Published on 06 May 2020 in moving, packing by Mark Zappia

Best Practices for Packing Up and Moving

Best Practices for Packing Up and Moving image

Putting your life or business in a box can be a stressful situation. In a perfect world, you would be able to easily find every item, pack them perfectly, and move those items to a moving truck with ease. But life isn't always perfect. You may have just scored a great gig in NT, or your boss might want you to help move all of that expensive business equipment across the country as-soon-as-possible.

Most moving guides will tell you to set aside 3 or 4 weeks to pack, organize, and move all of your items to your new location. Unfortunately, life usually doesn't move slow. Last-minute decisions can lead to amazing opportunities, but they can also lead to some serious packing stress.

Don't worry! Packing up and moving doesn't have to be nightmare fuel. In fact, this is the perfect opportunity for you to throw out some clutter and reconnect with those lost childhood memories you've shoved down into the bottom of a dusty box at the back of your closet. We know that life doesn't always give you tons of time and ample resources to plan a big move. We've got your back.

From tips on how to pack those grouse concert tees to guidance on protecting your fragile valuables, here's an in-depth guide on packing up and moving in the down under.

How Much Time Do You Need to Pack?

How much time it should take to pack

Depending on the size of your house, moving needs, and your personal moving timeframe, packing up your home or business can take anywhere from 1 day to 1 month. In general, the more time, the better.

Here's a standard guide to give you an idea of how much time it should ideally take you to pack up your home or office.

  • Studio apartment: 1 - 2 days
  • Two-bedroom home: 2 - 3 days
  • Three-bedroom home: 3 - 5 days
  • Four (or more) bedroom home: 5 - 7 days
  • Small office: 2 days
  • Medium office: 3 - 4 days
  • Large office: +5 days
  • Warehouse: + 1 week

These numbers represent how much time you should give yourself if you have the luxury of being able to plan everything out in advance.

But let's be realistic. There's a good chance you don't have the luxury of spending a month correctly organising and packing your belongings up, right? That's ok! Don't stress. All hope isn't lost.

Over the years, we've helped hundreds of people and businesses move their goods to and from NT. And we can say one thing for sure: rules are meant to be broken. We've moved large offices in a day, and we've seen some people spend weeks moving out of a studio apartment. Your schedule usually dictates your pace.

Can you pack and move a warehouse in 2 days? Sure! But you'll have to either:

  1. Frantically throw everything in boxes and spend 12-hour shifts moving.
  2. Hire some moving pros to help you.

In general, the more time you give yourself, the more time you'll have to organise. That being said, if you're planning on using a moving company to help you organise and expedite your move, your timeframe (within reason) won't be an issue. It really depends on how you're planning on moving.

Acquiring Moving Materials

Acquiring Moving Materia

Once you've figured out your timeframe, you'll need some moving and packing materials. This is where your "moving budget" comes into play. Yes! Moving costs money. Packaging material costs can quickly creep up on you if you're not careful. Just buying the basic boxes for a 2-bedroom house can cost you over $100 if you aren't careful about where you pick them up. And, when you include bubble wrap, tape, and paper goods, you could be looking at a hefty bill.

Luckily, we've got some pro-tips to help you save serious dough on your packaging.

Check-in with local businesses for free boxes

Cardboard alone constitutes 41% of the world's solid waste streams. Over a billion tonnes of cardboard is thrown away each year globally, and a good chunk of that waste is generated by businesses. Chances are, there's a business near you that's about to throw away a bunch of crisp brown cardboard boxes as you read this.

So, instead of going to the post or local Moving Box Company, stop by a local business and ask them if they have any boxes. It may feel a little awkward, but there's a good chance you'll walk away with some freebies if you stop by a few locations.

Go on a paper hunt

When you're moving, paper is a necessity. It's the glorious tree particles that help keep your fragile items safe-and-sound on their journey to new terrains. But it's also more costly than you probably think. 250 sheets of packing paper will run you around $20. And those sheets go fast. So, instead of hunting the isles, try hunting through your junk drawer.

Remember all of those junk mail letters, old newspapers, and magazines that you've been stuffing into your drawer for "later"? Now is that later. All of those items make great substitutions for packing paper, and you don't have to spend a dime.

Get creative with your household goods

Here's a great tip: use your household goods as containers for, well... your household goods. That laundry hamper is basically a box, right? Oven mitts make the perfect knife holder. And dog kennels can be packed up with all of your doggie toys and treats. There are plenty of items in your house that can double as a container.

Buy some colored tape, labels, or markers

You may think of colored tape, labels, and markers as costs. But they will save you an enormous amount of time and headaches during your moving process. You want a way to organise every box by:

  • room
  • item type
  • or future house location

You also want some type of color coordination for fragile items, since they require extra care during the moving process. Don't want to flash the cash? Simply marking every box with a sharpie helps. But feel free to go wild with the colored labels if you have the Type A personality and want to create a complex moving system. You do you!

Handle the Logistics

Things to know before you move

Before you touch a single item, you need to have your logistics figured out. How are you moving all of your items? Do you know the quickest route to your location? And are you hiring professional movers to help you pack, organise, load, and transport your goods? In general, you should know:

  • How you're going to organise your boxes and items during the moving process
  • How you're going to get your items to your new location
  • How you're going to pack and load all of your goods
  • How you're going to unpack and arrange all of your goods in your new location
  • Do you need a dolly?

If you're planning on hiring professional movers, all of these needs will probably be handled on their end. But if you're not, you want to have a game plan before you start packing. There's nothing worse than packing up a room only to discover that you're in over your head.

Where to Start

Where to start

Now that you have your packing materials and the logistics planned out, it's time to start packing. But where do you start? Do you start by packing up your small goods? Do you start by getting furniture out-of-the-way? Should you put all the fragile items away first so you don't break them during the packing process?

Those are all great questions. But there isn't a single answer. It really depends on your unique situation and your preferences. But, it's important to remember this: if you have plenty of time, you should draw up a well-detailed plan on how you're moving. If you're moving in a hurry, it's perfectly acceptable to pack now and organise later.

In general, organising goods during the packing process saves you more time than organising them once they're at the new location. But, again, if time is of the essence, don't be afraid to start shoving things in boxes. It's not ideal. But it works.

Here are some quick tips that you should do before you start packing:

  • Defrost your refrigerator for (at least) 48 hours before you move it.
  • Grab some coolers and ice for your perishable foods.
  • Take out all of your light bulbs.
  • Wash and dry all of your clothes.
  • Properly dispose of hazardous items like fertiliser, gasoline, and paint.
  • Empty and deflate any inflatable pools.
  • Make sure you have insurance on expensive office equipment.

Room by Room vs. Item by Item

It's the age-old debate. Should you pack room-by-room or should you pack item-type by item-type? It's up to you! If you took time making a list and getting organised before your move, it may make the most sense to pack item-type by item-type, since the layout of your new location may differ.

But if you're in a hurry, packing room-by-room can give you a quick sense of accomplishment after each room that will help keep you motivated to keep working. Professional movers often do both at the same time, but that can get complicated if you don't have plenty of experience with packaging and moving.

Use This Time to Declutter

Time to declutter

The act of picking up and moving boxes can really help you analyze the gravity of your possessions. The moving process is the ideal opportunity to re-examine your items and discover what you really need. Oftentimes, we tell customers to do a dust check. The dustier the item, the less likely you are to need it. Sure! There are plenty of exceptions (keep those treasured memories!) But do you really need that Hawaiian tee with flames and flamingos that you haven't worn since that one night tried to get a girl's attention in the bar? Probably not. Should you keep those faux gold earrings that you completely forgot you ever had? It may be time to let go.

Moving can be a great time to challenge those deep, hidden hoarding tendencies that you've been masking with the phrase "you never know when I might need this!" Consider donating any items you're planning on leaving behind. While you may not ever need those faux earrings and tee again, someone may be dying to own them.

How to Pack Each Type of Household or Business Item

Time for action. Get those packing hands ready. Here are some tips to help you pack each type of house or business item.


Whether you're packing dishes, crystal, or bobbleheads, you'll need to use a supportive material to keep them safe and held down. At Clear Sky, we usually perform the following steps with fragile goods.

  1. Secure the bottom of the box with multiple layers of tape depending on the heaviness of the fragile items.
  2. Put a cushion at the bottom of the box. This can be packaging peanuts, bubble wrap, or even a towel.
  3. Wrap each item individually in packing paper, newspaper, or towels. A good tip here is to shove extra packing paper in any holes or thin areas. For example, you should put plenty of packing paper inside of coffee mugs and around the handles.
  4. Place the pre-wrapped items in your cushioned box by weight. Put the heavier items on the bottom and the lighter items on top. If you have any space left over at the top, make sure to fill the gap with packing peanuts or more paper. You don't want anything moving around inside the box during the move.
  5. Label the box as fragile! Again, you can use a marker, colored labels, or colored tape. But make sure that you clearly understand that this box requires special attention.

Packing fragile items


When it comes to utensils, don't just throw them in the box. That's a tell-tale sign of an amateur packer that's probably going to run into a big headache of scattered supplies when they unpack. Instead, wrap all of the utensils together. Bubble wrap or saran wrap work great. If you have a tray to hold your utensils, this part is much easier. Simply put the utensils in the tray, and then wrap it tighter than a mummy. You don't want any utensil spillage.


Time for some heavy lifting. This section is going to require bullet points. Yeah, moving furniture is a hyper-delicate procedure.

  • Pad the corners, feet, legs (unless you can remove them) and any protruding sections of the furniture in furniture pads. DO NOT use bubble wrap or saran wrap on wood furniture — that's a quick way to damage your beautiful (and often expensive) furniture. If you don't have any furniture pads, secure towels to the furniture instead.
  • Empty all of your drawers. Pack that stuff separately.
  • Remove any loose knobs, handles, or coasters. Put those in a separate envelope that's labeled.
  • You have two options here. You can either:
    • completely remove the drawers and move them separately
    • use twine to tie the drawers down and move them with the furniture
      • tip for antiques: put some padding underneath the twine to prevent it from rubbing against the wood
  • Use a dolly to move heavier furniture. It's safer for everyone.
  • You may need help with furniture. Don't try to move anything too heavy on your own. The last thing you want is to be staring at a pile of scrap wood that you used to call "antique coffee table."


Moving clothing is much less stressful than furniture of valuables. For starters, you have plenty of options when it comes to containers. You can put them in a wardrobe box, wrap them with garbage bags, vacuum seal them, move them in a laundry hamper, or even move them in your drawers.

But we do have a few must-follow tips for you:

  • Wash your clothes before you move! Don't ever move with wet clothing. That's a one-way road to smelling like mildew mountain.
  • Don't place clothes under any heavy items.
  • Spray any clothing you plan on keeping in the box for a while with insect or spider repellant. Nothing beats opening up a box of hole-filled, spider-infested clothing as you get ready for work in the morning.
  • Don't put any jewelry with your clothing. Hooks and clothing materials don't get along well in boxes.

Business equipment

Moving business equipment

Chances are, your business equipment is expensive. From computers and tablets to printers and scanners, packing up business equipment requires special care. Beyond wrapping each item individually and maximising weight distribution, you should also consider a few of these tips:

  • Wrap cables separately. If you can find cable ties, use them. If not, normal plastic ties work fine. But packing your cables with your equipment can leave you with a tangled mess.
  • Get insurance on critical equipment. If you're moving extremely expensive business equipment, get insurance before the move. Trust us; it's worth the peace-of-mind.
  • Get specialized packing boxes. Some of your business equipment may be small but heavy. It's smart to invest in reinforced boxes.

Home & Office

Home & office is all of the "other" stuff that you pack up during your move. From that stray stack of Post-it notes to pens, pencils, candles, and calendars, most of your home and office goods are semi-sturdy. This makes this section a little less sweat-inducing, but there are still some simple tips you should follow:

  • Get help with heavy boxes filled with books.
  • Go through your documents before you move (if possible) and shred the ones you don't need.
  • Carefully organise documents.
  • Candles, figurines, lights, and other breakable goods should be packaged according to the fragile section of this guide.
  • It's perfectly fine to have a "junk" box for all of the odds-and-ends that don't really belong in any specific box.

Pet items

Furry friends rejoice! We have a section just for you. Here are some tips for those dog and cat goods.

  • Put food in a safe container. That barely folded bag of dog food is just begging to be spilled across the floor of your rented moving truck.
  • Don't pack your dog's favorite toy. Instead, bring it along on the ride to your new spot. It may help comfort them.
  • Disassemble cat trees, hamster playgrounds, and other larger pet objects.


Your bathroom is filled with various chemicals, liquids, and cosmetics that require special attention when you're packing. Here are some tips to prevent that $100 bottle of perfume from becoming a cardboard box's scent of the day.

  • Put open bottles of liquid in plastic bags or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap.
  • Use the towels for packing fragile instead of packing them in their own box.
  • Throw away any expired medication.
  • Treat perfumes and colognes as fragile items (see above).
  • Secure the openings and holes of cleaning spray bottles.


Electronics are technically fragile goods. So, we recommend looking at the fragile section when it comes to packaging smaller electronics (hint: take out batteries, remove toner cartridges, and eject blu-rays before packing them). But what about the big boys? TVs, massive printers, and appliances all require special care.

Here are some tips:

  • Completely wrap TVs in soft towels or blankets.
  • Try to use the original packaging if possible.
  • Remove cords before you move items.
  • Clean large and small appliances before moving.
  • Get professional help with large appliances (trust us; they're heavy and expensive).

How to Label Like a Moving Pro

Sure! You can go old-school and write "kitchen" in marker on your box. But if you want to kick it up to the pro level, there are a few tips that will help:

  • Use a color-coding system. This makes it easier and faster to both label and unpack. You can use either colored labels or tape for this.
  • Identify both where the box was from and where it's going. Your new home may be arranged completely differently from your original spot. You want to know where to set the box when it gets to its destination.
  • Label every side of the box. This is especially critical if you're using movers. It will help them quickly identify where boxes belong.

Things to Do Before You Leave

You're done! Everything is packed! Yay! But don't celebrate yet. You have a few last-minute tasks to accomplish.

  1. Clean everything. Whether you're selling your house or renting, cleaning before you leave puts everyone in a better situation (and it can score you some of your deposit back!)
  2. Leave your keys behind. You wouldn't want the old owner to keep the keys to your new pad, would you?
  3. Pack a bag of essentials for the trip. Depending on how far you're moving, snacks may be critical. Well... snacks are always critical. But they may be supercritical.
  4. Empty anything you're leaving behind. For example, you may have to have your car shipped. Don't leave any valuables inside. You never know.

Clear Sky Moving and Storage Is Here for You

Moving doesn't have to be stressful. Whether you're moving to or from NT, Australia, we're here to help you get your precious goods and incredible memories from one spot to the next with no hassle. Our team of pros will handle your removal process from start-to-finish without any fuss. We guarantee on-time and safe delivery of all of your goods, and we'll leave an open line of communication open, so you know exactly what's going on.

Are you ready for a painless and stress-free moving experience that's affordable, transparent, and free from nasty hidden costs? Contact us. We're ready to help you settle into your new paradise — no matter where that paradise is. We're AFRA Members, and we've developed a personalised moving system that leverages decades of experience. From interstate to down the block, we're here for you.