How to Unpack After Moving

Mar 31, 2023 / Alyssa Duranty

Just when you thought moving was hard, you may realize it’s only half the battle you must win to settle into your new space. Figuring out how to unpack after moving can seem tricky, because you want your new home to feel just as functional as your last one.

“It’s overwhelming to look at your entire house knowing you have to go through everything you own,”; said Leigh Achenbach of Suddenly Simple Organizing. “Figuring out how to organize your things in a way that would work best in your new space is a detailed process that can be time consuming.”;

Thankfully, Achenbach has helped plenty of movers unpack and organize their stuff, so she has some tried-and-true tips to help! We also talked to another professional organizer in Tennessee to help you create a game plan that will help you unpack and organize your new home.

How to Unpack After Moving: Tackle the Most Used Rooms First

You, or your movers, should unload your labeled boxes in the right rooms, so you don’t end up with kitchen appliances in the bathroom and your clothes in the living room. Once all your boxes are in the right space, unpack your stuff in the most used rooms first. They’re usually the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, said Achenbach.

“I suggest unpacking your sheets and making your bed first,”; she said. “Eventually, you’ll get worn out from unpacking and get tired. If your bed is ready to go, that’s one less thing to worry about at the end of the day.”;

Make unpacking your kitchen a priority, because you’ll get fed up with takeout sooner than you think, said Alesia Schulz of A Well-Organized Home.

“If your kitchen is in order, you’ll feel like your house is more in order,”; she said. “The kitchen is the heart of the home, and you’ll be want to be able to cook.”;

Avoid unpacking too much stuff in one day by creating a to-do list. If you know you’re planning to tackle a couple of rooms per day, you won’t burn out as quickly, said Schulz.

“Unpack your stuff room by room,”; she said. “You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment once a room is done, rather than unpacking boxes in random places. You won’t feel like you actually did anything if you just have pieces done and not complete areas.”;

cabinets labeled bowls and plates

Map Out Where Your Stuff Will Live Post-Move

No two homes are alike, so it’s important to find the most-functional space for your stuff before you start unpacking it, said Achenbach.

She uses sticky notes to identify possible places for items.

“If you think pots and pans would function the best in a certain cabinet, then mark it with a note,”; she said. “It’s easier to move around notes instead of unpacking and moving everything again from cabinet to cabinet. It’s a great way to plan and use your time efficiently.”;

This system will work for planning out which cabinets to store your kitchen appliances, which closets to load up with linens and where to keep your cleaning supplies.

Don’t buy organization bins or storage supplies before you’ve unpacked. This will help you avoid buying too much or the wrong materials, Achenbach said.

“Keep a list handy of things you want to purchase to organize your space and go to the store once everything is unpacked,”; she said.

Know When to Quit Unpacking for the Day

No matter how small your home is, it is very possible to quit unpacking early because you’re overwhelmed.

“One thing that helps me avoid frustration is to have a goal for the day,”; said Achenbach. “Choose what rooms you want to unpack and focus on those rooms. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but get everything out of the boxes and somewhat organized, so it’s at least useable.”;

If you start to feel over-worked, step outside and remember: It doesn’t all have to get done in one day, said Schulz.

“Décor can wait, so put that to the side,”; she said. “You need to be able to cook, put clothes on, etc. Don’t stress about the other stuff.”;

“And don’t be afraid to ask for help,”; she added. “I don’t know anyone who’s completely unpacked a home in a weekend. No one needs to be a superhero.”;

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