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Creating a moving checklist is an invaluable way to stay on task during a relocation. Whether you’re moving out of state or into a new house around the block, this moving list will help keep you organized.

Comprehensive moving checklist

Why does everyone need a moving checklist? Because moving out can be incredibly stress-inducing, particularly when moving plans are haphazardly put together at the last minute.

A moving style in disarray might seem like a way to mitigate stress by not worrying about anything until right before moving day. Most times, the opposite is true. Taking the time to check off tasks months ahead of time can ease worry, not encourage it.

Also, planning for the worst case scenario will ready you in the event the worst happens. This preparation will eliminate some stress in the moment because you’ll know how to handle yourself. Trust us, everything on moving day will run more smoothly.

So make an effort to temper your procrastination tendencies in the months leading up to moving day. Review our thorough moving checklist template, so you know what to expect during every stage of your next relocation.

Jump To:

As Soon As The Move is Final (2-3 Months Before)

Planning Stage

☐ Organize a personalized moving binder.

For a moving plan to be effective, print off a printable moving checklist and put that in a designated moving binder. Use this binder to keep track of phone numbers, paint and fabric swatches, receipts, and the myriad of details you jot down on scraps of paper. With a single big 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 the checklist inside your moving binder, print off a moving budget template and start setting your budget. Once the budget is final, look through other finances and make sure you can swing it. If money is tight, here are some ways to save money during a move.

☐ Research moving companies.

If your moving budget is tight, you might opt to have friends and family help you with the 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, one of the big decisions will be how to move large items like vehicles to your new location. Sometimes it might make more sense to sell your car and buy a new one. Perhaps you won’t even need a car in your new city. These are all things to consider well before moving day since car shipping companies need more advanced notice than moving companies. For more details on how to ship a car, check out this post.

Once the Moving Day is Set (6-8 Weeks Before)

Preparation Stage

☐ 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.


☐ Print off moving labels.

Before you start packing, plan moving labels by room and item. Use your computer and the biggest box of cheap labels you can find. Bonus tip: Once a box in a room is packed, place the moving label on the upper left-hand corner on each side of the box. This location is visible even when boxes are stacked on top. Try our free moving box labels!

☐ Finalize moving plans.

Now’s the time to determine your exact moving plan. If you picked movers, get them under contract. If you are using friends and family, make sure they are on board and available for moving day. Discuss items like insurance and the potential for temporary storage space during the move.


☐ Make arrangements for work, childcare and pet sitting.

Now that you have a tentative moving day, make sure that you are off work. Set up childcare or dog sitting during the bulk of the move to eliminate stress. If sitters aren’t an option, here are some ideas for reducing stress while moving with kids.

Once Movers Are Under Contract (One Month Before)

Packing Stage

☐ Start packing room by room.

The sooner you start to pack, the less packing will feel like work. To get started, pick a room and pack everything inside that you won’t realistically need for the next month. Organize the room into sections like clothes, books, accessories, etc. Keep these similar items together. For more packing tips, check out our post 10 Packing Tips You Need to Know.

☐ Separate 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.

☐ Pack dishes and clothing separately.

Usually, clothing and dishes take up the most boxes and take the longest to pack. As such, consider using specific dish pack boxes for your dishes. Take care to wrap them correctly (and yes, there’s a guide for that!). For clothing, figure out the best method for moving clothes depending on how far you need to travel.

☐ Protect your furniture for the move.

Furniture that you won’t have to use in the month leading up to the move can be dismantled and prepped 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. Learn about them here.

☐ Start packing 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. Keep these boxes for essentials open and well labeled. You likely won’t finish packing these boxes until the day before you move.

Read Also: What to Pack in a Moving Essentials Kit

☐ Create a list of items to buy for the new place.

Create a list of items you’ll need when you move in. (Moving into your first apartment? This list will help.) 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.

Read Also: 10 Packing Tips for Moving You Need to Know

After Packing is Nearly Complete (Three Weeks Before)

Logistics Stage

☐ Complete a change of address form.

Visit your local post office or go online to fill out a change of address form. Determine if you need their Premium Forwarding Service.

☐ Transfer school and medical records.

Most times, you’ll have to visit your doctor’s office or school in person to complete the necessary forms to have your information transferred, which is why you should do this well in advance and not in the height of your move.

☐ Cancel or change ongoing subscriptions and services.

Use this opportunity to save money on things like car insurance, TV, and internet. Shop around for the best deals, cancel your existing service, or negotiate for the best price.

When Panic Starts to Set In (Two Weeks Before)

Organization Stage

☐ Plan meals for 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 weeks.

☐ Refills prescriptions and purchase travel essentials.

Make sure all your scripts are filled. Also, 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.

☐ Complete last minute packing.

At this point, the bulk of your household items should be packed away in boxes. Start to finalize all that packing. Opt for simple meals and paper plates so you can get the rest of your kitchen packed. Other items to pack during this time include:

☐  A week’s worth of clothing in suitcases.

☐  Most of the remaining items for your essentials kit.

☐ Tune up vehicles.

Bring your car in for an oil change and inspection. Make sure your registration is up to date. Now is also an excellent time to run your car through the car wash and clean the inside of your vehicle.

Before Procrastination Takes Over (One Week Before)

Finalization Stage

☐ 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.

☐ Clean your current home.

Once everything is packed, give your house a thorough cleaning. It’s sometimes necessary and polite to leave your current home in good shape, which means broom-swept.

☐ Prepare appliances for the move.

At this point, task yourself with appliance prep. For instance, empty gas from mowers and other household tools, prep your fridge for moving, disconnect the gas line from the stove, etc.

☐ 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.

When the Big Day Arrives! (On Moving Day)

Moving Out Stage

☐ Confirm details and keep 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 likely 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 happened to the home or your items throughout the day.

☐ Pay the movers.

After a final inspection, review your invoice thoroughly and pay the movers.

☐ Unpack your essentials kit.

Once you’re in the new home, unpack the boxes with your essentials first, then relax!

Soon After Moving Day

Moving In Stage

☐ Register car and change license.

If you changed states, don’t forget to update your car information.

☐ Organize your home as you unpack.

Moving into a new home is a fresh chance to undo any negative organization habits you had in your last home. Learn how to keep your home organized and tidy as you unpack, so things don’t need to be moved twice.

☐ 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.

Did we miss a moving checklist item that you think is essential? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann is a contributing writer covering home, moving and storage topics for the Life Storage blog.

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