Estimating Needs

Okay, so how much of this superfluous junk are you going to lug out to the trailer yourself? Of course, you can hire to have any or all of it done, from packing to loading. But consider how much of it you can lug before lifting your wallet.

Moving Tips

Plan ahead. If you have the information, sketch a floor plan and decide upon furniture placement. If something won’t fit, don’t go to the expense of moving it.

Even if you’re not Arnold Swartzinwhatever, you’d be surprised how much of the packing and loading you can do yourself with a little know-how.

But let’s be smart about this. Moving a household full of heavy boxes, furniture, and appliances takes strength and stamina, even with the help of a few advanced techniques. If you’re in good health, are you in good condition? Make an honest appraisal of your physical abilities. Maybe you can carry lots of boxes and smaller items, but feel virtually useless for moving large furniture and appliances. If so, start planning now to have a couple of big, hairy persons of whatever gender on hand to give a hand.

So, how many boxes are you going to need for your move? Here’s a cool chart for estimating how much stuff you have, how many boxes you’ll need, and what supplies are necessary to get it all shoved into the moving vehicle. Figure basements and storage buildings separately.

These recommendations are just a starting point. They are averages. You may need more or fewer boxes than estimated here. You’ll probably also need wrapping material, such as bubble wrap, packing peanuts, cream cheese, and/or newspaper. In many cases you can also use towels, blankets, and other linens as some of your packing material. Old coats are okay as long as the buttons or zippers don’t scratch anything.

Size of Your Home Boxes Supplies

small apartment (250 sq. ft.)8 small boxes 1 roll tape

1-2 rooms 4 medium boxes 1 roll tape
4 large boxes 1 roll rope
1 dish pack
2 wardrobe boxes

1-2 bedroom 15 small boxes 2 rolls tape
up to 1,200 10 medium boxes 1 roll rope
square feet 8 large boxes
4 wardrobe boxes

2-3 bedroom 20 small boxes 4 rolls tape
1,200-1,600 15 medium boxes 2 rolls rope
square feet 10 large boxes
6 wardrobe boxes

3-4 bedroom 30 small boxes 5 rolls tape
1600-1800 20 medium boxes 2 rolls rope
square feet 15 large boxes
8 wardrobe boxes

4 or more bedrooms 40 small boxes 6 rolls tape
2,000 or more 30 medium boxes 3 rolls rope
square feet 20 large boxes
10 wardrobes

For folks who haven’t the foggiest notion of how many square (or any other shape of) feet their abode contains: multiply the width of the entire living area by the depth. A 24 X 24 apartment has 576 square feet. A 75 X 90 home has too many square feet (6,750) to clean!

Making Your Moving

Make a room-by-room inventory of the goods you need to move. A couple of hours making an inventory will help you enormously in your planning and budgeting.

Want to get more specific, you say? Well, here’s a more comprehensive chart of how much space stuff will take. Use the third column to add up the number of cubic feet of space you’ll need in your moving vehicle(s). A cubic foot is simply a square foot (width times depth) times the height (1 X 1 X 1 is 1 cubic foot). Cubic feet is a standard measure for moving, whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a professional mover.

Approximate Number of Cubic Feet by Item

Living Room

Book shelves 5

Bookcase (3 x 6 foot) 15

Chair—arm 10

Chair—recliner 20

Chair—rocker 12

Couch 30-40

Desk 20-40

Fireplace Equip. 5

Grandfather clock 20

Lamp—table 2

Lamp—floor 3

Magazine rack 2

Piano, upright 50-70

Stereo components 3

Stereo console 20

Table—coffee/end 4

TV—console 15

TV—portable 10

Kitchen/Dining Room

Bar—portable 15

Buffet 20-30

Cabinet 20-30

Chair 5

China cabinet 25

High chair 3

Hutch 25

Stool 3

Table 10-20


Bed—king 75

Bed—queen 55

Bed—double 45

Bed—single 30

Bed—water 20

Cedar chest 10-15

Chair 4

Chest/dresser 20-30

Night table 5

Wardrobe/armoire 35

Children’s Room

Bassinet 4

Bed—youth 20

Changing table 5

Cradle 5

Crib 10

Playpen 6

Toy chest 5

Major Appliances

Air conditioner 15

Dishwasher 15

Dehumidifier 10

Clothes Dryer 25

Freezer, chest or upright45-60

Microwave 5

Range 25

Refrigerator 40

Sewing Machine 10

Vacuum Cleaner 5

Washing Machine 25

Home Office

Bookcase 10-20

Computer 5

Filing Cabinet 8


Barbecue 5-10

Bicycle 6

Canoe 50

Garden cart 5

Hose and tools 10

Golf Bag 2

Lawn chair 3

Lawn mower 7

Lawn swing/glider 20

Picnic table 25

Sandbox 10

Stepladder 5

Swing set 20

Tool chest 3-10

Tricycle 4

Wagon 5

Wheelbarrow 7

You’ve estimated the number of boxes and other stuff you’ll be moving. Congratulations! Now what? Add up the cubic feet of these items to get a good estimate of the size of the moving load you will have. Should your household include hobbies (like collecting Greek statuary) or a business (like selling Greek statuary) with an inventory, these will anywhere from slightly to greatly increase the load.

How much packing material should you plan on getting? The best packing materials are available through your mover or through a rental truck company. They will offer square cartons in several sizes, as well as many specialty cartons. You can purchase dish packs, wardrobe boxes, mirror packs, tape, straps or rope, and even a lock for securing your items once they are all loaded into the truck or trailer.

Moving Tips

Rent a truck or trailer that will hold all your possessions without much extra space. Unless your move is very short, it is usually more economical to make your move in one trip, rather than use a smaller vehicle and several trips.

How many boxes will you need? Wardrobes? Rolls of tape? Unless the supplier is far from your home, remember that you can always purchase more supplies if you run out. Also remember that some moving services will buy back unused materials at full price.

Back Savers

When you buy packing materials, ask whether the supplier will buy back unused materials. Most will. You may even be able to sell most of the boxes to a moving company after your move is completed and everything unpacked. If you move often and have the space, break the boxes down and store them for the next move. Many families that relocate frequently use those sturdy moving boxes many times over.

Another way to save on moving supplies is to purchase used boxes when available from your truck rental or moving company. Make a few phone calls. Good used boxes are just as sturdy and usable as new.

 DIY Packing Planning Help