Essentials First: What to Unpack First After You Move

Jon Fesmire |

Moving is a huge task. You pack, you load the truck, you drive, you get to your new home, and finally, you’ve managed to bring everything into the house. No matter if you moved across town or across several states, when you arrive at your destination you’re bound to feel tired. Perhaps even exhausted.

By all means, grab some takeout or just relax for a half-hour on the couch, but you still have more to do! A good night’s sleep can come later.

It’s All About the Necessities

There are some things that need to be set up on that first day or evening. You, and your family or housemates, need a place to lie down and sleep, to be able to bathe or shower, something to eat, and some entertainment to take your mind off all this.

First, though, you’ll want your home to be clean.

Sweep, Mop, and Dust

Let’s take a step back to getting the boxes off the truck. First, have a good look in the house. Ideally, the place you’re moving into will already be nice and clean before you get there. If you have a good landlord, it definitely should be. However, if it’s dusty, or there’s a spill on the floor, or the counters don’t look wiped down, take care of all that before bringing in your boxes and furniture.

Unloading the Truck

Make sure boxes are in the right rooms as you unload. This will make unpacking them much simpler.

Did you make an inventory? That will help you figure out which boxes have the bare necessities so you can unpack them first. If movers got your stuff there, check the inventory sheet to make sure all boxes are in the house, and contact them immediately if anything they brought over is missing.

Take 30

As we mentioned above, you’ll be pretty pooped after unloading the truck, so take a short break. We hope you’ve been hydrating! Have a glass of water to hydrate some more.

Rested? Good. It’s time to get back to work.

Put the Beds Together

Put each bed together in the room where it belongs. Get the bed frames sturdy, put on the box springs and mattresses, then dress them in bedclothes. Yes, that’s what sheets and blankets used to be called, and you can still call them that.

Knowing you have a comfortable place to sleep, take the next step.

Put Furniture in Place

Now, it’s time to put dressers, nightstands, the dining room table, the coffee table, couches, and chairs in their place. It’s Okay to hold off on desks and the entertainment center for now.

Set Up Major Appliances

If your new place doesn’t come with major appliances, you’ll need to set up your own. The most important two are the fridge and the oven. Hook them up in their places in the kitchen. You can also hook up the washer, drier, and the dishwasher, though if you’re especially tired you can set those aside for the next day.

Handle Clothing

For the first evening, all you really need to do is make sure everyone has something to sleep in, like pajamas or birthday suits, depending on how you roll, and a set of clothes for the next day. You can put the rest of your clothes in the closets and dressers later.

Put Out Essential Bathroom Items

Next, put enough towels in the linen closet for each member of your family and the bath mat on the bathroom floor. Put soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes out on the countertop, and put shampoo, conditioner, and soap in the shower or tub.

Remember the Kids and Pets

As part of getting out the basics, you’ll also set up beds for your kids, and get their clothes ready. Make sure they have something to occupy them, too. If they’re old enough, they can start unpacking their things. If not, make sure they’re somewhere you can keep an eye on them and get out some toys they can play with safely.

For your dogs or cats, put out pet beds as well as food and water bowls. For cats, put out the kitty litter box.

Buy Some Groceries

A big grocery trip may be out of the question, but you’ll need to eat. Head to the nearest grocery store and buy enough to get everyone through a few days. You can make a big, pantry and fridge-filling trip later.

In the Weeks to Come

That covers the necessities for the first day. Once all those necessities are in place, you can take a shower, have dinner, do your dishes, and get a good night’s sleep.

Going forward, we encourage you to get the rest of your unpacking done within a week or so. Otherwise, you may get used to having boxes around the house and they can sit there for weeks or months. With the essentials taken care of, you can get the rest unpacked without too much stress.

If you discover you have more belongings than comfortably fit in your new home, consider getting a self storage unit. We have dozens of articles on how to clean, declutter, and put various articles safely in storage.