Whether you’re moving across town or across the country, there are dozens of things to do before you move.
Thinking of everything you have to do is overwhelming. From hosting a garage sale to backing up your computer to updating your driver’s license. It’s a lot.
Far too often, people are scrambling on moving day to do everything they didn’t do in the weeks leading up to the move.
This doesn’t have to be you.
When you follow this comprehensive moving checklist you will take care of every step of the move like a pro. For your convenience, we also made a printable moving checklist.
What this article covers:
- 8 Weeks Before: Time To Research The Move.
- 6 Weeks Before: Time To Start The Moving Process.
- 4 Weeks Before: Time To Get Ahead of The Move.
- 2 Weeks Before: Time To Finalize Moving Details.
- A Week Before: Time To Be Prepared For Moving Day
- Moving Day: The Big Day!
- Post-Moving Day: Settle Into Your New Home.
- The Do NOT Pack List: Everything You Should have on You on Moving Day.
- Update Your Address: A List of Places to Update Your Address for.
- Printable Moving Checklist PDF: The Printable Version of The Moving Checklist.
Two months before your move, the most important thing to do is to research. With eight weeks to go, it’s the perfect time to know everything you need to know and set the bases for a smart move. Researching will save you from making avoidable mistakes. It will also make you confident that you are on top of things. If you find yourself reading this two months before your move, you’re going to kill it. Let’s get to it.
- Print out the Moving Checklist PDF
- Research types of moving services.
- Research banks, doctors, and schools and gather all paperwork you need to set up new accounts.
- Research your rights and responsibilities with moving companies from the US Department of Transportation.
- Check the credibility of moving companies at BBB.
- Make a list of questions to ask moving companies.
- Get moving estimates.
- Make a list of businesses you will need to contact to change your address. Online accounts too.
- Create a binder/digital folder to store quotes, receipts, and records related to your move.
- Make note of tax-deductible expenses.
- Make a moving budget.
- Find a roommate.
- Explain the move to your kids.
- Give your landlord notice.
- Host a garage sale.
*Quick Tip: Do various rounds of sorting and purging. It becomes easier to let go of some items after considering it a few times. You’ll appreciate this on moving day.
At this point, you know a whole lot more about moving in general than you did a couple weeks ago. It’s now time to start your move in an active manner. Book your mover and start your packing.
Schedule the Mover
- Check that moving company has DOT #.
- Read over documents from your movers before signing anything.
- Reserve a storage unit if you’ll be needing one.
- Request time off work for moving day.
Arrange school details
- Choose school for kids.
- Notify schools of your move.
- Get/forward transcripts and school records.
Start Your Packing Strategy
- Decide what appliances you’re going to take.
- Figure out how to move special items: piano, guns, aquariums, etc.
- Make a room-by-room packing schedule and start packing!
- Research packing tips and hacks.
- Find free boxes.
- Pack a little every day.
- Label your moving boxes using different colored stickers/tape for each room.
- Create an inventory sheet of all your valuables. keep a private list of which boxes you packed your valuables in.
- Mark fragile boxes.
- Take photos of all electronics before unplugging them.
- Put all your hardware in labeled baggies for easy furniture reassembly.
- Measure doorways and staircases to make sure everything will fit.
*Quick tip: Label your boxes by room and whether it contains fragile items or not. Make sure to number your boxes and use colors that mean something. Then, have a master list of all the boxes and a color legend to make your unpacking as easy as possible.
Prepare for Moving Day
- If you’re moving into an apartment, find out if there are any moving day requirements.
- Fix repairs of old homes.
- Start using up perishables such as pantry and refrigerated food.
- Service vehicle and ask your mechanic about car requirements for new weather.
- Research your new community for points of interest.
A month out from your move is a wonderful time to run all the errands that you can to avoid too much stress on moving week. The more you can get done this far in advance, the smoother your moving experience will go.
Get Ready for Your Move
- Book a truck rental.
- Buy moving insurance.
- Confirm parking options for your moving truck – you may need a permit for moving day.
- Gather all financial and legal records, birth certificates, and passports. Carry these on your person during the move.
- Compile medical, dental, and optical records for everyone in your home.
- If you’re moving with pets, make sure pets have ID tags on collar.
- Request copies of vet records and get any necessary pet medication/ make sure the pet is healthy.
- If you’re moving out of the country, make sure your pets have all the necessary vaccinations.
- Have a safebox for personal transportation. include estimate in it.
- Take photos of any high-ticket items. Note any existing scratches, dings, or damage to your furniture.
- Order your moving supplies (bubble wrap, packing tape, etc.)
Don’t Leave Everything for the Last Minute
- Pick up clothes from the dry cleaner.
- Use or donate items that you can’t pack or sell, such as frozen foods, bleach, and aerosol cans.
- Pay unpaid parking tickets.
- Make a moving day playlist for moving and unpacking.
- Figure out temporary housing.
- Book your car shipping service.
- Empty car if you’re shipping it.
- Decide what to do with plants.
- Return library books, movies, and video game rentals.
- Ask friends to help with your move if your move is DIY.
- Find a landscaper and snow removal service in your new neighborhood.
- Shop for new phone, internet, and cable plans. Cancel your current plants.
- If you’re moving out of town, find a new doctor, dentist, and vet in your new neighborhood.
Similarly to a month out, it’s the time to do everything you can before your move. With only two weeks to go, it’s time to pack everything you can. Figure out the least you need for the next couple of weeks and only keep those items unpacked.
Be Prepared to Leave
- Return borrowed items.
- Recycle or dispose of flammables and poisonous items.
- Prep two-weeks worth of meals and use everything in the freezer.
- Clear storage units.
- Clean out your safe deposit box and any lockers you might have at a gym or community center.
- Remove light bulbs from all lamps you plan to move.
- Refill prescriptions. Stock up on prescriptions you’ll need during the next couple of weeks.
- Backup your computer.
- Send out moving announcements.
Thank Yourself Later
- Clean outdoor furniture before it’s moved.
- Figure out your work commute.
- Understand your new home’s blueprint.
- Order all new furniture you’re planning on getting.
- Contact the moving company. Reconfirm the arrangements.
- Get a babysitter and a dog sitter for the move.
- Gather warranty information, manuals, and other house-specific information in a binder for the new owners.
- Prepare a list of emergency services and preferred providers for your new home.
- Have your rugs cleaned and don’t unroll them until they’re in your new home.
- Schedule painters for your new home.
- Set up trash removal and recycling for your new home, and cancel your current service.
Congratulations! A week out, you are a very prepared mover. The last bit of packing needs to be done and your last errands need to be done. For the last couple of days, your old house should be totally packed and you should pack a suitcase to live out of for the next few days.
Prepare Your Old Home
- Empty oil and gas from grills, heaters, lawnmowers, and snow blowers.
- Donate unopened food.
- Pack remaining items.
- Make sure nothing is hiding on shelves or in closet corners.
- Disassemble furniture.
- Drain water hoses to your washing machine and ice maker.
- Unplug your fridge and freezer to defrost the night before.
- Turn off utilities in the current home one day after your move-out date. Turn on utilities in the new home a day before move-in.
- Schedule clean of old home for after the move.
- Protect floors for move.
- Take photographs of your empty place to prove it’s in move-out condition.
- Say goodbye to the old home.
- Do final touch-ups on the home before final inspection with your landlord. This can assure that you get your safety deposit back.
Finish Last-Minute Errands
- Cancel and/or redirect scheduled deliveries.
- Tell neighbors you’re moving. Ask them politely to check your mail.
- Make your last donation of items you won’t be taking.
- Make a plan B in case your movers run late.
- Check weather for rain, ice, or snow.
- Pack an ‘essentials box’ with everything you’ll need for your first 24 hours in your new home.
- Pack suitcases for a few days.
- Withdraw cash to tip your movers.
- Confirm details and contact info w/ moving company.
- Arrange payment method.
Prepare the New Home
- Get the keys to your new home
- Clean your new place, Sweep your chimney before you use it.
- Schedule Pest Control.
- Protect the floors and carpets for the move.
The big day! Consult your research to make sure everything is going according to plan. Move quickly, it’s a long day. Have a good breakfast and a good night’s rest. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and to eat properly on this day.
At the Old Home
- Meet the movers and Make sure DOT# on moving truck is the one on estimate.
- Provide refreshments for the movers and hydrate yourself.
- Supervise the load-in.
- Do a final sweep of the house.
At Your New Home
- Check Bill of Lading, verify damaged/missing items.
- Tip your movers (10-15%).
- Have movers sign Bill of Lading, make copies.
- Explain the labels on the boxes to your movers, so they know where they go.
- Unpack essentials for comfort first (shower curtains, bedsheets, etc.).
- Start unpacking. If you notice any damage to your boxes, set them aside until the moving company can return to inspect them.
- Take photos of the damage for your records.
- Assemble furniture.
- Take Inventory. Make sure all your items are there.
- Cover your windows with curtains/sheets for privacy on your first night.
I know at this point you want to be done but there are a few more things to take care of. The sooner you get these things done, the sooner you get to properly settle into your new home. Either way, you made it! It’s time to celebrate.
Set Up Your Home
- Get groceries.
- Change the Locks.
- Check Smoke Alarms.
- Install a new home security system.
- Make sure the address is visible from the street.
Wrap Up the Move
- Get to know your neighbors.
- Explore your new neighborhood.
- Check on the return of security deposit.
- Make copies of your new keys.
- Thank everyone who helped: friends, family, real estate agent.
- Leave a review of your experience with your moving company.
There are certain things that you should have on your person during the move.
If your move is an interstate move, prepare for a few days. Pretend you are going on a short vacation and pack everything you’d normally pack for that. With the exception of maybe swim trunks. You’ll still need sunscreen. The following list includes what we recommend not packing.
- Important documents (passports, marriage license, birth certificates, anything containing bank account information or SSN)
- Credit cards
- Phone and charger
- Laptop and charger
- Toilet paper
- Clothes (for every day you won’t have access to it)
- Snacks and water
- A toy for child
- Tape measure
- Trash bags
- Any other valuables
Along with the following list, we have created The Ultimate Guide for Changing your Address. We understand that this is a step in your moving process that can be quite overwhelming so we made it a priority to break this step down as much as we could.
It’s a good idea to have your own list of businesses that you need to give your new address to. Start this list at the beginning of your moving process and add to it every time you think of a new business.
- Friends and Family
- Your landlord
- Housekeeper, Gardener, Pool Cleaner, etc.
- Your employer
- Government offices: the Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the IRS.
- Homeowners or renters insurance to your new home
- Prescriptions to your new pharmacy
- Gym and any workout studio
- Utility companies
- Cable, Internet, and Phone plans
- Medical Records
Update your address for
- Health and Life Insurance
- Newspaper, magazine, and any subscription boxes you receive
- Auto insurance and registration
- Loan providers, banks, credit card companies, payroll department at work
- Post Office
- Social Security & Medicare mailing
- Driver’s license
- Voter registration
- Any business remaining from your list.
If you made it this far, it’s clear that moving is all about organization.
Download our Printable Moving Checklist PDF. Keep it in your moving binder and be proud of how on top of everything you are!