Help! I’ve Moved and I Can’t Find Anything (But I Know It’s Around Here Somewhere): 10 Tips on HOW TO UNPACK A HOUSE from About.com

Sunday, June 1, 2008

How To Unpack in 10 Steps

From Diane Schmidt

Everyone’s different; some love packing and hate unpacking and others feel the opposite. I prefer to pack rather than unpack. That means I need a plan before I start to unpack so I’m not lost in among all those boxes. Most moving websites or companies usually suggest unpacking one room at a time; however, in all our moves I always unpack the essentials first. This does not mean just the essentials box, but the things we’ll need for the next week or so. Unpacking takes a lot of time. Get the main items unpacked first then tackle the things that aren’t as crucial to your day-to-day existance.

Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: As long as you need.

Here’s How:

  1. First, make sure you have a copy of the inventory list; either the one that the mover’s provided or the one that you previously created as part of your home inventory list.
  2. Next, unpack the essentials box. This should be one of the first boxes off the truck (because it was the last box loaded on) or something you moved with you in the car. If it isn’t, then keep an eye out for it. This should contain everything you need for a couple of nights.
  3. Now unpack the kitchen. If you’ve properly labeled the boxes, you should be able to locate what you need fairly easily. If you have time, I strongly suggest that you line the cupboards first. If you don’t have time, unpack only what you need, including pots and pans. Get the major appliances hooked up and any small appliances that will make your life a little easier – like the coffee pot and toaster.
  4. Put the beds together and unpack the linens for each bedroom. If you followed my sister’s tip and put the set of linens that usually accompany each bed in separate see-through bags, getting the beds ready for your first night should be pretty easy.
  5. Now unpack the bathroom. Again, unpack the things that are most important, such as medication (which should go in your essential’s box), the shower curtain and towels.
  6. If you were fortunate enough to obtain plans to your new home before you moved, then arranging furniture should be fairly straightforward. If you need to rearrange furniture in the bedrooms, living room and dining room, make a plan first so you only have to do it once. Large pieces that need assembling should be completed once you know where furniture will be placed.
  7. Bedrooms can be unpacked by each member of the family. Again, furniture placement or closet organization should be done first before you unpack.
  8. One of the last rooms to unpack is the garage. Since most garage items aren’t essential, try to organize the space before you start to unpack. Get the tools you need to keep the space functional. This may include extra shelving, storage boxes, etc…
  9. The patio items can be unpacked and set up at your own leisure. If we’re moving in the summer, we often set-up the barbeque first, just so we can cook without needing pots or pans or many utensils; many of our first meals have been eaten right off the tinfoil they were cooked in. Little fuss and very little cleanup. It’s a great way to lessen the work when there’s so much else to do.
  10. Once you have the main essential unpacking completed, try to take some time to enjoy your new space. Set a few hours aside each day or on the weekend so you know you’ll get the job done. This will also assure you that you can take the time to get to know your new neighborhood.


  1. Get the essentials unpacked first, then take your time with the rest of the house.
  2. Plan the room first before you unpack too many boxes.
  3. Get the tools you need to make the space work for you. Then when you unpack, you’ll have just the right place for your things.
  4. If you think that you’ll do a task later – such as lining the cupboards or organizing the closet – that’s a sign that you should do the task now or you’ll never get to it.
  5. Make the space your own. Hang pictures and place family photos around the house early in your unpacking. It will help to make the space feel familiar and comfortable.

What You Need:

  • Utility knife to open boxes
  • Room plans
  • Screwdriver, hammer and nails to reassemble furniture and to hang pictures
  • Recycle bin to recycle the cardboard boxes
  • Patience
More How To’s from your Guide To Moving


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