Whether you've rented a new apartment or bought a house, you need to somehow get your stuff from the old place to the new one. Of course, you can hire someone to move your things, but you can easily do it on your own. Well… at least if you're a minimalist. Otherwise it might be better to get the help of some friends. Here's a simple guide that highlights the most important aspects of a DYI move. Sticking to it has worked for me so far, and hopefully it will be useful for you too.

If it's not a rush move, you'll always be better off if you start preparing early. Don't wait until the final few days or you'll already be tired before you even begin to haul those boxes. How early is early? That depends on your exact situation, but a month should be enough. What to do in that month? First, let's get the obvious out of the way.

Less Things = Easier Move

You probably have some clothes you haven't worn in a long time, some old magazines or books, an old phone that you replaced etc. A move is the perfect opportunity to get rid of this useless stuff. Useless for you anyway, but don't forget that there are people who might be happy to take it off your hands and even pay you for it. But first you need to know what's what.

Go through your things and sort out those you can live without. You don't necessarily have to physically separate them, but make sure you take notes so you don't get confused later. Anything you haven't used for a few months is a good candidate for the away-with-you pile. Pay special attention to clothes and paper, they're some of the heaviest for their volume. The most important thing at this stage is to be thorough and objective. Once that's done, start selling off what you can. Use online auctions, organize a garage sale, go to flea markets, whatever you can think of. Donate the things you can't sell and throw away the rest. Hang on to some newspapers or magazines though, they're useful for packing.

Another strategy for having less things to move is to hold off on buying. If you need to replace your printer, sell the old one, but don't get a new one until after the move. Same goes for smaller stuff. Running out of toilet paper? Buy only enough to last you until the move, you probably don't need a 12-pack if you're leaving in a few days.

Nothing Left Unpacked

Now that you've cut down on your belongings it's time to pack them. Boxes are often the first choice and you can usually get some boxes for free from local shops, all you need to do is ask around. Ideally, you want them to be just the right size for one person to carry. If they're too big, it'll take two people to haul them and it might be tricky to fit them into the truck (or trailer, or car, or anything else you might be using), especially if there's little room left. On the other hand, small boxes will require more trips.

One way to work around this problem is to use stretch wrap to fasten a few boxes together. That will stop the tower of shoe boxes you're carrying down the stairs from falling apart. Stretch wrap is also good for books. Just take a few books of similar size and start wrapping, no box needed! Here's another useful item: trash bag. Big trash bags are perfect for clothes, bedding etc. Remember those newspapers you saved? Use them to wrap glass or ceramic items so they don't jingle. This works especially good with mugs, glasses, jars, bottles etc. Wrap them and put them into a box. If you have plates, make a plate-newspaper tower sandwich in a box: find a box that is slightly larger than a plate, put a plate on the bottom, then a page from a newspaper, plate, page, plate, page... until the box is full, fill in the empty spaces with crumpled newspaper and you're done.

As you pack the things into boxes or other containers, it is good to consider what will go into the truck last and place that furthest from the door. The heaviest and biggest boxes or items should be closest to the entrance. This way, you won't have to move boxes around to get to that pile of books you put near the window. Another good idea is to label the boxes. This is obvious, but you might be tempted not to do it, because, well, how hard can it be to remember what's where? Easy if you have three boxes, not so easy if you have twenty, or if you packed them a few days before.

Fill Her Up

When it's time to actually load the truck, start with the bulkiest items. If you did a good job with sorting the boxes while packing, this should be as easy as walking through the door, grabbing the nearest item and taking it to the truck. Since you don't want the cargo to move while you're on the road, try to leave as little free space as possible (trash bags filled with clothes are perfect for irregular spots). Just remember that weight should be more or less evenly distributed and that fragile items should usually be placed on top (unless they can fall down). Once everything is loaded, make absolutely sure you left nothing behind. Go room by room and open every cabinet and closet.

Home Stretch

Unloading the truck is almost the same in reverse, but it is a good idea to try to dig out the heaviest things as soon as possible. If you're not athletic or a minimalist you'll probably feel tired after loading the truck. Driving to the destination will give you time to rest, but if you'll be unloading all the things on the same day, you'll tire more quickly this time around, especially if you need to climb some stairs. Carrying up requires a lot more energy than carrying down, so it's a good idea to haul the heaviest stuff while you're still relatively fresh. Also, don't just randomly put boxes everywhere. Try to get them as close as possible to their “final destination” right away (you did label those boxes, didn't you?). This will save you time and effort during unpacking.

To sum up, a successful move in my opinion is one where I don't carry unnecessary stuff, nothing gets broken, and I can get out of bed the next day (yes, expect sore muscles).