Moving Tips and Tricks from a Packing Expert

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Real Estate

How to Pack Your Life: Moving Hacks from an Expert

After closing on the perfect home or getting that amazing offer on your residence, the real challenge begins: it’s time to move. This process can be stressful and full of potential pitfalls, so I’ve asked my friend, Mari de Armas, to share her best tips. In the past six years, she’s moved five times across four states, which in my book makes her an expert (as well as a little crazy). Enjoy her article below. 

Dear Future Mover,

I'm writing to you today from the edge of my new granite kitchen counter with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee while Chaka Kahn's Ain't Nobody plays softly in the background.
As pleasant as this sounds, just one week ago I was slicing my fingertips with a packing tape dispenser, hailing down my moving truck while standing in the middle of a busy intersection and horrified at the thought of having to undo all of the boxes I had so neatly packed.

This last move was my fifth one in six years. I assure you, I am not running from the law. Far from it. But a series of life circumstances and professional opportunities have led me on a cross-country journey, which, in turn, has taught me a whole lot about packing and unpacking. Here are my best tips and tricks for your next move.

The Purge
Each time I’ve begun a move, my initial instinct is to close the door behind me and leave all of my material possessions behind. Light a match and forget about it. While I don’t recommend this at all, it’s a good mindset to me in when auditing your belongings. The first thing I do is painstakingly evaluate every piece of furniture, kitchen appliance and item of clothing and ask these three questions: Does it fit (in my new place or on my body)? Is it useful where I’m going? Is it worth its weight?  That last question is the most important, because your movers will quote you based on weight. In my most recent move, I took a long look at my leather sectional and matching ottoman and figured it was a better investment to sell it locally and use the money to buy a new couch.

Top Tips to Remember: 

Moving doesn’t have to be the setting of a dystopian horror film, but you should try to purge as much as possible.

The Boogeyman in your closet are the clothes you don’t wear. Followers of the KonMari Method™ would question if a particular t-shirt sparks joy in your life. But the Mari de Armas method is to donate anything I haven’t worn more than once in a year.

Personally, the most difficult items I part with are the heaviest: my books. Before each move, I set a goal of eliminating 20 percent of the collection and soothe my heartache by ordering a new book and shipping it to my new address.

Packer’s Labyrinth
Packing takes time and a seemingly endless number of supplies, from boxes to tape to butcher paper to sharpies. It’s also important to note that it takes up space. I like to set up an area for supplies, so I never have to go searching for where the tape dispenser went. Another tip is to clear out an area of each room where you will begin to stack your packed boxes. Otherwise, you’ll constantly have to climb over boxes just to get from one room to the next. If you have the means and don’t mind strangers rifling through your items, all reputable moving companies offer a packing service.

Top Tips to Remember:

On each box and on all six sides, I write the room the box goes to and describe a few key items inside. Then, for the movers’ benefit, I use strips of different color duct tape to identify where these boxes should go. All the red boxes go in the bedroom, the yellow boxes in the kitchen, the blue boxes in the living, etc.

Remember, the last thing on the truck will be the first thing to come off. For me that’s my vacuum. As the movers clear out rooms, I go in and suck up all of the dust in those corners that haven’t seen the light of day since I first got there.

Don’t pack everything. Keep a suitcase with the items you’ll need access to during your move and right after you’ve arrived at your new place, such as important documents, medications, chargers, basic toiletries, and a couple changes of clothes.

Invasion of the Box Snatchers
There comes a time in your life when recruiting your friend with a truck to move you in exchange for pizza and beer is no longer a viable option. If you are like me, you may be tempted to get quotes from places with comedic names like, Fraternity Hot Bodies, Pipo's Moving Co. and Three Guys and a Little Truck, but don’t fall into the cutesy trap. Instead, look for licensed and insured companies with excellent BBB ratings.

Top Tips to Remember:

Get quotes from three different movers. These quotes should be based on a virtual or physical walk through of your home by a representative from the company.

Make sure the quote you agree to is binding not-to-exceed. This means that if the actual weight of your shipment is more than the written estimate, you still pay the amount quoted, and if the actual weight is less than the written estimate, you pay the lesser amount.

Tip your mover between 15% to 20% of the total cost of the move for large or long-distance moves and 5% to 10% for smaller, cross-town moves.

Get Out
Once the movers are gone, I take a moment to look around at the mountain of color-coordinated boxes in each room and, well, I cry a little, and then I wipe my face and pull out my retractable blade. 

Top Tips to Remember:

Unpack one room at a time and one box at a time.

As you unpack boxes, flatten them and move them out of the room you’re in. Otherwise, things will quickly get out of control and you won’t be able to see, much less get around.

Leave the TV and gaming console for last. Trust me when I tell you that the temptation to sit on the couch instead of unpacking is all too powerful.

I hope you found these tips helpful. As you prepare for your move, remember that there will always be surprises and even unexpected hiccups. But with a little planning and the advice of a good real estate agent, your experience can be a ‘Daydream on Elm Street.’



You can read more of Mari’s musings on her website, If you’re interested in learning more about the Vero Beach housing market, reach out to Colleen Rodriguez at (954) 804-6804 or She is always available to chat and offers up sound advice that isn’t stuffy or filled with jargon, which is as refreshing as a swim in Jaycee Beach.