truck, transport your items to the new house, and unload the truck. This option is especially helpful for people with physical limitations. It is also helpful if you are moving long-distance to a place where you will not have help with unloading.

One disadvantage, aside from cost, is that you are trusting the moving company to handle your belongings with care and to keep them secure. Be sure to choose a reputable organization to avoid theft or property damage.

You Pack and Load; They Drive

Like renting moving boxes, this option has become more widely available in recent years. A portable storage container is delivered to your home. You pack all your belongings in the container and lock it. The container is loaded onto a truck and delivered to your new home.

This option is cheaper than hiring movers, but leaves the driving to the professionals. In addition, you are the only one with access to your belongings, and you also have as much time as you need to pack and unpack. However, you must load and unload the storage unit yourself. You also need to make sure that local ordinances do not restrict or forbid use of these containers.

Now You Know!

No matter how you look at it, moving is a huge task. By breaking the decisions down, you can choose the options that work best for you. For more moving advice check out these tips Now that you know what to do when you are moving, it’s time to start packing!


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