Unpacking And Settling In

by Ramona Creel

Know Where You Want Everything To Go

One of the worst mistakes that people make during a move is waiting until they unpack to decide where  everything should go. 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 (on new construction) or walk around and take measurements of each room (if you're buying a pre-owned home). 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 chair, sofa, and table — all you have to do is 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, purple for the living room, whatever. This color scheme will follow you throughout your move. As you fill a box with dishes, mark it with a red Sharpie (not a sticker that might fall off) that says “Kitchen — Dishes.” When you pack up your towels, use a green marker to label the box “Bathroom — Towels.” As you wrap up your sofa, place a purple piece of paper that says “Living Room — Sofa” under the clear plastic so you can see it. Then, draw out the floor plan for each room on a matching-colored 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?”

Setting Up The Most Crucial Areas First

When you think about what you really need to start functioning properly in your new home, what comes to mind? For me, it's the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen. I can deal with the fact that I haven't unpacked all my books or holiday decorations. But I need my bed set up, I want to be able to take a shower, and I absolutely HAVE to be able to make a meal. Keep the supplies for these rooms near the back of the truck, so you can unload your bed, linens, personal hygiene items, and cookware first. When you can 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 feel like doing 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 where you can't find them. Then, give each room a quick once over before you start placing your furniture and other belongings. 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 nick-nacks 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 by the time you settle in.

Settling In

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 (that's part of their job, and they won't leave until they get their tip!) And if you experienced any problems with the delivery, be sure to contact the moving company ASAP.

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, all rights reserved. Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.