Moving is a ton of work.
And no matter how much you spread that work out, it’s still likely to be a stressful process from start to finish.
But, with the right planning and time management, you can keep the stress to a minimum.
If you’re planning a move, the earlier you get started the better.
Our moving timeline should help you find the sweet spot for when to plan on finishing each task to keep making progress as moving day draws near — with as little stress as possible.
Every move is different, and we understand this isn’t possible for everyone in every circumstance.
But if at all possible, you should start planning your move at least two months ahead of the date you would like to actually move. Plan to begin your first moving-related tasks eight weeks prior to your move date.
Week-by-week, here’s how to schedule your move.
- Get organized. Start a folder or notebook to use to plan your move, and keep all your moving-related notes and paperwork there so it can be easily accessed throughout the process.
You can also start going through your belongings at this time and donating or selling items that you don’t need to take with you when you move. The less stuff you have on moving day, the cheaper and simpler the actual move will be.
- Create a budget for your move. Decide how much you want to spend in total, and that number can help guide you as you make some big decisions over the coming weeks.
- Start to research moving companies. This is the best time to decide how you’re going to move: rent a truck, hire a moving container company, or get moving company estimates to help you with everything. It’s a good idea to explore as many options as possible and compare price estimates. This will help you clearly see which options will fit the budget you created.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to book your moving company yet, but booking early might help you save money. And if you’re planning to move on a weekend, or during the peak springs and summer months, you should book ASAP since companies will get booked up.
- Get your moving supplies. It’s a good idea to start gathering supplies early, and by giving yourself plenty of time, you can keep an eye out for people giving away free moving boxes and supplies to help cut down on your moving expenses.
- Have a garage sale or start donating or disposing of items you aren’t going to take with you when you move. Remember, the less stuff you have, the less it will cost to transport it all during your move.
- And finally, gather up your important records. Request dental and medical records, as well as school records if you have kids. Add them to your moving folder or notebook, so they’re ready to pass on to your new schools and providers once you reach your new home.
- If you haven’t booked your moving company yet, this is the time to do so.
- If you have pets, take them to the vet for a complete check-up and to get up-to-date on any vaccinations they may be missing. Make sure to collect all their health records to add to your moving folder.
- Finish donating and giving away items you aren’t going to move with you. Packing begins next week, so take another look at all the belongings in your house and make sure you actually want to take all of it with you to your new home.
If you’ve hired a moving company, they should have provided you with a list of non-allowables — items that can’t be shipped because of their hazardous nature. Take a close look at that list and make plans to dispose of or transport any items you have that are on it.
- Take a deep breath. You’re halfway there, but crunch time is about to begin. Don’t worry — you’re well prepared so far and definitely ready to tackle the last month before your move.
- Time to start packing. Begin to pack things that are non-essential — items you know you won’t need or use in the next few weeks. Make sure to keep boxes organized by room and label everything so you’ll be able to find things when they arrive at your new home.
- While you’re at it, start making plans for your open-first boxes. These will be the last boxes you pack and the first ones you open at the new house, because they’ll contain the essential items you’ll need during your unpacking process. Think about what needs to be in them and start making a list or gathering those items.
- However you’re planning to travel to your new home, now is the time to book arrangements for yourself. If you’re flying, book your flight. If you’re driving, plan your route and book hotels along the way if needed. Keep reservation information in your moving folder.
- Now is also the time to call all your utility companies and start the process of closing your accounts. Let them know your move date and your future address, so if there are any outstanding utility bills, you’ll get them and be able to pay them off.
- And while you’re making calls to cancel things, consider canceling any subscriptions or memberships you have at your old address. You don’t want to keep paying for a gym in your old city, right? And if you get any newspapers or magazines delivered, either change the address on your account or cancel them now.
- And if you’re moving out of a rental, give your landlord notice if you haven’t already.
Keep packing! Packing is the most time-consuming part of your move. Keep at it.
- Plan for how you’ll use up leftover food. While you can pack pantry staples and move them with you, that’s not as practical for anything that needs to stay refrigerated or frozen. Take stock of the fridge, and plan meals that will use things up over the next three weeks.
- It’s also time to officially change your address. Head to the USPS website to complete their change-of-address form. You should be able to pick the date that your mail begins forwarding to your new address. You should also now contact your bank, homeowners or renters insurance provider, and any other legal or financial institutions to update your address.
Moving day is right around the corner!
- Even though this process has only gotten more and more stressful, this is a good time to start scheduling quality time with friends and family. Host a going away party if you can. Even though your schedule is busy, you’ll be glad you made time for goodbyes.
- Pack, pack, and pack some more. It’s crunch time for packing. Anything non-essential should already be packed and ready by this point.
- If you have any hazardous materials that can’t be moved — think paint, propane, or some cleaning supplies — now is the time to properly dispose of those.
- And finally, if you’re driving to your new home, get your car serviced now. Make sure it’s in tip-top shape for getting you safely through your move.
The countdown is now seriously on. Only seven days to go!
- Finish packing. By the end of this week, everything needs to be packed and ready. Whatever is left at this point has got to get in a box. This includes your open-first boxes that will contain the essentials you’ll need when you first arrive at your new place.
- If you’re behind on packing and feel like you’re not going to be able to finish up within a week, save yourself a ton of stress by enlisting help right now. Either call up some friends or hire a moving company — whatever it takes to get the packing done in time.
- Confirm with your moving company. Whether you’re renting a truck, having containers delivered, or having a full-service company come to load up your belongings, call them now and confirm that the planned date and time are still good to go.
- If you’re hiring a cleaning service for the house you’re moving out of, schedule cleaning one week before the move.
- In the final day or two before moving day, make sure everything is packed, clean out the cupboards, and clear and defrost the fridge and freezer. Also, if you’re using a moving company be sure to inform them of any major changes to your move inventory or any other details about your move.
- The night before the move, go to bed early, charge your phone, and make a plan to pick up a hearty breakfast so you’re prepared for the busy and chaotic day ahead.
Congratulations! You made it! The big day is finally here, and you should be well prepared at this point.
Get up early and do a last sweep of the house. Check for anything that might be left behind, like food or toiletries.
- Keep your moving folder with you. Add to it any documents you’re given on moving day (for example, a Bill of Lading). There’s a lot of important information in there, and if you need any of it during the course of the move itself, you’ll be glad you have it handy.
- Pick up your moving truck or greet your movers, depending on what you booked for your move. Work with your moving company to make sure everything is in order. If you’re loading a truck or shipping containers yourself, get to it!
- Get yourself to your new home. Congratulate yourself. Crack a bottle of bubbly or have a nice first dinner in your new place. You made it!
Once you arrive at your new home, unfortunately, the work isn’t done yet. You still have to unpack. If you moved to a new state, you need to register your car and get a new driver’s license. You should check on mail and subscriptions over the next few weeks to make sure everything is getting to your new address. And get to know your new neighbors.
But the really hard work is over. Your move is over. Take a breath, and take your time getting settled. You’ve earned the break.