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Alex is the founder of 9Kilo Moving, which he started to help people easily find and choose the right moving company to make their move as stress-free and seamless as possible. He has spent over 20 years working in the moving industry, so he knows every aspect of the business and uses his knowledge to write about the industry and give moving advice. More on about us page

Moving Inventory List

When you plan a family holiday far from home, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve packed well enough. It’s simply because you know there’s no going back, unless of course you left your passport. Post the packing episode, you’d also need to keep track of the total number of suitcases you’ve got. When you move homes, you can expect a similar scenario with the boxes. Except it’s going to be triple the chaos seen with all the bags in the classic Home Alone movie.

The whole saga of tracking your moving boxes could actually be a test of organizational skills. To stay on top of it all, it’s ideal to create a moving inventory list. We know it can be intimidating since you’d have endless schedules to keep and deadlines to meet, so we’ve broken it down into simple steps you can easily follow.


Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Moving Inventory List To Track Your Boxes

Step 01 - Build An Offline Binder/An Online Spreadsheet

Before you even begin the packing process or anything else related to your moving project, our first suggestion for staying organized is to work on creating a tracking sheet. This is a space where you can track the boxes, finances and several other things oriented to the move. You can choose to create this tracker in a notebook or an online spreadsheet where you can update and store everything tied to the move. This would help you have everything under one roof.

And honestly speaking, mental notes don’t really go a long way when you’re juggling a  bunch of tasks. We’re all human and it's very easy for things to slip out of our minds if we’ve not made a note of it somewhere. Both written notes or even an excel sheet is a much more reliable and practical way to stay on track. We’d also say keep an extra copy if it’s an online document so that it’s not deleted by mistake.

Keep the tracker neat, clean and simple for you to understand. Have sections to track finances of the move, administrative duties and packing related tasks. When you have clear demarcations and schedules written down, you can quickly turn to the section that needs your attention. In the case of boxes, you can write down the colors you’re going to assign for each room in your house. For instance,

  • Kitchen (Red tape)
  • Bathroom (Blue tape)
  • Master bedroom (Green tape)
  • Kid 01 room (Yellow tape)
  • Kid 02 room (Orange tape)

If you wish to take things a step ahead, you could also set days on which you’d pack a certain number of boxes. By jotting down that, say, you’d pack kitchen items from 7pm to 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays, you have a fixed schedule to stick to. This makes it easier to track your progress with the boxes. The online folder you create for your moving project could also be a safe space to store pictures of expensive items (TV Sets, Glass decor, artwork) and electronic wiring.

Goal - Make sure you have a color code for each room and a spreadsheet/binder ready.

See also: How Many Boxes Do You Need to Move

Step 02 - Fill Out The Inventory Sheet As You Fill The Boxes

Once the lid of a box is shut tight with tape, it can be a task to open it up just to remember what was put in it. We can’t stress on this enough, but do your best to make a note of the exact things you’re packing into a box.

Suppose your schedule mentions that you’ve got to pack up everything in your kitchen, make sure you’re also writing down the things you’re packing. For example, if you’ve finished tackling all the coffee mugs, wine glasses, spice jars, cocktail glasses and so on, then mention the same in your inventory sheet. You can then tape the box, after you’ve mentioned it in  your tracking sheet.

Your spreadsheet could state that you packed 12 wine glasses, 10 plates, 3 decorative jars in box number 02 of the kitchen category (We know this sounds like a 12 Days Of Christmas mashup). But keep following the same process until you’re done with fragile items, baking tools, appliances, sharp items and so on. Then you’d have a final count as to the number of boxes packed for the kitchen. The final boxes for each room should also be written down.

Just to give you an idea, your inventory for your kitchen, should look like this -

Room 04 - Kitchen - Red Tape

Total Boxes: 15

Box 01

  • Wine glasses - 06
  • Shot glasses - 10
  • Cocktail glasses - 06

Box 02

  • Big plates - 08
  • Small serving plates - 12

Box 03

  • Measuring cups - 06
  • Steel bowls - 02
  • Storage tins - 05
  • Plastic containers - 04

This is an example of a system you can follow. You are free to form a different way of keeping track of the number of boxes per room and number of items in each box. Remember that a strategic system is especially mandatory for fragile items as you can claim insurance for things that God forbid break during transit.

This system also keeps you aware of the boxes you have to track. If your sheet states that you had 15 red taped boxes for your kitchen and there’s just 13 boxes while unpacking you should immediately alert the movers. The color code system is best for movers to work quickly too and reduces the work of you telling them where you’d like the box to be placed.

Goal - Be aware of the total number of packed boxes for each room.

Also read: How To Pack Your Kitchen For Moving


Step 03 - Pay Special Attention To Expensive Items

When it comes to expensive items, you’d want to be a little more careful about what happens to them. It’s best to discriminate them with special treatment by using a different symbol on these boxes. Most of your delicate items would usually have the fragile tape placed on them but then again, this could not be enough to distinguish them from the rest.

Imagine this: You’ve made a list of things that you’re packing in your hall room. There’s going to be tons of decor items but you know that the television set is the most important piece in the hall room. It is not only a fragile item but it's also very expensive so this makes it a ‘priority item’.

It’s true that you’d want it to reach safely to your new home just like everything else, but it’s just that you could be at a big loss if this gets misplaced or handled wrongly. That’s why this item should then automatically get highlighted in your sheet simply because you would have to give it much more attention. You could mark similar items with a fluorescent color marker in your sheet so you know you’re extra careful to take enough pictures of these items. The pictures would be useful for you to claim insurance if the time comes for it.

We also suggest not to make too obvious marks on the box since you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention to how expensive it is. But the practice of highlighting the item in your inventory sheet is sufficient.

This also applies to boxes that are filled with luxurious or precious items like a porcelain crockery set or a designer item you got from your travels abroad. Each room could have a set of items that are ridiculously expensive and it is necessary to highlight these in your inventory list.

Goal - Take a good amount of pictures and time with packing expensive high priority items. Highlight them with a fluorescent color in your tracking sheet.

Step 04 - Create A System For Documents And Boxes You Want To Unpack First

A good rule of thumb is to never pack any documents in boxes. But pack them in your essentials suitcase. Your essentials bag should have important personal and survival items for which you would solely be responsible. You don’t want to risk having these things in the back of a truck or in the hands of movers.

Secondly you also want to have a ‘hot box’ for things you want to unpack first while the rest can be considered as cold boxes. Cold boxes are basically things that can wait, just like in sales where you have hot and cold leads. So something like your coffee maker should get the hot box symbol because you’re going to need it after a tiring day of moving. You’ll have coffee to boost your mood even if you haven’t started unpacking anything else. This method helps you get comfortable in your new house even though you’d still have boxes lying around.

This is why it’s best to mark the box that you want to unpack first with a symbol that you recognize. Keep a note of this symbol in your inventory so you’re able to take care of unpacking in an efficient manner.  You can place this symbol evidently on the box so that you know it means ‘open me first.’ Trust us, moving boxes once packed shut can all just look the same, so be sure to mark out the hot boxes.

Goal - By this point you should be able to know which box you want to unbox first for each room.


 Step 05 - Make A Pouch Or Kit With Packing Essentials

You’re going to constantly need a few things handy when you’re packing your boxes. And it can be annoying when the things you need the most suddenly disappear from where you placed them last. So making a pouch or keeping all the things you’re often going to be using in a designated place can help you maintain the flow of things. Few of the things that should be kept in the pouch are:

  • A black color marker
  • Bright colored markers
  • Tape dispenser
  • Colored tapes or sticky notes
  • Mini box cutter

We suggest wearing a fanny pack with these items on the moving day. This could help in cases where you have to jot something down about a certain box that was roughly handled. At that point, the best way to remember the incident is to quickly make a note that box number 03 from the bathroom category was mishandled. You can then bring this up to the mover if things in the box got damaged.

Goal - You want handy packing supplies to be in an accessible spot.

Step 06 - Do A Box Count After Arriving In Your New Home

Because of the inventory, you’d have a figure for the total number of boxes you packed. Once the movers have kept everything in their rooms, do a final headcount to make sure all boxes have arrived. Keep a penknife with you to open the priority boxes you highlighted to confirm that there was no damage to any of the products before the movers leave.

Goal - The final headcount of boxes should match the final box count in your previous home.

Bonus Tips

  • See the move as an opportunity to downsize in the Marie Konda style.
  • Always label each box or you’ll find yourself playing a game of Russian Roulette.
  • Tape the boxes shut only once you’ve made a note of what is inside in the spreadsheet.
  • If you’re using post-it, put a layer of transparent tape on it because you don’t want to risk it falling off.
  • Always pack similar items together because this makes the unpacking easier.
  • Keep donations and boxes with items for sale separately. Don’t mistake them for the ones to pack in the truck if you’re using the same color corrugated boxes.
  • Buy a lock and key for the truck so that you’re the only one that can get the truck opened.
  • Consider getting a storage unit if you wish to pack and unpack in phases.
  • Begin the process of working on an inventory in the early stages so that you’re not overwhelmed with keeping things organized.


Frequently Asked Questions

How to keep track of boxes while moving?

It is necessary to come up with a strategic system so that you have a figure for the total number of boxes you’re placing in the truck. You can choose to color code boxes based on room and take photos as proof.

When should you start packing boxes?

Ideally you should begin the packing process 3 weeks before the big moving day. But like they say ‘Well begun is half done’, so the earlier you start with even the smallest of tasks the smoother things would go.

How to make a moving inventory?

You can create a spreadsheet or have a physical binder to track the number of boxes you’ll have with you. Everytime you pack a set of boxes, update the spreadsheet with information about which items were packed from which room and the number of boxes filled in total. Also, use a color code for specific rooms.

How do you keep track of boxes when moving?

It’s important that you keep a track of the total number of your boxes before you load them into your moving truck. There are several strategies you can undertake like using color codes for specific rooms and taking pictures of your boxes as a proof. Your home inventory list comes in very handy to track your boxes if you’ve labelled them.

How do you make a moving inventory list?

You can make a moving inventory list either on a spreadsheet or using a physical binder to track all your items. Make sure that you enter all the important details of every item and the total number of boxes. To make things easier for tracking your items, you can use color codes for specific rooms.

How do you categorize moving boxes?

One of the best ways to categorize your moving boxes is to use coloured labels on the boxes. You will have to mention the contents of each box along with the room origin and number of items placed in the box. To make it more organized, you can use customized checklists or use color codes for moving boxes.

How do I inventory my items?

You can make an inventory of your items by either starting with your recent purchases or picking up the largest room in your house. Make sure that you keep a record of every detail of your items like purchase price and date and model number on your list. Categorize the items on your list and don’t forget to get insurance for your valuable items. Lastly, keep proof of value like your receipts, contracts and appraisals along with your list.

What should be on an inventory list?

All the important details of your items should be on your inventory list, like for example the name, model number, purchase price, quantity, value and description of your items.

How do you make an inventory spreadsheet?

The inventory spreadsheet can be made in Microsoft Excel, Google Spreadsheet or by using any other spreadsheet app. Make columns like item name, model number, purchase price, quantity, value, description and other important factors in the sheet. You can use different colors for each of these categories. Lastly, save the file with the title ‘Inventory’. You can also use different existing templates by opening the ‘File’ menu and selecting the ‘Inventories’ option.

What is the best inventory tracking app?

Some of the best inventory tracking apps are Sortly, Inventory Now, Stock Control, Goods Order Inventory, SOS Inventory and On Shelf.


Keeping track of a dozen boxes or even more can be overwhelming. It can feel like you’re made to babysit a class full of kids all at once. But all we’d say is don’t be taken aback by the number of boxes, but just break down the journey into manageable sizes. Tackle the move one step at a time like we’ve shown above and begin well in advance so you have time by your side. If you’d like professional movers to intervene to take off the stress of moving, we can help you pick from the best moving companies out there.


See also: How to Perform a Home Inventory when Moving