The Best Way to Unpack After a Move

Hopefully you’re reading this before you move—ideally, before you’ve even packed for your move. Because no matter what happens on the other end, the best way to make sure unpacking will be as painless as possible is to get everything organized beforehand.

But even if you don’t have everything perfectly organized and in place (and let’s be honest—does a move ever go exactly the way you plan?), here’s what to do.

A Plan

Make a plan for your unpacking process. It will reduce stress and confusion. Use the one outlined here, or tweak it to match your needs. You can use a pen a paper, type it up, put it on your phone–whatever will make it easiest for you to look at and change if needed.


This includes other essentials you brought with you in the car, like toiletries, medications, clothes, and hopefully towels. They should come out first.

Get all the clothes out of suitcases and put them away, even if it’s just throwing them onto hangers in the closet. The sooner you can get yourselves not living out of suitcases, the better.


When it comes to arranging the boxes, you have two choices:

Immediately put every box in the room where its contents will end up. Having the boxes in the room will help motivate you to get things taken care of, and to do it one space at a time, from start to finish. If you’re someone who likes to get one task done before moving on to the next, this is the way to go.

The other choice is to put all the boxes in one place. If you have a space big enough, consolidating will keep the rest of the house from feeling cluttered as you go. People who like to move around and do a little bit of everything as they go along will probably prefer this method.

That said, it’s still going to make life easier if you arrange the boxes based on where they’re going to end up so you know which stack to go to for what you need.


Before you even open the boxes, make sure you have the right number and they’re all yours (mix-ups in moving trucks can and do happen). Then, as you unpack, keep a master list of anything that’s broken or anything you realize you need.


Bedrooms come first so everyone has a place to sleep. If you don’t have time to set up everyone’s beds, or if kids aren’t too sure about sleeping on their own in a new place, you can always pick a spot for a family camp-in.

The kitchen comes next, but the joys of takeout and pizza delivery mean you don’t have to have the kitchen put together right away.

Next, unpack the bathrooms so everyone can get properly cleaned up and feel like themselves.

Finally, the living areas. Your family needs spaces to gather and relax. And don’t neglect putting up pictures. Even if they’re not in their permanent spots, covering bare walls really helps a new house feel like home.


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