5 Unpacking Tips to Help You Stay Sane After a Move - Expat Nest e-counselling



5 Unpacking Tips to Help You Stay Sane After a Move

You’ve done it – after weeks or months of preparation and planning, you’ve finally arrived on the other side! But now what? Although there’s a lot of helpful information out there, as well as services to help with packing, once you get to your new location, you’re pretty much on your own. Erin Strasen, an interior designer who specialises in helping expats bring simplicity and functionality to their homes, shares some unpacking tips so you can settle quicker into your new home…


Packing and actually getting to your new home is often the “easy” part of the process. There’s a formula. You know what to do. But no one offers guidance about how to deal with the stress after a move, because they assume the hard part is over. And even if you’re fortunate enough to have movers who will unpack for you on the other side, they usually just place items where there is space. 

Here are my favourite post-move tips to make your move a little less stressful… 

1. Think before you unpack

Are you unpacking a box because you want to get it out of the way? Do you know where these items are going to live or are you just sick of looking at boxes? Taking a moment to be more strategic and intentional about where things go will help you in the long run. Rather than unpacking for the sake of unpacking, you’re making the best use of your time and avoiding unnecessary time spent rearranging or moving things around. 

2. Imagine a blank slate

Many people set up their furniture in the same way they saw the previous tenant do it, or even in a similar way to their previous home, without thinking about their specific needs in this home. Do you want to be able to talk to your partner in the kitchen while you sip wine in the living room? Do you want a TV view or a window view? What’s the first thing you want to see when you wake up in the morning? Try to ignore past ideas about the space set-up and imagine your home as a blank slate. This helps you visualize yourself in the space and ensures that you’re placing things in a way that is personal to you. With this approach you’re more likely to be happy with the results in the long term. 

3. Prioritize one space at a time 

Moving is chaotic, and when you just unpack whatever box is next in the pile, nothing ever feels finished. It’s hard to feel like you’re making progress. Choose one room to focus on that can be your haven. Maybe it’s a bedroom, maybe it’s a living room… the idea is to create a calm place that you can escape to when you need a break; a space where you can take a much-needed coffee break and imagine what your home will look like when all the boxes are gone. 

4. Keep a list to avoid distractions 

Write down things that come up as you unpack that might distract you from the task
at hand. Whether this list is on your phone or a physical piece of paper, just make sure it’s in one place. Write down everything that comes to mind that you need to deal with later. This will free up some much needed brain space. Did you come across a broken item and you need to file a claim? Put it aside and write it down. Do you need to get nails for the artwork you just unpacked? Put them aside and write it down. 

5. Break down boxes as you go

Imagine that feeling when you’re finished unpacking for the day. You let out a sigh of relief and then realize that you have a mountain of empty boxes in between you and your couch. Breaking down boxes as you go helps control the chaos and avoid that feeling of taking two steps forward and one step back. 


Have you found these tips helpful? Got any tips to share with the Expat Nest community? Let us know in the comments below – we love to hear your ideas! And do share this article with a fellow expat who’s on the move!


About the author 

Erin is a New York native living the expat life in Amsterdam with her husband. Having grown up with an architect dad and a textile designer mom, Erin was born into the world of interiors and design. In addition to working with Spoak Decor, an online decorating service, she is the founder of Placed by Erin, an interior styling and home organizing business in Amsterdam that specializes in helping expats bring simplicity and functionality to their homes.





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