If you were fortunate you got 30 days notice (or more!). If you were not, you got 8 days notice, or even less. If you have 30 days to work with you can get it all packed. If you have less then you will have to make some hard decisions. This time we had 90 days notice, plus we knew beforehand that it was in the pipeline and I had started decluttering. If you have the luxury of that much time do not waste it procrastinating. Start sorting things like seasonal items and books right away.
You can pack decorative items immediately, but be aware that this is the quickest way to make the move “real” to you, try not to depress yourself with bare walls. Do sort things like towels, sheets, and throw blankets but don’t pack them – bag them up and stick them in a closet or something to use to wrap and pad things you’re packing. I made a list of tasks like linens, DVDs, my paperwork, etc, and tackled one project a day.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you should get a storage unit, or find somewhere to stash your stuff. U-Haul offers the first month of storage free with one-way rentals, but the participating businesses were sparse where I am, it would have cost more in gas to drive to the closest one than I would have saved in the fee. If you are totally broke you can get a small storage unit like 5′ x 5′ x 8′ for $45 a month (plus $55 in fees to start). I got a 10×25, which is supposed to be enough for three bedrooms. It costs $150 a month. The deposit was $40 and they pro-rated the rest of that month. There is the issue of size. That unit is not going to fit the stuff for five people and a carriage house stuffed to the gills. I knew I had to get rid of a lot, since there’s no way I can afford another storage unit.
When packing stuff for storage be aware that there is the chance that you will not get that stuff back. If you are unable to pay your storage bill they can sell your stuff to recoup the costs. Pack accordingly, with super special stuff left for last so you can pull it back out if possible. If you have someone you can rely on you can beg them to let you stash a couple boxes with them.
For this move I’m not sure if we will be able to find a place to move to, so I am packing and stuffing storage in layers. Stored items, like the stuff in the basement and the seasonal clothes and decorations. Then the stuff it won’t hurt our daily lives to pack, like books. Then the everyday use things.