Helpful Unpacking Tips to Help You Get Settled Quickly

Picture this scene: you’ve finally moved into your new apartment in NYC. It’s everything you ever hoped for and more (hopefully). However, in order to reap the benefits, present you needs to deal with all the boxes, bags, suitcases, and more. That’s right. It’s time to unpack.

For many people, unpacking is the least enjoyable task when it comes to moving with packing taking second place. Even if you hire professionals to unpack for you, you will still have to spend time rearranging items so that they are in the proper place. Luckily, we’ve compiled a few unpacking tips below to make the process easier so you can get settled into your new NYC apartment faster.

Steps to Take Before Moving Day

Sure you might not physically unpack until after you move, but you should make unpacking plans before you put the first object in a box. When you have a solid plan in place, your unpacking experience will be a lot easier.

Create a plan

All the best moves start with a comprehensive and organized plan. How you come up with an organizational plan is up to you, but common methods include using specific numbers or colors that correspond to each room. The important part is to stick to your method. That means labeling all boxes and bags with the corresponding numbers or colors.

From there, figure out what items should go in each box. You’ll want to group similar items together as much as possible. Create an inventory of each box and keep it in a spreadsheet. You should also write general information on the contents of the box on the outside. That way you can tell the movers where to put each box. When packing, make sure you don’t mix items from different rooms together and try to organize your boxes so they only contain one item from one room.

Take photos of your previous layout

Before you pack, take a photo of each room and label the photos with the number or color that corresponds to your plan and inventory. This way, when you unpack you can see exactly how your previous room was set up and follow suit. You can always re-decorate later if the setup doesn’t work for the space.


The less stuff you have the easier it will be for you to pack and organize. Plus, if you have items that are still in good condition you can make back some money you might otherwise spend during the move. When deciding what to part with, ask yourself if you have used the item in the past 6 months. If the answer is no, it’s safe to say you probably have no use for it. When it comes to seasonal items, extend the timeline to a year.

Separate box for essentials

When you arrive in your new place you’ll want to have access to certain items. Make sure you separate these into a specific box or suitcase so you don’t have to dig around to find them. Typical essentials include:

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Prescriptions
  • Chargers
  • Plates, cups, and utensils,
  • Toilet paper
  • Bedding and pillows

Tips for Moving Day

Once moving day has arrived you should have everything packed. Whether you’re doing a DIY move or hiring professionals, there are a few things you can do during the move to make unpacking as easy as possible.

Keep boxes from the same room together

This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t keep boxes together. Maybe it’s because they didn’t organize and label properly or maybe they’re just in a rush to get everything loaded. Either way, it comes down to a lack of planning. When loading the truck, you’ll want to have items that will go in the back of the apartment in the front of the truck. That way when you have less energy towards the end of the move, you’ll have a shorter distance to travel.

If you’re hiring movers, they’ll load the truck how they see fit. However, you should let them know about your organizational method so that when they unload, they can drop off the boxes in the correct room. You don’t want to your time rearranging boxes!

Keep an eye on your essentials

Your essentials box will be the only one that does not have a specific room it belongs in. Since it will contain things like toiletries, clothes, bedding, etc. the best place to put it is probably in your bedroom. Make sure it doesn’t get lost among the other boxes after it has been unloaded into your new place and let the movers know exactly where to put the box.

Easy Unpacking Guide

Once all the boxes have been unloaded into your new home, it’s time to start unpacking. Even if you’ve followed the above steps, it can still be a daunting process. However, you can make it easier on yourself by following these unpacking steps.

Clean and note any areas that might need some repairs

Before you unpack your boxes, do a deep clean of your apartment. There’s no better than now as there are no obstacles in the way (besides the boxes). Wipe down every surface including inside cabinets and shelves.

While you’re at it, take a good look at the walls and floors of your new place. If you notice any damage, take pictures and send them over to your landlord or management company so that they are aware of it and that you have a digital trail. You don’t have to fix it the same day as you move in, but you should handle small cracks and holes before you unpack that room.

Arrange your furniture

Once you’ve cleaned and recorded any existing damage to the apartment, start arranging your furniture. It’s much easier to move around large pieces of furniture when you don’t have things blocking your path. Play around with a few different layouts to find the one that you like.

Unpack the Bathroom and Bedroom First

Much like your essentials box, you want to unpack rooms that you know you will use on a daily basis. For most people, those rooms tend to be the bathroom and bedroom. Start with the bathroom first as this way you can take a nice shower after a long day of moving. After that, unpack the essentials for the bedroom. You don’t have to put artwork or decorations yet but do set up your lights, bed, dresser, etc.

Take Your Time

Once you’ve unpacked the two essential rooms, take your time unpacking the rest of the house. Focus on unpacking one or two rooms a day going from most important to least important. While you don’t want to unpack everything in one day, you should give yourself a deadline to avoid procrastination. If you need some motivation, schedule a housewarming party to keep you on track.

When deciding what to unpack think about how often you plan on using that particular room. After the bathroom and bedroom, what is the third most important place for you and your family? If you cook a lot, then you’ll want to unpack the kitchen. But if you’re a single person who eats out most days, then you might want to unpack your living area.

To save yourself even more time, break down the boxes as you unpack. That way, you’re not dealing with dozens of boxes taking up room in your apartment after you’re all moved in.

Leave Decorating for Last

You might be tempted to put up all your decorations in a room as a reward, but try to avoid this common pitfall. It will only distract you and keep you from the big job of unpacking and organizing the rest of your apartment. If you save it for last, you’ll feel an even greater sense of accomplishment once you put up that last painting or tchotchke.

Make Unpacking Easier

Hopefully, above unpacking tips can help make your move that much easier. If you need some help, don’t be afraid to ask others! Most professional movers offer packing and unpacking services so you can reduce your workload significantly. Even if you end up doing everything yourself, once you’ve settled into your new place, the unpacking process will be a distant memory and you’ll be enjoying your new life!


There’s not enough space in my new apartment for everything. What should I do?

For items in boxes, you can always rent a storage unit and put your belongings in there until you are able to open up space. If the issue is with a piece of furniture not fitting, you should still store it, but you’ll have to get sell it or donate it.

I rented plastic bins, should I unpack those first?

Yes! If you rented reusable bins, unpack those first as most movers require you to return the bins within 2-4 weeks of your moving date.

How long would it take professional movers to pack and unpack my stuff?

It depends on the size of your home. If you live in a small studio, they can probably pack and unpack your things the same day. For larger homes, they might arrive the day before to pack.