Don’t wait until the last minute to start planning. (Justin Tran for The Washington Post)

You’ve found a great new place to live and have started to think about new paint colors, furniture placement and the housewarming party you’re going to host once you’re settled. But before the fun can begin, you’ll have to make decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of and how to get your possessions from one place to the other. If you decide to move yourself instead of hiring a moving company, you will definitely save money, but you’ll also need to spend a considerable amount of time planning for and executing your move. Here’s what you need to do:

Move only things you want

We all have those boxes that we’ve moved from one home to another without knowing exactly what’s inside and without ever opening them to look. We assume the contents must be valuable because we’ve gone to the trouble of moving them multiple times. But things change, and the stuff you once considered indispensable may no longer be important to you. Open sealed boxes and confirm that you want to move them again. Don’t spend your time and energy moving boxes full of things that you’re ultimately going to throw away after you unpack. In general, moving is an ideal time to go through boxes, closets, books and paperwork to clean out old things and reduce the amount of stuff to move.

Take accurate measurements

Take time to consider where your large pieces of furniture will be placed in your new home. Measure the items and compare them with your new home’s floor plan. If you don’t have a hard copy of the floor plan, measure the rooms in your new home to ensure your furniture will fit. Don’t just eyeball it or think you’ll remember the size of the rooms, because your memory of the space will change over time. Take note of radiators and window placement and carefully assess the size of doorways and stairs to make sure you’ll be able to get couches and box springs to their desired locations. There is nothing more stressful on moving day than discovering that a valuable piece of furniture will not fit through the door!

Get started early

Once you’ve figured out what you won’t be taking, begin strategizing early about how to get rid of unwanted items. If you decide to donate furniture to a charity and would like the items picked up, get on the charity’s schedule as soon as possible — it may take a few weeks for the group to get to you. If you want to sell things, measure each item, take photos and spread the word. Send an email to friends, and post the pieces on your neighborhood or apartment email group or on Craigslist. Don’t wait until the last minute. You’ll have enough to think about right before moving day; you won’t want the added pressure of having to figure out how to dispose of what you’re not moving.

It’s never too early to get started packing. Spend at least an hour packing each day for two weeks before your move, instead of trying to do it all in one day. Pack boxes fully, and seal them so they can be stacked, to make the most efficient use of space. And as you begin to plan for your actual move day, don’t forget to consider whether you need to reserve an elevator, loading dock or parking space at one or both of the locations.

Pretend you work for a moving company

Now that you’ve decided what you’re moving, it’s time to think about packing and transportation needs. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can just throw your things into some bags and boxes and make a few trips between your old and new homes. That might sound simple and easy, but it will almost certainly make for a long and chaotic moving day.

Think through what type of — and how many — vehicles you’ll need to move everything. If you don’t know someone who can lend you a van or truck, reserve one early and plan to pick it up the day before moving day or early that morning. Have more boxes than you think you’ll need on hand, as well as an adequate supply of things such as bubble wrap, packing tape and pens.

If you don’t have a car, you may want to get one to use on moving day and have a friend or family member available to drive it. The car could be used to move valuable or fragile items that you don’t want to pack. The driver of the car could also be in charge of picking up food and drinks as well as running miscellaneous errands.

Moving is a big job and should be treated as such. Even if your house is well organized and you don’t think you have a lot of stuff, it always takes longer than you think it will, and something always goes wrong. Give yourself extra time and take a deep breath. The effort will be worth it.

Anzia is a freelance writer and owner of Neatnik. She can be reached at