How long does it take to move? This article will help you estimate times for common moving tasks like closing on a home and packing up your belongings.

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Several factors will influence how long it takes to move a household. Are you renting or buying? Do you need to end a lease or sell your current home? How much stuff do you own? Some states can close real estate deals faster than others. Some moving companies are more efficient than others. Despite the variance, there are some general timelines to consider if you are about to move into a new house or apartment.

At Life Storage, many of our customers rent storage units to make a move easier, and we’re there every step of the way to make the transition easier. Throughout the process, several customers have asked us, “so how long does it take to move?” What they’re really asking is, “so how long do I need to rent this storage unit for my move?” We may not be able to give you an exact timetable, but we do know what you can expect.


Buying & Selling Timetables


There are two aspects of closing that many movers need to deal with: buying a new home and selling the current one. These timelines should overlap somewhat. However, you might close on your current home days or weeks before the sale goes through on your new home. Then what?

Working with a real estate agent will help you match up these closing dates as much as possible. If this can’t be done, hopefully, you’ll have enough of a heads up to plan accordingly. Here’s a basic rundown of what you can expect.

Buying a House

Each state is different with closing times. If you can buy a home with cash, some states will let you close on a property within a couple of weeks. However, most people will need a mortgage, so we will base our timeline on that scenario.

Home Buying Timeline

From start to finish, closing on a home takes around 10 weeks.

  • Mortgage Approval: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Transfer of Ownership: 6 to 10 weeks

Many hold-ups can happen during both of these processes. An underwriter might demand more income paperwork before approving the mortgage. Nothing can go forward until this initial approval happens. Then there can be hold-ups with the survey and title during the transfer of ownership.

Remember, the closing date on your original contract is subject to change, so make sure you have built-in flexibility and stay in constant contact with your realtor and attorney.

Selling a House

When you sell a house, you need to factor in selling time and closing time. What if your home sits on the market for six weeks? Your realtor should have a good handle on the market at the time and can advise you whether it’s smart to sell your home first or buy a new home first.

Sometimes your dream home pops up unexpectedly, and you don’t really have a choice. In this case, hopefully you can sell your home within a reasonable period of time so that your current home and your new home can close around the same time.

Home Selling Timeline

The entire home selling process from home staging to accepting a contract can take anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.

  • Stage Home: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Value and List Home: 1 week
  • Viewings and Contract: 1 to 3 weeks

If the market is bad and your home is overpriced or undesirable, that initial selling time can be extended out indefinitely.

So how long does it take to move once a house is sold? In general, it will take about 10 weeks to close on a home once you’ve sold it. Look at the section above for more details on an estimated closing time.


Renting Timetables


The timelines for renting can be mixed with timelines for owning. For instance, you may be moving from a rental to an owner-occupied. Conversely, you can also relocate from an owner-occupied into a rental. Keep this in mind when planning your calendar.

Breaking a Lease

Generally, it takes between 2 weeks and 1.5 months to break a lease, even if the lease is month to month.

Most landlords require a 30-day notice before you can vacate a property. Some landlords also require that notice be put in on the first or last of the month. For example, if you put in your notice on January 15th, you may be required to wait a month and a half until February 28th before you can move out without penalty. Read your leasing contract for more details.

Securing a Rental Property

You can secure and move into a rental property in as little as 1 week. In more extreme cases, it may take 1 to 2 months to be able to move into a rental property.

Securing a rental property is way faster than closing on a home. If the property is currently vacant, the landlord may allow you to get in ASAP after some repairs are done and the contract has been signed.


How Long Does it Take to Pack a Home?


Every step of the moving process takes time. But if you’re buying a home, your allotted time is shaped entirely around the real estate closing process. What this means is that you will have from the time the contract is drawn to the time it closes to pack up your house. If the closing takes 10 weeks and you’re in two weeks, great. However, if closing on a home takes 8 weeks but you haven’t packed in that time, you’re in for a great deal of stress.

General Packing Timeline

In general, packing at an even pace will take most people about a month.

  • Studio or 1 Bedroom: 10 – 15 hours
  • 2 Bedroom: 15 – 20 hours
  • 3 Bedroom: 20+ hours
  • 4 Bedroom: 40+ hours

Start packing as early as possible and devote as much time as you can earlier on. The stress only builds the closer you get to the move, and packing while under less pressure is much more efficient and pleasant.

If that seems overwhelming and you don’t know where to start, check out these packing resources:


Using Professional Movers


If you want to save time, hire professional movers. How long do they take to find and move a house? Keep reading to find out.

Time to Find and Hire

In general, quality movers book out about 6-8 weeks to move an entire home. However, you may be able to find movers for a smaller apartment within 2-3 weeks.

Don’t wait to hire movers! The sooner you can get a date on the books, the better. This haste is especially true if you’re hiring an in-demand mover. If the movers are fully booked, ask to be considered for a cancellation spot if you are looking to move into an apartment ASAP.

Related: How to Choose a Reputable Moving Company

Moving Times

Movers will be able to move your home in half the time it takes amateurs. Most desirable movers will be able to move larger items both quickly and safely. Here’s what to expect when figuring out an hourly rate. However, ask the movers directly for a more accurate quote based on what you own. Some items like fridges and pianos take longer.

Professional Movers Timeline*

*Not including travel time

  • Studio or 1 Bedroom: 2 – 4 hours
  • 2 Bedroom: 4 – 6 hours
  • 3 Bedroom: 6 – 8 hours
  • 4 Bedroom: 8+ hours

Moving Day Time Span


The professional mover times above are based on 2-4 professional movers. You can get close to this same timeline on moving day if you have 4-6 people helping you move and everything is packed and ready to go on moving day.

When moving on your own, consider the following time-altering factors:

  • Distance from the old house to the new house.
  • Total number of boxes.
  • The number of helpers available.
  • Items requiring extra time, like appliances or large furniture.
  • The number of trips that will be required.

Related: How to Rent, Load, and Drive a Moving Truck


How Long Will it Take to Unpack?


You made it to the final step! Unpacking is hard to predict because some people are okay living with boxes for weeks or months at a time. In general, it should take about half the time to unpack as it takes to pack, so long as you know where everything goes. Unpack the essentials first. Then, take your time and enjoy your new home!

About the Author

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Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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