10 Organizational Tips for unpacking AFTER you Move!

INSIDE : After you make a huge move to a new home – what should you do next? Check out these 10 great Organizational Tips for unpacking motivation after a big home move.  And be sure to download a helpful PDF checklist.

Tips for Unpacking After a Move

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This post has been updated from it’s original August 2015 post date.

Can anyone relate to this?  You spend months prepping your home to sell (Did you see my 5 tips to staging your home to sell quickly?).  You finally celebrate that your home has sold, but you still have to deal with what feels like 8 million home inspections.  All the while, packing and saying goodbye to your friends and family.

The MOVING day finally comes and you put all your belongings in a truck and travel to your NEW home (in our case across the country – from New Mexico to Illinois).  You arrive to your hew home but you are feeling exhausted and really the work is just now beginning.  Sigh….

Since we moved across the country this month – from the southwest to the midwest, we had a moving company bringing all of our belongings.  However, whether you are moving across town, moving down the street or traveling a far distance, these 10 Organizational Tips for Unpacking After You Move will greatly help.

*Note, these are my REAL “we just moved” crazy person photos… please, no judging! HA*

Checklist after move

Looking to get the ten organizational unpacking items in a nice neat checklist to print out?  You can purchase it NOW.


Tips to help you unpack your new home:

1. Before you start unpacking, do some cleaning.

There is a high chance that it’s been a few weeks since the previous owners left.  It’s amazing how quickly dust and bugs can creep into a home, so be sure to bring a broom, vacuum and some cleaners with you.  You will feel much better setting up your home in a clean space than having to tip toe around to avoid dust bunnies on the floor.

These are my favorite microfiber towels, tub + tile cleaner, room freshener spray and everyday cleaner.

2. Decide your first priority rooms

As much as you want the entire home unpacked and ready to live in right away, it sadly just takes some time.  However, it’s probably more critical to have bedrooms, the kitchen and bathrooms up and running before every single tool gets a new home in the garage.

My husband might think differently on this, but when it comes down to it, we need food more than knowing where our spare sandpaper is located.  Do whatever you can to get your priority rooms unpacked first, this will greatly help you out down the road.

Kitchen Tips for Unpacking After a Move

3. If you have children, find activities to keep them busy and out of the way.

This one depends heavily on your children’s age.  My kids are 3 and 4, so even if I put on a show, gave them the iPad, got out play dough, etc… they would only be entertained for like 20 minutes max.

Thank goodness, Grandma only is two hours away now and was able to take them for 2 days.   If you don’t have that luxury, then maybe give your kids the extra boxes to make a city with… the goal here is to be as focused on unpacking as possible.

I have tons of kid related activities here.

4. Create dedicated Goodwill and Trash boxes as you unpack.

It doesn’t matter how much purging you may have done before you left.  Somehow, I always seem to find MORE to give away and purge while unpacking boxes.  Our recent move was to a slightly smaller rental home and it was actually a wonderful time to really decide what we needed and what we didn’t.  I could probably live with 40% less stuff than I am, let this be a freeing-purge time for you!

5. Make a dedicated box area and get them out of your way.  

Thank goodness, our moving company had a box pick-up service so we just made a MASSIVE pile of broken down boxes and a few weeks later we called them to come pick up all the boxes and packing paper.

However, if this is not available for you, you can take them to recycling bins or post on Craigslist for someone else to use.

Boxes Tips for Unpacking After a Move

6. Make sure each room has a purpose.

Be sure to label each room in your house, dining room, living room, bathroom, etc.  Most of us have just the basic rooms, but now and again your new home may have a sunroom or a living room AND a family room.  What about the basement, will that function as a family area, too?

Knowing the purpose and function of each space in your house will allow you to unpack and place the appropriate items there.

7. Buy the necessary items to start your new home off being organized.

This is code for go to Ikea, Target, The Container Store… wherever it is that you can buy organizational items.  Being organized from the start is essential to staying organized.

Things don’t have to be perfect from day 1, but you should at least be striving to be organized and have systems in place.  (This is my car full of Ikea purchases to help with organizing our life.)

Supplies Tips for Unpacking After a Move

8. Don’t get distracted with decorating.

Friends, I’m a craft blogger so I had like 88 boxes of decor, crafts and knick knacks.  The struggle was real to wait on getting out throw blankets, pillows and hanging pictures while I still needed to put random medicine and cleaning supplies away.  Boring but true.

It is certainly important to feel comfortable in your new home, but just get the not fun part done so all you have left is the happy stuff!  Plus, it’s something to look forward to and keep you going when there seems like never ending boxes of pillow cases to find a new place for.

Decor Tips for Unpacking After a Move

9. Be okay with take out meals.

Let’s be honest… I’m always okay with takeout.  Just know it might be a while before normalcy happens.  That means you should either have a ton of pb & j on hand or do a little investigating in your new city and find some tasty take out for a while.

We have been in our new home for 4 weeks and I just was able to start making dinners again last week.  As much as I would like to be wonder-woman and do it all right away, I just couldn’t.  It’s okay to be easy on yourself, moving is no small feat.

Don’t feel guilty about using Grubhub, Doordash or any other means of getting food delivered to your home during this time.

10. Do your best to find a place for everything.

It’s overwhelming to find the perfect place for every single item in your home in three days.  Do your best to find a place and then once you’re in your home for a while, you might realize things need to be reorganized.  That’s okay.

Find a home now and then make it work better later.  The goal is just unpacking and getting all your stuff put somewhere that at least makes semi-sense.

Spot Tips for Unpacking After a Move

How long does it take to unpack after a move?

Unlike unpacking from a vacation that takes less than an hour, unpacking after a move can take weeks and even months sometimes until you really are feeling settled.

After one month, our home is still getting settled, but we are fully functional and feeling like this is home!

There are still quite a few things to decorate and organize. And there are PLENTY of rental friendly DIYS are coming up soon.  

So tell me, did you have any unpacking secrets?


Tips for Unpacking After a Move


10 Organizational Tips for Unpacking After a Move, Delineateyourdwelling.com



  1. We absolutely love your blog and find most of
    your post’s to be exactly I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for yourself?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on a
    lot of the subjects you write related to here. Again, awesome blog!

  2. Having a new home is so exciting, the problem is that I really hate the actual moving part of it. Having everything organized to move and taking care of stuff so it doesn’t break for example, things like that I know I’m just not really good at, but that is something that we must to do. I appreciate your helpful tips I also read another one about valet unpacking (that I hadn’t heard of before) and problems it can solve for new homeowners https://blog.mykukun.com/valet-unpacking-problems-can-solve-new-homeowners/ it has some good tips as well, thank you ☺

  3. Nice to read this blog. Just focus on getting organized! Wait to get online or watch TV until you are unpacked. These things slow down your work-pace because you can easily lose focus on what you are doing. Thank you.

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Yes, pausing online + tv is definitely a great tip!!

  4. Really these are some great tips for unpacking after move. I am glad to read this post and this may useful for many. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.

  5. Really Nice tips! I’m relocating soon and just started packing households. I’ve purged more than half of what I owned and now it seems much easier. Your tips and ideas are very helpful for me, some are quite smart. Thank you for these tips!

  6. These are excellent points about moving. When we moved into our new home, most of the things that ended up breaking didn’t break in the box… they broke when I was rushing myself to unpack. Thankfully most of those items weren’t irreplaceable or expensive! Being mindful of when you move in is also a really good idea. We got lucky and moved in over a 3-day-weekend that my husband had off, and we both took the following Monday off as well.

  7. My tip: hire a designer or stager to help with furniture placement. I just moved and having a terrible time setting up my master bedroom. I have someone coming over to help

    1. I m glad you discouragedme lol from decorating (as i would unpack)instead directing me to FOCUSon what is essential; iwould be placing toss pillows and knick knacks- creating a feng shui home while clothes and linens would still need to be put where they belong(dh is military. So i already know to have the kitchen and bathroom FUNCTIONAL)but now iknow it is okay todecorate later- something to look forward to. 😉

  8. Well, packing, loading, unloading and unpacking are some of the most toughest tasks during the move. If someone tries it by his own, then he will surely face a lot of trouble as it is that type of task which needs additional man power with a lot of skill and experience. Most of us thing that moving gives thrill and joy. But it is only possible if someone will hire a moving company for the move. It is just because they are expert in packing, loading, unpacking etc, which not only save time but also reduce the physical stress to a significant level. I want to share some unpacking tips in the following.
    1)It is good to start with deep cleaning.
    2)Always organize the boxes by room.
    3)Start the work of unpacking from big to small. Etc.
    Apart from these every should consider all the tips that is mentioned in the blog. This is really appreciating. I want to say thank you for such lovely post.

  9. This was spot on! I just moved a few weeks ago and have to keep reminding myself that it’s not necessary to try to be Wonder Woman and do it all… moving is a process. Great post!

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Moving is such a beast of a job and we just want it to be over as soon as possible. But sounds like you’ve got the right mindset, moving is a process! Good luck settling in. 😉

  10. I loved reading all your helpful tips 🙂 We recently moved from San Diego to Indiana, and it has only been a couple weeks since we started living in the house, but I have been feeling discouraged by all that needs to be done. I’m going from a mechanic in active duty military to full time stay at home mom/college student. It’s been an extreme shock lol but your article has helped me remotivate myself and create a game plan for the house. I love #9 because I’ve been feeling so bad that I haven’t had time to prepare meals right away, and honestly I didn’t do it too much when I worked full time in San Diego. So it will be a huge change, but thank you for the tips and motivation! 🙂

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Gabby, you are amazing! Moving across the country is exhausting and then to go from active duty to stay at home mom, that is an entirely new level of exhausting (in a good way, but still!). Give yourself grace to slowly get your home settled. Keep at it! 😉

      1. Thank you! I’m very excited to start this new chapter in my life ?

  11. We just moved from an apartment to a house two weeks ago, so I’m still in the throws of unpacking. Something that has helped me feel more settled (if you have the space) is to designate a room or area for still-to-be-unpacked boxes. For me, the upstairs is clean and unpacked, and the downstairs is still full of boxes. But at least I feel the essentials are in place, and I can unpack the out-of-sight downstairs at a slower pace. The only danger is, don’t leave the “boxes room” for too long – my parents moved into their house 20 years ago, and still have boxes they haven’t unpacked.

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Great idea to unpack the essentials first! Good luck settling into your new home!!

  12. Moving sucks! There I said it! What sucks worse? Moving while 35 weeks pregnant, plus having a 2 year old. Help!?!?
    Love all these tips, helped lessen my anxiety just a touch!

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Oh my word, yes that would definitely suck! So sorry you’re having to deal with that. I just moved with a 3 and 4 year old and we had to drive across the country to get to our new place if it makes you feel any better. =)

    2. I just moved (across town) with a 2.5 year old an 5 month old. unfortunately no family nearby, so Priority 1 was getting our 2.5 year old’s room mostly set-up, so she could sleep in her own bed.

      1. delineateyourdwelling says:

        Oh yes, that’s a good priority to make… especially with two littles running around! Good luck on your move. xo

  13. Boxes and paper (I used newspaper as it was prolific and had to start packing)
    I started acquiring boxes at least two months before our move. I also saved as much of the Sunday newspaper as possible for wrapping dishes and breakable items. Fetch the suitcases out of the garage or storage and start packing out of season clothing as soon as possible. Leave the bathroom for last, you may need that aspirin! Let the fridge run as low as possible and don’t replace ANYthing unless absolutely necessary (bread, PB &J, milk and coffee and TP). Be sure to mark the boxes you acquire with the appropriate room names – makes it easier when starting to pack. We used painters tape and permanent markers. We moved from a home that had built ins to a home that had NO built ins, so we had a range and a microwave coming the day AFTER we moved in. Prepare for unseasonable weather as much as possible. A warm jacket even if it’s in August and at least one pair of shorts and a t-shirt in December (we moved 12/8 three years ago). A small first aid kit in the purse came in very handy! Be sure to know your mover. Ours were a disaster, a broken table leg just for starters. GET REFERENCES. If a land line is necessary, be sure you have service from a pole before you move in. We didn’t and it was a mess. I’m NEVER moving again! (I hope!).

  14. Congrats for moving to your new home! It is always exciting when going to a new place! The unpacking is very serious job as the move itself so it is great to have some helpful tips and ideas! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  15. Your tips are the ultimate guide for me. I will definitely use them for our upcoming move next month. Thanks for the amazing post. I’m bookmarking it right away and coming back when I most need it for a closer inspection. I will definitely share it with my friends as well. THANK YOU!

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Aw, you’re too sweet Stefany! We have settled into our new home just about 2 months now… it’s a huge task to move, but it can be done! Good luck. 😉

  16. Barbara Mawdsley says:

    My first priority is to make my bed. That means you can work on all your very good suggestions and have a place to ‘drop’ when you can’t do one more thing.

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Ah, I love this idea… bed making first, check!

  17. this sounds like I posted this!? I just moved cross country, sold a home, renting now, I related to everything you mentioned. Looking forward to seeing how you manage in the new rental. Still working on finding homes for some things.

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Oh Sara, moving is a beast! Good luck finding a place for everything. =)

  18. My tip — have a wonderful friend who comes by on moving day with a housewarming gift of new towels, clear shower curtain liner with rings, and toilet brush! Everyone will want a shower when they finish unpacking. Good towels will always be handy, even if they are not the right colour. A clear shower curtain liner will work as a shower curtain until you find or buy what your really want. And no one wants to move a toilet brush.

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Ah, I love that tip Susan!! Thanks for sharing.

  19. I recently moved from France to Atlanta, GA; here is my modest contribution.

    We shipped our belongings by boat a couple of months before moving. We had a week and a half without our furniture (fun times!) to clean the place and decide what goes where.

    When the container arrived, after the movers were gone, our first reflex was to get a place for everything and get rid of empty cartons as fast as possible (80% were gone within the first three days). Plates and dishes were in cupboards with no logical order. Clothes were in our dressing room but still needed washing and ironing. Furniture landed in their permanent spot for the most.

    That left us with space and a semi organized house. Then we went back to every room and tackled small project by small project: reorganize kitchen cupboards, take care of laundry, decorate, try a new room set up, etc.

    Yes it sounds like doing the work twice (it kind of is, unless you like taking your time to organize things like I do), but it allowed us to have a liveable house starting day one. And to this day, I still reorganize once in a while!

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      What a move! And I thought mine across the country was a big move. I love that even though you and I had different unpacking plans, you still had a system. That’s the most important part, I think! And it sounds like it worked great for you.

  20. A successful move is not yet done after unpacking. Packing your things are very difficult, but unpacking is much more difficult because you still don’t know where to put some things around the new locations. This is very helpful tips to be organized. http://www.firstchoicemoving.com/

  21. Your place is looking far more functional than ours right now! Ha. Love these tips though. I need to get crackin and finish things up!

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Well, you are also baking a baby… so I would say, have the hubs do it and you just prop your feet up! =)

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      Ha, well I definitely #keepingitreal with those photos! Hope to share some prettier ones soon. =)

  22. We’ve been in our new apartment for about two and a half months at this point. A lot of things worked out just perfectly for us, but unpacking is never fun no matter what! Though I will admit that putting together the new kitchen was a lot of fun! 😀 We were helped a lot because every box was labeled when it was packed. Also, luckily, we really don’t have *that* much, so “important” boxes went straight to their specific rooms, then boxes that just had odds and ends got placed in the living room for keeping until we would need them. Took a lot of pressure off trying to get everything done, as only the important stuff went to the appropriate rooms (the living room was our last priority).

    1. delineateyourdwelling says:

      You are so very right, moving is never fun!!! Hope you’ve settled into your new place!

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