Moves come in sizes big and small, distances near and far. But they all share one thing in common: stress.

Let’s face it, whether you’ve just got a studio apartment or a four bedroom McMansion, you’re basically packing up your entire life and moving it elsewhere. So when it comes time to move, you don’t want to go into it without a plan of action. Rushing your packing, shipping, or unloading could mean forgotten valuables or damaged property.

So take a look at our guide on how to prepare for a move and get the job done smart.

Do It Yourself or Hire a Pro?

Before you get too far into the moving process, decide whether you’re going to do the heavy lifting or if you’ll leave it to the pros.

If you are moving across the country (or even just a few states over) you should definitely consider hiring professional long distance movers. Road trips are fun and all, but not when you’ve got to lug a massive moving truck down the highway for hours or days on end.

For local moves, it’s really just a matter of preference and budget. You can get the job done easily enough with help from friends and family, but some people prefer the peace of mind that comes with professionals.

Pack By Room

One of the most efficient ways to pack is room by room. That way you can label boxes “kitchen”, “bathroom”, “master bed”, etc. Unloading will be a cinch (minus all the heavy lifting).

While you could buy uniform boxes from a moving company, you can also go the old fashioned route of asking around at retails stores for extras. Liquor stores in particular often have a plethora of boxes laying around.

Disassemble When Necessary

Don’t be afraid to take the extra time and effort to get your furniture move ready. Taking apart your sectional, shelves, tables, and desks can make your move lighter and more manageable. While it might seem like an annoyance, it’s a lot better than patching busted drywall that results from trying to squeeze your bed around that bend in the stairs.

Equip Yourself

While most people only consider the need to rent a truck, there is plenty of other equipment that can make your move a lot smoother. Dollies, hand carts, lifting belts, and moving blankets can all help keep your property safe and your movers injury-free.

While these are helpful if all you’ve got is boxes, some of these are an absolute necessity if you’re gonna be moving washers, fridges, or other big appliances.

Throw a Party

While you can probably handle most of the packing on your own, actually loading and unloading is going to require all hands on deck. If you aren’t hiring professional movers, consider throwing a moving party with friends and family on the weekend. Many hands make light work, after all, and the promise of beer and pizza after a hard day’s work will make a good time out of what could otherwise be a chore.