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Condo Scene: Tips for an easier unpacking job


whole family unpacking a box

OTTAWA — Moving is a big endeavour and anyone who has done it will tell you one thing: It takes nearly twice as long to unpack as it does to pack.

So what happens when you move on a weekend and it’s back to work or school on Monday? How do you have a smooth move that lets you and your family go back to normal as quickly as possible? Here is the best advice I have for moving.


The easiest way to reduce unpacking stress is to pack a suitcase as if you are leaving your home for the next week and staying in a nearby hotel. This way, you have your toiletries, pyjamas, nighttime reading, clothing and footwear all in one place, in case you are unable to unpack as quickly as you predict.

Often, people will pack either all their clothes in boxes or separate out one professional outfit for ease of accessibility. But consider, by the time you sort out the plethora of boxes, you may not be able to find the one that contains dress pants or blazers.

To entice young children into co-operation, get them involved in the excitement of the move by treating it like a camping trip. Let them pack their own suitcases (supervise this to make sure school clothes, weather-appropriate clothing and textbooks make the cut) and create a camping vibe in the new condo by baking s’mores in your new oven.


When you arrive at your new condo, remember that even a newly constructed space may be quite dusty. You may consider bringing cleaning essentials — Windex, paper towels, Lysol wipes, dish soap, broom or mop, plus dishwasher detergent — with you in the car. After all, it’s unlikely you will want to unpack your dishes, cutlery and pillows into a layer of dust.

A quick wipe-down while you wait for movers can help remove this dusty film and freshen up the place. If there is some time between the dates of possession and move-in, you may consider heading over for a pre-move thorough clean or hire a cleaning service to take care of this for you.

Keep in mind, however, that you will still want to bring cleaning supplies on move-in day as your unit will still be subjected to movers’ footprints and dusty boxes. And don’t forget the garbage bags.


Many people pack by room. That is to say, they label boxes “kitchen”, “master bedroom”, etc. This is a highly effective way of packing. However, you can go one step further by labelling your boxes with different degrees of importance. If it’s the middle of winter, for instance, you won’t need to unpack your rollerblades immediately.

Pack seasonally appropriate contents and everyday objects, like cutlery, in boxes labelled VIP to remind yourself what to unpack first. Make sure you label the VIP boxes on all four sides with something easily visible. That way, you won’t have to rummage through 10 boxes to find your can opener.


You’ve found the pillows for the sofa and now you are searching for the matching chenille throw. While it’s tempting to get bogged down in the details of decor and organization, when you first move in it’s most important to get your things out of boxes.

It can be less overwhelming to unpack one box at a time, rather than vacillating between three or four. That way, you can keep the extra boxes stacked and out of the way instead of taking up all of your limited unit space with half-opened boxes. To keep yourself entertained, you may consider buying mini, portable speakers for your iPhone. Hearing your favourite music will make it feel like home.

However you decide to pack, consider incorporating some of these useful tips into your repertoire so that unpacking at the other end will be a less stressful event. Good luck with the move.

Marilyn Wilson has been selling real estate for more than 24 years and owns Marilyn Wilson Dream Properties Inc. Brokerage, an Exclusive Affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. She can be reached through or follow her on Twitter@marilyn_wilson.

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