Expert Tips for Labeling Your Moving Boxes

Moving to a new apartment can be a time-consuming endeavor. But staying organized can help. Label your moving boxes in a smart system and they'll be a breeze to unpack.

How to label your moving boxes

The best way to overcome this is to go room-to-room one step at a time. Pack items from the kitchen or from the bedroom in specified containers. Keep all of your boxes clearly labeled. Knowing exactly what is in each box will make it much easier and less stressful later when it comes time to unpack.

1. Number your boxes

woman writing moving box numbers

If you're super detail-oriented, number each box with large, easy to read numbers with a big black marker. Get a legal pad (you'll need the paper) and write that number down with the contents of each numbered box.

Keep that packing slip in a safe place, somewhere it won't get thrown out or accidentally packed into a box. You can also take a picture of your packing slip and email it to yourself or store it to the cloud for later reference.

2. Color code moving boxes

colored stickers

If that seems like too much work, an easier method is to color-code your moving boxes. Color coding boxes for a move is a great way to divvy up the stress of a move, allowing you to focus on one room at a time, box by box.

Pick up some multi-colored stickers from the office supply store. Make up your own color code and label the boxes with the corresponding sticker. The important thing to remember here is to put the sticker in the same place on each box so you always know where to look.

Put your labels on the outside panel of the boxes and not on the top flaps. This way, when all the boxes are stacked up and ready to go onto the truck, you'll know exactly what you have and where it is. It's a small step that will save you a ton of time when you're surrounded by mountains of cardboard.

If numbers or colors won't work for you, you can try a higher-tech solution like Sortly. This app will let you take a picture of the contents of any of your boxes. Then, you can print off a QR code onto a packing label and scan it with your phone.

3. Pack and label by room

moving box with kitchen checked off

No matter how you label your stuff, count each box and number them with big numbers on the side of the box with the numbers facing out. For example, boxes one through 10 go in the kitchen, 11 through 25 go in the living room, 26 and 27 go in the bathroom and everything else is for the bedroom. This way you know exactly how many boxes you have and all of your stuff is accounted for.

Ask the movers to load the stuff onto the truck in reverse numerical order so they can move all the boxes into your new apartment in numerical order. This way all your stuff is accounted for, and you won't have to wonder where boxes 17 and 18 went. When all the boxes are off the truck, you and the movers each should count off all of your boxes. If you arrive at a different total, count them again. Check the numbers on each box (remember numerical order?) to make sure nothing is missing or out of place.

4. Label by priority or contents

fragile sticker on moving box

In contrast to the “pack by room" system, you should have a box with everything you need for the first night in your new place. This will include items from various rooms like a coffee pot from the kitchen, sheets from the bedroom, toiletries from the bathroom and whatever else you'll need that first evening in your new apartment. Remember, this is only for the essentials. Keep the box a manageable size, too, so you can take it with you in your car.

If you have pricey china or stemware, you don't want your movers to be rough with their boxes. So, go with the tried-and-true method and write “FRAGILE" on a few sides of the container.

Additionally, if it's important for some boxes to stand right-side-up, add the words “this end up" on the box. For another option, you can pick up some arrow stickers and place them on the boxes to designate the right direction.

Labeling your moving boxes can help reduce stress

Relax. It's only a move. It's stressful, but it's also a rite of passage into adulthood. Organizing and planning a move into a new place is a reminder of your independence. It's your stuff and your move. You get to control the chaos. Figuring out how to label moving boxes will help you focus on the task at hand — one small step at a time is the best way to make progress on any big project.

And when you're sitting on the floor in your new home eating pizza from that new place around the corner, you'll feel a huge sense of relief and accomplishment at what you pulled off. And nothing tastes better than that — except maybe pizza.

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Ryan SloaneRyan Sloane is an award-winning journalist, writer, comedian and former child. He's lived in Atlanta for 10 years but still calls himself a New Yorker. Lately, he's doing a lot of stress eating and watching cable news in his sweatpants. You should probably check in with him on Twitter and see how he's doing.

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