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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Get Organized" - Article

Unpacking And Settling In

For most people, the worst part of moving isn't packing the truck or traveling to your new town -- it's getting settled in! This should be the most ENJOYABLE part of relocating -- setting everything up just the way you want it, making your new place feel like home, and taking a break after all of your hard work. But the idea of creating an entirely new living environment can seem incredibly overwhelming -- unless you have a PLAN in mind.

One of the worst mistakes that people make during a move is trying to decide where to put everything as they unpack. Chances are, you will have some sense of the LAYOUT of your new home before you ever load the first piece of furniture on the truck. Ask for a scale model floor plan or walk around and take MEASUREMENTS of each room. Then, decide what PURPOSE each room will serve -- master bedroom, kid's room, den, play area -- and where each piece of furniture will fit best. Cut out paper rectangles, squares, and circles to represent each piece of furniture -- then lay your cutouts on your floor plan to get some sense of how each room will work. This doesn't mean that you won't suddenly get a hankering to move that desk to the other side of the room when you reach your destination, it just gives you a place to start.

Once you have a basic plan in mind, assign each room a COLOR -- blue for the bedroom, green for the bath, red for the kitchen, whatever. This color scheme will follow you throughout your move. As you fill a box with dishes, mark it with a piece of red construction paper (not a sticker that might fall off) that says "Kitchen -- Dishes." When you pack up your towels, put a green piece of paper on the box labeled "Bathroom -- Towels." As you wrap up your sofa, tape a yellow piece of paper to the back that says "Living Room -- Sofa." Then, draw out the FLOOR PLAN for each room on a similar piece of construction paper. Once you arrive at your new home, take a minute to tape the correct floor plan on the door of each room. And put a color-coded MASTER floor plan of the entire house on the front door -- showing which color you have assigned each room. Now all you have to do is instruct your movers (or friends or helpers) to match the color on the box or the piece of furniture to the floor plan. They will even know where to put each item once they get to the appropriate room. No more having to field the question, "Where does this go?"

When you think about what you really need to get by in your home, what comes to mind? For me, it's the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. I can deal with the fact that the den isn't completely in order, or that I haven't unpacked the good china and crystal in the dining room. But I need my bed set up, I want to be able to take a shower and brush my teeth, and I need to be able to make a meal. So try to keep the supplies for these rooms near the back of the truck. Unload your bed, LINENS, personal hygiene items, and the dishes and COOKWARE you use most. When you are able to sleep in your own bed and have a hot cup of coffee in the morning, you will be in a much better frame of mind for unpacking!

I know cleaning is about the last thing you want to do when you arrive at your new home -- you just want to get the boxes unpacked, have a soda, and collapse on the couch! But you will save a lot of time and hassle if you take a few minutes to tidy up as you unload. Keep your cleaning supplies handy -- don't pack them away as you leave your old place. Then, give each room a quick ONCE OVER as you unload. Scrub down the tub, sweep the floors, wipe out the refrigerator. Run your plates and glasses through the dishwasher as you unpack them, dust your knick-knacks as you sit them out, and run a couple of loads of laundry. You will feel better about your new home if you know that everything is CLEAN and ready to be used.

If you are using a professional moving company, you need to take a few extra steps as you get unloaded. Be sure to pay attention as your belongings are taken off of the truck. Examine each piece of furniture for damage and open each box to make sure everything is in good order. Go over the BILL OF LADING with the moving company very carefully before signing it -- this is a binding contract once it is signed. Make a note of any MISSING or DAMAGED items -- don't be afraid to make the movers wait around a while until you are completely done. And if you experienced any problems with the delivery, be sure to contact the moving company as soon as possible.

Once you have unpacked the essentials, take a break! Call your family and friends to let them know that you have arrived safely. Make sure that your UTILITIES are working properly. You can even check in with your employer and real estate agent if you feel you need to. Then RELAX, order dinner out, and take a long hot bath -- you deserve it!


Ramona Creel is a Professional Organizer and the founder of -- offering "a world of organizing solutions!" Visit for organizing products, free tips, a speakers bureau, get a referral for a Professional Organizer near you, or get some help starting and running your own organizing business. You may contact Ramona at .

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