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The Absolute Best Way to Unpack and Get Organized After a Move

Person Unpacking After a Move
By:Meghan Paynter| Last Updated:02/14/2024
Time to Read: 4 min

How to Unpack After a Move

For most of us, the only thing more stressful than packing for a move is unpacking after a move. But what if it didn’t have to be? We rounded up expert tips to create an easy six-step process for how to unpack and organize your house after moving.


6 Unpacking Tips for the Most Organized Move Ever

1. Create a “Moving Essentials Checklist”

If you want an easy time unpacking after your move, a little prep work will go a long way. Before your move, make a list of all the items you can’t do without during your first week in your new home. Your moving essentials checklist should at least include these items:

Kit Containing Essential Toiletries for After a Move
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Cleaning spray
  • Small vacuum
  • Phone chargers
  • Disposable plates, bowls and silverware
  • A week’s worth of clothing
  • A crockpot (for easy meal prepping)
  • Dishwasher and laundry detergent
  • Toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo, body wash and hair care products
  • Prescription medications
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“Get 20 percent more boxes than you think you need. The best way is to find someone moving INTO your neighborhood. They will be happy to give them to you.”
Adrian | AdriansCrazyLife.com

Image of Color-Coded Boxes for Easy Unpacking

2. Create an Organizational System

After you've assembled your moving essentials, there’s still some groundwork to cover. Sabrina Quairoli, professional organizer at Sabrina’s Organizing, stresses that preparedness is everything. “Organizing your new home after a move is a lot easier when you do some prep before you pack.”

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“Set up a system for where to place boxes when moving them. Dot stickers (one color per room) or using numbers (1,2,3) to represent the different rooms work nicely.”
Sabrina | Sabrina’s Organizing


What Should You Get Done Before Your Move?

Use our guide on how to prepare for a move to stay on top of everything you need to get done. We'll show you when to update your address, which receipts to save, what stuff to toss out and which projects you need to get done before moving in.

Make sure you're fully ready for your move with our helpful guide.

3. Get Your Priorities Straight

Once you’ve figured out your organizational system, you’ve got one more piece of prep work to handle. Adrian of Adrian's Crazy Life, an eight-time veteran of moving, offers this unpacking tip: “The trick to an organized move is in the planning stage. Stage your unpacking from low-priority items to the high-priority items and label, label, label!”

Pack low-priority items in the back of your moving truck and high-priority items in the front. Clearly label everything on your moving essentials checklist and make sure you unload those items first.

Two Movers Loading a Truck
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Pro Unpacking Tip: Unpack the Rooms You Use Most Often First

“When all the boxes are in the appropriate rooms, you can start with the rooms you use most often. I recommend the kitchen, living room, kids’ rooms, and master bedroom.”
Sabrina |  Sabrina’s Organizing

Sofa Being Set Up After a Move

4. Set Up Your Furniture and Appliances

Once you’ve unloaded all your essential items, the first step to getting organized after a move is to unpack and set up your major furniture and appliances:

  • Beds
  • Stove and refrigerator*
  • Kitchen or dining room table
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Living room couches, chairs and entertainment center

*(If already installed, check manuals to ensure they're hooked up properly)

According to Karen Cooper of The DIY Bungalow, doing this will quickly turn your new house into a functional home.

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Pro Unpacking Tip: Make Sure You Have a Place to Crash

“The first thing I do after moving house is unpack my bed linens and make my bed. That way, I know that, at the end of the day, when I'm exhausted from unpacking, I have a place to rest!”
Karen Cooper | The DIY Bungalow


5. Unpack Your Bathrooms and Kitchen

Unpack your bathrooms before any other room so your family can grab a shower, then move on to the kitchen. Once you’ve organized these two rooms, you’ll really be able to start living in your new house.

Kitchen Utensil Drawer Being Unpacked After Moving House
Organizing a Kitchen After You Move

6. Unpack Remaining Rooms in Order of Importance

Once your kitchen and bathroom are in order, prioritize all of your other rooms. In each, set everything up and find a place for all your items right away. Some rooms may take more than one day, but don’t move on to a new one until you’ve finished unpacking the current one. This will ensure that each room is set up as quickly as possible.

Save areas that are used purely for storage, such as your basement, garage or attic, for last.

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Pro Unpacking Tip: Use Your Move as an Opportunity to Make Future Chores Easier

“When I move, I record all relevant measurements and sizes. For example, I keep a note in my phone of what size filters our HVAC system needs. That saves me from checking each time I need to buy them!”
Karen Cooper | The DIY Bungalow


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