How to Prepare Your House for Pack Out

My husband and I had been married for 10 months when our first move was scheduled, so I was very new to this lifestyle.  A seasoned spouse, also one of our editors, told me she was happy to help me with my first pack out since my husband would be working. With a confused look, I politely asked, “What’s a packout?” If you are new to this lifestyle, like I was my first time, a pack out is when the movers come and literally pack up your entire house.  

For me, I love to pack out. I love prepping the house,  going through all of our belongings and parting with items we no longer need. I love the sight of an empty house that I have just cleaned top to bottom. It’s time to get the show on the road and make a new home at the next duty station. Don’t get me wrong, I am always devastated when I leave friends. It is hard to leave your job and that hot yoga studio you love. The worst thing is when you finally get your house perfectly decorated or renovated and those new orders come.   The amazing thing about this small community of ours is that we always see each other again.  

So when it comes to pack outs, here’s my strategy: 

  • Purge items you no longer want. Once the pack out date is booked, I like to take the opportunity to do a survey of my house and see if there’s anything that I know for sure I want to get rid of before pack out. I try to have everything gone a month before the packers are due to arrive.  
  • Empty your drawers. A few days before, I take all of our clothes out of the dressers because I do not like when the clothes are moved in the dressers. I put all those clothes in the closet to be packed with our hanging clothes.  I clean out the bathroom drawers and cabinets and organize items in ziploc bags.  I hate unpacking a bathroom box to find they dumped the contents of the drawers in a box. 
  • Organize “give away items.” There will likely be items in your garage or basement that cannot be packed (propane tank, paint, aerosol cans etc), so it is a good idea to organize all the “give away” items in a corner. Ask your movers if they prefer you to take down your wall hanging items. If they tell you to take them down go ahead and take all of them down.  
  • Designate one room as a “do not pack room.” This is a big one. I take everything out of the spare bathroom and use that as a “do not pack up” room. I keep all the items we will take with us in the car or on the plane in there. This includes expensive jewelry,  chargers for your devices such as your laptop and cell phone, and any cleaning supplies we want to keep like a small stick vacuum and swiffer mop so I can clean when the house is empty. Make sure you keep a few rolls of toilet paper, paper towels, and trash bags. A closet or your car works well too.  I tape a sign to the door and make a “X” with painters tape around the door frame to make sure they don’t pack up those items.    
  • Pack a cooler for your move. I put our cooler in my car, if we are driving to the new duty station, so I can pack snacks and drinks. 
  • Wash dishes the day before. The day before, I make sure all the dishes are clean (movers will pack dirty dishes) and out of the dishwasher.  Hot tip: also make sure the trash cans are empty, because the movers will pack your trash.
  • Pick up coffee and donuts. To help ease the stress and get off on the right foot, I like to pick up donuts and coffee for the movers. I might also order some lunch. I have always had great experiences with movers, which I attribute to the breakfast and lunch I provide them.  Be prepared for a long day.   I have had movers pack the entire house in one day and then another time it took them three days.  Typically, they will let you know what the schedule will be like.  

Pack outs, we love them and we hate them. How do you prepare to pack out? Share your tips and comment below!

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