Creating a moving checklist is a helpful way to mitigate moving stress, especially if you consider yourself to be a disorganized person. This moving guide will help you plan for (and conquer) worst-case scenarios, which should eliminate some of that moving anxiety.
Even if you’re chronically underprepared, this list should help you stop procrastinating in the months leading up to moving day. Use this thorough moving checklist template to help you throughout the planning process, plus grab some free printables that will come in handy on moving day below!
2-3 Months Before Moving Day
Once the Move is Final
|☐ Organize a moving binder.||For starters, print this moving checklist (download the PDF here) and put it in a designated moving binder. Use this binder to keep track of phone numbers, receipts, schedules, and other pertinent details. With one big central binder (get a brightly-colored one and label it), you’ll always know where to look when questions come up about your moving plan.|
|☐ Set a realistic moving budget. ||Once you have this checklist inside your moving binder, print off a moving budget template, and get to work setting a budget. If money is tight, brainstorm some ways to save money during a move. |
Also, keep in mind that you may be able to deduct some moving expenses from your taxes, which could impact your overall budget.
|☐ Research moving companies.||If your moving budget is tight, ask friends and family to help you move. However, if professional movers make more sense, start by researching local and interstate moving companies. Read reviews, ask questions, and figure out which will be the best fit.|
|☐ Determine if you need to ship a car.||If you’re moving across the country or overseas, what will you do with your car? Sometimes it might make sense to sell your car and buy a new one. Perhaps shipping a car makes more sense. Car shipping companies need more advanced notice than moving companies, so don’t wait to make a decision.|
|☐ If you have young kids, start mentally preparing them now.||Moving can be tough on a little one. Get your kids excited about the big move now so they have time to process the significant changes to come. Not sure how to break the news to them or calm their anxiety? Parents.com offers some anecdotal moving advice for families that may help you through the process.|
|☐ Learn more about your new community.||Here’s how to familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood:|
☐ Find a new school for your children
☐ Figure out how to get around.
☐ Visit local restaurants and landmarks.
6-8 Weeks Before Moving Day
Once Moving Day is Set
|☐ Finalize your moving plans.||Here are some miscellaneous moving checklist items to cross off your list now:|
☐ If you picked movers, get them under contract and set a date.
☐ If you are using friends and family, make sure they are on board and available for moving day.
☐ Purchase moving insurance.
☐ Rent temporary storage space if needed.
☐ Update your moving binder with your official moving day arrangements.
|☐ Make arrangements for the week of your relocation.||Now that you have a tentative moving day take care of the following: |
☐ Call off work and notify your employer of an upcoming change of address.
☐ Set up childcare or dog sitting.
☐ Make travel arrangements
|☐ Set appointments for your new and old home||Take the following steps to be sure the home closing process goes smoothly: |
☐ Contact insurance agents for both homes.
☐ Coordinate closing dates to the best of your ability.
☐ Book a moving truck rental if you’re DIYing the move.
☐ Notify housekeepers, landscapers, pool maintenance companies, snow plowers, and anyone else that does routine service to your home.
|☐ Take care of logistical matters.||Finish all the paperwork that you can do now so it doesn’t distract you from packing later on:|
☐ Register with a new school and inform the old one.
☐ If you live in an apartment, notify your landlord.
☐ Update your memberships to community organizations, subscription services, gyms, and clubs.
☐ Request copies of vet records and get any necessary pet medication.
☐ If you’re moving out of town, find a new doctor, dentist, pharmacy, and vet.
☐ Have any necessary medical records forwarded and transfer prescriptions.
☐ Complete a change of address form. Determine if you need the USPS’s Premium Forwarding Service.
☐ Change social security and medicare mailing addresses.
☐ Update your information with TSA.
☐ Transfer school and medical records.
For a full list of people to notify about a change of address check out this article: Who to Notify When Moving
|☐ Declutter your belongings.||Don’t waste time moving belongings you don’t want or need! Instead, declutter early on. Here’s how:|
☐ Dispose of hazardous household items like old paint and unused cleaning products.
☐ Return library books and anything you borrowed from neighbors.
☐ Clear out storage spaces.
☐ Separate items for donation, resale, and trash using the four-box technique.
☐ Take donation items to a donation center.
☐ Plan a garage sale if you have enough saleable items.
☐ Declutter your electronics of unnecessary files, and then make sure everything is backed up to a cloud or external hard drive.
|☐ Take your vehicles in for a tune-up.||Bring your car in for an oil change and check that your inspection and registration are up to date.|
One Month Before Moving Day
Start the Packing Process
|☐ Organize relevant documents and valuable items.||As you’re packing up rooms, remember to keep important papers and valuable items separate. Make a plan for how you will move things like birth certificates, jewelry and cash. Ideally, these boxes should be kept with you during the move. It’s also helpful to create an inventory sheet of all your valuables for insurance purposes.|
|☐ Print off moving box labels.||Before you start packing, plan moving labels by room and item. (Try our moving box label templates!) |
Bonus tip: Once a box in a room is packed, place the moving label on the upper right-hand corner on each side of the box. This location is visible even when boxes are stacked on top.
|☐ Pick up moving boxes.||Take a quick inventory of the items in your home and determine how many moving boxes you’ll need. Purchasing new boxes is ideal because the cardboard isn’t compromised in any way. Get specific boxes for fragile items and clothing for ease of packing and moving. (Read more tips on moving boxes here.)|
| ☐ Start a moving box inventory.
||A moving box inventory is a spreadsheet or list that you can use to track what items are packed in which boxes. Here’s how to start one:|
☐ Start a new page for each room in your new home.
☐ Assign each box you pack with a number.
☐ Record that number on your inventory list and jot down notes about what each box contains.
If you need to find something quick on or shortly after moving day, you’ll be able to reference this list! It’ll also come in handy as you make sure you’ve loaded and unloaded all your boxes on moving day. (Our moving printables kit includes box inventory templates for you to try!)
|☐ Start packing items that you aren’t using.||The sooner you start to pack, the less packing will feel like work. Here’s how to get started:|
☐ Pick a room and pack everything inside that you won’t need for the next month.
☐ Pack up all storage spaces since they typically hold items that aren’t used frequently.
☐ Start packing out-of-season clothing now.
☐ Pack excess dishes. Consider using specific dish pack boxes for your dishes. Take care to wrap them correctly (and yes, there’s a guide for that!).
☐ Decor can also be packed up at this point.
|☐ Plan how to move more substantial items.||Preparation is essential (which is why you’re following this moving checklist). Before the house gets cluttered with moving boxes, take the time to plan how you will move your more complicated items. |
Take the following steps now:
☐ Take photos of all electronics before unplugging them.
☐ Measure doorways and large furniture to determine what might need extra time on moving day.
☐ Take note of which doors or frames might need to be removed.
|☐ Pack an essentials kit.||Figure out your family’s essentials, which are those things you will need to get by in the week during and following the move. The contents of these boxes will be highly personalized to your family. For instance, most people should include clothing for a week, but perhaps you also need to add your child’s prized teddy bear. The idea is to start creating a list of the items to include. Here are some ideas to get you started. Keep these boxes for essentials open and well labeled. You likely won’t finish packing these boxes until the day before you move.|
|☐ Create a list of items to buy for the new place (don’t buy them yet).||Prioritize which things are the most important to have on hand during your first month in your new home. If this is your first apartment, chances are you’ll need to add a lot of things to this list.|
|☐ Purchase travel essentials.||Pick up travel-sized items to put in your essentials kit, like contact solution or mouthwash. This way, you can start packing up the rest of the toiletries you use daily.|
Three Weeks Before Moving Day
Keep Packing Up Room by Room
|☐ Prepare your furniture for the move.||Dismantle and prep any furniture that you’re not using at this point. There’s no sense leaving your guest bedroom furniture or other rarely used items to the last minute. Besides dismantling large pieces, there are more ways you can protect your furniture while moving.|
|☐ Update your moving box inventory based on the boxes you’ve packed so far.||Hopefully, you’ve made significant progress at this point! If not, check out some of these packing tips to inspire you. Keep on packing and take regular breaks.|
|☐ Don’t forget to take breaks!||Resting when needed will make sure you are productive and can help prevent burnout.|
Two Weeks Before Moving Day
Don’t Panic; Stay on Task
|☐ Plan meals for the final two weeks.||Now’s the time when grocery shopping should be very intentional. You don’t want to purchase too much food that you’ll ultimately have to move. Meal plan so you can make use of leftovers. |
Try to eat as much perishable food from your fridge during these last couple of weeks.
Opt for simple meals and paper plates so you can get the rest of your kitchen packed.
|☐ Complete last-minute packing.||At this point, the bulk of your household items should be packed away in moving boxes. Start to finalize all that packing. Track down your essentials kit and put it off to the side away from the other moving boxes.|
One Week Before Moving
|☐ Reconfirm moving plans with friends or movers.||Though this might seem unnecessary, sometimes dates and times get lost in translation. Make a final call to confirm the moving date and time with your movers and helpers. Also, make sure to secure a parking spot for the moving truck if you live in the city.|
|☐ Finish up odds and ends around the house.||Some of these tasks might include: |
☐ Mow the lawn or clean the gutters.
☐ Remove oil and gas from lawnmowers and snowblowers.
☐ Prep your fridge for moving.
☐ Disconnect the gas line from the stove.
☐ Once you’ve packed everything, give your house a thorough cleaning.
☐ Inspect your current home with your landlord if necessary.
|☐ Schedule shut off and turn on of utilities.||You don’t want to schedule shut off and turn on of utilities too soon in advance because your moving day could change, and then that’s more phone calls you have to make. |
Also, transfer your cable and internet. Shop for a better deal in the process.
On Moving Day
|☐ Keep the movers on task.||When the movers arrive, set your intentions for the move so everyone is on the same page. Plan a rough time to arrive at the new place and plan a time when everyone will break for lunch. You’ll probably be paying by the hour, so it pays to keep movers on schedule.|
|☐ Double-check the house during the final walkthrough.||After your existing home is empty, do a final walkthrough to make sure nothing has been left behind. Keep tallies and take photos of any damage that has taken place throughout the day.|
|☐ Pay the movers.||After a final inspection, review your invoice thoroughly and pay the movers. Don’t forget to tip!|
|☐ Unpack your essentials kit.||Once you’re in the new home, unpack the boxes with your essentials first.|
|☐ Decide how you want to organize your home before you unpack.||Moving into a new home is an opportunity to undo any negative organizational habits you had in your last home. Learn how to keep your home organized and tidy as you unpack, so that you don’t need to put things away twice.|
|☐ Pop some bubbly! Moving is not easy work.||If champagne is not your thing, celebrate by whatever means necessary.|
Soon After Moving Day
|☐ Purchase items for your new home.||Earlier, you created a list of items you need when you move in. Now’s the time to purchase these items. If you’re on a budget, buy just what is necessary for the time being. Not everything needs to be furnished right away.|
|☐ Unpack.||Don’t rush this process. Make sure everything has a place before you remove stuff from boxes.|
|☐ Meet the neighbors.||Introducing yourself is a kind gesture that can get life in your new neighborhood off on the right foot.|
|☐ Take care of small household tasks.||Some new house tasks might include:|
☐ Call for pest control if needed.
☐ Make sure all smoke alarms are in working order.
☐ Change the locks ASAP.
☐ Figure out trash pickup days and order trash and recycling bins from the town if applicable.
|☐ Get this essential paperwork done if you haven’t already.||If you put off paperwork earlier, do it now. You may still need to: |
☐ Register your pet with your municipality. (Make sure your they have ID tags for their collars while you’re at it!)
☐ Register to vote at your new address.
☐ Register your car and change the address on your license.
☐ Prepare a list of emergency service technicians and preferred providers.
Moving Checklist Printable PDF Download
Was the information in this moving checklist helpful? Our moving kit also includes free moving box labels, moving box inventory sheets to match, and doorway signs, all to help you have the smoothest moving day possible. Good luck!
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Update: This post was most recently updated on February 25, 2020 with new information from moving expert Lauren Thomann.